Minister of State for Older People, Jim Daly, has denied there was a systems failure in relation to COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
It was suggested to him that nursing homes fell through the cracks between the HSE and HIQA.
He told The Hard Shoulder: "There wasn't a systems failure in Ireland, and I can tell you that categorically.
"There was not a systems failure in Ireland.
"There was a very large amount of deaths and I obviously am very, very sensitive to the families and realising that these are real people who died - and not for a second being glib or not conscious of that."
But he said this happened "the world over, in every single country".
"We have an extraordinary robust system of data collection, we are gathering the data, we are counting deaths, we are counting probable deaths and including that in our numbers.
"We have tested and had a very rigorous testing regime in our nursing homes, which again has given us very large numbers".
"We are doing everything we can, we have very good systems in place now".
On the nursing home deaths, he said: "That happened across the entire global because of the global nature of this pandemic.
"Nursing homes clinical governance in the private sector are typically provided by the local GP - the HSE do not provide clinical governance to private homes.
"The private homes work along the similar lines as a GP does - they're paid an agreed amount of money to provide a service to the State, along the lines of what a GP does as well."
"This is a global pandemic that caught everybody, and unfortunately the nursing homes bore the brunt of it at the time.
"They are congregated settings, they have very, very elderly, frail people who are resident in them, you have staff who have very, very close contact with them... you have staff moving in and out of the premises.
"Residents in these homes don't go anywhere, so it's being brought into the home.
"And when it comes into the home it is very, very challenging to deal with it.
"But you have to bear in mind that the first outbreak [in nursing homes] was probably the week of the 16th of March.
"And at that time - it's easy to look at things with hindsight - at that time we were still struggling with PPE, to source it nationally, to get it into the country full stop, whether it was public or private.
"We were still struggling to get a testing regime up and running that was going to be robust enough to deal with the demands of this global pandemic".
But he said there is a need to get away from the nursing home model, looking at a home care scheme and housing options for older people.
"We are moving - very, very progressively - away from our reliance on nursing homes, where we can give older people a real alternative and we're doing that in the last two years, two and a half years under my stewardship inside here".