'Dysfunctional b*stards': CMO Michael McBride's text messages about Stormont ministers revealed at Covid inquiry

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride -Credit:Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride -Credit:Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Text messages sent by Dr Michael McBride during the pandemic referring to Northern Ireland Executive ministers as 'dysfunctional b*stards' were revealed on the first day of a Covid-19 public inquiry.

The inquiry heard how Chief Medical Officer, Dr McBride, who led the medical response to the pandemic in NI and shared a stage at daily briefings with Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill, sent texts to Health Minister Robin Swann and others heavily criticising the actions of the Executive.

The messages were revealed during evidence given by Peter Wilcock KC, representing a group of families bereaved by Covid-19.

READ MORE: LIVE updates as Covid 19 inquiry gets underway in Belfast

In a text sent to Health Minister Swann in autumn 2023, as NI was to enter the period where most deaths occurred due to coronavirus, Dr McBride described the Executive as an 'enemy within'.

He wrote: "Dysfunctional b*stards. How will we ever get through this with an enemy within? I have a good mind to walk off and leave them to it, as no doubt do you.

"But then those that really matter, those whom seem they seem to have forgotten they represent, are really depending on us."

In another message sent by McBride, this time to Chief Scientific Adviser Dr Ian Young, the CMO said ministers should 'hang their heads in shame' after a disagreement in the Executive about how to deal with a new variant of coronavirus.

"Disgraceful," the message starts.

"They should hang their heads in shame. How will history tell this story to the wife and two boys of a 49-year-old who said goodbye to their father on Facebook as he lay in the ICU for the sake of two weeks' more effort?"

The messages were disclosed on Tuesday, at the first day of a three-day hearing at the Clayton Hotel in Belfast.

The inquiry also heard that informal Whatsapp messages concerning the Executive response sent by then First Minister Foster and Deputy First Minister O'Neill were wiped from their phones.

The inquiry was only told about the development in August 2023, three months after senior civil servants in the Executive Office were informed that the messages were wiped.

Module 2C of the Covid 19 inquiry started on Tuesday and will continue for the next three weeks, and will focus on how the pandemic was dealt with in Northern Ireland and if things could have been done differently.

Key players in the response to the pandemic will be called to give evidence to the inquiry, including Michelle O’Neill and Arlene Foster.

Health Minister Swann, who has since returned to his role in the Executive, is also expected to appear before the inquiry, as is Chief Medical Officer McBride and Chief Scientific Officer Ian Young.

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