Here’s Health Minister Robin Swann:
“The armed forces have provided invaluable support in this pandemic, including aeromedical evacuation, real-estate and ongoing logistical planning. Our hospitals are under immense pressure and an additional staffing complement will be very welcome on the front line. This is a health decision and I am confident it will be supported on that basis.”
Sure what else would it be only a health decision? And what else would people do only welcome it? The British army has always been welcome in North(east)ern Ireland (NEI) down the years – Derry’s Bogside and Belfast’s Ballymurphy spring immediately to mind. It’s safe to say that at this moment there are people in those places already making sandwiches and brewing tea to welcome Our Boys.
Sinn Féin have made it clear that they support the health minister’s move: “We do not rule out any measures … and any effort to make the threat posed by Covid-19 into a green and orange issue is divisive and a distraction.”
A green and orange issue? Perish the thought. You may be sure Health Minister Swann never entertained such a thought for a moment. He welcomes help in fighting Covid from any quarter.
Across the border, the Irish army is already involved in fighting Covid: they’ve helped with delivery of PPE across the south’s Health Service, with talk of construction of ‘field hospitals’, and is ready and able to provide any engineering and logistical support to the Health Service may require.
So I’m solidly certain, were the Irish army to offer its support to, say, Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, or Daisy Hill Hospital near Newry, or anywhere else in NEI for that matter, Health Minister Swann would welcome their support for medical staff in those areas. As SF says, this is a question of life and death, not green v orange; so stand by for a warm welcome from Health Minister Swann and his unionist colleagues should the Irish Army offer to help him fight the virus in NEI.