More questions arise following minister’s statement on ViroPro - Matt Carthy TD and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture Matt Carthy TD and spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire have said that serious new questions have arisen following a statement in the Dáil by Minister Charlie McConalogue on the recall of the ViroPro hand sanitiser.
It emerged during the minister's address that the Department of Agriculture was notified via the EU anti-fraud agency, OLAF, of potential concerns with ViroPro in September, and that the dangers were confirmed by the department a full week ago.
Separately, the Department of Education clarified today that it was made aware of the issue on Tuesday but schools and parents were kept in the dark until Thursday evening.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Sinn Féin sought a Dáil debate on this issue. Instead we got a late night statement with no opportunity for questions or response.
“In fact, Minister McConalogue’s statement raised even further questions than those we had originally following confirmation of the recall of ViroPro late Thursday.
“Why was the product not recalled - or at least the concerns publicised - upon receipt of the OLAF notification on 25th September? Why, when there was concrete evidence last week that this product was dangerous, was this information not immediately acted upon?
“The Minister for Agriculture told the Dáil that he only learned of these developments on Thursday. That exposes a systematic failing within his department. Does the minister have a handle on his department at all?
“Through all of this debacle, a dangerous product has been widely used in schools and other public settings. There must be accountability for that.
“I have therefore written to the Chair of the Joint Committee on Agriculture to request an urgent meeting to examine these matters and the minister's handling of them next week.”
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
"The two departments are on a different page - apparently informed of an issue on Tuesday but not the detail of it.
"RTÉ have reported that the Department of Education has clarified that it was told the name of the hand sanitiser product range on Tuesday. Yet it did not tell schools until Thursday night.
"Schools remained open and using ViroPro over the course of those two days.
"There is no acceptable reason for this. Parents and schools should have been told immediately. It is outrageous that it took them until late Thursday night to do so.
"The Department of Education has a lot of explaining to do. I regret that Minister Foley didn’t take up my offer to make a statement on Thursday night in Dáil before this latest saga got to this stage of confusion
"She now needs to come before the Education Committee to give us answers. I have written to the chair and clerk of the committee to request this."