Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Covid-19: Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting: Statements


4:35 pm

Photo of Paul DonnellyPaul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

In moving forward to some sort of normality when all of this is done, we need to ensure that those in our communities, the communities we represent, and those most at risk, are not forgotten as we recover and reconnect. The people I am talking about are the thousands who worked through the pandemic and volunteered in the community. Throughout the pandemic and when we were in strict lockdown, I was part of an incredible organisation, both within the GAA and outside of it, through Fingal County Council, that delivered meals on wheels and picked up people's medication. So much incredible work was done right throughout the pandemic. Each and every one of those actions that was taken was a real gift to the community. As I know people really want to believe that we are coming out the pandemic, I want to use this time to thank each and every one of those who volunteered and, indeed, who continue to volunteer. I regularly check my emails from Fingal Volunteer Centre through Fingal County Council, and the amount of work that is still ongoing is phenomenal.

As we move forward with the easing of restrictions, those operating many of those services that local people relied upon, such as crèches, dance classes, sports clubs, aftershool and community cafés and community centres, need clarity and a sense of where we are going with this. They need to know what they can do and what they cannot do. Unfortunately, every time there is an imposition or an easing of restrictions, there is a lack of clarity for a period of a number of days following the announcement. People look at the restrictions and struggle to understand where their group, organisation or crèche fits into it, and what is required of them. For example, those running a community centre might ask whether they can have indoor gatherings, how many are permitted and what activities can be run. The reason they are apprehensive, struggling and annoyed is that much of their funding relies on people using the services. It is really important that we get clarity on the issue over the next while and that we ensure that those operating the community centres and facilities get clarity in that respect.


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