More care needed to protect drivers of transport vehicles, says Longford councillor

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Garry Murtagh

Fine Gael Cllr Garry Murtagh

Cllr Garry Murtagh is calling on Longford County Council to write to the Minister for Transport Shane Ross and the National Transport Authority regarding the rules around modifying vehicles, with respect to the protection of the drivers in the face of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Murtagh praised Longford County Council for the Community Response Forum, which is helping people across the county to avail of various supports.

“However, there are a number of marginalised people living in the county that are isolated and vulnerable and that now have no access to transport (taxi, public bus service) yet they still have doctors, health nurse or hospital appointments to attend.

“Volunteers cannot be expected or asked to transport people to these vital services/appointments without a form of protection so as to lessen any risk to the user, the volunteer or their families from possibly contracting Covid19.

“The majority of these volunteers do not have adequate Personal Protective Equipment, nor are their cars, vans, busses suitable for transporting people in respect to insurance and physical distancing, to medical appointments, test centres, etc.”

Cllr Murtagh has proposed that, with the proper legislation and support from the Transport Minister and the National Transport Authority, the Local Link, Civil Defence or volunteers can continue to fill this gap, provided they are afforded with the necessary protection in the same way as staff in shops are now using perspex to protect themselves.

“There is a great need to be looking at ways to modify vehicles in such a way as to protect the driver, the passengers and to provide materials and equipment to disinfect the vehicle after use,” he said.

“The HSE, ambulance service, paramedics, etc, are under enough pressure so no stone should be left unturned in finding ways to support our front line services and we all should strive to ensure that no one in our community is left behind, be that for the everyday essentials or to attend necessary medical appointments.”