Fintan O’Toole: Turning a blind eye to meat plants a very old habit

The obvious threat of meat plants becoming vectors of Covid-19 infection was not met with robust action

A midlands meat plant. It has been clear almost from the start of the coronavirus crisis here that meat plants are a major hazard. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A midlands meat plant. It has been clear almost from the start of the coronavirus crisis here that meat plants are a major hazard. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Imagine how bad things would have to get for TDs to be recalled from their holidays. There would probably need to be some terrible freak event such as a global pandemic. But as it happens, this month we have the 30th anniversary of just such a crisis, when half-tanned TDs and senators were summoned from beaches and pubs to face a shattering national emergency.

Officially, the Oireachtas was recalled in August 1990 to discuss what the then taoiseach Charles Haughey called “the Middle East situation” – Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. But the pretence was quickly abandoned. Everyone knew that the emergency that had forced this unprecedented rush back to Leinster House was the impending collapse of Ireland’s biggest meat processor.

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