Louth TD Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd has accused the Minister for Health of “stonewalling” Dealgan House families as they continue their search to find out the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones.
During the first Covid 19 outbreak in 2020, 23 residents in Dealgan House Nursing Home died as a result of contracting COVID-19.
This represents one of the highest incidence rates of COVID in nursing homes in Ireland at that time.
Deputy O’Dowd said that families felt “aggrieved” by the Minister for Health's lack of action in dealing with this issue.
“Two and half years ago, Covid struck our shores and thousands of people have died since.
“Some 63% of those who died in the first four months of Covid in Ireland died in nursing homes.
“That figure compares to 41% in the UK and 47% in Sweden. The fact remains that we need an investigation into these deaths. If these were children, I would not have to stand here to ask this question.
“The Taoiseach said in January of this year that he was considering a variety of options to meet the needs and concerns of families whose 22 relatives died in Dealgan House nursing home in Dundalk, so why has nothing happened?”
“It is unacceptable. If these were children, we would have had an answer long ago. I think people will accuse the Minister at this stage of being ageist in his approach to all of these deaths-and his lack of accountability to the Oireachtas in dealing with them.”
In reply Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that he had met the families and that there has been extensive engagement and extensive work done.
“The issue we have in Ireland, as the Deputy will be very well aware, is that any review that seeks to make findings against people becomes very legalistic very quickly and, ultimately, does not give the families the answers they want.
“I have stated here several times and I will state again that these families deserve answers. They are asking very reasonable questions and they deserve answers to those questions. I am engaging with the Department.
“The Department is seeking a way of doing that in a way that gets the families the answers they deserve but does not end up getting bogged down in years and years of legal debate, injunctions and so forth, which, unfortunately, can happen if this is done incorrectly.”
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