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We must give those in the front lines whatever resources they need to keep the vulnerable safe

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Taking precautions: Travellers wear protective masks at Dublin Airport yesterday. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Taking precautions: Travellers wear protective masks at Dublin Airport yesterday. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Colin Keegan

Taking precautions: Travellers wear protective masks at Dublin Airport yesterday. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

While we begin to realise the scale of what is happening with the spread of Covid-19, we must consider the dangers this virus poses not only for the population as a whole but to our frontline services.

Gardaí on the frontline, ambulance services, doctors and nurses, and a whole raft of voluntary services must be properly protected and have access to proper protective equipment.

Such equipment is essential in any major incident like this and the need for services to run smoothly during this crisis is essential with a lessened risk to those who deliver the service.

Gardaí are now on 12-hour shifts, with annual leave cancelled. All non-essential meetings, public gatherings and mandatory intoxication test checkpoints are to be cancelled. Members with families will have to make alternative arrangements, with special leave granted on a case-by-case basis.

These types of instructions will be replicated through all frontline services so as to ensure the smooth running of services and to minimise infection to those delivering the service. This shows us how seriously the authorities are taking this pandemic.

While the UK, like the US, has taken very different and somewhat contradictory measures compared to other countries, including the Republic of Ireland, our frontline men and women must be given the full protection and resources that are needed in the days and months ahead. No cost must be spared and party politics must be set aside for the good of this nation.

We must support their every effort to combat and safeguard us from this spreading virus because without them we are vulnerable.

Will we see large-scale Border checkpoints that we saw during the foot-and-mouth or mad cow disease eras to prevent the spread of this virus or will we see a more tapered approach?

I hope and I am sure that our authorities will take all necessary measures to protect us, even if it causes ripples or diplomatic annoyance with our neighbours both here and abroad.

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

A Letter to Children's Minister Katherine Zappone:

My wife and I have two children in a crèche full-time.

I understand the need for schools and crèches to be closed due to Covid-19.

The crèche our children attend informed us that it will continue to pay its staff full salaries during the shutdown period or it may face losing staff.

The crèche is expecting all parents to pay full fees in order to maintain paying its employees.

Due to the closure, my wife and I plan to stagger days off to care for our children and to be fair to our employers.

My wife will get no pay for time taken off and has been told she cannot work from home.

My work is more flexible and I will hopefully continue to get full pay for the days I need to stay at home to mind the children.

We need the crèches to be there for us after they are allowed to re-open.

But the burden of paying their staff cannot fall onto the parents.

We cannot afford to pay for childcare while not being paid ourselves.

Please address this dire situation.

Name and address with editor

How Churchill's rhetoric can almost fit FF and FG

With all the talk of both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil thinking of forming a government, possibly hastened by the Covid-19 virus but with fears and reluctance on both sides, I am reminded of Winston Churchill's comments.

To paraphrase the good man, given the cataclysm that is sweeping the world, the integrity of their quarrels is one of the few institutions remaining as their dreary steeples re-emerge even before the deluge subsides and the waters fall short.

In Fianna Fáil's case, I suspect it is a sort of peculiar principle on its side, an admission maybe that the Civil War was wrong and unnecessary.

On Fine Gael's side more a fear it may suffer more electoral damage, but troubled by the thought it should put the nation first.

Brendan Cafferty

Ballina, Co Mayo

Thirst for knowledge in this time of many crises

Journalists must accustom themselves with diverse topics.

We are increasingly living at a critical juncture that is riven with health and climatic crises, unprecedented animal and plant extinctions, loss in biodiversity and rare species with catastrophic effects on social and cultural diversity ranging from mass displacement to violence, crime, financial meltdown, housing shortages, homelessness and vagrancy. This is a splendid opportunity to reinforce learning and acquisition of the topics that affect us all.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, United Kingdom

Hume's 'agreed Ireland' should never be forgotten

Since the civil rights formation, Nobel Peace Prize laureate John Hume had a clear modus operandi and political vision regarding bringing a lasting peace, resolving the constitutional issue and uniting the people of Ireland through only peaceful and democratic means.

This one man's lifetime of sacrifice and determination, and persistent quest for a peaceful, political solution in Northern Ireland based on agreement and partnership between the two traditions of unionism and nationalism, should never be forgotten.

Mr Hume possessed a European foresight and outlook from an early stage as he believed Europe offered a much broader horizon and a political platform on which shared interests could cross the traditional divide between unionism and nationalism.

Mr Hume looked towards the example of European unity for inspiration and ways to resolve the problems of Northern Ireland.

In Europe there was in fact a degree of co-operation across the political divide with regard to the Common Agricultural Policy and EU cohesion funds where all Irish MEPs, from north and south, nationalist and unionist, tended to be broadly singing from the same hymn sheet.

Mr Hume clearly saw European engagement as a means by which Northern Ireland could set aside historical animosities and focus on the promotion of economic development, social justice, human rights and equality of opportunity.

The aspirations and the ideals of Mr Hume to an "agreed Ireland", as opposed to a united Ireland, command a lot of respect.

The Irish Constitution is clear in terms of a united Ireland, as the Constitution aspires to there being a united Ireland but only on the basis that it is achieved by consent.

And when it does come about it needs to also command a degree of cross-community support.

Mr Hume talked about an 'agreed Ireland' with a clear set of relationships that people and communities could be comfortable and live with together in a spirit of peace, reconciliation, tolerance and understanding for each community's background, diversity and identity.

In the words of Mr Hume, "Ireland is not a romantic dream, it is not a flag; it is 4.5 million people divided into two powerful traditions. The real division of Ireland is not a line drawn on the map but in the minds and hearts of its people".

There the fundamental, key point is that all questions regarding a Border poll and Irish unity must be properly answered in advance of a plebiscite.

Patrick Clarke

Castlewellan, Co Down

Virus could unmask those without manners

If induviduals in locations such as shops do not cover their mouths or wear a mask when they are coughing, will the staff members ask them to leave the building?

This would improve the environment for people in these locations.

Aisling O'Rafferty

Headford, Co Galway

We could soon know if Shakespeare had it right

Are we about to find out if Shakespeare's quote from 'Henry IV' - "If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work'' - really is true?

Liam Power

Blackrock, Dundalk, Co Louth

Irish Independent