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23rd July 2020 | Blog post, Green Gazette

Oireachtas briefing: Covid impact report and creative programme launched by Green Party Ministers

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Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman TD, has announced the publication of the report ‘Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Policy in Relation to Children and Young People.’

The report, published by the ESRI, and produced in partnership with Department of Children and Youth Affairs, takes in existing and emerging Irish and international research on the effects of the pandemic restrictions on children and young people, reviewing evidence in the areas of family and peer relationships, health and wellbeing and education.

“This report is an important resource for my department as we work to address the impacts of the crisis on children and young people,” Minister O’Gorman said.

“We know that children and young people have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This report will be a vital tool as we work to address that impact, making clear the need to tackle inequalities, support well-being and re-engagement with education, and help young people back into the labour market.”

Childcare services have been severely affected by the Covid crisis, and this week Minister O’Gorman welcomed the continuing increase in the number of childcare services that have reopened since 29 June 2020. 1,540 childcare centres have now reopened, which is 85% of the 1,800 services which are normally open in July and August.

There were 4,500 childcare services operational before the Covid closure of the sector, and more than 70% have confirmed that they will be open in September, through their application for a reopening grant. Minister O’Gorman expects this figure to increase significantly as services have another five weeks to apply for the reopening grant. The Minister also spoke about the issue of childcare in the Dáil, which you can watch here.

Minister O’Gorman also announced in the past week that €700,000 is being made available to the LGBTI+ Community Services fund. Applications can now be made by groups operating at national, regional and local level for funding to support community services and promote visibility and inclusion of LGBTI+ people.

“Supporting the LGBTI+ community is a key goal for my Department,” Minister O’Gorman said. “The funding announced today recognises the need for access to LGBTI+ services right across Ireland. It will help improve quality of life for LGBTI+ people and ensure they are supported in realising their rights.”

This week, Minister for Culture Catherine Martin announced a €500,000 investment in an exciting new programme of creative activity for older people, which aims to address the isolation experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. The Creativity in Older Age Programme will begin immediately and be rolled out over the next 18 months by the Creative Ireland.

Minister Martin welcomed the programme, commenting that: “The effect of the pandemic on our older citizens has been devastating. Through necessity they have had to isolate themselves away from family and friends and in doing so have lost the social links that generate contentment, confidence and mental wellbeing. My department knows the arts and creative programmes can help to rebuild the social connections that have been lost.”