This week, prompted by listening to RTE’S Liveline, I want to echo my support for all those patients who are confined to hospital at the moment. Because of the pandemic they can’t have visitors. I know what this is like and fortunately in recent times I have only been in for short periods. Even then the sense of isolation creeps in very fast. It must be incredibly difficult for people enduring longer stays and cannot be good for their mental health. It is an extraordinarily difficult problem to address because of the infection controls now necessary, but maybe there could be some relaxation when visitors and patients are fully vaccinated, and one should remember that the severe impact of these restrictions also falls on the spouse, partner or parent of the patient concerned. Mental health should be a priority. Now, like many others, I am watching the numbers of the Delta variant appearing here, most particularly because my wife has only had one shot of AstraZeneca. That was 8 weeks ago and she has received no notification from the HSE. Quite frankly, she would prefer a mRNA vaccine as her 2nd shot, believing the protection given to be better. In truth there are aspects of the roll-out that appear to be all over the shop. People like my wife in their 60’s would be considered to be a vulnerable group. They have to look on as younger less vulnerable people are fully vaccinated. Then the disorganisation. I know of one person who works in a chemist and has been called for a vaccine in Dublin. Apart from the logic of her getting her vaccine in her place of work, being a resident of Co. Meath I would have thought Navan would have made more sense. The HSE needs to get its act together.
So President Biden ends his first trip to Europe by meeting Vladimir Putin, the man who he recently called a “killer”. There is still a great sense of relief that there is a grown-up in the game rather than the unsettling lunacy of Donald Trump. They have agreed to exchange ambassadors and more importantly “ to begin to bring some order” to the field of cyber security. As far as that is concerned, don’t hold your breath. Cyber space is still the Wild West and many of the gangs involved will continue to operate from Russia. Still if Russia and the USA at least agree that they will try to protect major infrastructures that might provide some re-assurance, but I suspect amoral gangs like the one that hacked the HSE will continue their repugnant trade.
So Leo Varadkar opens the Fine Gael Ard Fheis by saying “ I believe in the unification of our island and I believe it can happen in my lifetime”. Gosh, there must be a bye-election in Dublin Bay South. This used to be the constituency of Dublin South East and Leo once asked me if I was interested in running in it. This is going to be a fascinating contest. Leo got off to a dreadful start by shafting Kate O’Connell who would have been a shoe-in, and is now left with ex-Renua Barrister James Geoghegan, whose campaign has not got off to a great start. Seeking to give Fine Gael a bloody nose is Sinn Fein’s Senator Lynn Boylan, with her partner Eoin O’Broin T.D., their spokesperson on housing, naturally seeking to make that the focus of the campaign. There are, of course, other candidates and for old times sake I would throw my support to that old war horse, Mannix Flynn.