Miriam’s Musings

Working from home is a welcome perk…or is it?

According to Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar, employees will soon have a legal right to seek to work from home. Great! In addition, those who choose to take this route will also, under proposed new legislation, have a right to ‘disconnect from work,’ i.e. they won’t have to answer after-hours emails or phone calls in the middle of dinner/family time.

Now given that I work in the media, taking calls or answering emails or texts outside of office hours has never bothered me, for the simple reason it goes with the territory. Journalism, and hard news in particular, is not a nine-to-five job. If you think it is, you’ve chosen the wrong career path!

As someone who mostly works from home, let me tell you – it’s a welcome perk, especially as it means I get to spend more time with my fur babies, who all sit around me in my make-shift office. Working from home gives me choices. For example, I can, if I wish, stay in my jammies, go for walkies during my lunch break, put the washing out and take it back in between showers and have the telly on in the background.

However, being given the choice of working from home is very different to being forced to do it. Due to the coronavirus, I, like many others, have been ‘forced’ to work from home full-time, a situation that has, on a personal level, left me feeling quite irritated. Why? Because I miss having the choice of going into the office. I miss having the freedom to chat with my colleagues and friends face-to-face and have the craic with them.

Like many of my fellow homeworkers, I thrive on social interaction. Oh and I also suffer from a very severe case of FOMO – the fear of missing out! I dread being out of the loop, of feeling the terror of not knowing exactly what’s going on in the office. I mean, let’s face it, you can hardly call drinking a mug of coffee and nibbling on a sad little flapjack for one over the kitchen sink (can’t do crumbs) a lively water-cooler moment now, can you?

Prior to lockdown – if any of us can remember back that far – my days were filled with driving to meetings and conferences, interviews and training initiatives, events and in general, having fun… remember fun anyone? My weekends were for winding down with hubby, enjoying our shared hobbies, spending more time with our fur babies, visiting our family in Dublin, and going to the movies and out to dinner. Now, due to lockdown, one day merges into the next. My laptop and my fur babies, (who’re probably sick of the sight of me by now), have become my lifeline. On occasion, but only if I’m feeling particularly isolated, tuning into Today with Maura and Daithi has proved to be the highlight of my afternoon! Somebody save me!

Now while I’m delighted the post-pandemic ‘new normal’ will see a lot of employees working from home, (and again, I do enjoy it for part of the week), it’s not something I’d want to do full-time. Yes, there are upsides – I can research, devise PowerPoints, proof, edit, write and design with my jammies on. Yes, I can reduce my usual boardroom work-meeting hair-care regimen to wax on, wax off, but the downsides mean I miss the connectedness of those I interact with on a daily basis. I miss popping out for a spot of lunch or planning some weekend cocktails or a summer-barbie at someone’s house.

Choosing to work from home is great – being forced to is a different story altogether. So remember, while Zooming or Skype-ing in your skivvies may seem like an enticing, rest-of-work-life prospect, it’s no substitute for human interaction, and sharing the goss’ and giggles with your friends and colleagues.


Vaccine roll-out must be both credible and reliable

When it comes to the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines that are being prepared and defrosted, it has been reported that medics have a mere ‘six-hour’ window in which they must be utilised. Beyond that time, made up or reconstituted, doses must be destroyed.

To that end, I can of course understand why ‘left-over’ doses were allegedly utilised to vaccinate ‘sixteen relatives of staff’ working at the Coombe maternity hospital in Dublin. What I don’t understand is the report that allegedly among the recipients were ‘two children of the Master of the Coombe’.

If that’s the case, I totally agree that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly should, as a matter of urgency, demand a full, no-holds-barred account of what took place during the Coombe’s roll-out on January 8th for the simple reason that the public deserves answers.

It’s my belief that it’s far, far better to utilise these vaccines rather than discard them, but didn’t the Coombe (and all hospitals administering the vaccine), calculate the amount of doses it needed prior to ordering, defrosting and reconstituting the dosages? Maybe they did! Maybe they had the exact allocation of doses prepared and maybe some recipients didn’t turn up on the day and therefore, an executive decision was made to utilise, as opposed to destroy. If that’s the case, nobody should be annoyed with that. And I’m not… if that’s what happened.

My problem with this particular roll-out is the allegation that the Coombe’s Master’s children received the doses, and I have to wonder if frontline workers or vulnerable individuals were actively sought, identified and prioritised on the day as being more ‘essential’ than the boss’s kids?

It’s obvious that the vaccine roll-out must be both credible and reliable, and while I’ve got no problem with doses being used, I do have a major problem with them allegedly being abused. I can certainly understand the hurt and frustration felt by the frontline staff working in Nenagh General Hospital in Tipperary, who were reduced to ‘begging’ for supplies, asking Michéal Martin and Stephen Donnelly, “Why aren’t we being vaccinated? Why are we being left out?” Perhaps Professor Michael O’Connell, Master of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital can answer that one?


Where are deserters who lusted and left mothers to rot in houses of shame?

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, Archbishop Eamon Martin, while apologising for the Catholic Church’s role in the horrific Mother and Baby Homes’ abuse scandal, said he believed religious orders shouldn’t be ‘scapegoated’ for their involvement in these institutions. Wow! Believing that ‘larger swathes of society’ had a role in the abuse, the Primate of All Ireland seems to be seeking solace from his conclusion that religious orders involved ‘were expected to intervene when the rest of society had banished these mothers and their unborn children and infants’. How wonderful of them.  How charitable. How benevolent.  Perhaps they should be decorated by the President for their compassion and humanitarianism? Not!

For decades, terrified and horrendously abused women have been trying to make their voices heard, and again, as I’ve done on many occasions, I’ll ask the question… where were the families – the parents who discarded their daughters and grandchildren like toxic waste because they were terrified of curtain twitchers spreading their evil gossip? Where were the despicable, wimpy fathers who impregnated these women, many of whom were abused children? Where are the ones who lusted (not loved) and left these vulnerable mothers to rot in a house of shame? Come out you deserters and defend yourselves…if you dare!