Covid-19 victims' families seek central role in public inquiry

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry is due to begin public evidence-gathering sessions in Spring 2023

Families in Northern Ireland who lost loved ones to Covid-19 are mounting a legal bid to secure a central role at the UK-wide inquiry into the pandemic.

The tribunal has been set up to examine the impact of the public health emergency and the government's response to it.

Lawyers representing campaign group Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice confirmed they are applying for core participant status at the hearings.

In a statement, PA Duffy & Company Solicitors said: “It is difficult to conceive of a group who have been more tragically affected by the pandemic.

“Our key objectives are to secure answers and accountability for the deaths of our loved ones and to learn lessons to help save lives in the future and the most effective means of achieving this is by participating in the Covid-19 Public Inquiry," the statement read.

The inquiry, which is due to be chaired by Baroness Heather Hallet, is due to begin public evidence-gathering sessions in Spring 2023.

It will investigate how ready the authorities were for the crisis, as well as other issues such as the consequences of lockdown and use of scientific expertise.

The inquiry has been split into different modules, with Baroness Hallett and her team due to visit each of the four UK regions to take the views of families and community groups.

Once completed, a factual narrative account will be published dealing with decision-making at all levels of government, the response of the health and care sector, and any lessons to be learned.

The Northern Ireland-based campaign body’s legal representatives urged anyone who lost a loved one due to the virus to contact them about joining the group.

The statement added: “Participation in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry gives bereaved families from Northern Ireland a chance to have their voices heard.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.