Galway TD accuses Minister of “hands off” approach to Covid-19 outbreaks in meat plants

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Galway TD Claire Kerrane has accused the Minister of Agriculture of taking a “hands off” approach to COVID-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants.

The Sinn Féin TD was speaking in the Dáíl on Thursday at questions and answers session for Ministers Creed and Humphreys specifically related to COVID-19 outbreaks in meat plants.

She said when she contacted Minister Creed with the concerns of people living near a meat plant where there were rumours of cases, he informed her that it was a matter for the factories themselves to ensure safety protocols were in place.

“We all know COVID-19 is a public health matter, but there is also a responsibility for the Minister in all this,” Claire Kerrane said.

Deputy Kerrane said that outbreaks at meat processing plants don’t just affect the employees there, but their families and communities.

“It is not good enough to leave factories to put protocols in place, hope for the best and leave it at that.”

“The Minister might have faith in a lot of these meat processing plants, but I do not think that faith is shared by many other people.”

The HSE has identified 16 outbreaks at meat processing plants which are associated with 823 cases.

Deputy Kerrane also criticised the fact that no inspections of meat processing plants were carried out by the Health and Safety Authority despite complaints.

“I know of a factory where positive cases were identified in April. The HSA wrote to all staff at the time.

“Would that not have been a time for the HSA to go into that plant to check the protocols and see what was in place for the protection of those employees?”