Friday, March 27, 2020

CARLOW County Council insisted it has a plan in place and is heeding the advice of health authorities, as the county braces itself for Covid-19.

Speaking at the March meeting of the local authority, director of services Michael Rainey stated that a business continuity plan was in place to ensure that key functions of the council will continue to operate. He added that senior management were meeting regularly to review that plan, while the local authority is also part of a regional group led by the HSE.

“Our approach is very much that we are heeding the advice of public health authorities,” said Mr Rainey.

The council meeting was held just days before the government issued unprecedented directives to stop the spread of Covid-19, closing schools, pubs and public buildings. Many Carlow businesses have since taken the difficult decision to voluntarily close.

Cllr John McDonald remarked that it “beggars belief” that despite calling off the Ireland/Italy rugby match, 6,000 Italian rugby fans were still allowed to travel to Ireland.

Cllr Adrienne Wallace criticised those attempting to “profiteer from the crisis”, adding that “workers’ rights and health are paramount” as the country tackles the coronavirus.

Cllr William Paton warned against a half-hearted effort in dealing with the crisis. Warning against people “hording into pubs, clubs and restaurants” on St Patrick’s Day despite the parades being cancelled.

He predicted economic suffering as a result of the crisis, but warned that if we don’t take action, it was “probable that we’d follow in the way of Italy” and closing pubs, cinemas and clubs was the type of action “we’d be forced to take”.

Cllr Michael Doran also predicted “more serious restrictions of movement”, while cllr Arthur McDonald remarked that Carlow “didn’t have the services other counties have”.

“We’ve n’ere a hospital of our own,” he added.

Cllr Andy Gladney stated that the committee had put a lot of hard work into preparing for this, but warned that “if this thing gets out of hand, you can well imagine what will happen”.

The council meeting was held on Monday 9 March, hours before the cancellation of the county’s St Patrick’s Day parade and the nationwide ban on parades.

Cllr Ken Murnane stated he could understand why the Dublin St Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled, as it is an international parade, but added that the Carlow parade with 5,000 spectators could go ahead. “It’s only a small parade,” he insisted.

However, cllr Paton urged “sensible planning”, adding “if we could do it for cattle, we can surely do it for people”, referring to the foot and mouth crisis of 2001.

Cathaoirleach cllr John Pender remarked that the council was “very much up to speed” and would be very much influenced by health professionals. “It will be a difficult period, but if we all work together we can get through it,” he stated.

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