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TDs to hear claims over Covid-19 impact on meat staff


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Efforts to protect meat processing plant workers from Covid-19 were "slow and inadequate" and the State appears to have allowed the industry to "regulate itself", TDs will be told

Efforts to protect meat processing plant workers from Covid-19 were "slow and inadequate" and the State appears to have allowed the industry to "regulate itself", TDs will be told

Efforts to protect meat processing plant workers from Covid-19 were "slow and inadequate" and the State appears to have allowed the industry to "regulate itself", TDs will be told

Efforts to protect meat processing plant workers from Covid-19 were "slow and inadequate" and the State appears to have allowed the industry to "regulate itself", TDs will be told.

The claims will be made by Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) at today's meeting of the Dáil's Special Committee on Covid Response.

The committee will also hear a staunch defence of the sector from Meat Industry Ireland (MII) which will insist that "extensive measures" were taken early in the crisis to protect workers.

The meat processing sector was hit with clusters of cases in the worst weeks of the pandemic.

MRCI director Edel McGinley is expected to suggest there was a lack of political will to close factories in a high-value sector with almost €4bn in exports. She will say that around 58pc of the workers are migrants and the work is "difficult and dangerous".

The MII statement says there have been "challenging days" for the sector but there are currently no active cases in meat plants. It says 97pc of affected staff have returned to work and the rest are recovering from Covid-19.

MII says the industry had brought in mitigation measures two months before the HSE issued guidelines specifically for the meat sector. MII insists: "The industry has worked tirelessly to protect employees throughout the course of this pandemic."

Separately, new figures show that two-thirds of childcare providers have sought financial assistance from the State to reopen from the coronavirus lockdown.

The Department of Health said yesterday evening that at close of business last night 66pc - two-thirds - of the 4,500 providers had applied, and it is expected that the numbers applying for the grant will continue to rise over the summer.

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