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Free wifi in council flats 'will prevent OAPs feeling alone'

a SINN FEIN councillor wants Dublin City Council to provide free wifi in all its flats complexes.

In a motion due to be discussed at a meeting tonight, Chris Andrews wants to see the scheme rolled out first in council-run senior citizen developments.

Mr Andrews said it was not a big ask and would help to prevent elderly Dubliners feeling isolated.

"It's something that is very do-able," he told the Herald, though he admitted he did not know how much such a project would cost.

"The whole concept of communication has changed. Free wifi along with computer courses could help older people to stay in touch," the Pembroke South Dock representative said.

"It could help them to keep in contact with family who have moved abroad via Skype, for example. We are considered to be one of the IT capitals of the world. If we can't do this then maybe we aren't as good as we think we are."

Asked if it was appropriate for the council to pay for wifi in homes, Mr Andrews said it was a "fair argument" to view internet as a luxury commodity.

imaginative

"I think there has to be an imaginative way to approach it," he said, adding that the principal beneficiaries would be elderly people living in flats.

The council already provides free wireless internet access in a dozen spots around the city including Grafton Street and O'Connell Street.

The hotspots are provided on the basis that a limited amount of internet time is free, with a tariff for prolonged use.

There is an appetite for getting online among older people living in accommodation run by the council according to Andrews.

"It was older residents who suggested it to me," he said. "As society moves on we have to include older people."

A partnership with a firm with an interest in social and community development could be a way for the council to provide the proposed service, said Mr Andrews.

"If it doesn't work it shouldn't be for lack of trying," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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