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Connacht Tribune

Government publishes list of ‘essential service providers’

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has this evening published the list of essential service providers who are permitted to travel to and from work during the lockdown until April 12.

The following is the guidance issued:

 

What employers should do

  • refer to this guidance to decide whether your organisation is providing an essential service; it is not necessary to seek official authorisation
  • if you are providing an essential service, you should identify those employees (including sub-contractors etc) who are essential to the provision of that service and notify them (this can be done by category of employee or by individual; it could include all employees of the organisation)
  • if you are providing an essential service, latest public health guidance should be followed at all times

What employees should do

  • if your employer notifies you that you are an essential employee, or that you belong to a category of essential employees, you are permitted to travel to and from work
  • when travelling to and from work, you should at all times bring with you either a work identification or a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification
  • If you are self-employed, a farmer or agricultural worker, or a member of the clergy, you should carry one form of identification with you at all times.

If you are a volunteer who is working as part of the national community response, you are permitted to travel for that purpose, eg if you are delivering food, supplies or medicine to a person who is cocooned or vulnerable. The Local Government emergency response teams will co-ordinate that response at local level.

Business Continuity and Resilience

All organisations who provide essential services should have business continuity and resilience plans in place. This should take account of the possibility that key workers or key facilities may be impacted by COVID-19.

Non Essential Services

If you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then you are not permitted to travel to and from work until April 12th 2020.

There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday March 30th for people who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way. This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible.

In exceptional circumstances, it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity, or necessary for a site to continue to operate at a reduced level of activity eg in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects.

Review

This Guidance will be kept under ongoing review, and will be updated as required.

Services provided in the following areas are considered to be essential:

Agriculture & Fishing

  • farmers
  • farm labourers
  • farm relief service workers,
  • others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing

Manufacturing

  • the manufacture of food and beverage products
  • the manufacture of prepared animal feeds
  • the manufacture of work-wear apparel or footwear
  • the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard and wood;
  • the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services
  • the manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products
  • the manufacturing of alumina; chemicals and chemical products
  • the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
  • the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services; computer, electronic and optical products including semi-conductors; electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery); medical devices; and medical and dental equipment and supplies.

Repair and installation of Machinery and Equipment

  • the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment and industrial machinery and equipment for essential services

Electricity, Gas & Water

  • electric power generation, transmission and distribution
  • extraction and distribution of gas;
  • water collection, treatment and supply
  • sewerage; waste collection, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities

Construction

  • essential health and related projects relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, and supplies necessary for such projects;
  • repair/construction of critical road and utility infrastructure
  • delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes on an emergency call-out basis in areas such as electrical, plumbing, glazing and roofing.

Wholesale and Retail Trade

  • retail services in accordance with the separate “Updated Essential Retail Outlets ” list;
  • wholesale and distribution services necessary for the sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicines, medical products and devices and essential household products; takeaways and food delivery services

Transport Storage and Communication

  • land transport (e.g. bus, rail and taxi services)
  • road, rail, sea and air freight
  • sea and air passenger services; ports and airports
  • warehousing and support activities for transportation including cargo-handling; postal and courier activities; network control and critical maintenance (including roads); and safety related functions

Accommodation and Food Services

  • hotels or similar providing essential accommodation (including homeless, direct provision and related services)
  • food and beverage service activities in accordance with the separate the essential retail outlets listlist or for supply to a business engaged in an essential service

Information and Communications

  • the publishing of newspapers, journals and periodicals as well as video, television programme production, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting; wired and satellite and telecommunications activities; internet and cloud providers; data centres and related services.

Financial and legal activities

  • banking and financial services (including banks, credit unions and post offices)
  • accountancy, legal and insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people

Professional, Scientific and Technical activities

  • engineering, technical testing activities and analysis
  • scientific research and development activities
  • regulation, inspection and certification services necessary to support essential services

Rental and Leasing Activities

  • rental and lease of cars
  • light motor vehicles and trucks necessary to support the provision of essential services.

Administrative and Support Services

Where necessary to support other essential services:

  • employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
  • security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
  • cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities.

