Minutes from meetings of Ireland’s public health team which is advising the Government on the coronavirus pandemic have been published following concerns raised over transparency.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is a group of health experts which meets twice a week and provides crucial advice on Covid-19 and how the Government should respond to the health outbreak.
Controversy surrounding transparency has been raised in recent weeks about its decision-making process, particularly after it emerged that minutes from the NPHET’s meetings were not published since March.
On Thursday, the Department of Health published a range of minutes, including letters from chief medical officer Tony Holohan to Minister for Health Simon Harris.
Labour leader Alan Kelly told the Dail that he asked a number of questions regarding transparency of decision-making last week.
He accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of failing to answer those questions.
“I still don’t know why minutes are not recorded at the beginning of every meeting and signed off on,” he told the Dail.
“I still don’t how people are appointed to NPHET.
“You still haven’t published the letters from the HSE chairperson and chief executive to the minister and the Department of Health regarding their concerns on governance.
Transparency isn't a luxury in our democracyAlan Kelly
“Will you please publish these letters. What’s there to hide behind?
“Since last week, I have been inundated with people asking me about issues regarding transparency of decision-making, so people are concerned now more than ever.
“Transparency isn’t a luxury in our democracy. I think the odd time they (the NPHET) need to appear in front of these Houses.”
He also accused Mr Harris and the NPHET of legally overstepping the mark on decision-making on coronavirus testing.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett also called for the Government to release further details about the advisory group.
He told the Dail that he also asked on six occasions for the minutes, written advice and papers of the expert advisory group that advises the NPHET and the Government.
“Will you publish those minutes and papers they have produced,” he added.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said there is a “real and growing uncertainty” about the lack of clarity around the next steps to ease restrictions.
He added: “As things stand today, there is widespread unease about the lack of clarity on the basis upon which decisions will be taken.
“This is not the same as a demand for certain decisions – simply a wish to be told in direct terms what the triggers are for certain key policy decisions.
“Such clarity has been provided by governments in many countries.”