When the Tory government first came up with the Dominic Cummings wheeze of ‘herd immunity’, it took someone of John O’Dowd’s stature (yes, Virginia, physical stature indeed, but I’m talking about inner qualities) to come out and denounce the people who would follow such a policy as a ‘shire’ of bastards.
In this morning’s Irish Times, Dr Gabriel Scally, president of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Royal Society of Medecine in London, declares that Ireland as an island is “squandering” its geographical advantage by having two different responses to the coronavirus.
“The advice to somone in Lifford with symptoms of the disease is to self-isolate for a minimum of fourteen days – a stone’s throw away in Strabane, the advice is isolation for seven days.”
The south, he says, is engaged in “widespread intensive community testing”; the north abandoned community testing on 13 March, and does it mainly for hospital patients and health service staff. The south, Dr Scally believes, has “watched and learned from the experience of other countries, including South Korea and China, that have controlled the disease successfully.” He goes on to say that “Whitehall does not want people learning about the views of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the successful efforts to control the virus in other countries in case it undermines their novel and unevidenced approach.”
His conclusion? “The political leaders in the North need, on coronavirus, to decouple themselves from the Whitehall approach.”
But of course we know the response from the DUP: it will be that they are following the expert medical advice of the UK. In short, everybody’s out of step with our Johnny Bull.
At the height of the Cold War, there were those who would rather be dead than red; here we have people, apparently, who would rather be dead than out of coronavirus lockstep with Mother Britain.
This would be laughable if it weren’t tragic. When will the DUP realise that, like it or throw up at the thought, they are part of the island of Ireland. It’s time they stopped kowtowing to our next-door neighbour and grew a pair.