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Good news: Government now offering the public “periods of freedom”

You know that scene in the first Jurassic Park movie, where Jeff Goldblum’s character says “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should”?

That’s a great summation of where Irish politicians are at; just throwing policy after policy at the wall to see what sticks, regardless of the social cost.

According to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Ireland is at war – a war which may continue for “several years” to come.

As reported in the Irish Independent over the weekend:

“Mr Varadkar described it as a “long war” with Covid-19 and said the pandemic may go on for “several years”.”

In particular, Varadkar referenced fears over the spread of the Omicron variant.

Note that, to date, in the month and a half or so since its discovery, around 7 people worldwide have died with the Omicron variant. Their exact cause of death is unknown; whether Omicron killed them or some underlying condition, we have no idea.

But either way, to the best of our knowledge, this variant has claimed, maybe, 7 casualties in the entire world.

As far as battles go, it’s not exactly the Somme, is it?

Nonetheless, as in most wars, the general public are set to experience severe rationing. But not rationing of food, or oil like in the Emergency – from now on we’ll be rationing freedom itself.

As the Tánaiste said:

“Perhaps in advance of those winters and those variants, we should try to have periods of freedom and give people a bit of a break, an opportunity to de-mob if you like, during this long war,” he said.”

Now I know what you’re thinking, and I agree.

How kind and wonderful of the government to offer us some “periods of freedom” over the next several years. You’d know it was Christmas from the pure generosity dripping from that statement. Oliver Twist comes to mind: “Please sir, can I have another crumb of civil rights?”

Sarcasm aside, it does seem like the Irish state is basically taking off the mask here and openly embracing the denial of fundamental freedoms.

It was only a few months ago that Varadkar called his own lockdown measures “bonkers” and a “draconian curtailment of people’s freedom.” Those are his words, not mine.

Now, he’s offering the public a few “periods of freedom” over the next number of years.

I’m old enough to remember when freedom wasn’t a scarce commodity that was portioned out at the government’s behest. I remember when freedom was a given – an intrinsic right enshrined in the Constitution that no government official had the authority to give or take away. How things have changed, eh?

Now, make no mistake; Varadkar and his government can absolutely continue to extend the restrictions for years to come. After all, for Omicron – which appears to be the mildest variant yet – they introduced new restrictions, despite around 94% of the population being fully-vaccinated. Other than a few angry tweets, most of us have just accepted it.

If people haven’t copped on to the fact that NPHET and the government are taking the piss by now, they never will. It turns out that many people are willing to have their freedoms rationed if the government pushes for it, and will accept as much.

But though the government may be able to get away with this, should they?

One big problem in Irish politics is, there are no principles in the areas that matter. We practice a kind of ultra utilitarianism, to the detriment of examining what’s right or wrong.

Take some politicians’ very brief opposition to the Covid cert when it was first proposed.

Almost the entire argument hinged upon the certs being impractical. Groups like Sinn Féin argued that, because young people had not been offered the vaccine yet, to ban them from a venue because they lacked the cert was absurd.

As Sinn Féin TD Paul Donnelly said:

It is deeply unfair to lock out more than 800,000 young people and it is unfair on all our front-line workers, especially our young front-line workers…All those people who have worked right throughout the pandemic and who are not able to get vaccines at this time will be locked out of all this.

Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane said the fact that the measure was not going to be policed meant it was “ridiculous,” saying it was “ineffective, impractical, and it simply will not work.”

Some pointed out that young people working in pubs could serve drink to others, but could not go to the same pub after their shift.

As Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said:

“Most [young people will receive the vaccine when it is available to them but it is not available to most of them right now. They are expected to work in the bars and the restaurants and to wait on people who were vaccinated but they are unable to enjoy the same services themselves.”

These sorts of complaints were front and centre in the debate. Sure, there was the odd mention of it being morally wrong in general, but the main emphasis was on the practicality of it, or lack thereof.

While all of these points are valid, it’s sort of missing the main crux of the issue, isn’t it? Vaccine certs are bad because they are coercive and discriminatory – they don’t work or make sense either, but that’s a side issue. These measures are deeply wrong on principle.

And yet, as soon as these practical issues were sort of half-addressed, most of those politicians who had previously opposed the cert rowed in behind it, Sinn Féin included.

The motto in Irish politics is, quite simply: “If it works, I suppose.” Whether it’s right, wrong, or reasonable rarely comes into it.

We have a political class which does not value freedom, or the principles that Western democracy and civilisation rests upon. They are simply throwing policy after policy at the wall until something sticks, and damn the consequences.

This is not the way to run a society, and it’s not a state of affairs any of us should accept.

We need leaders who value our fundamental rights, and who will stand up for them even during a crisis. On this, most of our politicians, government and opposition, have failed dismally.

 

 

 

 

 

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