THE Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council who was on a ventilator for two weeks after contracting coronavirus said the next two weeks will be crucial in the ongoing fight against the disease.
Independent Councillor Nicholas Crossan spent four weeks in Letterkenny University Hospital after falling sick in early March and testing positive for coronavirus.
Speaking to the Donegal news from his Buncrana home yesterday afternoon, Cllr Crossan said that he was one of the lucky ones.
“Unfortunately, many, many people have lost their lives because of the virus over these past few months. It’s now more important that ever for people to be responsible for their actions and to stay safe,” the Cathaoirleach said.
His comments coincide with the first phase of Ireland relaxing its Covid-19 restrictions. From Monday, some construction firms returned to work while garden centres and hardware stores reopened.
“I’m so grateful to still be here. I spent two weeks in intensive care. Others weren’t so fortunate,” Cllr Crossan said.
“As we start to open up our businesses and begin to see more people using public transport and mingling as they go back to work we have to be so careful. There’s an incubation period of ten days for this Covid and the next two weeks will be crucial,” he warned.
“I know people are mad to get back to work and get back into meeting rooms but we have to err on the side of caution. If we don’t get a spike (in Covid-19 cases) over the next two weeks we might be able to start getting things back to some form of normality but if we do get that spike then we’ll have to close things down once more. That’s what I’m afraid of,” he said.
“Everyone has to be very careful. There’s a responsibility on us all to heed the warnings. It’s up to each and every individual to play their part,” he added.
The Cathaoirleach also confirmed that meetings of Donegal County Council, including Municipal District meetings, will resume next week.
The last formal meeting of Donegal County Council took place in January and since then the 37 elected members have been working remotely with regular contact with Council staff.
The next full meeting of the Council will take place in Lifford next Monday morning, starting at 11am.
However, to adhere to social distancing measures in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be only possible to allow ten members and the Cathaoirleach, Cllr Crossan, into the Council Chamber. They will be joined by two members of the Council Executive.
The quorum will be made up of four Fianna Fail Councillors, three from Sinn Fein, two Independents and one Fine Gael member.
“The chamber isn’t a suitable venue for a full meeting of the Council so there will be representatives from all political groupings. We have some statutory business to deal with but there will be no questions or motions,” the Cathaoirleach said.
Monday’s meeting will also set a date for the Council’s annual general meeting which traditionally takes place in June. A larger venue for the AGM, to allow for social distancing, will also be discussed on Monday.
“The Chamber is not suitable for all the members so we’ll be looking for an alternative venue – a sports hall possibly – where we will be able to carry out the AGM, which is a big day for the Council, safely” the Cathaoirleach said.
Fianna Fail will provide both the Cathaoirleach and Leas Cathaoirleach for the next twelve months of Donegal County Council as part of an agreement brokered between the elected members.
“We meet bi-monthly so we haven’t had a full council meeting since January, missing the March meeting completely. The MDs (Municipal Districts) meet monthly and we’ve missed one of those in Inishowen while the last one was held over Zoom,” he said.
The first of the Municipal District meeting (Donegal) will be held on Tuesday next May, 26, at 11.30 a.m. in the Peter Kennedy Chamber, Donegal Public Services Centre, Donegal Town.