Finally after the, frankly, appalling error of letting countless Italian visitors into the country last weekend, the government sees sense and introduces a series of restrictions – not before time as institutions like Trinity College and companies like Google were ahead of the curve. After the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic and commented that they were seeing “ alarming levels of inaction” and that “urgent and aggressive action was required” our caretaker Taoiseach and his government had little choice.
I am sure all of this has proved a shock to the system but that was required to fight this cursed disease. For example, I was incredulous that the British government let Cheltenham go ahead and disappointed that our government didn’t advise people against travelling. I just pray to God that it doesn’t prove to have been a major source of transmission. Dr. John Crown, Professor and Oncologist, described the Brits not stopping it as “daft”.
We are facing into a crisis of an almost biblical scale. Remember that the Spanish ‘flu killed at least 50 million – it killed my Great Uncle. There is really only one way to stop it and that is to restrict the movement of people and to observe social distancing. Observing personal hygiene is crucial , hand-washing in particular. This will literally save lives. You need to consider that our health system does not have the resources to deal with a serious spike in cases. They do not have enough ICU beds or breathing machines. That is something our caretaker government needs to address urgently, otherwise people may die needlessly.
There is another issue that needs to be urgently addressed, that is the legitimacy and moral authority of our caretaker government. Yes, under the terms of the Constitution, they may continue in office until a government is formed following an election. However, never in the history of the State have we faced a crisis of such depth. Very difficult decisions will probably have to be made and sitting in the current cabinet are 2 Ministers, Regina Doherty and Shane Ross, both of whom lost their seats. Should either of them be required to make difficult, if not controversial, decisions, I can see a question of legitimacy arising. Hence, there is an absolute moral obligation of this Fine Gael caretaker government to be pro-active in government formation. Leo Varadkar must drive the membership of his party into an alliance with Fianna Fail. Micheal Martin must do the same and collectively they must do a deal with the Greens.