Why is nobody enforcing the Covid laws in meat plants?

In Blog by Denis Naughten

Simon Harris told Dáil Éireann earlier that the Health and Safety Authority (HAS) carried out 190 inspections of premises on Monday & Tuesday of this week. And the HSA told the Dáil Covid Committee on Tuesday that it had carried out no inspection of meat plants: https://www.farmersjournal.ie/no-inspections-carried-out-in-meat-plants-hsa-546965

 

And while I have received reports of Health & Safety Authority inspectors being less than helpful this week when calling to small businesses doing their best to manage under very changed trading conditions, these same inspectors conveniently failed to inspect a single meat plant over the last 50 days.

 

Minister Humphreys needs to provide an explanation regarding this selective inspection programme which seems to blatantly contradict the stated approach of Government.

 

The Minister for Agriculture assured me Dáil Éireann 3 weeks ago that he was “satisfied” from the feedback from his 250 veterinary and technical staff involved in supervising and regulating the operations of the 56 slaughter plants that “everything was being done to minimise the spread on this infection.”

It seems bizarre that while the Health & Safety Authority had received complaints on the operation of meat plants that it seemed to sit on, the Department of Agriculture had not received a single complaint via its staff who have direct responsibility for ensuring that we maintained processing capacity throughout this pandemic.

Meat Industry Ireland tells Morning Ireland yesterday that Department of Agriculture staff were verifying meat plan compliance with the HSE guidelines for the industry that were eventually issued last Monday, but the Minister for Agriculture says it has nothing to do with him: https://www.farmersjournal.ie/doubt-cast-over-hse-measures-for-factory-workers-547237

From the Farmers Journal article by Hannah Quinn Mulligan: Speaking on the Irish Farmers Journal podcast, Minister Creed stated: “The only legal function that we have is around food safety and animal welfare.

 

“We don’t have a statutory role in respect of health and welfare of [factory] workers.”

 

 

Hundreds of Department staff, including vets, work in factories but the Irish Farmers Journal understands that their representative bodies have not been informed their members are expected to oversee or verify HSE protocol.