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Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes among those calling for internet access for the vulnerable amid coronavirus crisis

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Belfast boxer Michael Conlan and comedian Colin Murphy are among those calling for internet access for the vulnerable

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan and comedian Colin Murphy are among those calling for internet access for the vulnerable

PA

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan and comedian Colin Murphy are among those calling for internet access for the vulnerable

Over 200 individuals and organisations have signed a letter to internet providers in Northern Ireland and the Republic, calling on them to ensure internet access for vulnerable groups during the coronavirus crisis.

Human rights organisation Participation and the Practice of Rights is behind the idea, which is aimed at ensuring those such as families in hostels, people with mental health conditions, asylum seekers unable to work, the unemployed, the disabled and those in rural areas are not excluded from internet access.

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan, comedian Colin Murphy and ex-boxer and Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes are among the signatories.

Charity signatories include The Rainbow Project and Refugees Welcome NI. A number of other arts and entertainment figures also joined the call along with academics, legal professionals trade unions, voluntary organisations and religious figures.

The letter insists that there is an "absolute necessity of internet connectivity" as it is "a lifeline for social existence".

It says: "To adhere to social distancing, an accessible and reliable internet connection is required for people to access all other rights: to keep informed of guidance on how to keep themselves safe, work, engage with state authorities, receive and spend money, communicate with family and friends, meet new people, care for the elderly, access mental health care, participate in education, collaborate, entertain and play.

"Internet connectivity is as important as the freedom of movement; it is a right, not a privilege to be granted dependent on income or status. Neither should rural areas be disadvantaged."

You can read the full letter here.

Belfast Telegraph