Thursday, 29 April 2021
Covid-19, Mental Health and Older People: Statements
I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, for her engagement over recent days. Last week, in this Chamber, I told her the sad story of Margaret Morgan, who is 101 years of age and probably one of the oldest citizens in County Clare. She comes from the small west Clare village of Kilmurry McMahon. She had not received her Covid vaccination. She is bed bound. The Minister of State was very engaged, both in the Chamber and afterwards, and told me that the capacity of the National Ambulance Service to call out to such households had been doubled. The number of families with members in this situation is being whittled down but those that remain want to know whether there is a portal through which they can track how the vaccination of their loved one, their elderly family member, is going. That is my first question.
I hope there will be time for both Ministers of State, Deputy Butler and Deputy Feighan, to respond to my second question. It relates to the black cloud which Covid will inevitably leave behind. I refer to immeasurable damage Covid will have done to society, beyond its impacts on physical health. I am speaking about depression and alcohol dependency. Some people who were on the dry for many years are now reverting to alcoholism. I am also speaking about domestic violence and the dark places to which some people have gone because they have been cut off from social interaction and kept apart from their families and work colleagues. Over recent days, we have seen the Revised Estimate for the Department of Health. A tremendous amount of money is going into protecting the physical health of the country. Will the Ministers of State briefly detail any roadmap or plan that exists to boost or give a shot of adrenaline to the mental health services and addiction support services of our country when we get beyond the period in which the incidence of Covid is high?