Public Administration and Defence

Public administration activities necessary to support essential services and provision of social protection benefits (including Civil Service and Local Government);

  • An Garda Siochana, Garda Staff and the Garda Reserve
  • public order, safety, fire service and ambulance activities
  • the Defence Forces;
  • emergency call answering service to ensure administration of justice;
  • Prison services and Child Detention services
  • cyber-security
  • regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, food, medicine and general process safety
  • operation of botanical gardens, parks, forests and nature reserves
  • funeral services
  • religious personnel
  • office-holders and public representatives

Human health and social work activities

  • hospital services
  • paramedical and essential therapy activities
  • public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and COVID-19 testing services)
  • laboratory services
  • drug treatment and addiction services
  • hospice services
  • pharmacy services
  • primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
  • emergency dental practice activities
  • blood donation service
  • residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children’s residential services)
  • homecare home help and other community services
  • social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
  • ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
  • minor injury units
  • maternity services
  • health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities

Community/Voluntary Services

  • community and voluntary workers, working in a publicly commissioned service, not otherwise included on the list, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services *volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance
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Connacht Tribune

GMIT worker turns her hand to making face masks

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A member of staff in GMIT’s School of Design and Creative Arts has been putting her creative skills and resources to invaluable use since April –making hundreds of reusable face masks.

The coverings are tailored for use in nursing homes and more recently for GMIT staff who opt to wear them on return to campus.

Textiles Technician Kelly Roberts from Galway city is making on average 75 non-medical masks a week while continuing to remotely provide technical support to some 40 students on the BA in Design (Fashion & Textiles Design) and also homeschooling her two young children.

Kelly and colleagues are also busy preparing a plan for the safe return to campus of staff and students, in compliance with the HSE’s social distancing measures and public health guidelines.

“I really wanted to use my skills and resources from GMIT to help fight this Coronavirus pandemic, but it had to be something I could do at home and around my children’s daily schedule and GMIT work,” she said.

“I am lucky to have access to the necessary resources in the Textiles Department as shortly after shutdown we were allowed back into the campus for a quick visit to collect items, while adhering to strict physical distancing. I was able to bring a sewing machine and threads home where I set up my workstation,” she added.

Kelly is relying solely on donations of fabric from friends and colleagues. “Mostly I use high quality cotton duvet covers and sheets as they are easy to fashion into non-medical masks, and everyone needs an excuse to clean out their hot press!” she laughed.

She is currently making on average 75 masks a week although it varies from day to day. I started by giving them to nursing homes around Galway and people on the frontline – but through social media, she is now sending masks to locations as far away as Donegal.

Then GMIT Health & Safety Officer Doreen Geoghegan asked her to provide reusable face coverings for GMIT staff who may opt to use them, as currently the institute is working on its Return to Campus Protocol plan which includes a risk assessment component.

“If staff avail of the offer, it will keep me busy for many more weeks and I would hope to have a reusable mask available for those who wish to use them come September, all going well,” she said.

GMIT is currently putting plans in place to ensure public health measures are implemented through social distancing, handwashing and hygiene measures in the first instance. Face coverings are an optional extra personal measure to assist in preparation for winter coughs and colds to prevent the spread of infection.

If anyone would like to donate good quality fabric to Kelly’s campaign, they can contact her on kelly.roberts@gmit.ie

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Connacht Tribune

GAA legends reap rich rewards from ‘cocooning chats’

Francis Farragher

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Double All-Ireland winning Galway football manager, John O’Mahony, has ‘enjoyed immensely’ a novel project involving local GAA sporting legends chatting with people cocooning during the coronavirus crisis.

Along with a number of other sporting personalities from the county – including Cyril Farrell, Joe Connolly and Ray Silke – the Mayo man who guided Galway to All-Ireland football successes in 1998 and 2001 has spoken to many ‘cocooners’ over recent weeks.

“I think that I enjoyed it more than the people I was talking to. It really was a most enjoyable project to be involved with and some of those I spoke to, triggered memories of some things that I had forgotten about myself.

“It even brought me into the world of Zoom [conference video style telephone chats] with a number or residents from the Cheshire Home in Galway city.

“To be honest about it, most of the time I just enjoyed listening to the stories that these people had to tell. One man from Loughrea had gone to an incredible number of All-Ireland finals in football and hurling over the past 60 years,” John O’Mahony told the Connacht Tribune.

The Galway GAA Legends On-Call project was the brainchild of Oranmore’s Paul Byrnes – a former Executive Editor of GAA with RTE Sport – and Galway city ‘Community Champion’ Brendan Mulry.

“People like Cyril Farrell, John O’Mahony, Joe Connolly and Ray Silke, who have given many magical and memorable moments to Galway GAA fans, have very kindly made themselves available for this project,” Paul Byrnes told the Connacht Tribune.

Community Champions have been appointed by the Government as part of their outreach programme to help communities cope with the impact of the COVID-19, and Brendan Mulry has been delighted with the response to the Galway Legends initiative.

