Dr Gabriel Scally, late of this parish, was on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland about an hour ago. As you probably know, Dr Scally is president of the epidemiology and public health section of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Presenter Mary Wilson asked him about the worrying state of Covid-19 spread in Ireland, particularly in the north.
Scally didn’t drive in second gear. He declared that if Covid-19 had been a disease affecting animals such as cattle, there would have been in place an integrated system, treating this small island as one unit. That this was not the case with Covid-19, Dr Scally indicated, was ridiculous. (At a later point Mary Wilson, I think it was, recalled Ian Paisley at the time of the foot-and-mouth disease among cattle, when he announced that any cattle on the island of Ireland would be deemed Irish cattle. Helpful at the time, indeed Virginia, but also reminiscent of the sporting headline in that venerable organ The Irish News, when it declared that “a Catholic greyhound” had won some prestigious race.)
But back to Morning Ireland.
Later in the programme this morning, Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney was asked for his response to Dr Scally’s words. In answering, nice Simon risked giving himself a serious groin injury. On the one hand, Simon said, “Dr Scally talks a lot of sense on these matters”; on the other, there were regular meetings between north and south health representatives to fight the pandemic. Ouch – that must have hurt, Simon. Try not to hold yourself while there are children in the room.
But why isn’t there a totally integrated fight against Covid in Ireland north and south? Because unionist politicians fear that would encourage people to see the benefits of Ireland acting as one unit. Politics, dontchaknow. Loyalty to Mother Britain.
Then why do so many of our journalists appear to have backbones made of blancmange? They should be harrying Arlene Foster and Health Minister Robin Swann as to why they are prepared to sacrifice the lives of people north and south in order not to startle the backwoodsmen and women of Ballymena and Aghohill. If they could integrate to control disease among animals, don’t they have at least the same concern for the lives of people?
Here is the heart of the matter: there are Irish people north and south who are in their graves or will be in their graves because of the red-white-and-blue obsessions of some unionist politicians. What kind of media do we have, that they’re not out there screaming blue bloody murder?