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Why is the Government acting like it has something to hide on excess deaths?

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When it comes to the huge rise in excess deaths happening right now in Ireland, it’s clear the government wants to avoid the issue like the plague.

If their aim is to encourage people to think the worst possible of their lockdown actions – and to increase speculation about what might be responsible – then they couldn’t be doing a better job.

It really is a classic case of “see no evil, hear no evil”, as the administration continues to stick their heads in the sand, hoping the issue will simply go away.

But it won’t. Deaths have a way of garnering public attention, no matter how many blind eyes are turned by those in power.

The numbers are stark and seem to be getting worse. According to the Irish Examiner, an analysis of deaths posted on the RIP.ie website, which has been shown to be a remarkably reliable record, shows deaths over 8 weeks from December 1st 2022 were up a massive 20% compared to last year.

9,718 people died in Ireland from the start of December to January 25,2023. And the upward shift also holds when contrasting death in the period to the same dates in 2020/2021 – a time recognised as the worst period of the Covid nightmare.

That’s worth repeating: there have been 19% more deaths in the most recent 8 weeks under observation than was recorded in the same period in the height of the Covid crisis when the media were reading out daily the list of fatalities and then infections in order to justify a draconian lockdown.

In fact, the Examiner says that “a spike in the number of deaths in recent weeks has disrupted funeral arrangements and put mortuaries under unprecedented stress”.

Anecdotally, we all know this to be true. Funerals are being delayed, and those providing services seem to be under unusual pressures.  In fact, the coroner for Cork city said that in the last two months bodies had to be stored in the city’s hospitals because space wasn’t available at the Cork City Morgue.

“Between the 19th of December and the 3rd of January, over 100 deaths were reported to my office,” Philip Comyn, coroner for Cork city, told the Irish Examiner, adding that the numbers surpassed even the busiest Covid period.

The Cork coroner said that the phenomenon was being seen nationwide and that pathologists were starting work at 6am and working Saturdays to clear the backlog.

Is this not alarming? Shouldn’t this be front-page news and the subject of a Prime Time special? Yet it feels as if the government, and the persistently media, are ignoring a real and growing crisis.

Outspoken Mayo coroner Patrick O’Connor has been ringing an alarm bell on excess deaths for some time now. It’s almost a year since he made a public call for a national expert group to be established “to review the effects of the Covid pandemic in Ireland and the State’s response to it”.

He told the Connaught Telegraph that there had been “an extraordinary number of deaths in the past year”.

“The number of deaths reported to me in 2022 increased quite significantly from the previous year and indeed the previous years. It was the largest number of deaths reported to me and the largest number of inquests I held in my 33 years as a coroner”.


Mr O’Connor said that the Covid virus was not a significant factor in the sharp rise, and that the number of post-mortems being carried out was very unusual.

But in that past year we’ve seen nothing but foot-dragging from the government – apart from when TDs say that the scope of any enquiry should be restricted.

This simply isn’t good enough. The effects of the unusually long lockdown – which the government insisted on prolonging despite evidence from other countries that it might not be necessary – must be comprehensively examined.

If people are now paying for the Government’s Covid policies with their lives then that absolutely must be investigated.

But the same people who ignored warnings about the effect of paralysing the health service and locking people up for months at a time are  now getting to decide whether there should be an inquiry or not.

Some of the reluctance is, of course, pure politics: those  in power don’t want to learn from mistakes, however grievous, if acknowledging those mistakes might have political consequences.  But that’s not acceptable.

If delaying screening and restricting access to treatments, and terrifying people away from hospitals and GPs for two long years means that we now have a 20% higher number of deaths. then the government must answer to that. If other outcomes – for education, psychological wellbeing, for small businesses – are also negative, we must learn from this collective experience.

We can’t simply dust off almost a two-year straggling lockdown, and now a unexplained and serious rise in excess deaths, as if these things aren’t unprecedented and alarming.

Of course, the media should be clamouring for this inquiry instead of helping to keep a lid on genuine and understandable public anger and concern.

To date, it has been mostly the Independent TDs, like Mattie McGrath, Carol Nolan, Michael McNamara and others who’ve had the courage to call the government to account during a period of what amounted to Covid hysteria, where any questioning of the narrative put you outside the Pale.

Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín, has also been excellent, and persisted in asking the government during the Covid restrictions for a cost benefit analysis of the lockdown decisions – an analysis which might have forewarned of the “tsunami” of cancers experts say we should now expect. This week he has also said, yet again, that a full inquiry is needed.

Some of the government’s foot-dragging might also be attributable to their reluctance to examine any possible ill-effects from the Covid vaccine, since avoiding giving succour to “anti-vaxxers” seems to be the new priority for everyone in authority.

But that’s nonsense too. If there are no significant deaths arising from vaccines, isn’t it better for an inquiry to tackle that issue too and lay the matter to rest?

This week, Fianna Fáil TD, Willie O’Dea, one of a handful in the government parties who seemed to question anything at all over the never-ending lockdown said that he had noticed a “huge upsurge in funerals” before Christmas.

He also confirmed that he had submitted a parliamentary question to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, which asked the Minister “to provide statistics on excess mortality rates in Ireland for each of the years 2019 to 2022” and “if there is a clear and significant increase in excess mortality, if he intends to initiate an investigation into the causes of these excess deaths.”

The growing chorus of concerns might be getting harder and harder for the government to ignore.

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