Sportswear business O’Neills is turning its skills to producing protective clothing for health workers on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus.
The company, which is better known for making GAA kits, will reportedly make 50,000 sets of scrubs for the five health trusts across Northern Ireland.
Last week the 750 staff at O'Neills were told they had lost their jobs temporarily because of coronavirus - but it's now hoped most of the workforce will return.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues and pressure on the health service grows, the company expects more orders to come in from other parts of the UK and Ireland.
By the end of the week, it’s thought O’Neill’s factory could be full once again.
O'Neills Sportswear has announced that it will start manufacturing scrubs for healthcare workers during the coronavirus crisis.
The Irish company, which primarily manufactures GAA sportswear, has made the move to support frontline staff working to fight the COVID-19 virus.
With over 1,000 cases now confirmed in Ireland and over 60,000 applying to become emergency relief workers with the HSE, O'Neills will now help kit out healthcare workers during the pandemic.
A statement 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.”
The world of sport has been hit hard by the crisis, with the majority of sport in Ireland and around the world postponed or canceled as a result of the outbreak.
Sportswear company O’Neills, which temporarily laid off 900 workers last week, will now manufacture scrubs for the Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland.
The company last week said it had been forced to lay off its workforce because of the impact of COVID-19, which had resulted in the “complete cessation of orders received from clubs and retailers across the business”.
On Monday, the company tweeted: “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 front line healthcare staff.”
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. pic.twitter.com/oZJwNR5ek9— O'Neills (@ONeills1918) March 23, 2020
The scrubs will be made in the O’Neills factory in Strabane, Co Tyrone.
On Twitter, SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan welcomed the news: “Made up that #ONeills in #Strabane have been asked to produce #Scrubs for our #HealthWorkers.”
O’Neills supplies sportswear to GAA clubs and has a number of standalone sportswear shops.
The company employs around 700 people in its factory in Strabane, Co Tyrone, and around 200 in Walkinstown in Dublin.