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New Covid-19 committee to invite CMO and HSE boss

Dr Tony Holohan and Paul Reid will be asked to give evidence.

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Tony Holohan and Paul Reid (Steve Humphreys/Beian Lawless/PA)

Tony Holohan and Paul Reid (Steve Humphreys/Beian Lawless/PA)

Tony Holohan and Paul Reid (Steve Humphreys/Beian Lawless/PA)

A new Oireachtas committee set up to examine the Government’s response to Covid-19 is to invite the chief medical officer and the HSE boss to appear next week.

The committee agreed to meet on two occasions next week and will invite Dr Tony Holohan and Paul Reid to appear as witnesses in one of the sessions.

The decision comes following hours of private discussions.

Independent TD Michael McNamara was elected chairman during the inaugural sitting.

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.

The committee meeting was 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 Mr 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.

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 mannerMichael McNamara

“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 abstaining.

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 any more, other than thank you.”

PA