“While there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules with the project, the focus is really on these fans who need this most.

“Think of a parent or grandparent who is at home isolating who would love to chat all things GAA with a legend of the game,” said Brendan Mulry.

Galway GAA Chairperson, Pat Kearney, said that the idea was ‘a great one in unprecedented times’ and he also praised the ongoing role of Galway hurling icon, Iggy Clarke, who had done a huge amount of work in ‘chairing’ the county’s health and wellbeing committee.

While Galway All-Ireland successes against Kildare in 1998 and Meath in 2001 were the obvious big ‘chat lines’ with John O’Mahony, he said that the conversations embraced a whole range of GAA events.

“I suppose that having retired from politics and with the coronavirus restrictions in place, I found myself with a bit of time on my hands, and it really was wonderful to chat about so many GAA memories.

“These were very knowledgeable people on all-things GAA and the only thing I can say is, that if they enjoyed the chats, half as much as I did, then we’re all winners,” said John O’Mahony.

Even though the cocooning restrictions have eased somewhat over recent weeks for the elderly and those with medical conditions, the chats are still ongoing.

Anyone wishing to participate – or who might know of a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or elderly friend interested in taking part – can do so by contacting Brendan Mulry on 087-2194243 or online at: brendan@equalireland.ie

Paul Byrnes also thanked the GAA clubs around the county for their ‘trojan efforts’ in helping those most in need during those difficult times.

“At this time of year, we should be looking forward to the height of the championship season, but that seems a long way off at the moment.

“However, the GAA is still a major social outlet, and although the absence of the games is hugely felt, the clubs – and their members – are still doing great work to help those most in need,” said Paul Byrnes.

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Connacht Tribune

Ex-Minister seeks aid for Gaeltacht households

Denise McNamara

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Money set aside to subsidise student accommodation while attending Gaeltacht courses should still be granted to the ‘mná tí’ to help offset the devastating impact of the cancellation of Irish language summer colleges across the region.

That’s the proposal from former minister and Connemara resident Éamon Ó Cuív, who said that the loss of the Irish colleges for the first time in 116 years has been a massive economic blow to the Gaeltacht.

Households which take in twelve students immersing themselves in Gaeltacht life for three courses can make a gross profit before tax of nearly €15,000 through a subsidy from the Department and a fee from the Irish colleges.

Out of that they must pay for food, light, heat and wear and tear of their homes as well as putting in long hours to provide full board.

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív estimates that the 500 Galway mná tí would likely make 20% to 30% profit from that once all expenses are paid out.

Yet they are not entitled to the Covid-19 payment of €350 a week because they were not working at the time the pandemic lockdown was declared.

“They work seven days a week for up to 66 days – that’s equivalent to 13 weeks. If they got the Covid payment that would be €4,550. They should be getting the grant equivalent of the Covid payment from the Department of the Gaeltacht which already has the €10 a night subsidy in its coffers for the 27,000 students which would have been attending the courses,” he believes.

“The people who benefit from that subsidy are the thousands of children who get full board and Irish language classes for 22 days at a very affordable rate which are supervised at all times – the record of kids not coming to harm is unparalleled.”

Deputy Ó Cuív understands that a proposal for a grant package to be paid to the accommodation providers as well as the colleges which will also have no income this year was brought by the Department of the Gaeltacht to the Department of Public Expenditure. But it has yet to be approved.

“I’m very, very worried that they’ve had this proposal since late March but have not signed off on it. The Department has in the region of €6 million from the subsidy,” he said.

“I have tabled a question to the Minister for the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan about whether she has brought a need memo into the Cabinet about this so the question of whether to support the people of the Gaeltacht can be discussed by the 15 ministers.”

Colleges, the mná tí and the halls and facilities funded by the Department rely on income from the Irish colleges to pay for things like insurance.

He also called on the Minister to examine a new grant that would encourage families to stay in a house in the Gaeltacht during a shorter period like five days in August.

“This could happen over three or four weeks in August on a rolling basis. The scheme could help retrieve some of the season for the mná tí. It would also give a unique opportunity to families to learn the Irish language together in a programme.”

Deputy Madigan replied that Minister and Senator Sean Kyne as well as officials in the Gaeltacht Department have met the college representative organisation, CONCOS, to examine support packages.

“We are aware that it is important and intrinsic to the entirety of the Gaeltacht, not just the mná tí. The Deputy can rest assured that this is on our radar and something on which we are working intensely.”

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