A Portadown woman who lost her mum to Covid-19 during the pandemic is urging anyone similarly affected to take part in an independent public inquiry.
Martina Ferguson (née Derry) heads a group called Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice along with co-founder Brenda Doherty from Newtownabbey.
It is dedicated to obtaining justice for those who have lost a loved one to Covid-19.
Martina’s much-loved mum Ursula died in hospital, aged 88, in January 2021 after contracting the virus in her care home.
She said: “Our key objectives are to secure answers and accountability for the deaths of our loved ones and to learn lessons to help save lives in the future and the most effective means of achieving this is by participating in the Covid-19 Public Inquiry.”
The UK Covid-19 Inquiry was formally opened on July 21 this year by its chairperson Baroness Heather Hallett.
In her opening statement, she committed to undertake a thorough investigation of the wide-ranging issues which occurred during the pandemic, including those specific to bereaved families from Northern Ireland.
The inquiry will be split into several different modules which will deal with themes such as governments preparedness, response and impact of the pandemic.
Public hearings are due to begin in spring 2023 for Module 1 of the inquiry.
The inquiry is now accepting applications for core participant status from those with a special interest in the inquiry, including groups such as bereaved families.
The deadline for applications for Module 1 is next Tuesday, August 16.
Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice is represented by PA Duffy & Company solicitors who are applying for core participant status on behalf of the group.
Those applying will be eligible to free legal representation as the inquiry will provide funding for groups or individuals who are designated as core participants.
Said Martina: “Participation in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry gives bereaved families from Northern Ireland a chance to have their voices heard. We would encourage anyone who has lost a loved one to Covid-19 to join the group and to take the first steps in obtaining justice.”
Any bereaved families whose loved one died of Covid can join the group by contacting northernireland@
They can also sign up for free legal representation by contacting covidinquiry@