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Visionary thinking will be needed to take us forward

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Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy pointed out on RTÉ a return to work would involve sharing public space and companies need to know how to manage this. Photo: Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy pointed out on RTÉ a return to work would involve sharing public space and companies need to know how to manage this. Photo: Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy pointed out on RTÉ a return to work would involve sharing public space and companies need to know how to manage this. Photo: Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

As we move into a clouded future it would be a great consolation to be able to call on an expert of our tomorrows. Unfortunately those we have are all authorities on our yesterdays. What lies ahead remains an unknown quantity.

But what we can say with confidence is the skill-set demanded for closing down the country will not be the same as the one needed for opening it up.

The Taoiseach is correct to insist the conditions are not yet right to imagine Covid-19 is anything other than a clear and present danger.

But he is also right to acknowledge an exit strategy must be prioritised.

The advice offered by people like Professor Sam McConkey, infectious disease specialist at the Royal College of Surgeons, should be noted.

While paying tribute to the effective responses to date, Prof McConkey said a different cross-party political approach was needed going forward to make "some of the hardest decisions we will make in 100 years".

Medical priorities have rightly taken precedence and will need to remain central to the agenda.

But economic considerations are also of great importance to protect livelihoods.

As Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy noted when this situation began, everyone believed it to be temporary, but this is clearly not the case and we will all be living with this virus for months.

Mr McCoy pointed out on RTÉ a return to work would involve sharing public space and companies need to know how to manage this.

Therefore employers, workers and medical experts must all be involved in the collaboration to get the country back on its feet.

Henry Kissinger once said: "It is, after all, the responsibility of the expert to operate the familiar and that of the leader to transcend it."

We need entrepreneurial leadership to set down the contours of a route map that brings us all forward.

Until now there was little opportunity for visionary thinking.

In January when the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) was convened, it had about a dozen members.

It now comprises close to 40 members and its authority and influence has grown with the crisis.

Clearly it was never comprised to play a permanent role in running the country.

Its assistance has been invaluable and has wisely been deferred to it.

We all see ourselves as experts to some degree; especially in finding fault with what others have done.

But we are moving from survival into damage limitation, and hopefully on to rebuilding

Our health service depends on the economy, and the economy depends on having a population.

This symbiotic relationship needs to be recognised and reflected in our exit strategy decision-taking.

We will be returning to a different landscape, but hopefully with a new government, and not an ad-hoc group to be held accountable.

Irish Independent