THE LEADER of the Labour Party, Alan Kelly, has told the Taoiseach that the Limerick City North electoral district "desperately needs" a walk-in test centre, following a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.
The Limerick Leader reported at the weekend that Limerick City North had a 14-day average of 126.8 cases per 100,000—higher than the Dublin which had just started Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions. Limerick is currently at Level 2, like the rest of the country.
It is understood the incidence rate has since declined.
Local councillor Conor Sheehan called on his party leader to raise the issue in the Dail to ask what the criteria for establishing a new walk-in centre was.
"Will the Taoiseach indicate what the criteria are for walk-in testing centres?" Deputy Kelly said to Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday afternoon.
"We had one in Rathkeale, for instance. The northern part of Limerick city has a 14-day average of 126.8 Covid infections per 100,000 population. That is higher than counties Louth, Waterford, Leitrim or Donegal. It is one of the most deprived areas of the city. What are criteria for bringing in a walk-in testing facility because north Limerick desperately needs one?"
However, the Taoiseach did not directly respond to his query in the Dail chamber.
Cllr Sheehan said he was "disappointed" there was no response.
"A walk-in testing centre is needed due to the high incidence of Covid-19 on the Northside of Limerick. These are some of the most vulnerable communities and while the Covid incidence has fallen in Limerick overall it is still far too high on the Northside and this needs to be addressed."
He told the Limerick Leader that he asked the deputy to raise the issue in the Dail because "there is a need for a walk in test centre on the Northside perhaps in the vicinity of Thomond Park with a beefed up testing and tracing targeting the area.
“I have been in constant contact over the last few days with community leaders in the area and they have told me there is also a need for enhanced communication specifically targeting communities on the Northside in relation to Covid."
A total of 669 people turned up to a piloted free walk-in test clinic in Rathkeale on September 11.