Work on readying Longford's Connolly Barracks as 'drive-thru' Covid-19 test centre gets underway

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Connolly Barracks

Work begins on readying Connolly Barracks this morning in Longford town

Longford's Connolly Barracks is to be used as a 'drive-thru' test centre for the coronavirus if, as expected, the number of cases in the county continues to rise, the Leader has learned.

Work on preparing the site got underway this morning ahead of a likely opening next week.

The Leader has attempted to contact both the HSE and Longford County Council over the plans, but has yet to receive an official response from either organisation.

Cllr Paraic Brady, who sits on the HSE's Dublin Mid Leinster HSE Health Forum, however, confirmed attempts were being made to avail of the barracks as a site for testing to be carried out.

"There is a centre in Mullingar for testing and we have one in St Joseph's and we have looked at a number of possibilities where a drive in centre could be set up.

At present, there are four confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Longford and Cllr Brady said the move to open up Connolly Barracks is a way of ensuring the county is able to keep a handle on the spiralling pandemic.

"If the numbers in increase, we need to have a facility in place to help the people of Longford/Westmeath and the northern area," he said.

Cllr Brady, nonetheless, urged people not to turn up at either St Joseph's or Connolly Barracks unless they have been advised to do so by their GP.

"The next two weeks are very, very critical for the whole of Ireland," he said, while urging people and especially youngsters to shy away from congregating in large groups.

He also heaped praise on Longford County Council chief executive Paddy Mahon and the local authority for its efforts in working with the HSE over the Connolly Barracks issue.

The Fine Gael representative said should those plans and the more stringent social measures imposed by government jave the desired effect, towns like Longford could start returning to some semblance of normality by the end of April.

He also reserved a special mention for doctors, nurses and frontline staff who, he said, were going above and beyond the call of duty to keep Irish citizens safe and well.

"I just hope people will remember all the nurses and doctors and our healthcare workers for all they have done and continue to do," he said.