John Fogarty: GAA in great place to help elderly, says AgeAction chief Connolly

AgeAction chief executive Paddy Connolly says the GAA are in a great position to help the elderly during the coronavirus crisis, writes John Fogarty.

John Fogarty: GAA in great place to help elderly, says AgeAction chief Connolly

AgeAction chief executive Paddy Connolly says the GAA are in a great position to help the elderly during the coronavirus crisis, writes John Fogarty.

Connolly, a member of Na Fianna in Dublin, has commended the organisation’s work thus far and underlines how importance they are going to be in assisting pensioners in the coming weeks.

“I think over the next couple of days the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will publish guidelines over where the need is around volunteering,” he said. “Local GAA clubs are most knowledgeable about what’s going on in their own communities and have the connections with members, some of whom might be older members who are now going to isolate themselves to some degree because that’s the advice.

“That’s what you would worry about too because as they isolate themselves they’ll leave themselves vulnerable to the cold and other things like not getting enough food.

“There are two elements to it — one is connecting to the members in their own club that they know without putting them at risk and being smart about social distancing. Maybe through the GAA clubs’ databases, they can make a call and check in and then link in with local services and offer their resources, that is their members who are interested in helping out.

“I think for a lot of us at this stage, AgeAction and others, we are getting a lot of calls to help at the moment so we are building the lists so that we are ready to go when the time comes.”

Connolly explained GAA members can prime themselves to offer transport and back-up to the services.

“We’re at the beginning of the problem at the moment and we don’t know the scale we’re going to get to.

“Also, a lot of the GAA clubs like Na Fianna would have a regular newsletter and using that to get information out to people would be really helpful and tell me what is going on in the community.

“One of the big challenges for us all is that over 50% of people between 65 and 74 years of age have never been on the internet so they’re not getting emails etc so it’s about ensuring those people have access to the necessary information.

“Most older people have families and they’re connected with their clubs and their communities so they’re well connected and it’s to build those networks and then keep an eye out those older people who we may know through our local contacts that they don’t have many family members. Sometimes it might be the fella who comes in and sits at the bar and everybody knows him but he doesn’t have a huge family network around him.”

Meanwhile, the Tipperary hurlers have become the latest subject of a false social media story concerning the coronavirus outbreak.

A screengrab claiming to be from the team’s WhatsApp group in which manager Liam Sheedy mentions a player contracting the disease was circulating over the weekend. The message is clearly fake and the Tipperary County Board yesterday asked those receiving it not to pass it onto others.

Their statement from county PRO Joe Bracken read: “Unfortunately, at this time of crisis, some unknown individual or individuals has issued a false message doing the rounds on social media purporting to be from the Tipperary SH manager.

“This is wholly inaccurate fake news and is causing unnecessary concern to all parties. I appeal if you have received it, to delete immediately and not to forward. The fight against Covid-19 must continue. Messages like this and others on social media are certainly not helping that cause. Be safe everyone and please do not spread any fake news, whatever its content.”

Elsewhere, Wicklow club Rathnew have erected four anti-racism signs on their club grounds following the claim that one of their players was racially abused in last month’s opening league game away to Tinahely, which was abandoned after 16 minutes. Both clubs were fined, while three Rathnew players had bans reduced after they were contested.

Chairman Robert Dignam confirmed to the Irish Examiner that four “Rathnew GAA does not tolerate racism or abuse of officials” signs have been put up, one outside each dressing room as well as at the entrances to both of their pitches.

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