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NPHET became 'de facto decision-maker' instead of Government advisors - TCD report

A new report is calling for clarity on who makes the key decisions on COVID-19 restrictions. A st...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.20 4 Aug 2021


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NPHET became 'de facto decision-maker' instead of Government advisors - TCD report


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.20 4 Aug 2021


Share this article


A new report is calling for clarity on who makes the key decisions on COVID-19 restrictions.

A study by legal experts from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is criticising a lack of accountability and transparency.

It says the National Public Health Emergency Team became 'the de facto decision-maker' instead of advisors to the Government in some decisions.

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The report says some steps taken in the fight against COVID-19 were 'perhaps heavy handed' and criticised a lack of transparency on how decisions were reached.

It examines decision-making processes as well as the kind of restrictions that were necessary.

It also notes that a number of sub-groups, set up within NPHET to examine specific issues early on in the pandemic, disappeared  without any obvious explanation.

Scholar at the Trinity School of Law, Alan Eustace, told Newstalk Breakfast there is concern over a lack of accountability.

"We were very critical of the transparency around the role of NPHET as a decision-making body, and also of NIAC it should be said.

"Similar concerns arise in respect of both of those bodies.

"Neither are statutory bodies, so it's not set out in law what their role is, how they are to be formed and what sort of considerations they have to take into account.

"We crticise their lack of expertise in some areas."

He also says the current set-up allows for an "accountability trap".

"Either we have NPHET as an unelected body making decisions themselves - or we have the Government, which have got democratic legitimacy, making decisions but hiding behind NPHET and thereby avoiding taking responsibility for those decisions themselves.

"Neither of those things are good.

"As legal academics, we're not in a position to examine the substance of all the decisions that have been made - we do have serious concerns about accountability and public transparency in the decision-making process".

NPHET became 'de facto decision-maker' instead of Government advisors - TCD report

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Main image: (left to right) Prof Karina Butler, chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committe (NIAC) with Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, and Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, at a health briefing in the Department of Health. Picture by: Eamon Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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Accountability Alan Eustace COVID-19 Restrictions NPHET Tcd Transparency Trinity College Dublin

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