Minister for Health should close affected meat plants
10 August 2020
Spokesperson on Defence, Tourism and Sport
The Minister for Health should order all the affected meat plants in Laois, Offaly and Kildare closed until it is safe for them to reopen according to Kildare South based Labour Senator, Mark Wall.
Senator Wall said:
“We have had several Ministers of State in recent days calling on the remaining meat processing plant to do the right thing and close the factory following the discovery of clusters of Covid-19 on site. Instead of standing on the side-lines, they should request their colleague Minister Donnelly order the meat plant to close until it is safe for them to reopen.
“Minister Donnelly has the power to order the meat factories to close under the Health Preservation Act 2020 which is the law governing the emergency Covid measures. Under this Act, the Minister for Health may make regulations for the purpose of preventing, limiting, minimising or slowing the spread of Covid-19 or to deal with public health risks arising from the spread.
“We need action from our local Government Ministers and not soundbites, Minister Heydon and Hackett are both Ministers of State in the Department of Agriculture, the Department responsible for regulating meat factories. They should request that the remaining factory is ordered to close immediately and that the Senior Minister in their Department, Dara Calleary establishes a working group to examine conditions at meat factories with immediate effect.
“Labour have consistently warned about working conditions in the meat industry and that we cannot rely on the word of Meat Industry Ireland to keep workers safe. My colleague Duncan Smith T.D has called for a working group to be established to investigate the industry since May.
“Warm words from Ministers of State are not going to force the meat industry to take action. They need to take responsibility and ask Minister Donnelly to use the powers he has under the Covid legislation to order the factory to close.