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Leaders must park the tantrums and remain focused on Covid fight



Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government was 'only good at shutting things down'. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government was 'only good at shutting things down'. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government was 'only good at shutting things down'. Photo: Steve Humphreys

How long can it be before someone starts a campaign for a new spelling of Christmas? The last syllable being replaced by the word “miss”?

Once again, the cancelling of festive plans is seen as “responsible”. Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has appealed to people to cut down on their social contacts.

Asked whether office parties should be cancelled, Dr Holohan said: “We’re advising people to stay at home as much as possible and work from home – those would be responsible decisions, if they were to be taken.”

His estimation that 200,000 potential cases could be avoided if people took action now makes a compelling argument. However, those who argue that Covid is still managing us, instead of the other way around, also have a forceful case.

After 20 months of restrictions and lockdowns, we are still being held to ransom because we do not have enough bed capacity in our hospitals.

We cannot run the gauntlet of spiralling cases indefinitely. For all the Herculean efforts of health workers, our health system remains captured by Covid.

Once again, we have been left with no choice but to hunker down and simply hope for the best.

Booster shots will soon be rolled out, and with new revolutionary treatments about to become widely available there are reasons to believe we can break the Covid choke-hold. But all of this is still some way off.

Unless we fix our health services, all measures we take will have to be on the extreme end. People appreciate the fickle finger of fate can wreak havoc, but they are struggling to cope with the spirit-crushing cycles of repetition. Vaccines have reduced deaths, but efficacy wanes and the virus mutates. Complex problems require strategic responses.

The Dáil is our supposed centre of power. It is the last place we should witness tantrums that would test the patience of the most devoted creche assistant, yet that is exactly what has played out.

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Politicians, from the top down, would be making a grave miscalculation to think there might be any toleration of petty squabbling. We need authoritative direction, not bad-tempered spats with TDs behaving like kids in the back of the car.

Hands should be on the wheel; attention on the road ahead. Our Covid journey has gone on for too long. We do not need to add to it.

Many are frustrated because it feels like we are back where we started. They are asking if the route map was faulty. Did we read it the wrong way up?

Attacking the Government, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was “only good at shutting things down”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was “a source of regret” her party had taken a “divisive approach” to “exploit the pandemic for political ends”.

From vaccination to social distancing, people did all that was asked of them. Such standards apply to politicians too. While allowances may be made for those struggling to make things better, those who make them worse will be called out.

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