10 December 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Cork County Council’s Role in Local Response to Pandemic ‘Vital’, says Minister Burke
Minister pictured with Hilary O’Farrell, chair of Bandon Business Association.
Pic: Brian Lougheed
The Minister for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD, has described Cork County Council’s role in the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date as vital. He was speaking during a visit to Bandon to thank local authority staff for their work and visit businesses who have benefited from local authorities’ supports.
Cork County Council has provided a range of economic and social supports in response to challenges arising from the pandemic. These have included:
- €28 million in Restart Grants administered to businesses, 913 Trading Online Vouchers and 715 Business Continuity Vouchers so far in 2020
- A Commercial Rates waiver to eligible businesses for the nine months since the pandemic took hold in Ireland, supported by a combined €900 million special funding allocation to all local authorities from the Government
- Handling approximately 5,250 calls through the Community Call helpline, with approximately 600 calls regarding collection and delivery, 65 calls about meal service delivery and 130 relating to social isolation
- The Project ACT (Activating County Towns) initiative, established by the Council to lead and coordinate the response to the pandemic at a local level across the county. The Bandon Town Team that was formed was extremely proactive in responding to local challenges and spear-headed a range of very successful initiatives.
- Providing befriending and outreach services as part of the Government’s ‘In this Together’ and ‘Keep Well’ campaigns, as well as arranging a variety of activities to keep community spirits lifted and the public active during the pandemic
- Adaptations to services including its library services
During his visit to Bandon Minister Burke met with the county’s Deputy Mayor Councillor Joe Carroll, the Chair of the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District, Councillor Kevin Murphy and other elected members. He also met with local authority staff, business representatives including Hilary O’Farrell, Chair of the Bandon Business Association, and representatives of An Garda Síochána.
Minister Burke visited the soon to be completed library facility and St Michael’s Centre, the centre of the town’s exemplary Age Friendly activity. He also inspected the council’s works in the town to make it safer in response to the risk of COVID-19. The Minister also inspected the new pedestrian bridge and weir, which constitute part of the town’s flood defences.
Speaking during his visit Minister Burke said: “In a year like no other, Cork County Council and the other local authorities around the country have played a vital role in the national response to the crisis: through supports for their local economy; social assistance for individuals and communities, and swift changes to how they deliver services.
“Businesses in Cork have had a very difficult year. Through the work of the Local Enterprise Office, works to make public spaces safer, collaboration with businesses to facilitate new ways of trading, the local authority has gone to great lengths to protect the local economy.
“The Community Call, in partnership with ALONE and the Community and Voluntary sector, has been vital in supporting society’s most vulnerable and isolated. The council’s commitment to keeping amenities like public parks and library services accessible whilst safe, along with other initiatives, have supported citizens’ mental and physical wellbeing at this time. And whilst meeting these challenges they have maintained essential services, like those for the homeless, administration of the planning system and work on water quality.”
Minister Burke concluded: “I want to thank each and every staff member and elected member of Cork County Council for their hard work, commitment and agility during the pandemic. I am proud to salute their contribution to the national response.”