FAILURE to provide information on the location and size of Covid-19 clusters in the meat industry is leading to a "very dangerous vacuum".
That is according to the Fine Gael Seanad spokesman on agriculture, Tim Lombard.
He made the comment in the Seanad this morning on foot of a claim in the Dáil yesterday by Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty that there were 226 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in a Cork meat plant earlier in the summer.
The location of the outbreak has not been confirmed.
Currently there is a fresh outbreak in a meat plant in Waterford, and there have been 44 clusters in meat plants across the State, with at least 1,600 confirmed cases of the virus.
Speaking in the Seanad this morning, Senator Lombard said: "I do think we need to get clarity on the entire structure, on how things are happening, on how the reporting is happening."
He said that if there is a case in a school, it is published and people are aware of it.
He continued: "We have seen very strict restrictions put into the bar and restaurant sector where they are taking their names and they are very transparent in how they are actually running their show."
He said there is a need to show in the meat industry where cases are, "how many cases are there and what is the actual issue itself on the ground because at the moment, we are dealing with a very dangerous vacuum. The vacuum is leading to rumour and counter rumour and nobody has a clue what is actually happening on the ground."
He told the Seanad that he has contacted Meat Industry Ireland about getting information to the general public.
He also called on the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, to come before the Seanad to outline what guidelines will be set out regarding providing information on meat plant clusters to the general public.
He said: "We need to have this information. Otherwise, we will have rumour and counter rumour and that is not good for society."
Sinn Féin's agriculture spokesman Matt Carthy told The Echo today said there is an issue of secrecy and a lack of transparency.