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Roadmap most welcome but transparency would be too

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Until there is a vaccine, there is no prospect of return to what we know as normal. (stock photo)

Until there is a vaccine, there is no prospect of return to what we know as normal. (stock photo)

Until there is a vaccine, there is no prospect of return to what we know as normal. (stock photo)

Stripped of all security, ordinary people still have made heroic sacrifices; some, on the front line, the ultimate one.

As a result, the rest of us get to breathe a sigh of relief that there is finally a horizon we can look towards, with something other than fear, as the lockdown eases. The pandemic has left our world on edge; only a sustained sense of balance has stopped the fall. The news the process for its removal can begin in two weeks is a singular achievement.

There are massive hurdles to be faced, but the magnificent social solidarity shown by the nation is still a triumph amid the tragedy. The sense of dislocation is a small price to pay for the thousands of lives that have been saved by the restrictions.

May 18 is of course only the beginning of the end; each next step will need to be calibrated to mitigate the risk of a second wave.

The patience and dignity of older people will finally have a dividend when they can go for a walk next week.

But there is much we still do not know - some of which is due to the unique nature of the virus, but some is also due to innate institutional caution.

Decisions about the five stages plotted out by the Taoiseach must therefore be taken openly and inclusively.

In his book 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People', Stephen R Covey writes: "When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective." The way to do this is to be upfront and frank, always open to question.

So the refusal of Leo Varadkar to take questions from reporters yesterday is regrettable.

Massive measures are being taken which directly affect all our lives. The Government must bring the people into the conversation to maintain confidence. With everything on the line, clarity and transparency are vital.

The people of this country have risen to every challenge set before them. This fidelity and focus in fighting the pandemic must not be taken for granted.

It can best be protected by official candour and open collaboration.

"Our plan is to re-open the country in a slow, staged, phased way," Mr Varadkar promised. Those who have clamoured for swifter easing of the curbs must recognise Covid-19 is still killing dozens of people daily, with hundreds still contracting it.

Hospitals and ICUs are yet at risk of being overwhelmed. Until there is a vaccine, there is no prospect of return to what we know as normal. We must adapt accordingly.

Hard though the stages of the journey have been and uncertain as the road ahead still is, we have a map and persistence has paid off so far.

Irish Independent