O’Neills Sportswear in Strabane has started to manufacture scrubs for use by medical staff here.
A spokesman for the company said, “With immediate effect, O’Neills are manufacturing scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts.
“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.”
Last week, the company said it would ‘suspend operations’ and laid off its workforce until May 5 as a result of the impact of coronavirus.
West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan has welcomes the plans for O’Neills to Manufacture scrubs for the Western Trust.
“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.
He said, “The lack of protective gear for front line health workers across the north has been well documented and 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.”