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Independent TD Michael McNamara elected chairman of Covid-19 committee

The new committee will look at how authorities and agencies have responded to the pandemic.

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The 19-member Oireachtas committee includes TDs from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein as well as a number of other parties and independents (Brian Lawless/PA)

The 19-member Oireachtas committee includes TDs from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein as well as a number of other parties and independents (Brian Lawless/PA)

The 19-member Oireachtas committee includes TDs from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein as well as a number of other parties and independents (Brian Lawless/PA)

Independent TD Michael McNamara has been elected chairman of the new Oireachtas committee set up to examine the Government’s response to Covid-19.

The new committee will look at how authorities and agencies have responded to the pandemic and take evidence on the state’s response.

The special 19-member Oireachtas committee includes TDs from Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein as well as a number of other parties and independents.

Sitting for the first time today, the committee elected its chairman and will also have a preliminary discussion on the development of a work programme for the committee.

The committee meeting is being held in the Dail to allow for TDs to adhere to social distancing rules.

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty nominated his party colleague David Cullinane to be chairman, while Green Party TD Ossian Smyth nominated Michael McNamara.

Mr Doherty told the committee: “I want to, on behalf of the Sinn Fein party, nominate David Cullinane as chairperson of this committee.

“I think David has the skills to assist this committee in its important work over the next period.

“He has served many committees in this House, including the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and he brings the skills that is necessary, in my view, to support the committee’s work.”

Mr Cullinane, however, lost the vote with 12 voting against, six voting in favour and one TD abstained.

I think we're all very aware of the importance of the work that this committee will carry out, and I hope that we can do so in a collegiate manner. Michael McNamara

Mr McNamara thanked the committee members for the “honour that you have bestowed on me”.

He added: “I think we’re all very aware of the importance of the work that this committee will carry out, and I hope that we can do so in a collegiate manner as possible, and also that we can keep things as short as possible.

“On that basis I don’t propose to say anymore, other than thank you.”

PA