Are the Irish Council for Civil Liberties the last people sticking up for, well, civil liberties in this country?
Aside from a tiny handful of politicians and the odd newspaper columnist or radio contributor, nobody in a position of authority or influence seems to have any problem with a drastic and increasing eradication of fundamental rights and freedoms, individual and collective, all because of a virus with a low mortality rate.
On The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk, Mon-Fri, 4pm), ICCL chief Liam Herrick at least put up a fight against this, specifically the “clearly discriminatory” Covid cert system.
There are so many arguments against this practice that we could be here till Doomsday, but Herrick summed them up well: little evidence on whether certs have been effective; massive disproportionality; uncertainty and constant moving of the goalposts.
They were also, Herrick said, originally introduced to encourage vaccination. Now, though, “we have the highest level of vaccination in the world — how much more encouragement do we realistically think we’re going to achieve?”
On Drivetime (Radio 1, Mon-Fri, 4.30pm) we heard the shocking, though not surprising, news that “anxiety and depression has increased tenfold during the pandemic” — yet more proof that the cure is worse than the disease.
Host Cormac Ó hEadhra wondered: “What’s the best way to cope with the constant stress of Covid?” — good question — but then missed the point somewhat by adding, “Especially when numbers rapidly rise, as they are now unfortunately.”
Surely for most people — unless elderly or immunocompromised — it’s the relentless barrage of dread, paranoia and fevered reportage (cases! variants! spikes! restrictions!) that has them so stressed.
This collective malcontent is even manifesting in the skies. As heard on BBC OS (World Service, Mon-Fri, 5.06pm), air rage has increased during Covid, causing seriously unpleasant situations in the sky.
American flight attendant Teddy Andrews said: “It’s outrageous, egregious and ridiculous. I’ve been in the industry 40 years and it’s the worst I’ve seen.”
The War of Independence years have never been the most wildly fascinating subject to this listener. That said, this week’s Talking History (Newstalk, Sun, 7pm) was a welcome exception.
Patrick Geoghegan took his superb show north for a public event in the grandly named Harrison Chambers of Distinction, a Belfast hotel which, he told us, “has hosted scoundrels and scholars”.
He added: “We’re certainly hoping to add to the scholarly part tonight”, and that he did, with a weighty cast of historians from UCD, Dublin City Council, Queen’s University and the Northern Ireland Office Centenary Historical Panel discussing the centenary of partition and creation of Northern Ireland.
Geoghegan helped make it interesting, and fun — complete with beautiful trad music accompaniment from Brendan Kerr and Catriona Gribben.