Noel Whelan: Loneliness is not just for Christmas

Ireland should set up a cross-party Oireachtas-led commission on loneliness

Nine million people in Britain are always or often lonely. One in 10 older people often go a month without seeing family, friends or neighbours. Image: iStock

Nine million people in Britain are always or often lonely. One in 10 older people often go a month without seeing family, friends or neighbours. Image: iStock

This has been a year of much dysfunction in British politics, but there was one important cross-party initiative which is worthy of imitation here in Ireland. Last week the report of a commission on loneliness in Britain, the Jo Cox Commission, was launched by two MPs, Labour’s Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy, a Tory.

The initiative was named after the late Jo Cox, a Labour MP who was stabbed to death by a lone attacker after she left a clinic in her constituency in June 2016. In fact the initiative for such a commission was her idea. In her short parliamentary career Cox had sought to drive loneliness up the Westminster political agenda as both a health and community issue. Some resisted her efforts, failing to see the urgent political and public policy dimensions, and seemingly content to leave it to the charity sector.

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