The author, Carol Nolan, is the Independent TD for the constituency of Laois-Offaly
Over the course of my political career, I have often found myself wondering if anyone in government has ever actually met a real child.
On the face of it, this appears to be an almost ridiculous thing to say. But the latest restrictions on the capacity of parents to purchase vital clothing and footwear has brought that question right back to the forefront of my mind.
How have we arrived at a point when, even under the current restrictions, any adult can still purchase a year’s supply of cigarettes, alcohol, or ice cream, while parents cannot purchase a single pair of runners or shoes for their little boys or girls?
Is there a belief somewhere in government that parents have been hoarding up old shoes or runners or that children’s feet will suddenly recognise we are in a lockdown and magically stop growing?
We are truly in the realm of the absurd at this point.
I have had parents contact me who simply cannot believe that their local Tesco or Dunnes have cordoned off the clothes and footwear section of their stores following ominous and threatening language from government about ‘strict enforcement.’
Do we need responsible adherence to reasonable restrictions? Yes, we do.
Should we treat parents like criminals for simply wanting to purchase a winter coat or replacement footwear for their children? Of course not.
Should government create a profoundly unequal playing field by facilitating the likes of online retail empires like Amazon while actively hampering even the modest attempts of local stores from selling the same or equivalent items?
No, it should not.
So why does the government persist in this highly discriminatory course of action?
This entire approach risks undermining the proportionate and sensible precautions that we all must continue to take.
The reality is clear; the list of what constitutes ‘essential items’ needs to be radically revised so that it takes at least some account of the fact that children can go through footwear faster than government can spin its next narrative of how we are still ‘all in this together.’