Heather and Arlene: would they know common sense if it bit them in the bum?

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a life-and-death tug-of-war going on between economics and health. Those who are fearful of a recession like no other are anxious to get the machines activated, the trucks rolling, people back at work. Those who are fearful of more deaths from Covid-19 warn that too-hasty return to work will be counter-productive: a fresh out-break and further lock-down.

So, as Ed Koch used to ask New Yorkers when he was mayor, how are we doin’? If by ‘we’ we mean Irish politicians, the answer is “Not too well”.

One of the main reasons for this is that unionist politicians in the north are determined to hang on to advice about the virus from ‘the scientists’, aka the scientists that London has decided to listen to. Fine Gael politicians in the south are fearful of upsetting unionist politicians in the north, and so the blindingly obvious has not been put in place: a uniform approach, north and south, to the battle against the virus.

And there’s been a deadly cost. Seven of the eight counties in the south with the highest number of cases are located in the north-east of the state. Cavan, a rural county, now has a higher rate of infection than massively populated Dublin.   Why is this?

The obvious answer is because the south’s right hand doesn’t know what the north’s left hand is doing. But don’t try getting that out of  any politician.

For example, here’s Heather Humphreys, the south’s (interim) business minister last Thursday: “The level of  infection in Cavan  and Monaghan has nothing to do with people coming from across the border…There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest it.”

Dr Gabriel Scally, the president of. The epidemiology and public health section of the Royal Society of Medicine, begs to differ. He says a spill-over from the north is the most likely reason for the border surge in cases, and that a “black hole” regarding data in the area was proving disastrous.

Common sense would tell you that people coming from the north, a stateen which uses a different approach to the virus would risk the health and life of those in the south. Ask people living in Donegal how they feel about people from the north travelling to their holiday homes: they are worried and angry that it’ll spread infection, and who could blame them?

If you ask the authorities north and south if they co-operate, they’ll tell you yes, of course they do. But the grim figures from border counties like Cavan tell a different story. 

Listen, Heather, and you too, Arlene. We’re talking life and death here. Would you ditch your damned political posturing and ESTABLISH A SINGLE SYSTEM NORTH AND SOUTH?  You’re supposed to be seasoned, intelligent politicians. A child of ten could tell that you’re putting political posturing before public health. Shame, shame on the both of you. 

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