| 3.2°C Dublin

Internal emails Minister’s video re-edited after questions raised over lack of masks and social distancing

'There is [still] one shot where three people are standing outside, but it does look like they are socially distancing. We can remove if you feel it’s required'


Junior Minister Damien English

Junior Minister Damien English

Junior Minister Damien English

A promotional video featuring a junior minister had to be re-edited amid concerns about public health measures and social distancing .

It had been created to coincide with the launch by Damien English of new safety advice for horticultural workers.

However, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) decided it needed to be changed because they were worried about the lack of masks and social distancing in some shots.

Internal emails reveal a copy of the video had been sent by the HSA to colleagues in the Department of Enterprise telling them it was ready to go live.

However, 30 minutes later, chief executive Sharon McGuinness asked for a “hold” to be put on it while they checked it was “in line with PH [public health] requirements”.

An hour later, the HSA replied asking the department to delay releasing it.

An email said: “We have decided it would be best to do a re-edit of Minister English’s video on horticulture guidance.

“On reflection, due to Covid-19, all subjects in video should be wearing masks and/or be social distancing.

"The minister’s shots to camera are fine and we should have enough b-roll [extra footage] to create an updated version.”

The HSA said the department should avoid using or sharing the previously created copies under any circumstances.

An updated version was then circulated to ensure there was no chance anybody would raise social distancing or mask concerns about the video.

An internal HSA email said: “There is [still] one shot where three people are standing outside, but it does look like they are socially distancing. We can remove if you feel it’s required.”

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Another message said a shot at the beginning was unlikely to draw attention: “They’re clearly distanced from one another, although it mightn’t be the full two metres.”

In response, the HSA chief executive Sharon McGuinness said the latest version was “much better”.

However, she asked for another small change to be made: “It is at the 00:50 [second] mark where the gentleman holding the strawberries turns around and the Minister is in view and very close.

“I suggest removing just that section and then the video should be ready to go.”

An email sent back to Ms McGuinness by her colleague said: “I’ll get this updated and circulate a final version.”

A third version of the video was eventually released as Mr English announced the new safety guidance for seasonal workers in the horticulture sector.

It listed the main hazards for horticulture workers including untrained drivers, poorly maintained machinery, incorrect manual handling techniques, unsafe work at heights, and slips, trips, and falls.

Asked to comment on the recordings, a spokeswoman for the HSA said: “As with the production of any new video material, post-production editing is a normal part of the process with a view to ensuring the final product is as impactful as possible.

“As with all communications material produced in the current environment, material is specifically reviewed prior to publication to ensure it represents and communicates good practice in relation to COVID-19 public health guidelines.”

A spokesman for Mr English said: “The Health and Safety Authority informed the Department of their decision to edit their Safety for Seasonal Workers in Horticulture promotional video.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Top Videos