Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the Final Report of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response ‘paints a damning image of how Covid-19 was handled in meat processing plants’ but also ‘charts a way forward for the sector.’
The report, published on Friday last, highlighted several failings on the part of the state to monitor and control the outbreak in meat plants and recommends a full inquiry be carried out.
Teactha Carthy, who was a member of Dáil Special committee on Covid-19, said:
“This report makes a number of constructive, concrete proposals in respect of the meat industry that can and must be actioned urgently.
“Staff must be entitled to statutory sick pay, and Covid-19 must be recognised as a notifiable workplace illness.
“My colleague Louise O’Reilly TD has introduced a Bill to achieve the latter – I am calling on the government to recognise the recommendation of the Covid Committee in this regard, and to support the Sinn Féin legislation.
“The report also raises questions around the testing and tracing regime operating in meat processing plants. We know that gaps remain in the testing regime in these plants. These gaps need to be addressed as a matter of priority.
“Testing cannot be deferred again; in fact it needs to be intensified. We must build the capacity to ensure that mass serial testing continues in all congregated settings, and to have results returned within 24 hours.
Teachta Carthy continued: “As recommended by this report, we must establish an inquiry to examine the operation of the meat processing industry.
“Over the past twelve months we have learned much regarding the manner with which some in this sector exploit their workers and the farmers who supply them.
“As we face into a challenging winter, the very least that those who have been failed by meat plants should expect is a commitment to an inquiry dedicated to uncovering and addressing the deficiencies in the sector.”