Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has welcomed the direct apology from the Department of Health to the families of patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital - but noted without any effort being made by the largest parties to put a Health Minister in place, there can be no adequate answer to the families' appeal for a statutory inquiry.
The South Belfast MLA stated: "The efforts being made by the Department to reassure the families and take action for the future are to be welcome. It is right for challenging targets to be set to ensure that patients are in the right location for their needs.
"However, the ultimate objective of a full public inquiry cannot be met without a Minister in place. We have already seen the independent neurology inquiry having to proceed with inquisitorial rather than statutory powers, and what would be clearly preferable in the case of Muckamore would be a full statutory inquiry.
"Yet again, we find innocent people are the victims of political failure. The DUP and Sinn Fein received the biggest mandates but are making no efforts whatsoever to put a government in place; they were also the two parties who held the Health portfolio since 2011. What is required now is an explanation from those two parties as to why they refuse to fulfil their responsibilities on the issues which directly affect people so seriously, such as why resolution in the case of Muckamore is being carried out by a Department hamstrung by the lack of statutory and legislative capacity."