Covid-19 testing time is political testing time

Thomas Paine lived in the late eighteenth century, but his words are as true – maybe more true – today:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

On her performance to date, Arlene Foster has failed the test. She emerged from a report on the RHI scheme which was critical of her but which could (and should) have been far more forthright, ditching ‘mistakes’-talk for dereliction-of-duty talk.

She then showed that for her, unionism mattered more than health and even life. Which sounds noble, until you realize the health and life she’s twiddling with is not her own but the people whom she’s expected to serve. The World Health Organisation has been critical of the UK’s failure to close its schools. Arlene Foster’s response is that they are following the best medical advice. It follows then, that Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Poland Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, as well as the south of Ireland, have got dangerously incompetent medical advisors.

Some people say this is an orange vs green clash and shake their heads: when will we ever learn? This is nothing of the sort. It’s a care for health matter vs a care for politics matter. Arlene is following the best medical advice because it’s the best medical advice? Come off it. She’s following the ‘best’ medical advice because it’s British.

Brexit taught us the lesson that the border is an impediment to economic development in Ireland. The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated, in frightening terms, how the border right now is a threat to public health north and south.

Climb down from the high horse, Arlene.  If you don’t, a lot of people, including many unionists, will never forgive you.

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