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'It's good to be back' - Former Mayo star relieved to reopen family business as lockdown eases

Mortimer Quarries resumed their operations on Monday.

Trevor Mortier in action for Mayo [file photo].
Trevor Mortier in action for Mayo [file photo].
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

FORMER MAYO STAR Trevor Mortimer says he was delighted to get back to work with his family business this week as part of the Government’s phasing plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

Phase one of the plan was implemented on Monday which allowed the construction industry, among other outdoor workers, to reopen. The staff at Mortimer Quarries, a long-standing family business, returned to work with a number of protocols in place to ensure everyone operates in a safe environment.

They were previously open for work that was deemed essential, such as providing grolime for the agricultural sector as well as completing some tarmacadam jobs for the HSE.

But former Mayo forward Trevor says they have been “shut down” for the majority of the coronavirus lockdown.

Ahead of their return to business, he posted a video on Twitter exhibiting one of the safety precautions they have in place. A plastic sheet — transparent divider — is placed between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat in their vans to protect employees from cross-contamination.

They also have staggered lunch breaks for the workers and PPE equipment among other important measures to help them work safely in a new reality.

“I think for the most part, it’s good to be back in action again,” Mortimer tells The42 after day one of resuming their operations.

“I guess we’ve got staff members from mid-20s to late 60s, early 70s and I guess it’s kind of different for everybody.

For the most part, everybody was delighted to get back and get out of the house and try to get a bit of a normal routine again. It’s different for everybody, like my Dad is in the high risk category so he’s kind of keeping to himself.

“But generally, everybody was delighted to getting back to seeing everybody. A bit of banter and a bit of routine.”

Like many other industries, the future looks very uncertain for construction workers in Ireland as the impact of Covid-19 on the economy starts to become clearer.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe issued a stark warning last month that the necessary social restrictions have resulted in “severe recession and unprecedented levels of unemployment.”

Mortimer, who still has fresh memories of Ireland’s previous struggles with an economic downturn, has natural fears of experiencing the recession again.

“Without a doubt,” he says when asked if he has any worries about a potential recession.

It wasn’t that business was flying, it was nice and steady. From our point of view, I would imagine private house building is going to slow. I would hope the Government don’t get tied up in red tape while trying to progress the social housing scheme.

“I’m pretty sure that’s what they want to do but when everybody’s intentions are going along the right route, they tend to get tied up in red tape and all other kinds of technicalities. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.”

Living through the last recession offers Mortimer some idea about what to expect in the coming months, but for the moment, they’re handling their workload on a day-by-day basis.

“It certainly helps because at least you know how bad things can get albeit this is different to the causes of the last recession.

“The obvious line to take is to conserve cash as much as possible and as quick as possible. 

We’re kind of winging it a small bit at the moment in the hope that we can kind of maintain what we have and just struggle through it as best we can. It’s kind of a moving target too so we have to gauge it every week.”

Mortimer called time on his Mayo football career in 2012 and was still lining out for his club Shrule-Glencorrib up until last year.

trevor-mortimer-and-eoin-cotter Mortimer retired from Mayo in 2012. Source: James Crombie

He decided to drop down to the junior ranks for this season while also taking charge of the club’s U21 outfit. Whether or not his teams will see any game time in 2020 is yet to be determined as the GAA continues to stay in lockdown.

However, Mortimer thinks “there’s merit” in opening up the pitches for players to gather in small groups for a kickaround.

On a personal note, Mortimer has tried to convert the isolation of the Covid-19 lockdown into a positive experience for his family.

“We’re spending a lot more time with the kids than we would normally have beforehand. We got a few bits done, going for trips every day with the kids down the road into the forest. Anything to bring them on a bit of an adventure so to speak.

“It was unusual but it’s a relatively short period of time when you look back on it in 20 or 30 years time. It is what it is. It’s a lot harder on older people.

“We used to go down with the kids and wave out the back. He’d be in the conservatory and Mam is the same. She’s the same age. We check in on them once a week just to see how they’re getting on.

It’s tougher on people like that, they’re on their own, their kids are gone so it’s important to check in on them.”

- Originally published at 06.30

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