Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD has written to the chairperson of the Dáil’s Special Committee on Covid-19 calling for the committee to be recalled to discuss the spike in Covid-19 cases, particularly the issues arising in meat processing plants.
Deputy Carthy has also called on the government to instruct the HSA to commence a robust process of unannounced inspections across the meat-processing sector and for a mass-testing programme to be initiated at all plants.
Speaking today, Teachta Carthy said: “When the Dáil’s Covid committee discussed outbreaks in meat factories on July 10th, we learned that the HSA had not carried out a single unannounced inspection at any meat plant.
“We also learned that Meat Industry Ireland had refused to meet with workers’ representatives to discuss their concerns. At that point, representatives confirmed that there was no further mass-testing taking place at their plants.
“The Meat Industry representatives refuted the contention by SIPTU and others that should there be a second wave, it would likely emerge from their plants. Events in recent days have clearly shown that the current measures in place are insufficient.
“I have written to the chairperson of the Dáil’s Special Committee on Covid-19 requesting an urgent recall of the committee to discuss these matters.
“As well as ensuring a further engagement with Meat Industry Ireland, we also need to hear directly from the trade union representatives of workers on the site.
“We also need clarification from the HSA regarding their plans to ensure adequate inspections of these sites, and their rationale for their failure to conduct unannounced inspections up to this point.
“We cannot have a situation whereby thousands of businesses, such as local pubs, are forced to remain closed while the sources of considerable Covid-19 outbreaks are not subjected to the full rigours of a robust inspection and testing regime.
“Government must regulate for the immediate closure and deep-clean of any plant with an outbreak ensuring that workers are compensated for any loss of income.”