Michael Duignan named Offaly 'county champion' in Covid-19 community response

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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justin.kelly@iconicnews.ie

Michael Duignan named Offaly 'county champion' in Covid-19 community response

Michael Duignan named Offaly 'county champion' in Covid-19 community response

Chairperson of Offaly County Council, Cllr. Peter Ormond, has welcomed the nomination of Michael Duignan, Offaly GAA County Board Chairman, as ‘County Champion’ on the County Council co-ordinated Community Response Forum.

The Forum, which was established last weekend, allows all of the community and agency responders already actively supporting vulnerable households in the current crisis to co-ordinate their efforts. Michael was nominated as County Champion by The Wheel and Irish Rural Link as an individual with strong existing links within Offaly and broad experience of engaging with community organisations and volunteers who are already in contact with the people who may need support.

Speaking today, Cllr Ormond said that the first meeting of the Forum held remotely on Monday was a reflection of the best of everything about the Faithful people. Every agency and group that spoke at the meeting detailed their work on the ground over the years and how they have adapted in the context of the COVID 19 crisis to meet the needs of older people in particular.

"This is especially important since people over 70 are now being asked to cocoon at home and may need help with deliveries of food, fuel or medicine. ‘The great thing about the Forum’, he said, ‘is that groups can share learning and resources and coordinate their efforts to best effect’."

Participants at the first meeting included Offaly County Council, the HSE, An Garda Síochána, Offaly Local Development, the Volunteer Centre, Local Link, Civil Defence, the Public Participation Network, Age Friendly Network and the GAA.

Cllr Ormond suggested that Michael Duignan must have picked the Freephone number for the Offaly Community Response helpline himself as ‘81 was a good year for Offaly’, winning their first All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship that year. The freephone number for anyone who needs non-medical support in Offaly is 1800-81-81-81.

Michael Duignan said that all of the 41 GAA clubs in Offaly had already made local contacts, drafted a list of those who may need help and were acting on that. He said that in towns, villages and rural areas around Offaly people were looking out for each other and getting organised to make sure everyone who needed help could get it.

He welcomed the establishment of the Community Response Forum by Offaly County Council where groups could co-operate, share good practice and find solutions to issues that they were all facing. He also welcomed the new Freephone number 1800-818181 and email address covidsupport@offalycoco.ie and said he didn’t pick the ’81 phone number but he thought it was a good choice. The Offaly Community Response Forum meets again this Friday to review progress to date and plan for the coming week.

“I am delighted to be asked by Irish Rural Link and The Wheel as part of the Community Outreach Programme to work with the Local Authority, GAA Clubs, Meals on Wheels, agencies and organisations throughout Offaly to help coordinate this response to ensure that nobody is left behind," Michael Duignan said.

"It is imperative that the most vulnerable, isolated and hard to reach in our communities are communicated with and offered assistance during this period of cocooning.  We must ask every club and organisation across every parish to identify those in towns, villages and down the highways and byways of rural Ireland who could probably use our help at this time, but who will never ask for help or phone a helpline or be on social media.”