Campaigners express bemusement over Covid committee deal between Welsh Government and Tories
Welsh Covid justice campaigners have said the agreement between the Welsh Government and the Senedd Conservative group to set up a special Covid committee falls far short of what is required.
The agreement to set up the committee was reached following secret talks between First Minister Mark Drakeford and Tory group leader Andrew RT Davies.
But the move has been questioned by Plaid Cymru and now the group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru has issued a statement which says: “What lengths will our Welsh Labour Government go to avoid independent scrutiny of their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales? Would they join up with their long-term opponents, the Welsh Conservatives, to agree setting up a special Senedd committee? You bet they would.
“Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru express a feeling of bemusement over the news of the rapid establishment of a Senedd Select Committee to scrutinise the Welsh issues not considered by the UK Covid Inquiry.
“The agreement to a Senedd Special Committee by the Welsh Government is an acknowledgement by them that Wales will not be fully scrutinised in the UK Covid Inquiry.
“However, the committee is not an independent inquiry, and we do not accept that it is a feasible alternative to a Wales Covid Inquiry. Bereaved families will not be able to participate in the Senedd Inquiry in the same way as they could in a proper Welsh public inquiry.
“We will not be able to ask questions. Such an inquiry risks becoming politicised and will not lead to robust scrutiny of the preparedness for and response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Wales.
“Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru want Welsh devolved actions during the pandemic to be scrutinised in an independent judge-led inquiry and not by a committee of politicians within the Senedd.
“The bereaved Welsh families appreciate the efforts of the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats in calling for a Welsh Covid inquiry.”
“A judge-led Inquiry would provide the same independent scrutiny that the bereaved families in Scotland are being afforded. Their Scottish Covid Inquiry is working alongside the UK Covid inquiry to ensure that there is no overlap and that ALL devolved matters will be scrutinised. This is what the people of any devolved country would expect from their government.
“The Welsh Labour Government has consistently blocked a Welsh Covid inquiry and instead relied entirely on the UK Covid inquiry to provide scrutiny and indicate where lessons can be learned in Wales. Baroness Hallett of the UK inquiry indicated at the start that Wales would not be fully scrutinised, as it simply isn’t feasible to do so. Mark Drakeford has ignored these warnings and continues to block a Wales Covid inquiry.
“Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru urges the Welsh Government to reconsider their stance on a Welsh Covid inquiry and to provide the same level of scrutiny to Welsh actions during the pandemic as is being afforded to Scotland. The bereaved families deserve answers, and a Welsh independent judge-led inquiry is the only way to ensure that those responsible for any failings are held accountable.
“We will continue to campaign for a Welsh Covid inquiry until justice is served for the bereaved families in Wales. A special committee in the Senedd set up to argue over gaps in the UK Covid inquiry is not how we expect a mature government to behave.”
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