Communities in Ireland have a great ability to get together and help each other in times of crisis. We have seen it time and again. Whether with storms and floods, or economic disasters, our communities are there for each other.
Now, more than ever, we need to tap into that vibrant community spirit we have here in Ireland and work together to overcome the enormous challenge facing our country.
In particular, people need to look out for their elderly or vulnerable neighbours, while being mindful at all times of the HSE guidelines on social distancing. It is very important that social contact is maintained with people who are isolated in their homes at this time, even if it's a friendly phone call.
We have seen a groundswell of community activity, with various local groups from sporting clubs to residents associations - and also concerned individuals – leading local initiatives to support vulnerable and socially isolated people in their locality. This is a heartening and very welcome development.
There is also a need for government to provide a structure within which the community response can be delivered. This will ensure that the response is sustainable over the longer term. It will ensure that as many vulnerable people as possible receive the support they need at this very challenging time.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is leading the government effort to encourage and facilitate a community response to COVID-19 that will help us to protect our older and vulnerable neighbours and keep them safe, well and supported during the coming weeks.
This department has developed an Action Plan
to support this work. The Action Plan has been put together in partnership with the Department of Health, other government departments, State agencies, local authorities, local development companies. It has worked closely with our extensive network of community and voluntary organisations.