18.5 million reasons to be cheerful!
As I write, according to reports approximately 5.02% of the population in the Republic of Ireland has received their first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine, or the Moderna Coronavirus vaccine. For those of you who don’t deal in percentages, that’s 238,841 people, with many more having already received their second dose.
Indeed, only last week while out for a walk (and maintaining a social distance), I spoke with three lovely people who told me they were waiting on a ‘text message’ to inform them to attend for their second dose. In addition – and for a totally unrelated issue – I rang my doctor’s surgery to try to book an appointment, and was pleasantly surprised to hear a voicemail recording informing me that the surgery was closed to cater for the vaccination of the over-85s!
Well done to you all. I’m way down the vaccine ‘pecking’ order, however I’m absolutely delighted to see that there appears to be light at the end of this nightmare Covid tunnel.
Okay, we’re lagging seriously behind our UK neighbours and their super-efficient vaccine administration, and despite what is a global scramble for supplies, the Brits somehow managed to roll that dice, secure those vials and roll out those jabs to their citizens. And yes, it sticks deep in my craw to admit it, but credit where it’s due to those Brexiteers – they’re kinda deserving of their moment in the spotlight.
Even so (and my vaccine-envy aside), for the first time in twelve months, I’m personally feeling a mixture of optimism and, er, confusion. And no, it’s not down to my age; it’s down to Micheál Martin. In self-congratulatory mode, Micheál announced that during this month, ‘100,000 vaccinations’ would be given each week, ramping up to ‘250,000 in April, May and June’. Great news, but given the Government’s historical, let’s say, miscommunications regarding this health crisis, I’m wondering if I should get on board with Micheál’s enthusiasm.
Mind you, he’s not nearly as enthusiastic as Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, who says Ireland now has ‘total orders in place for 18.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines – enough to vaccinate 10.3 million people’. By all accounts so far, the jabs we’ve been using appear to be a success at protecting us against the virus.
Mind you, I’m conscious that this information is of little consolation to those who’ve lost loved ones. Each evening, with an air of trepidation, and in light of our Government mucking about with the mandatory quarantining of those entering Ireland, I worry that a more transmissible strain could flood the country. And yes, I do understand that the civil liberties of those arriving here need to be protected; but do they have to erode yours and mine in the process?
All that said, amidst the gloom, the doom and the past disappointments, there is hope and there are 18.5 million reasons to be cheerful! People I meet say they’re beginning to look at booking family events and holidays, and we’re looking forward to the arrival of our second grandchild. With that in mind, I’d like to ask our leaders to do four simple things: One, don’t let us down. Two, don’t wait to see how things ‘pan out’. Three, don’t use your well-worn ‘new strains’ of Covid excuse to extend the lockdown, and four, please, please, grab this vaccination process by the scruff of the neck and run with it.
Rioters and hoodlums made a distressing situation dire
I have plenty of grievances with our Government, one of them being I’m unable to renew my passport at present due to the service ‘suspending all operations due to Covid-19’. I’m not going abroad, but my passport needs to be renewed and it’s my right to carry a valid, irrefutable document to prove I’m a proud Irish citizen.
However, when a passport office employee informed me of this deferral of services, did I immediately ‘rally the troops’ and ‘unite the tribes’ via social media posts, directing them to take part in a violent anti-government protest to show how unjust and offensive this decision is? No! Nay! Never! I just sat back, sucked it up and understood that I have to wait for the passport office to resume operations before I can make my application. Why? Because that’s how a right-thinking, law-abiding, rational person behaves.
I know that Articles 40 to 44 of Bunreacht na hÉireann deal with our fundamental personal rights, stating that everyone living in Ireland has the right to freedom of expression, the right to their opinion, and of course, the right to protest in a peaceful manner, etc., if they feel aggrieved. However folks, I firmly believe that anyone – and I don’t care who you are or what you’re protesting about – who took part in last weekend’s display of sheer, bloody-minded thuggery in our capital, is a trouble-making, dim-witted hoodlum. These thickos are the reason we have cautionary instructions written on shampoo bottles and washing detergents.
We’re all fed up. We’re all sick of this unprecedented situation. Yet, the vast majority of us are compliant with the regulations, which have, let’s face it, been put in place in the interest of the common good. If these moronic rioters (they weren’t protestors, they injured Gardaí, making them rioters in my view) had a single discernible brain cell, they’d know that their rights (as dealt with in Articles 40- 44) can be limited or restricted in the interest of public order or for the common good. I’d say a worldwide pandemic fits that bill, wouldn’t you?
I hope those who initiated and took part in what was an aggressive, militarised approach of hurling fireworks and other missiles at Gardaí are prosecuted. As for those of you who refused to wear your masks… you should be prosecuted for creating a super-spreader situation; you’ve placed your fellow countrymen and women at serious risk of contracting this killer virus. As far as I’m concerned, you’re all a bunch of cretinous hoodlums who’ve made an extremely distressing situation dire.
Let’s show our hard-working Gardaí some respect
While I know how annoying it is to be caught in a line of cars at a Garda checkpoint, can I remind readers that it’s no picnic for the poor officers either? These men and women who, as a consequence of the health restrictions and their jobs, are being forced to stand for hours on end in all weathers, repeating the same boring questions to motorists: where are you coming from, where are you travelling to, are you making an essential journey?
I’ve personally been stopped while travelling for essential food supplies to town, or to the vet, etc., and each time, it was by a friendly, extremely courteous local Garda who, despite probably being verbally abused by many irate motorists, managed to smile and wish me a safe trip. It’s time those who are abusive understood that the travel restrictions are set out by the Department of Justice, and not by the poor guard, who doesn’t really give a damn where you’re going. They’re just doing their jobs in the midst of what are extremely stark and uncertain times.
The next time the handful who might be disposed towards such behaviour are stopped at a checkpoint, keep your insults to yourself and instead remember that this cold, tired, fed-up human being standing on the road is also coping with their own lockdown woes. I mean, it’s not going to kill you to show this hard-working person who means you no harm the respect they so richly deserve… is it?