March 30, 2020
Minister Harris cannot abdicate responsibility for workers during COVID-19 pandemic – Senator Máire Devine

Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine has said the Minister for Health Simon Harris must not abdicate responsibility for construction workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and called on him to clarify whether construction workers at the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin South Central and at the Intel site in Kildare, after workers and community groups have raised serious concerns for their health and well-being amid the current crisis.

Senator Devine said;

“Over the past number of weeks numerous construction workers and residents adjacent to the National Children’s Hospital have raised concerns with me over work still going ahead despite there being a public health emergency in full effect.

“We have repeatedly asked the relevant authorities if the site would be closed, but have yet to receive any confirmation for this specific site.

“Alarmed residents had been in contact with BAM, but they are getting conflicting messages and BAM are continuing with the work as planned.

“Major concerns have been raised not only by these workers and their families, but also by local residents in terms of workers not being able to keep with social etiquette and health guidelines issued with crowds of construction workers in shops, take-aways and on the streets.

“These companies have interpreted Government policy in such a way that they are essential, but the criteria does not actually specify this.

“In his latest briefing the Minister tried to pass the buck on this issue saying it is the responsibility of individual companies or employers to decide the fate of their workers. This is wrong and should not be the case.

“Similarly, Intel in Leixlip had put up signage to say it was closed but has since continued to remain operational.

“I am once again calling on Minister Simon Harris to urgently clarify matters relating to this. He cannot leave these people behind in the worst public health emergency in modern history. Workers and communities need to hear whether these large-scale sites are going to be wound down for the duration of the pandemic.”

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