Donnelly criticised for not attending Covid-19 committee meeting

ireland
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Press Association
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has been criticised for not attending a special committee on the Government’s response to Covid-19.

Mr Donnelly was invited to attend the committee tomorrow but said it was “short notice” and that he would appear next week alongside acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn.

Senior officials from the Department of Agriculture, representatives from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and Meat Industry Ireland have been asked to appear at the committee.

It comes as counties Kildare, Offaly and Laois had to re-enter lockdown due to a spike in cases linked to meat processing plants.

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Sinn Fein TD Matt Carthy said the Health Minister should attend the meeting due to the urgency of the issues facing the country.

Mr Carthy said: “Tomorrow’s meeting of the Covid-19 committee is a really important opportunity for us as members of the Dáil on behalf of the people of communities affected by Covid-19 to put questions to industry representatives and officials from the Health and Safety Authority and the Department of Agriculture.

“It would have been great to have a discussion with the Minister for Health and I am completely disappointed with the fact that the minister has refused the opportunity to come before the committee.

“He has come back today to say, following pressure, that he will consider meeting the committee next week – that really is not good enough. We need answers today and we need answers this week to examine all these matters.”

Mr Carthy accused Government ministers of being dismissive of people who had highlighted the ongoing issues regarding the spread of coronavirus in meat factories.

Asked why he thought the minister would not attend the committee, he said: “I think the minister has another photo opportunity somewhere.

“He has a big job of work to do but the fact of the matter is that on July 10th, the Covid-19 committee heard firsthand from the meat industry that the HSA had carried out no unannounced inspections and the HSA were very slow to investigate meat factories at all and none of them were unannounced.”

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