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Local Authorities’ Role in Response to Pandemic ‘Vital’, says Minister Burke

Published on Thursday, 10 Dec 2020
Minister of State Burke
  • Retail areas and public spaces safer for Christmas shopping due to local authorities’ work and collaboration with businesses, says Minister
  • Minister Burke visits Kilkenny and Cork to thank local authority staff and speak to businesses who have benefited from their supports

The Minister for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD, has described local authorities’ role in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date as vital. He was speaking during a visit to Kilkenny and Cork to thank local authority staff for their work and visit businesses who have benefited from local authorities’ supports.

The local authorities have provided a range of economic and social supports in response to challenges arising from the pandemic. These have included:

  • €609 million in Restart Grants administered to businesses by the Local Enterprise Offices
  • A Commercial Rates waiver to eligible businesses for the 9 months since the pandemic took hold in Ireland, supported by a €900 million special funding allocation from the Government 
  • Handling approximately 59,000 calls through the Community Call helplines, with over 12,000 calls regarding collection and delivery, and over 11,000 calls regarding social isolation
  • 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 library services, contributing to over 40,000 new members registering for access to eBooks and eAudiobooks between April and October – a 129% increase on the previous year

Speaking during his visit to Kilkenny and Cork Minister Burke said: “In a year like no other, the local authorities 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.

“Local businesses throughout the country have had a very difficult year. Through the Local Enterprise Offices, works to make public spaces safer, and collaboration with businesses to facilitate new ways of trading, local authorities have gone to great lengths to protect their local economy. Retail areas and public spaces are safer for Christmas shopping due to local authorities’ work and collaboration with businesses.

“The Community Call, in partnership with ALONE and the Community and Voluntary sector, has been vital in supporting society’s most vulnerable and isolated. Local authorities’ 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 local authority staff member and the elected members for their hard work, commitment and agility during the pandemic. I am proud to salute their contribution to the national response.”