Calls for Ministers and HSA intervention in worsening meat plant COVID crisis

TD urges HSE to inspect facility and take action

Gino Kenny, the People Before Profit TD for Dublin Mid-West, has urged state bodies and Government Ministers to examine the crisis at a meat processing plant in the Clondalkin area where an outbreak of Covid-19 is suspected.

The TD said he had raised the issue some weeks ago with Ministers and the HSA but to date no action has taken place in relation to the worsening outbreak.

He said: “Several weeks ago I was informed that up to 30 workers had been affected. Yesterday I was informed the number is now over 60. I have passed on details of the facility along with my concerns but to date no action has been taken and no onsite inspection by the state authorities has happened to the best of my knowledge.”

He said the response of the HSA was particularly disappointing and raised questions about the role of the state’s chief workplace health and safety authority.

“There is a lack of urgency on this that is frightening. I am asking again if the HSA will inspect the facility and confirm the number of workers there affected and that they are being treated correctly. I am also again asking the Agriculture Minister and the Minister responsible for the HSA, Leo Varadkar, to intervene here and assure people in the wider community that all steps are being taken to safeguard against a worsened outbreak.”

The TD said he would also be contacting Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to ascertain what, if any, public health intervention has happened at the site.

“The Covid crisis has highlighted glaring weaknesses in our public health and workers’ rights laws. This is just another example that shows we need tougher laws to make sure vulnerable workers have mandatory sick schemes that allow their health to be prioritised and that our public health and regulatory teams have resources and sufficient powers to intervene strongly in such outbreaks.”