Urgent targeted response required for vulnerable populations

5 August 2020

Ivana Bacik

An urgent targeted response is required for vulnerable populations, according to Labour Spokesperson on Equality and Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik.

Senator Bacik was speaking after the publication of NPHET advice showing the emergence of several Covid-19 clusters in a number of places, including Direct Provision centres, amongst the Traveller community and in meat factories.

Senator Bacik said:

“It is clear from the NPHET advice that an urgent targeted cross government response is needed to deal with the emergence of a concerning number of clusters amongst vulnerable populations.

“Serious questions have to be asked as to why more preventative action wasn’t taken to shield vulnerable groups who are disproportionately impacted by the virus. The Minister for Health admitted on Prime Time that the increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases was being driven significantly by clusters of all cases around the country.

“The Department of Justice need to move urgently to address conditions in Direct Provision centres that may be conducive to spread of the virus. There are still people in such centres who have to share bedrooms with strangers and this is unacceptable.

“There is also a need to significantly ramp up testing and tracing for individuals in vulnerable settings. My Labour Colleague, Senator Annie Hoey, previously warned about the risks posed by Covid-19 to residents in Direct Provision centres; and her concerns have unfortunately been borne out by what has emerged from NPHET today. Asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups are being failed currently, and we should be taking preventative rather than reactive action to protect such groups.

“The outbreak of clusters in vulnerable groups highlights the urgent need for Government to introduce a targeted cross departmental response.”