This week…On The Political Beat

This week on the political beat, local public representatives highlight the ‘significant challenge’ of long-Covid, announce funding for community groups, and welcome new ‘Back to School’ measures…


‘4,000 people unable to work due to long-Covid’

Independent TD Denis Naughten said the impact of long-Covid posed a significant challenge as he revealed that up to 4,000 people are in receipt of a disability payment from the Department of Social Protection and are unable to return to work.

Deputy Naughten said that while the Government had yet to release figures on the incidence of long-Covid, the health service was under pressure to manage and treat the impacts associated with the illness.

“There was a sharp rise in the number of people in receipt of an illness payment experiencing Covid-19 in excess of 12 weeks over the winter period,” he said.

“As these figures are released, 180 frontline health staff who are out of work for months as a result of long-Covid are facing into their first week without the financial support provided under the special sick pay scheme for Covid that finished on June 30th”.

The Independent TD said the figures are indicative of a much higher rate of long-Covid and warned that many people were ineligible for such welfare payments.

He concluded: “Despite these very worrying trends, the HSE is only now ‘scoping out’ a patient registry for long-Covid. So how can we manage this medical condition when we are not even measuring it?”


Funding available for community groups

Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan has urged local community groups and organisations to apply for a new round of funding for the upgrade and refurbishment of community centres, which was recently announced by Minister Heather Humphreys.

Speaking this week, Senator Dolan said: “The fund will provide grants of between €10,000 and €300,000 for the upgrade of community facilities.

“Funding is available for capital works such as improvements to communal facilities such as kitchen and toilet facilities, energy retrofitting, new windows, doors, heating systems, works to address safety concerns and works to improve disability access.

“I would strongly urge local groups and organisations in Roscommon to register online at before July 14th. Registration must be completed prior to submitting a formal application. Applicants can also register to attend an information session”.


Murphy welcomes ‘Back to School’ measures

Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy has welcomed the commencement of a number of measures aimed at helping families school-going children this September.

Senator Murphy said the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance is being increased by €100 (€260 for ages 4 to 11 and €385 for over 12s).

“It is estimated that some 151,000 families will benefit from this measure in respect of over 262,000 children. This is a one-off measure for 2022 to assist families with back to school costs in the current year,” he said.

Senator Murphy also highlighted the extension of the School Meals Programme to accommodate an additional 310 schools and the waiving of fees under the School Transport Scheme for the coming academic year.

“Families have already applied for their tickets for the school year and these will be processed in the usual way, but without a fee being charged,” he said.

“Families will need to go onto the payment portal to verify they still wish to be considered for a ticket and further information will issue on this process in the coming days. The portal will be closed for a short period to facilitate this. Families will be notified when the portal reopens. Normal eligibility criteria will apply and tickets will be allocated accordingly”.