Laois county councillors were united in their support for the council’s efforts to keep staff and the public safe during Covid-19 emergency.
The public representatives also promised to do all possible to get businesses reopened, and have praised frontline staff.
Their only full gathering in the last month was a virtual one, the March 30 meeting of Laois County Council held for the first time by phone conference.
The Cathaoirleach Cllr Willie Aird moved to assure businesses that the council will do all it can to ease their problems.
“We are very concerned at what has taken place, it’s nobody’s fault, we have never seen anything like this in our lifetime and certainly we want to do everything possible to encourage them all to reopen when all this blows over,” he said.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley from Portlaoise thanked hospital staff as well as council staff for their brave work.
“I’d like to acknowledge the front line staff in the hospital who are doing trojan work and it’s a very worrying and concerning time for them and their families. Let them know that we fully support them and we are very grateful for the work they are doing.
“To the Civil Defence as well, bringing the samples to Dublin, taking risks themselves, brave work,” she said.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald thanked county hall staff for “keeping the show on the road”.
“It’s very difficult, there’s a lot of people putting their own families at risk,” she said.
She also supported the hospital.
“We have all been fighting for our hospital, and we really have an opportunity now to show our respect, our thanks and our support for Portlaoise hospital. I thank all our frontline staff, everyone out there who is working away in difficult circumstances,” she said.
Abbeyleix Cllr John Joe Fennelly thanked everyone working on the frontline and all the council staff still working behind the scenes. He thanked Laois County Council's Chief Executive, John Mulholland, for allowing staff to work from home.
“We all know who they are and we all appreciate what they are doing. We all have families we all have to keep an eye out for one another and make sure we all stay safe. If you feel comfortable working from home that’s brilliant, and if you feel comfortable working inside county hall, brilliant as well,” he said.
Cllr Noel Tuohy praised Portlaoise hospital staff and politicians.
“The multi-tasking porters, administration, the nurses, the doctors. They have just been fantastic,” he said.
“Also we should compliment the leaders, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and all other parties who put differences to one side and are rowing in behind them. This isn’t a political issue but some could have made it so. We are all in this mess together, and we’ll all get out of it together hopefully,” he said.
“We are really in a time of national crisis and it’s great to see the whole country pulling together,” noted Fine Gael Cllr Conor Bergin.
Ballyroan-based Cllr Mary Sweeney praised the council staff.
“This has shown the strength of what a community can do the strength of what an executive run properly and efficiently can also do and it is important that people applaud their efforts and councillors too. We are all in this together and we all hope to come through it good and well,” she said.
Cllr Ben Brennan praised council staff.
“I compliment the council staff inside and outside for the fantastic work they are doing because they also put their lives at stake continuing to fill the potholes and doing winter maintenance. I compliment the Chief in taking the initiative getting the staff to work from home. I compliment the community in our area and the areas around us for getting out there and supporting the older people,” he said.
Cllr Thomasina Connell echoed the all in it together message.
“Thank you to the council and staff for maintaining a service to the community. Everybody has a part to play in this, and at times I’ve felt a bit helpless over the past few weeks but what I’d like to get in people’s minds over the coming weeks is that we’re in this together, everyone’s doing the same thing as you, we’re staying at home, and I’d like to thank everybody for playing their part. I wish my 18 colleagues and the executive the very best of luck over the coming weeks,” she said.
Cllr Tom Mulhall said people's lives must take priority over budgets.
“We are in a very serious situation, people’s lives and health are very most important, that’s what we should be focused on in the next few months. To keep people safe and healthy and that lives are saved. I’m sure it’s going to have a huge effect on the council’s programme 2020 but we can all deal with that once we overcome this virus,” he said.
Cllr Aisling Moran also praised the council and offered her ow n help.
“We all have our part to play, and I am available if anything needs to be done, to help in any way that I can and keep safe everyone,” she said.
Cllr Padraig Fleming agrees.
“The reality is both the staff and management and the frontline services are doing fantastic work and I wish everybody safe health,” he said.
The full council meets again on April 27, also via phone conference.