Miriam’s Musings

Has Big Brother called time on our right to choose for ourselves?

I’m sure eagle-eyed readers will have noticed the so-called ‘physical barriers’ that have sprung up overnight in supermarkets or ‘mixed-trade’ retailers across the county. Indeed, some of you may be wondering what they’re doing there.

Well, as part of a new law, (introduced under Section 22 of the Public Health Alcohol Act 2018), they are an attempt to keep alcohol away from the rest of the shop, with HSE Environmental Health Officers monitoring the process. Amazing isn’t it, that the HSE can find the time and the resources to ‘monitor’ the sale of alcohol, yet they failed to properly plan to oversee the Covid-19 contact tracing initiative.

Then there’s their alleged failure to keep track of the ‘missing’ flu vaccine, a revelation that forced them to ‘pause’ deliveries of doses until they could be ‘located’ –meaning I could be forgiven for declaring the whole alcohol enforcement fiasco a chronic waste of taxpayers’ money. For the record, the HSE denies any vaccines went AWOL!

Apparently, these new laws regarding the sale of alcohol are designed to protect us from ourselves. To empower us to grab a bunch of bananas then slither by that physical barrier without sneaking a peek over its minimum height of ‘not less than 1.2 metres’ in a desperate attempt to view the hidden-harms enclosed within.

I don’t know about you folks, but I reckon I’ve got the whole fully-developed adulating phase of my life sorted, and I’m very annoyed with what I’d call this audacious political paternalism directive allowing our government the power to essentially decide what’s best for us. Now while this is just my opinion – and many may disagree with me – when our leaders start using their powers to act under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, and we start allowing it, our liberty and our solidarity as a nation will change.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for one minute think we’re living under a totalitarian regime (not yet anyway), but I do worry about what seems to be the subtle emergence of policies that force us to change certain aspects of our everyday lives. Policies and plans, laws and strategies that, once we accept them as being ‘the norm’, serve as a moral assault on both our personal and our individual autonomy.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly doesn’t know me, nor does An Taoiseach Michéal Martin. They don’t know my interests, my fears or my needs. They don’t know I’m a responsible adult capable of making my own decisions. More importantly, by enforcing these new paternalistic hide-the-alcohol, hide-the-sweets, and impose a no-fry-zone banning ‘unhealthy’ food outlets from being located within 400 metres of schools, they don’t care about me and my right to make my own informed choices.

The government should respect that you and me, as adults, through a method of trial and error, interaction with our families, friends and those who love us, and through experience and education, have a right to decide to change our behaviour if we ourselves wish to do so. Here’s a thought, Michéal: instead of treating us like morons and not trusting us to self-regulate with your suffocating statutory alcohol and food controls, why not honour us by spending our taxes to empower future voters by introducing a healthy living toolkit as a core subject into the school curriculum?


HSE must roll out an honest and reliable national vaccine policy

The world is eagerly awaiting delivery of the ‘most promising’ vaccine against Covid-19. Therefore, as we’re on course to get 3.3 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, and given that this particular jab requires two doses, the HSE will have enough to immunise 1.6 million of us.

Now while it’s great news that this vaccine will initially be rolled out to those in the high-risk category, the question remains: what about the rest of us? How long will it take before we see a nationwide distribution?

I only ask because, worryingly, the Department of Health has allegedly stated that “no specific funding was set aside in Budget 2021 for Covid-19 vaccines”. One could be forgiven for thinking that purchasing a life-saving vaccine in the middle of a pandemic should be top of our government’s list. But hey, even if we do manage to secure a one-for-all deal, has anyone thought about how we’re going to administer it? Has anyone questioned the efficacy and the efficiency of a health executive that actually asked and expected patients to do their own contact tracing? (Something that doesn’t really inspire confidence).

Has the HSE put in place an administrative team structure capable of receiving, logging and storing the doses? (The missing/not missing flu vaccines spring to mind again). Has the HSE got enough syringes and alcohol swabs? Maths was never my strong point, but 3.3 million vaccines require 3.3 million syringes and swabs. Have they hired a logistical and communication’s strategist to devise and deliver a publicity campaign in a convincing yet honest manner to a worried nation? In addition, has the HSE and the government realised that if they don’t demonstrate willingness and a competency to the EU to receive and administer the vaccine we, the poor sods who depend on it, may be denied our right to have it? Or not to have it – depending on personal choice!


Ninety seconds that changed our history

This Saturday, November 21st, marks the centenary of Bloody Sunday, one of the darkest and saddest days in our country’s history. On that day, one hundred years ago, at a Dublin versus Tipperary match, fourteen innocent souls, Irish men and women, were massacred in a hail of bullets, rained down on them by the evil that was then the British forces.

In what was a ninety-second onslaught, consisting of a volley of one hundred and fourteen rounds of rifle ammunition, an unknown number of rounds from revolvers and fifty rounds from an armoured vehicle, seven souls were shot, dying instantly. Five were wounded, only to die later, and two were trampled to death in a bid to escape. These were unarmed, innocent civilians, and we must never, ever forget their sacrifice and the way in which they lost their lives.

For me, the fact that Tipperary, the team that lost Michael Hogan on that tragic day, are, a century later, taking part in this year’s Munster final, is no coincidence –nay, its fate. I’ll bet Michael and the other innocent angels, cut down for no reason than that they were Irish, will be cheering them on as Tipp don the commemorative green and white jersey in their honour.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha dílse. Tá bród orm a bheith I mo bhean Éireannach.


I missed my calling…

As neither the government nor other sitting TDs in Leinster House appear to know what to do about Justice Séamus Woulfe, the controversy regarding his attendance at ‘golfgate’, and his subsequent handling of it, I have to say I find both the Constitutional and political crisis to be highly amusing!

As there’s a separation of powers between government and the judiciary, with Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Constitution) only stating that a judge of a higher court can only be removed from office for ‘stated misbehaviour or incapacity’ (failing to specifically classify what’s deemed as being ‘misbehaviour’), it kinda makes them the untouchables!

Therefore, as there’s no legal interpretation regarding the whole ‘misbehaviour’ part, I’m now wishing I’d studied law, criminology and criminal justice instead of journalism, media law and psychology!

Shoulda’ been a judge, folks; I could ‘misbehave,’ and rock that robe with style. Sure even hubby swears my sartorial expressions are enough to make even the innocent plead guilty!