Seven: Social alarms in Ireland

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This chapter details the position of social alarms in Ireland, covering both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Social alarm services in each have different characteristics that reflect the respective perspectives on housing, social welfare, healthcare and security matters, and are partly determined by the extent of state subsidies and the agencies through which those subsidies are channelled. Almost all social alarm services, however, operate via nominated contacts, that is without the use of paid response staff such as mobile wardens. Social alarm services in the Republic, furthermore, appear to be unique when considered in relation to services in all other countries in the relatively narrow emphasis placed on security.

The differences in broader policy frameworks reflect, of course, the concerns, priorities and views of the governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. For Northern Ireland, therefore, there is much in common with the three countries of Great Britain, albeit that there are variations in administrative frameworks and the responsibilities of local authorities. In Northern Ireland there are joint health and social services authorities. This, it might be considered, could result in greater attention being given to healthcare agendas when endeavours are made to develop the potential of social alarms, but that it is not notably the case reflects a shared perspective with the rest of the United Kingdom whereby social alarms have tended to be promoted by housing rather than social welfare agencies. In the case of Northern Ireland, however, the main developments of social alarm services resulted from housing association, rather than local authority, initiatives.

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