Press release

Greens propose Minister with responsibility for tackling loneliness

1st May 2024
Mal, Pippa, Roisin & Pauline outside Leinster House

The Government should tackle loneliness by appointing a Minister with specific responsibility for the issue, according to a Green Party motion proposed today (May 1). The motion, launched by Green Party Senators, calls for loneliness to be treated as public health issue and that an action plan should be created to confront it.

Senator Pauline O’Reilly highlighted that loneliness is a public health issue;

“We are facing an epidemic of loneliness; we have the highest reported level in the EU with over 20% of Irish people reported feeling lonely most or all of the time. This is even more severe for older people, as nearly one-third of Irish adults over 50 feel emotionally lonely occasionally. Organisations around the world from the World Health Organisation to the US Surgeon General have deemed loneliness to be a serious public health concern.”

Senator Roisin Garvey, Leader of the Green Party in the Seanad, said;

“It's vital the Government sets up a commission on loneliness as soon as possible, so we have a real and true picture of this huge social issue and can plan and implement a proper plan to tackle it. As spokesperson for Rural Development, I witness regularly first-hand older people especially struggling with loneliness due to isolation. By 2030 older persons will account for 17.5 per cent of the total. We need to get serious about loneliness or it will be an epidemic."

Senator Vincent P. Martin said there were specific actions the Government could take on the issue;

We call on the Government to publish an Action Plan to Combat Loneliness and Isolation, dedicated to improving social connection across all ages. This should link Government departments, local authorities and community groups to work in harmony to combat loneliness. We also call on the Government to appoint a Minister with specific responsibility for reducing loneliness and improving social connectivity.

Senator Malachai O’Hara spoke about how building communities is vital to tackling loneliness;

One of the best ways to combat loneliness is by building vibrant communities where people feel included and welcome. An excessive car culture separates people from their neighbours and the world around them, leaving them in an isolated box. By making it safe and convenient for people to walk in their local neighbourhood, we can build community spirit and reduce social isolation.

The motion can be read in full here.

Share on