Denis Naughten has confirmed the Dáil Business Committee has taken the unprecedented step of holding three Cabinet Ministers accountable in a single Dáil session on the scale of Covid-19 infection in the meat processing industry.
Denis Naughten secured the support of the members of the Dáil Business Committee to hold a specific debate on how several meat processors across the country have seen a large proportion of their employees contract Covid-19. He said: “Historically the only time multiple Ministers are held accountable in Dáil Éireann at the same time is when a motion of no confidence is tabled in a Government.
“I don’t recall any situation where three Ministers were held jointly accountable for an issue on the floor of Dáil Éireann and it clearly underlines how serious the members of the Dáil Business Committee, representing all groups & parties in Dáil Éireann, take the issue and the information that I presented to them in support of the call for such a debate.
“Next Thursday evening will now see the Minister for Agriculture answer for the 250 veterinary and technical staff involved in supervising and regulating the operations of 56 slaughter plants; the Minister for Health will answer for the public health & HSE management of the clusters of infection; and the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation will answer for the Health & Safety Authority which is responsible for the protection of workers.
“I believe there has been a systemic failure across all three Government Departments which has resulted in 600+ staff, including up to half of the workforce in at least one meat plant, who have become infected.
“This is now resulting in a jump of Covid-19 cases in communities which had very few positive cases to date and this is undermining the great efforts made to date by every citizen in the State to stop the spread of this virus.
“I firmly believe that if we do not learn from the mistakes made in our nursing homes and in our meat plants then we risk a second wave of Covid-19 infection which will be disastrous for the health of our people and our economic recovery,” concluded Denis Naughten.