Daughter of Covid victim enraged at double standards
The daughter of the fourth person to die of Covid-19 here said the Government is dancing on her mum’s grave as she vented her fury over the Downing Street Christmas party scandal.
Ruth Burke (82) died alone in hospital in March 2020 while her children waited at home due to stringent infection control measures introduced to stop the spread of the virus.
Brenda Doherty said she is still haunted by the fact she wasn’t present during her mother’s final moments, or able to touch her coffin at the funeral.
“I’ve seen the video footage where they are discussing the party and laughing, so they obviously think the whole thing is funny — it’s absolutely disgusting.
“When the doctor rang to tell us my mum wasn’t going to make it, I asked if any of us could be there and it was a blanket ‘no’, but we just accepted it.
“As far as we were concerned, it was what we had to do.”
Brenda was not permitted to see her mother’s body either.
She added: “We met mum’s coffin at the cemetery gates and only my sister and I were allowed at the graveside.
“Eight other members of the family had to stand behind a cordon.
EXCLUSIVE: Video obtained by ITV News shows Downing Street staff joking about a Christmas party on 18th December last year.— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) December 7, 2021
No 10 has spent the past week denying any rules were broken. This new evidence calls that into question. pic.twitter.com/nKYK0tG0dQ
“I can remember going forward to touch my mum’s coffin and one of the men there put his hand up and told me I wasn’t allowed.
“That still hurts me. This isn’t the first bereavement the family has suffered, and it’s different from all the others.
“We got the phone call to say mum wasn’t going to make it and it was 12 hours of going round and round in circles, imagining what it was like for her, what was mum thinking, wondering whether she was afraid, did she understand why I wasn’t there?
“At one point I actually prayed for the call to say she had died because then I would know she wasn’t suffering anymore.
“So, to see people laughing, to think they had a party with everything we and other families went through, it’s like they’re dancing on my mum’s grave.
“I can’t put into words how angry it makes me... it’s abhorrent.”
Traumatised by the experience, Brenda is now a member of Memory Stones of Love, which offers support to local people who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.
“There are so many of us who feel so hurt by this, there is one girl who lost her husband when all this was going on,” she explained.
“This is why we want a Northern Ireland public inquiry into the handling of Covid. Not just one that looks at what happened in care homes, but that looks at the whole response.
“For me, not being there in my mum’s final hours, I can’t explain the heartache that brings, and families need answers, especially with what’s happening now.”
Marie McIvor, whose mum, Annie McIvor died in May last year after catching Covid-19, also expressed fury at the footage of Downing Street staff laughing during a mock press conference when they rehearsed how to respond to questions about a staff Christmas party.
And she hit out at a crying Allegra Stratton, who quit her job as an aide to Boris Johnson in response to the scandal.
It came after the Prime Minister apologised and said he had ordered an investigation into claims staff broke lockdown rules by holding a Christmas party last year.
Marie said: “I saw her crocodile tears. I wasn’t able to be with my mum when she died and it’s heartbreaking.
“We weren’t allowed into the church for the funeral, we weren’t allowed to walk behind her coffin or carry the coffin, and now we have this — Boris Johnson and this party we’re told never happened.
“The most difficult part about this is my mum followed all the rules, she even stopped her carers coming into the house.
“She followed the rules and the people who made the rules let her down.”
Commenting on whether he is concerned the scandal may damage confidence in the public health message in light of the new Omicron variant, chief medical officer Professor Sir Michael McBride said: “I don’t know what did or didn’t happen… but what I can say, there is no one rule for one and a different rule for someone else.
“These rules are there for all of us, they’re in everyone’s best interest.
“This is about controlling a pandemic that is taking a significant toll.”