While I was in St. James’s Hospital watching all the excitement surrounding government formation, I thought, wasn’t it amazing to see Cromwell’s name dug up because of the lack of Ministers in the West. I wasn’t sure if it was the €40,000 difference in salary or the fact the Chief Whip is such a challenging job with no ribbon-cutting opportunities that had Dara Calleary so worked up. The amusing thing about all of this is that his leadership ambitions may have been somewhat dented by big Jim O’Callaghan, who rejected a Junior Ministry on the basis that he wanted to protect and nurture the soul of the party. He may well make matters more uncomfortable for our Taoiseach, particularly when he rotates out of the job in just over 2 years time. Still I have to say I was pleased to see Thomas Byrne – a fellow Meath man – get the prize amongst the Juniors in European Affairs. Maybe the Royal County can provide a future leader ? Generally speaking I experienced a huge sense of relief that we finally have a government. I regard the Taoiseach as a very decent man, who has had a long and challenging road to the top job. To be honest, the day he got his seal of office, I said a prayer for him, because whatever way you look at it, there are mountains ahead.
However, back to St. James’s Hospital, the Covid tension is not as acute as it was during my last visit but I still had to spend 2 nights in a Covid ward until my tests came back. On Monday I got home and had the opportunity to watch RTE’s documentary focusing on the battle to save the lives of Covid-19 patients. Having been in ICU I found it difficult to watch. However, it is a deeply moving testament to the extraordinary work the staff of the hospital carry out. Critically it was also a stark reminder that the virus is a killer. I talked to people whilst I was in hospital and it is clear that Covid anxiety is still very present. One only has to look at the appalling vista unfolding in the States which is becoming the stuff of which nightmares are made. This week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top Infectious Diseases expert in the United States said they were looking at the possibility of 100,000 new cases a day. In short, the whole thing is spiralling out of control. That could destabilise the country. America could become an unstable country with an unstable President. Who said fact is stranger than fiction.
Now back to where it all started – China. There is still no definitive answer to that lab in Wuhan but what is now clear is that China’s military has approved a vaccine for use on its troops called Ad5-nCoV. It was developed by CanSino and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Prioritising its use for the military says a lot about the Chinese. Whilst the Western world is preoccupied with the pandemic, they are trampling on democracy in Hong Kong. They pursue a policy of mass incarceration of the Uighurs. They have been building islands in the South China Sea to fuel their expansionism. Not satisfied with this, they have been seizing land from India – some suggest up to 60 square kilometres. Now I don’t’ know about you, but all of this adds up and it rings serious alarm bells. China has a dictator so did Nazi Germany. Europe woke up to that too late.
In the meantime, wash hands, socially distance and please wear a mask – it might save a life.