Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs
Severe Weather Events
Question 61: To ask the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if he is involved with other Government Departments in relation to the current weather conditions and the effects such conditions may have on those living alone and those living in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46036/10]
My Department is represented on the Inter-Agency Group on Severe Weather and is presently working with other Government Departments and agencies to assist and support communities across the country, including the elderly and vulnerable, and those living alone and in rural areas, during the current difficult weather conditions. As Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, I have written to the range of community groups and bodies with which my Department has an ongoing relationship to highlight the need for their members to continue to keep in regular contact with people who may find themselves housebound and living alone during the current inclement weather conditions, in order to ensure that such people have sufficient supplies of food and heat over the coming days and weeks. Indeed, I believe that the community sector is uniquely placed to do this work, given their local knowledge, networks and, most particularly, their "on the ground" presence.
The Deputy may also be aware that Muintir na Tíre, which is supported by my Department and the Department of Justice and Law Reform, has established a special helpline for older and vulnerable people that may be trapped in their homes due to the cold weather conditions and I know this helpline has been accessed by many over the last number of days.
I would like to acknowledge the very important and invaluable assistance being offered to communities across the country by the community and voluntary sector during the current inclement weather conditions. My Department will continue to work with the sector and with other Government agencies in order to assist those most affected and vulnerable at this time.