The Liberal Vannin Party has called for an independent Chair to be appointed to conduct the proposed independent review into the island’s handling of the Covid 19 pandemic, with the panel to be given the widest possible remit.
The party says that the review must be ‘conducted in public and be open to all’ and that it should start early in the new year.
Party chair Paul Weatherall said: ‘Liberal Vannin candidates stood at the last election on a manifesto that called for more openness and transparency, partly because of the way the last administration operated during the pandemic. We need to ensure that any review is seen to be independent of those in Tynwald who were party to those decisions. The last two years have been unprecedented in peace time, and we are not out of the woods yet. We accept that all involved acted and continue to act in good faith for the benefit of the island but, undoubtedly, some mistakes were inevitable and we need to ensure that our new Government both acknowledges them and learns from them.’
We have previously reported that the Public Accounts Committee has called for a full public inquiry. However, Chief Minister Alf Cannan has said that CoMin will be backing a review led by PAC instead of a full inquiry.
The gov’s preference would see PAC lead the review, with an independent chair. Mr Cannan said in CoMin’s response to the PAC recommendation that a public inquiry ‘might possibly take two to three years, to complete, at a cost of several million pounds to the taxpayer’.
Mr Cannan added: ‘We are uncertain as to what benefits will be achieved for the island by conducting such a lengthy and potentially expensive inquiry that may not otherwise be achieved through an Independent Review.’
However, with Lib Vannin leader Lawrie Hooper serving in CoMin as DHSC Minister, the party’s call for a review that is ‘seen to be independent of those in Tynwald who were party to these decisions’, appears slightly muddled with the PAC recommendation which Mr Hooper was part of creating when he served on PAC during the last administration.
There will be no doubt a case of semantics when it comes to the creation of this independent review/inquiry, with arguments over money and scope undoubtedly making their way to Tynwald later this month when the matter is due to be debated. For those who were critical of the last administration’s handling of Covid, as well as some of the more controversial topics such as the advice of Dr Rosalind Ranson, the treatment and role of Dr Rachel Glover and the Steam Packet crew, they will won’t nothing short of an inquiry totally independent of Tynwald. However, for those who see an independent chair working alongside a Tynwald committee, possibly PAC, this solution will be seen as a cost effective and probably quicker way of uncovering what should be the same facts.