The controversy over the decision of President Michael D Higgins not to attend a church service to commemorate the centenary of the partition of the island of Ireland, and the creation of Northern Ireland, has highlighted how difficult relations continue to be between the two main traditions north of the Border, which have deteriorated in recent years since the high points of signing the Belfast Agreement in 1998 and the State visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 2011.
The resignations of two senior figures leading the introduction of Sláintecare, the Government’s 10-year programme to transform the country’s health and social care services, is a deeply concerning development. The resignations of Tom Keane as chairperson of the advisory council to implement the reform programme, and Laura Magahy as executive director of the reform programme office, seems to have come as a surprise to colleagues and at a widely political and policy-making level, but no doubt their reasons are genuine, with fuller information likely to emerge in due course.
Well before anyone had ever heard of Covid-19, there were red lights flashing in the Department of Health. Things had to be pretty bad to get cross-party support, yet there it was, acknowledgement across the Dáil that the situation was getting desperate; only urgent radical action would be suffice.
Philosophers like Richard Bach tell us there are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they are necessary to reach the places we have chosen to go.
Towards the end of his life, Benjamin Franklin spoke of waking up each ever-more precious morning and grabbing the newspaper. Making straight for the death notices section, once he was sure his name was not there he would then rise.
Like a ruffled professor who has spent an afternoon looking for his glasses, only to be told they were sitting on his forehead all the time, the Government’s hopes of solving the housing crisis could hinge on a report written nearly 50 years ago.
The sight of smiling, happy children skipping to school is yet another indication of life returning to something approaching normality. But we need to remind ourselves that Covid-19 is still far too prevalent for the education system to let its guard down. Parents need assurance that schools and colleges are taking all the necessary precautions until we get the virus under control. They also have to play their part.
When the Government signs off on its plan for the phased lifting of remaining Covid-19 restrictions this week, one of the more keenly anticipated sections will relate to the reopening of offices and other workplaces to allow for the return to work of hundreds of thousands of employees.
The removal of remaining Covid-19 restrictions over the coming weeks, despite the steep rise in hospitalisations around the country, pitches us into a new phase. There are some who are uneasy at the idea of any lightening up amid a surge in cases. Others are even more frustrated that the process of reopening is so protracted.
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