O’NEILLS Sportswear has started to manufacture scrubs for use by medical staff.
Last week, the company said it would ‘suspend operations’ and laid off its workforce of 750 – large portion of whom are from Donegal – until May 5 as a result of the impact of coronavirus.
However, it is understood that around 150 of those will return to the Strabane factory, where they will manufacture scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts.
A spokesperson for O’Neill’s said: “The health and safety of our workers is paramount. We are observing government hygiene and distancing protocol.
“We are delighted to support the work of frontline healthcare staff.”
West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan has welcomed the plans.
He said: “This is the sort of innovative and creative thinking we need in order to effectively deal with the pandemic COVID 19 has caused. But it’s clear that we need much more of it.
“Having liaised with the Department and management at O’Neills, I welcome this decision which is a small step in helping our dedicated health workers and in bringing back some jobs to O’Neils factory again.
The SDLP policitican added: “Given that the Health Service is facing shortages in personal protection equipment, this initiative should be spread across all Trust areas and into the South. Medical staff have been demanding action on the lack of protective clothing. Their voices must be listened to.
“It’s important that we continue as a society to work together and find innovative solutions to the problems brought by COVID 19. We must remain steadfast as a community and we must protect our most vulnerable.”
Sinn Fein MLA Maolíosa McHugh has also welcomed the announcement that Ó’Neill’s have been commissioned by the Department of Health to manufacture 5,000 Protective Scrubs for front line health workers in the north.
McHugh said: “The lack of protective gear for front line health workers across the north has been well documented.
“Following the devastating announcement of 750 lay-offs at O’Neills sportswear in Strabane last Thursday there have been growing calls locally to examine the potential for production at the Strabane site to be shifted to the production of protective scrubs to help in the effort to provide more effective protections for our front line health workers in the unprecedented health crisis we now face.”Tags: