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‘We need to do more than call them heroes’ – Clare elected reps call for frontline workers to receive financial reward

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*Members of the swabbing team in Cusack Park. Photograph: John Mangan

Clare councillors are leading the call for frontline workers during the current pandemic to receive “tangible recognition”.

Plaudits greater than lighting a candle or a collective clapping of hands are needed to adequately pay tribute to frontline staff, local elected representatives in the county have stated.

In a motion discussed at Monday’s meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) urged the Irish Government to explore means of thanking the country’s frontline workers by means of a tax free bonus payment, paid leave or a tax credit. He believed the Department of Health should lead a cross-Departmental grouping to determine the measure that could be introduced and who would be entitled to it.

Although the Lisdoonvarna representative acknowledged the timing wasn’t right considering the significant rise in COVID-19 cases after Christmas but he believed it was important to begin the conversation, “It is not about money but it is about doing more than calling people heroes”. Garrihy added, “The commitment and all sacrifices being made cannot just be treated as a thank you”.

Mayor of Clare, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) seconded the proposal and asked that it be circulated to County Councils across Ireland. “This will send out a very positive message from the elected members of Clare on how much we appreciate efforts of our frontline workers,” Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) maintained.

Deciding who is classed as frontline staff will be a difficult task, Cllr Shane Talty (FF) predicted, “It is important that we’re not just trying to make a PR stunt on this”. Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) also added his support to the motion.

“One of the things we can do to help our frontline workers is to look after our own health and minimise the impact on the health service until we reach the peak and get onto the vaccination. They are stretched to the limit,” Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) commented. He added, “There has to be some reward for those who put their lives on the line and continue to do so”.

Agreement on the sentiments of Killeen were expressed by Cllr Garrihy, “The most important thing we can do to protect our health services is to stay home and bring down the numbers”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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