Government has taken ‘hands-off approach’ to meat factories – Carthy

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has criticised the government for adopting a “hands-off approach” to meat factories.

He has described “the government’s ongoing failure to address Covid-19 risks at meat plants” as “unacceptable”.

Yesterday, trade union SIPTU said it questioned “the accuracy of the numbers of infections” among workers in meat plants disclosed by the industry over the last 10 months.

Also Read: SIPTU questions ‘accuracy’ of number of Covid-19 infections disclosed by industry

Deputy Carthy has shown concern for what he deems as unwillingness “to tackle the risk posed by the sector”.

“Since the outset of this pandemic, meat processing plants have been identified as a particularly high risk and they have been the source of numerous outbreaks in all parts of the country. We know that these outbreaks have had a considerable impact in accelerating wider community transmission,” the deputy said.

“The Oireachtas Covid committee heard repeatedly from workers’ representatives as to their fears.

“In the past number of months through answers to parliamentary questions, we have learned that the response of government to public health advice regarding meat plants has been perilously slow. The recent outbreaks suggest that rolling testing in these plants is not occurring at a sufficient level.”

‘Painfully slow to act upon’

The deputy said that the government was “painfully slow to act upon” recommendations in the report, ”Investigation into a Series of Outbreaks of Covid-19 in Meat Processing Plants in Ireland 2020′, published in the summer.

“For example, it was advised that ‘environmental sampling’ be carried out at plants at which there were future outbreaks yet, up until mid-December, this had only occurred at a single plant,” he continued.

Successive governments have allowed meat processors a free hand in their operations, at great cost to workers and farmers.

“That this government has applied the same hands-off approach in the midst of an unprecedented public health emergency is unacceptable. That approach must now change.”