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Varadkar shows real leadership by finding the words to give us hope in unprecedented times

Letters to the Editor


Historic: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivers his address to the nation concerning the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Mark Condren

Historic: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivers his address to the nation concerning the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Mark Condren

Historic: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivers his address to the nation concerning the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Mark Condren

Imagine what it's like being the one everyone looks towards at times like this, the one entrusted with guiding us through what is on course to being officially labelled 'unprecedented times'.

You'd wonder if people in Leo Varadkar's position anticipate situations like this as they scale the ladders of their political careers and edge closer to the pinnacle, or if they envisage themselves addressing the nation about a global emergency on live television. Doubtful. Not in Ireland. Not in our time.

We are lucky in that our country operates on a basis that is generally vacant of external threat or serious conflict. So times of mass uncertainty and fear that leave us looking towards the government for guidance and reassurance are rare. Most Taoisigh see out their time without ever being required to fill that role.

Perhaps that is why we lean towards lambasting their efforts and questioning their worth. We don't see them leading us. The handling of 'crises' in times of normality that get criticised can seem trivial in comparison to the ones we face now.

The actions of a leader during times like this are critical; the decisions they make, the laws they enforce. But there is something else of importance that we register, possibly without realising it: his demeanour.

Apart from the cherry-picked information, we are fed throughout the day and the disposable hearsay that spins through our group chats, we have little else to base our judgment on. In instances like Tuesday night, demeanour can serve as a vague window into a place beyond what we are being told.

Every syllable, every clearing of the throat serves a potential signal to mean something else. With five million sets of eyes glaring at you, there's little room to manoeuvre. Having this in mind, which we can assume Leo did, wouldn't help in alleviating the pressure already mounting on his shoulders.

All things considered, Leo did well.

He seemed honest and wasted little time in presenting us with the hard facts. We were desperate to know how bad it was and he told us.

The 15,000 number was shocking. With speculation rampant throughout the week, many projections likely surpassed the one we were ultimately given. But hearing the official number, straight from the top, made it suddenly feel extremely real.

There was indirect reassurance for the many concerned about their financial situation in hearing: "I am confident that our economy will bounce back, but the damage will be significant and lasting."

The speech continued with an almost Buddhist slant, as Leo then looked forwards. Acknowledge the truth (we all die, in the case of the Buddhist), accept it, then focus on what you can do. Whether or not he finds inspiration in ancient-eastern philosophy remains to be seen. But what we can say for sure is, he is giving us hope.

Tears were shed in our house early on, even before the words, "Let them say when things were at their worst, we were at our best" had left his mouth.

A deep sentiment, which undoubtedly rallied the effort everywhere it was heard.

Andrew McGinley

Address with editor


Wash hands and leave gloves for professionals

Can we, the good people of Ireland, stop wearing single-use disposable gloves as we go about our restricted daily business amidst the Covid-19 pandemic?

While intentions are good, the risks associated with wearing disposable gloves beyond single use are high.

We need to remember frontline healthcare professionals are trained in the use of gloves and are well equipped with the clinical decision-making skills to determine when to don gloves and when to remove.

Gloves are a weapon in the armoury of frontline healthcare workers, because they know how and when to wear them and most importantly when and how to remove contaminated gloves safely, without risk to self or others.

Washing our hands frequently - more frequently than usual - and following the advice on hse.ie to wash hands with soap and water or a hand sanitiser is the best advice.

Dr Liz Kingston, Lecturer

Department of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Limerick


Social distancing doesn't turn us into lonely islands

No woman or man is an island, entire of itself. Every woman and man is a piece of this earth - a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, we are all the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if my home, or any home of your friends or of my friends were.

Every woman or man's death diminishes us - be it in China, Iran, Italy, Spain or Ireland; be it close to home or far away - because we are all connected to one another.

So in these difficult days of social distancing and isolation, let us constantly remind ourselves of what the poet John Donne once said - we are not islands and the distances that we have been forced to put between us will bring us safely back together in the end.

Prof Chris Fitzpatrick

Coombe Hospital, Cork Street, Dublin 8


Here's a tale that really wags the dog

On my daily walk, I met a man with two small dogs on leads. Keeping my distance (of course), I asked if they were Jack Russells.

"No, they're mine," he replied.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9


Government of FF, FG and Greens is answer

Following An Taoiseach's address to the nation, and the way it was received at home and abroad, it cannot be long before a new Government is formed.

Despite Leo's speech being a little Churchillian, I would not be surprised to see him supported for Taoiseach by the Green Party in a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens.

Sinn Féin and their ilk may claim "this is not what people voted for" but the fact remains Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens garnered more seats and in my view would provide a stable government as we battle Brexit, Covid-19 and a downturn in the global economy.

David Ryan

Co Meath


Beware opportunists who will deprive those in need

At a time when our politicians and health professionals and many others have performed so well it is important to remind ourselves that there are people amongst us who will again try to take unfair advantage of various supports and schemes.

Those of us who pay our way, some with a struggle, are well aware of people who, for instance, reneged on mortgage payments while being well able to afford them.

The missing payments ultimately cost the taxpayer and the compliant because of the reduced capacity of banks to repay the State and to provide mortgages to hardworking families.

We can, and should, find common cause with those who struggle with income loss leading to difficulties with mortgages, rent or utilities. But fairness and the need to avoid widespread resentment among the struggling and hardworking demands that we do not make it easy for those wishing to exploit the current crisis.

Pat O'Mahony

Dalkey, Co Dublin


'Social engineering' finds a whole new definition

Leo Varadkar describes the system to be introduced of looking after the elderly in their own homes as "cocooning".

This term was first used in this sense four decades ago by the futurist Faith Popcorn (sic).

While Popcorn was prescient in this forecast, her prediction that a cultural trend toward more physical contact would necessitate "mechanised hugging booths" is yet to be fulfilled.

Blair Noonan

Rathgar Road, Dublin


People of Iran should be rescued from sanctions

During this international pandemic crisis, shouldn't all countries becoming together to resolve this crisis. And that includes helping the people of Iran.

No matter what people might think of the Iranian regime, all medical assistance they need should be given to the people of Iran.

The international community needs to ignore the sanctions President Trump is placing on Iran. It shouldn't be allowing such a narcissistic, vindictive man to block vital medicine getting to the people. It's bad enough he's not doing enough for his own people, but to let him do it to another country.

Alan Fairbrother

Knocklyon, Dublin 16

Irish Independent