Fine Gael TD Colm Burke will be hosting a free Zoom meeting next week, with discussions focusing on farm safety and mental health.

The virtual meeting will take place on Monday (February 15) from 8:00pm to 9:20pm and will be joined by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon, vet Hazell Mullins of Abbeyville Veterinary Hospital and Cork dairy farmer and mental health advocate Peter Hynes.

Deputy Burke said this event will provide an opportunity to “engage with and discuss important issues to the farming community” and he encourages anyone interested to join. The meeting ID is 864 3339 5704; and the passcode is 14794.

‘Pandemic has highlighted a number of key areas for attention’

Deputy Burke has previously said that farm safety is “a major cause of concern for this government, with a disproportionate amount of all fatal workplace incidents (50%) occurring in the agriculture, fishing and forestry sector”.

The TD for Cork North Central is the Fine Gael spokesperson on health and has recently expressed concern over the toll that Covid-19 is having on many in the country.

“There is a huge problem in respect of the financial strain placed on everyone, especially those running small businesses and those who have lost their jobs,” he told the Dáil.

“People who have lost their jobs are worried about support for their immediate family. It is hugely stressful for young people as well.

The Covid pandemic has highlighted a number of key areas for attention, one of which is mental health.

He has called for a dedicated director for mental health reporting directly to the CEO of the Health Service Executive (HSE), along with a national mental health directorate being established, as recommended in A Vision for Change, the national policy in place since 2006 that sets out the direction for mental health services in Ireland.