Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has claimed that both the Taoiseach and Minister for Health are using what he describes as a “spin” whenever they are asked about the Covid-19 death rate in nursing homes.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“I’ve noticed in recent days that Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris both give very similar answers whenever they are asked about the government’s handling of the virus in residential care/ nursing home settings. Last week in the Dáil chamber I asked the Health Minister if he would commit to a full public investigation into the government’s handling of the nursing homes situation. The Minister’s response was to “note” that Dr Nabarro of the World Health Organisation had “said that when it came to Ireland and care homes, our numbers are very honest”, this, Simon Harris speculated, “is a reflection of what he might think of the numbers in other countries in regard to the counting of fatalities in nursing homes… of all the countries he’d studied he’d never seen a wider circle of inclusion in terms of what is included in Covid-19 statistics on nursing homes”. In other words, when asked about an investigation into the situation, the Minister’s response to me was that the WHO think we’re good at counting the number of deaths”.

Deputy Tóibín continued; “At the time, I thought this was a very strange reply to my very specific question. Then this week on RTE Primetime I heard the Taoiseach give the exact same response when David McCullough asked him about how Ireland has one of the highest rates in the world in terms of deaths in care homes. Asked “how did we get it so wrong?”, the Taoiseach replied “we need to be careful about international comparisons… we’ve been recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the countries that has been the most honest – we count all deaths”. The government seems to be providing international comparisons when it suits them but warning against such comparisons when they don’t suit them”.

“When you critique the government’s disastrous handling of the Nursing Home Crisis, their response is to take credit for being accurate in counting the number of deaths. Many of us approached this pandemic with an effort to work together in sincerity to save lives. It is not good enough that the government is now deflecting real concerns on Ireland’s shocking record of protecting the most vulnerable to this disease. The government are defaulting to crisis management not in an effort to expose the truth but seeking to minimise the political damage”.

“The government made serious mistakes in the management of our nursing homes. We need a full investigation into these mistakes to learn from them and ensure they are not repeated, should we experience a second wave of the virus”, concluded Deputy Tóibín.