While the cold snap is set to continue for another couple of days, local organisations have warned of the importance of checking in on elderly neighbours and ensuring that animals are fed and watered.
With temperatures reaching as low as -6 degrees, President of St Mel’s Conference St Vincent de Paul (SVP), Kathleen Mimnagh said that the demands for food in and around Longford town this Christmas was “unprecedented” and there is major concern now over the demand for fuel as the cold spell continues for the next couple of days.
This time last year, the county experienced one of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the country and local experts say that elderly people, in particular, are more vulnerable when the weather turns cold.
“Demands for fuel will soar now because of the cold weather and elderly people are particularly vulnerable,” added Ms Mimnagh. “The demand for food this Christmas was unprecedented and once we go back after the Christmas break, there will be a huge demand for fuel. There are people in this county who have nothing and it is very, very worrying to see what is happening.”
Meanwhile, Hillary Robinson of Hungry Horse Outside in Newtownforbes was on her way to Granard to feed four horses that had been reported hungry to the organisation, when the Leader contacted her on Monday afternoon.
“We are flat out at the moment because horses are being abandoned and not being fed,” she fumed. “Some animals are not being fed or even given water to drink, and they are hungry. We currently have six horses in Lough Sheelin and four more in Granard with not a pick of food and it is very, very cold.”
Ms Robinson went on to say that it was imperative that animals outside in this weather were provided with nutritious food and plenty of water. “There is plenty of fodder around, so there is no excuses for hungry animals,” she added. “Animals need food and water just like humans do and particularly in this cold weather. If anyone sees an animal in need or distress, can they please make contact with a local organisation that can help. Please don’t ignore it.”
Earlier this month a total of €51,000 in funding was provided for two local animal welfare organisations in Longford. The funding announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD was allocated to Hungry Horse Outside which received €30,000, while Longford SPCA benefited to the tune of €21,000.
“I would like to sincerely thank Minister Coveney for making these funding allocations,” Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael TD Gab McFadden told the Leader. “The funding clearly recognises the excellent work that these organisations are doing.”
By New Year’s Day the country will be set for milder conditions as the current cold spell passes on. Temperatures are set to reach double figures by the weekend.