Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the responses from the HSE to his questions on meat plants did not adequately address the concerns that communities have.
Teachta Carthy was speaking following his interaction with the HSE officials, including CEO Paul Reid, at the Dáil Special Committee on Covid-19 Response today.
Teachta Carthy said:
“We still do not have a clear articulation of the basis on which testing is carried out in Food Processing factories despite the fact that we know that considerable numbers of Covid-19 outbreaks have emerged from these settings.
“We also have no clear indication as to who is responsible for informing the public when Covid-19 cases are detected in these factories. We don’t yet know why the public purse appears to be paying for a significant proportion of tests carried out in factories.
“Concerns also remain as to the exact protocols in place to manage outbreaks in meat plants themselves. From our committee exchange, it seems that the HSE are hiding behind supposed tailored responses and the announcement of new frameworks.
“In reality, it appears that the Government is effectively continuing to allow self-regulation in meat processing plants.
“It is bizarre that all of the information we have received regarding the recent outbreaks in meat plants is coming from the meat factories themselves rather than from the Health Authorities. This needs to change.
“As we prepare to enter the winter period, this Government must outline how they plan to monitor and manage outbreaks in meat plants. It will not be acceptable in a month’s time for Government to once more rely on the excuse of new frameworks and guidelines that will be implemented in the future.
“Those communities within which Covid-19 cases have emerged from factories, including Clones in my own constituency, deserve better communication from Government and HSE.”