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Parochial… November 27, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading this from a character who has often featured in the Sunday statement in recent times there’s no great surprise that he is making a case for opening pubs and ascribing any concern about that to a supposedly Irish hostility to alcohol.

For Paul:

In the meantime, the messaging is obvious: public health experts and ministers do not trust the majority of Irish people to behave in a reasonable way if they are permitted to get even a sniff of alcohol.

It also sits uneasily with the hard truth that the only real way to combat the pandemic is to trust people to fine-tune their own personal behaviour. Either we trust them to do that, or we do not.

Is that the only way to combat the pandemic? By that logic all and any restrictions could be lifted as the whole weight of responsibility is placed on individuals. Of course no state on the planet, however laissez-faire, has taken such a route and few would think it a sensible approach to depend entirely or even wholly on personal behaviour shorn of restrictions. But there’s a curious parochialism about the argument, ignoring entirely the approaches taken elsewhere.

That’s strange.

Strange because as this in the Guardian noted only a week back, across Europe bars and restaurants are closed – presumably with no input from Ireland’s supposed anti-alcohol public health evangelists.

Strange too because look at the situation in the UK where only three parts of that country are in the lowest level of Tier One. And where in Tier Two:

Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals. Last orders at 10pm and must close by 11pm

And Tier Three:

Hospitality is closed, with the exception of sales by takeaway, drivethrough or delivery

Speaking of parochialism Harry Browne on the Irish Times Inside Politics podcast recently, just one among all the contributors offering some frankly bizarre analysis on the pandemic. But he had one gem in particular.

Talking about lockdowns and how many “can be tolerated before the tension finally gives way” he said…

Now when we went into Level 5 I was sceptical about it but I’m a little less sceptical now given what has been happening in the rest of Europe.

and even though the situation here is relatively contained looking at the figures there a second ago from throughout Europe we are the second lowest at the moment unfortunately we probably do need to stay isolated for another short period of time…

How could he genuinely have been unaware of the situation across Europe during that period? It was clear that numbers were increasing across the continent. The day the lockdown was announced this was posted here on the CLR:

“Speaking of which perhaps most the most conspicuous failure of government was an inability to speak hard truth to people about the nature of where we and the rest of Europe and the world are. As noted in comments yesterday there’s a very strange sort of aversion to reality in all the stuff about Ireland being an outlier in terms of restrictions, or in Leahy’s comments above, when even the most cursory examination of the papers demonstrates the situation in Paris, Madrid, Germany, the UK (whole cities under lockdowns and somehow the penny hasn’t dropped here?)…and on and on. Even, as noted last night, with significant restrictions introduced in Belgium:

It comes as governments across Europe impose new restrictions to try to rein in the rate of infections, with Sweden allowing local authorities to introduce additional rules to cope with regional outbreaks, in a departure from its policy so far.Though a resurgence has not yet taken hold in Sweden to the same extent as other European countries, the number of people in intensive care is rising and authorities have conceded that there is little sign of the population-level acquired immunity some had hoped for.

But none of this latter is news, in the sense that it has been clearly coming for weeks and months (here’s another example from the IT from someone who has been very quiet on the issue and even now doesn’t begin to tackle the actual spread of the virus and the implications of that as the country goes to Level 5). The tussle between central and local government in Madrid played out over the last three weeks. Who was looking at that in the Dublin or Cork media? You’d have to wonder. How could anyone think Ireland would be immune in any sense to all of these dynamics given the approach we have taken has been similar to those other places.

Given all those events referenced above during that very week how could anyone, short of being to some degree in a state of denial, have thought going to Level 5 was extreme or unwarranted?

He continued with another deeply questionable point…

…when people talk about Zero-Covid… you have to think of the implications that would have for livelihoods and the knock-on effect that would have health wise for people…

I know people who have lost their jobs due to Covid. I know others whose jobs are looking very shaky indeed – the continuing approach to Covid of partial lockdowns and restrictions is one that of course has massive impacts on workers and the society. But a Zero-Covid approach isn’t a state of permanent lock-down, and it’s hard to know why he appears to think that once one emerged into a Zero-Covid dispensation that the economic effects would be worse than the current continuing semi-lockdowns (consider that Levels 1 or 2 are regarded as the best that can be envisaged even by the government absent a let it rip or Zero-Covid approach).

As to health, I presume he is talking about health procedures foregone due to Covid restrictions. But that’s an incorrect analysis. To take one small example, that of University Hospital Limerick where due to Covid even in the context of the leave of restrictions currently in place, they’ve had to stop elective and outpatient procedures due to so many (221) medical staff contracting it. That is a basic logistical (and human) obstacle – allow greater transmission, more medical personnel contract it and health services beyond those being used to mitigate Covid such as screening for various non-Covid illnesses themselves stop functioning because of the demands that Covid places on hospitals.

And then he says the level of mortality in this surge was ‘akin to a flu season’ … though admitting that Covid spreads far more easily than flu.

This last is perhaps the most revealing and depressing comment of the piece. There are control measures, he was talking about them already in respect of the Levels. Does he genuinely not understand that they mitigate the numbers contracting Covid? But he also seems detached, that word again, from the realities of Covid as against flu. The impacts on those who have Covid – even without it developing into a lethal bout, are significantly greater than those of flu. For a basic point of comparison, pneumonia is regarded as a mild to moderate aspect of Covid, which most certainly is not true of flu.

The tangible lack of enthusiasm to engage with the reality of the pandemic is genuinely disturbing. However it explains very clearly the attitude of at least one section of the media in these times.


1. EWI - November 27, 2020

The tangible lack of enthusiasm to engage with the reality of the pandemic is genuinely disturbing. However it explains very clearly the attitude of at least one section of the media in these times.

Little surprise then, that the Venn diagram of this cohort with adherents to classical economics/’free traders’ is a perfect circle etc.


WorldbyStorm - November 27, 2020

+1 it’s the old racket. You can also see it in comments btl on these pieces. One person in response to a measured critique from another said something along the lines of ‘open up all businesses and you can exercise your choice and sit at home by your window as life goes on’ and I thought but what about the choice of workers in those businesses or lack of same to live and work in a safe environment.


EWI - November 30, 2020

Someone even invented the term ‘glibertarian’ to describe this, a few years back.


2. gypsybhoy69 - December 10, 2020

He’s a strong runner for my Muppet of the Year (in the Dubliners sense of the word). Certainly should win the Newcomer as I don’t think I was aware of him before this year.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2020

I’d only noticed him due to the libertarian stuff re work and only here and there. Wasn’t sure who he was.


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