The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, will be asked to be the first witness to come before the new Dáil committee on Covid-19 next Tuesday.

The 19-member committee held three and a half hours of private discussions today, after electing Independent TD for Clare, Michael McNamara, as its chair.

It had been expected that this special Dáil committee would hold a public session today, in which the 19 members would outline their views on how to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, after a much longer than expected private meeting, the talks were concluded for the day.

Due to physical distancing measures, the inaugural hearing took place in the Dáil chamber.

Mr McNamara said afterwards that the committee had agreed to invite Dr Holohan to attend next Tuesday, along with Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid.

Deputy McNamara, who is also a barrister and farmer, thanked his committee colleagues for the honour they had bestowed on him by electing him chair, after he defeated Sinn Féin's David Cullinane for the job.


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The special committee is made-up of 19 TDs - four each from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and Sinn Féin - with one seat each for other parties and Independent groups.

It is tasked with questioning the Taoiseach, ministers and officials about the Covid-19 pandemic and the State's response.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael members were due to hold separate meetings in advance of the committee meeting.

Earlier, committee member and Labour TD Duncan Smith said he would be supporting Deputy McNamara because he is Independent; has had ties with Labour; his professional background as a barrister; and his "high intellect".

Deputy Smith said Labour's main priority was to ensure that the committee would "interrogate" the transparency of decision making - both within Government and its agencies.

He said other key issues would include assessing the testing and tracing regime for Covid-19 - both how it is currently working and future plans - as well as examining how to protect workers as they return to their jobs.

Many committee members have said that they do not want to duplicate the work of existing Oireachtas committees - so the special committee is expected to have a short-life span.

However, given no other Oireachtas committee is currently sitting, this will be a high-profile one for as long as it lasts.

Additional reporting: Aisling Kenny