Sinn Féin TD for Louth Ruairí Ó Murchú has called on the whole community to be responsible at this time of public emergency, and commended those who are already leading by example.
Deputy Ó Murchú said;
“In the face of the unprecedented public health emergency brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have to commend the vast majority of people who are following public health instructions.
“Most people, businesses and organisations across Louth are following the instructions of the public health authorities and some are doing even more to safeguard everyone’s health. Many have engaged or volunteered in community activism to help vulnerable members of the community.
“Unfortunately, there are still people and businesses who have set themselves outside society. While they engage in anti-community behaviour, they are putting public health at risk.
“We are all doing our best to support those working in the health sector saving lives. Those who knowingly breach best health practices or are overcharging for essential goods are negating this. They are putting people’s lives at risk. Emergency legislation will be required by the state to protect families, workers and businesses against these actions.
“Many local individuals and organisations, residents’ associations and sporting clubs such as Cooley Kickhams and na Piarsaigh are offering delivery and other services to older and more vulnerable people and this has to be celebrated.
“I would ask anyone wanting to volunteer or seeking the help of volunteers to avail of the services of the Louth Volunteer Centre, who are coordinating this type of work. Their contact details can be found on volunteer.ie.
“I would also ask that other people running websites and facilities for people to volunteer would make use of networks that already exist.
“I will be volunteering myself, while, like all Louth Sinn Féin representatives I will be available to help people with issues that may arise during this crisis.
“Sinn Féin continues through our dealings with government, utility companies, banks, and financial institutions to ensure all supports are put in place for workers, families and businesses in the wake of the Covid-19 emergency.
“Those who have had the misfortune of losing their jobs, that have had their hours cut and have been forced out of employment to care for children must be supported.
“Whilst the changes that have been announced to the social welfare system are welcome, other changes may be required in the time ahead to ensure that economic hardship is averted.
“We need rent support for private renters, we need a moratorium on all evictions, a mortgage repayments holiday needs to be introduced from all lending institutions. We need a freeze in utility bills and disconnections from all providers.
“We also need Irish Water and the ESB to discontinue all non-essential maintenance to ensure that everyone has running water and working electricity during this period of uncertainty.
“It is essential that we adopt an all-island approach to this crisis. The measures being introduced to contain the spread of COVID-19 will only work if they are in place on both sides of the border.
“Private hospital capacity also needs to be made available to the State to ensure a rapid and collective approach to tackling Covid-19.
“We have limited capacity in our public hospitals, and while alternative settings of care are being identified and made available to treat patients, it is also important that private hospital capacity is at the ready.
“We all need to work together to get through this emergency and we will.”