A NORTH Belfast woman who lost her father during the Covid-19 pandemic, says she wants answers from the inquiry which is currently sitting in Belfast.

Anne-Marie O’Neill (55) from the Cliftonville area was speaking as the UK Covid inquiry continued this week.

Ann-Marie's father, John (79) collapsed at home on November 1 2020 and was taken to the Mater Hospital where he spent four days, before being transferred to Belfast City Hospital. John had contracted Covid-19 and spent six weeks in hospital, alone, before passing away on December 13.

Shortly afterwards, Anne-Marie’s mother Rhoda, who’s 82, was also hospitalised with Covid but recovered and was later discharged.

Health worker Anne-Marie, who worked with dementia patients, said her father was “very fit” with “no underlying health conditions” prior to contracting Covid. She added that before his death, he’d been out of an induced coma for 12 days.

“The hospital rang every day with an update but we weren’t even allowed to call him,” said Ann-Marie. “They kept saying he was too heavily sedated and wouldn’t recognise our voices. Mummy was only back home five days when daddy died.

“On that Sunday morning, December 13, they said daddy had had a really bad night and it was time to get the family together. I was extremely shocked because up until then we’d been getting good reports.

“I phoned the whole family and told them I thought this was the end. The Zoom call came through at 3.10pm. Daddy looked like he was still in a coma.

“He didn’t say a word but when we were saying our goodbyes there were tears streaming down his face.

“That broke my heart and it’s that image I'll never, ever be able to un-see. It all happened too quickly. I was not expecting that call.

“That Zoom call was the first time we’d seen him since he was taken away from us in an ambulance.”

As the Belfast sitting of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry continues, Anne-Marie does not believe the inquiry will ease her heartache in any way but wants answers about the way the pandemic was handled.

“We want to know who made the decisions and we want to know the truth," she added. “Someone must be held accountable for what happened.

“On the day of my daddy’s funeral, there was a wine and cheese party at 10 Downing Street. We weren’t allowed to bring daddy home for a wake and most of our family couldn’t go to daddy’s funeral but there was a party at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s house. 

“In what kind of world can that be right? Lessons must be learned and this can’t ever happen again.

“People told me it would get easier with time but I’m finding it more difficult. When my daddy died, a big part of me died with him.”