By Michael McHugh, PA
The Catholic Church has called for inquiries into the impact of Covid-19 on nursing homes in Ireland.
More than half of all deaths have occurred in the care facilities.
The church said they should be prioritised to ensure they have the people and equipment necessary to deal with crises when they arise.
It added: "We would welcome appropriate inquiries into the reasons why nursing care facilities were so badly affected.
"Lessons must be learned.
"More and more people will be availing of nursing care in the years ahead.
"Nursing homes should be prioritised by the State to ensure that they have the personnel and equipment necessary to deal with such crisis situations as soon as they arise."
There have been over 880 deaths in nursing homes in Ireland related to Covid-19.
Nursing Homes Ireland CEO Tadhg Daly has said that key State organisations left nursing homes and their residents isolated in the early days of the pandemic.
The Catholic Church statement said: "Every resident is someone's mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend.
"They have played their part over many decades in contributing to their communities and to the economy."
It said the lives of those who live in such facilities should be valued, respected and enhanced.
"Human life is sacred and precious from the child in the womb to the elderly person in care. We must do all that we can to protect life and to improve the quality of life for those who are particularly vulnerable."