Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.49 17 Apr 2020


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The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has asked for "an urgent review" of the current rules and procedures at Irish airports and ports.

It comes after Irish fruit company Keelings flew almost 200 seasonal workers into Ireland on a chartered Ryanair flight from Bulgaria on Monday.

The firm said this was to ensure fresh strawberries were available on the Irish market.

It also said it was normal to employ temporary horticultural workers during the main Irish fruit and vegetable season from April to October.

Speaking earlier, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he was not comfortable with the situation.

"It wouldn't really be consistent with the public health advice that we've been giving.

"And I think some of that advice does have implications in relation to travel and for people who are traveling - and we've been very clear and consistent on what that advice is.

"I don't want to be critical of any individual or any individual circumstance.

"I don't know the details of the circumstances - I'm aware of, in general terms, what's been reported in the media".

Keelings Keelings farm in Co Dublin. Photo by: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

In a statement, Mr Varadkar said: "“I share the discomfort expressed by the Chief Medical Officer about the report of a large number of people coming to Ireland earlier this week to work in the horiculture sector.

"We need to keep our airports and ports open so essential goods and essential workers can get in and out of the country and Irish citizens and residents can return home.

"However, we need to keep travel to a minimum and ensure that passengers are interviewed on arrival and that quarantine is observed.

"I have therefore asked for an urgent review of the current rules and procedures to be carried out over the weekend."

He also said that review will be considered by the Cabinet committee on COVID-19 on Monday.

In an earlier statement, the Government said it was aware that a chartered flight "brought 190 people to Ireland this week for fruit picking work."

It said: "Seasonal workers are critical to the agricultural sector in terms of harvesting, planting and tending functions, especially in the current season.

"The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been working closely with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to ensure employers are aware of the supports for business to help them source labour from the domestic economy."

It also said a national recruitment campaign will start shortly, with the aim of recruiting a large number of temporary workers for the horticulture sector from the Live Register within Ireland.

This campaign will be timed for the fruit harvest peak in mid-May to mid-June.

It added that the number of people travelling to Ireland has fallen by more than 95% since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

But that anyone arriving from outside Ireland must comply with the Department of Health guidelines and restrict movements for 14 days.


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Dr Tony Holohan Irish Airports Keelings Leo Varadkar Review Seasonal Workers Urgent Review

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