Isn’t it extraordinary that liberation is in sight. For the first time since March I can realistically contemplate hugging my grandchildren instead of communicating with them through a pane of glass. Aptly named “Operation Warp Speed” in the States, this is a simply stunning scientific achievement which may well lead to further advances in medicine. For once I look forward to getting the jab. However, we are shortly going to face the rather bizarre scenario that those North of the Border can expect a roll-out that may well commence before Christmas whilst we will have to wait until the New Year. You have to hand it to the Brits. They have got their act together on this one. Without dropping standards, they have approved the vaccine in jig-time and 800,000 jabs will be administered in the U.K. before Christmas. As usual the European Bureaucratic machine moves at a slower pace – many countries involved and a collective purchase scheme, but we have to remember that delay will cost lives. Boris Johnson whose government have had a patchy record on dealing with the pandemic see this as an opportunity to redeem themselves. There is also the hope that it might kick start a V-shaped recovery. It is also true here and the absolute focus of government should be to see the population vaccinated as rapidly as possible. There is merit in the suggestion put forward by Labour Leader, Alan Kelly, that a Cabinet Minister should be put in charge. Richard Bruton would be ideal. He has wide experience and a reputation for a forensic attention to detail. Mark my words, this government will be defined by how it handles our exit from this nightmare. Lives and livelihoods are at stake.
Next to a very difficult but troublesome matter. The deeply offensive tweet made by Sinn Fein T.D. and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Brian Stanley. I well remember that awful day in 1979 when those British soldiers were slaughtered and Lord Mountbatten was assassinated. Linking that to an ambush in the War of Independence is an attempt to rewrite history. Every time something like this happens I hear the same phrase “ the mask has slipped” and hear the same folk saying to me that most of Sinn Fein voters are too young to remember. That is why they must be called out for this kind of behaviour. Sinn Fein may currently be in opposition but quite clearly if there was an election now they could be in government. If Mary-Lou judges that Brian Stanley is worthy enough to be Chairman of the P.A.C., she would consider him for a cabinet position. How would that look like to our Unionist brethren up North. However, more importantly, it is time for those who truly believe there is no place for the gun in politics to stand up to those who don’t. Until such time that the leader of Sinn Fein finds a way to unequivocally reject the past behaviour of the Provisional I.R.A. there will almost certainly be other examples of this sort of sabre rattling. Remember David Cullinane, T.D. cheering “Up the RA” at a celebration after the last election.
Finally, back to where I started and the sheer hope and joy it brings that what started in Wuhan can be defeated. However, until that vaccine enters the arms of the nation, caution must prevail. Joe Biden is going to call Americans to mask up for 100 days. We should do the same.