Denis Naughten TD has announced that he has been successful in encouraging the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to establish a multi-agency group to look at the current Covid-19 outbreaks in the meat processing industry.
Naughten met with HSE management last week to discuss the issue and make his request, which has now been granted.
The Roscommon-Galway TD said it was clear from his engagement with communities and public health staff that there was a need for greater support at national level.
“I asked HSE management to set up a national coordination team to deal specifically with this situation and to ensure that staff, particularly non-Irish staff, are given the proper information in person and in documentation in their native language,” he said.
“Responding to this Dr Philip Crowley, the HSE’s Acting National Co-Lead Public Health Response to COVID-19 accepted that efforts need to be taken to protect this specific industry and acknowledged that it is more difficult to provide for social distancing in such facilities.”
Naughten reported that Dr Crowley has followed up on this by confirming the establishment of the multi-agency group that will review COVID-19 outbreaks in the meat industry.
“We have seen the impact of the delay in reacting to COVID infections in nursing homes and I now welcome the more pro-active approach being taken to ensure that we do not have a similar story in our meat processing facilities or asylum centres across the country.”
“We have seen the impact of the failure to take action in the US, where meat processing has ground to a halt, but this would have a far bigger impact in Ireland, where it could lead to a second wave of Covid-19 infections in communities where there has been a low level of infection to date,” the Independent TD concluded.