How long will it last? It is like being in a prison

By Maurice Garvey

SOCIAL distancing is a term we have become accustomed to but for many, the reality is that it is ‘anti-social distancing’.

Covid-19 has killed and is a threat to people, particularly the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

Joseph Kineen 03 compressor

Joseph Kineen not enjoying the anti-social distancing

However, fear and isolation are causing negative mental health effects for residents, both young and old.

Joseph Kineen (85) lives on his own in lower Ballyfermot, and feels like a pariah when he goes out.

“I can’t walk down a path without people looking at me and giving me a wide berth - it’s like they think I have the plague but I haven’t got the virus,” said Joseph.

Two days before the lockdown, builders started work on Joseph’s home – a SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) grant scheme to install insulation on the outside walls.

Scaffolding went up outside the house but the contractor had to stop working due to Government Covid-19 guidelines.

“That was over two months ago. It was very windy on Friday and Saturday and the scaffolding was shaking. I can’t live like this. How long will it last? It is like being in a prison.”

National protocols allowed construction workers back on May 18 but only on sites where it was “safe to do so”.

Mr Kineen continued: “I rang the builder and they are waiting for government to make a second statement. The SEAI said they are also awaiting instructions.

“I’m on my own. A neighbour pops over to see me but I am not one for looking for sympathy. All I want is a bit of clarity on the situation.”

A SEAI spokesperson told The Echo that there may be a delay with schemes of this nature due to coronavirus.

“We are taking our initiative from government advice. The Warmth and Wellbeing scheme normally involves vulnerable people, so we wouldn’t be able to continue until it is safe.

“In this case, where works have started and builders were on a site, this would be considered a priority when they return to work.”

For Mr Kineen, he bears no ill will towards the SEAI nor the builder, rather, he hopes his concerns reach Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

“There is no clarity from the Taoiseach. I don’t think he has taken on board SEAI schemes like this. If it is going to take six months, I would rather the scaffolding comes down now. I just want some clarity.”

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