Ireland is the loneliest country in Europe.

Speaking today at the launch of the Green Party Motion on Loneliness Senator and MEP candidate Pauline O’Reilly said “Ireland is the loneliest country in Europe according to the EU Commissions research report into loneliness in the EU.  20% of Irish people feel lonely most or all of the time which is considerably higher than the EU average of 13%”. 

She went on to say “nearly one-third of Irish adults over 50 feel emotionally lonely occasionally, with 7% frequently experiencing loneliness.  27% of people nationwide said that loneliness is their biggest fear about growing old in their community”.

O’Reilly continued “the WHO has declared loneliness as a pressing health threat and has launch a new commission to foster social connection as a priority in all countries.  Weak social connection is estimated to be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day with social isolation, loneliness and living alone each associate with a 25-30% increase in mortality risk and may have a link to higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicide”.

She went on to add “Our Motion today calls on the Department of the Taoiseach to establish an Expert Action Group on Loneliness to drive down the rate of loneliness within our communities.  We can do this by continuing to utilise transport policy to promote modes that encourage greater social interaction. Measure loneliness as part of wellbeing indicators annually, rather than every five or six years as is currently the case, to enable effective monitoring of policies and progress. Mandate that every Local Authority prepare a local strategy to combat loneliness, through the use of libraries, public buildings, sports partnerships and the Public Participation Networks and allocate to a Minister specific responsibility to combat loneliness”.