Although President Joe Biden declared an official end to the Covid 19 panic in the United States on Monday, it would appear that the people responsible for minding him do not believe that this applies to Ireland.
That is on the assumption that the request that all elected members of joint Houses of the Oireachtas take an antigen test prior to attending today’s address by Biden did come from his team, and was not the independent decision of somebody in authority here.
On Monday, Biden signed the bill in the U.S. to end the Covid emergency after the measure was passed at the end of March by the Senate on the initiative of Republican Senators. (Despite the President’s opposition enough Democrats crossed the floor to ensure that it was passed.)
The administration itself had been planning to bring an end to the emergency on May 11.
The Irish state has long since wound down almost every aspect of the Covid measures that were in place during the panic, and there is no longer any requirement for any resident of the state to produce evidence of either vaccination or of having taken an antigen test in order to go to work or to enter or leave the jurisdiction, or have a pint and a sandwich.
Presumably that is why there is no express requirement on any of those who will be admitted to the Dáil chamber this afternoon to produce proof of any of these things.
It was more on the lines of a gentle hint that unless you were a bit of a fecker, you should do so – to ensure you were not the actual cause of President Biden taking one of his last breaths on Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore.
It would be interesting of course to discover whether any such requirement was ever considered, perhaps at the request of the American secret service who seem to have pretty much taken the lead role in the security arrangements surrounding all aspects of the Presidential visit, including those in place for the event in Leinster House.
It should perhaps be noted that there was never any requirement on TDs and Senators to be vaccinated or to produce evidence of having been vaccinated, nor for them to have produced proof of having taken an antigen test prior to be allowed go about their business on Leinster House.
Neither was there any such requirement imposed on members of the United States Senate or House of Representatives. Indeed a small number of them had made it clear that they had not been vaccinated nor had they any intentions of being vaccinated. Preventing them attending Congress would have course have rightly been considered to be unacceptable. Bunreacht na hÉireann similarly protects the right of members of the Oireachtas to attend.
It goes without saying that there was no such antigen requirement either when Biden made his State of the Union address to 535 Congressmen and Senators.
Biden made an official visit to Canada last month and as far as can be ascertained from the extensive media coverage of his address to the Canadian Parliament there was no request made to any of the elected members who were present, nor any of the media, to be tested for Covid prior to attendance.
As David Quinn tweeted, the requirement is frankly “ridiculous” and while some of his respondents are clearly loath to abandon the balmy days of health totalitarianism most people appreciate either the surreal nature of it, or more to the point perhaps the rather sad light which it throws upon the simpering attitude of our own authorities to requests from those to whom they clearly defer.
Again, assuming that it was the Americans who requested it, and that is was not part of some “courtesy.”
The question also has to be posed as to what would be the reaction of, say, members of the French National Assembly if they were asked to take an antigen test prior to such an address, by anyone. Not difficult to imagine really.
Now, of course, given that nobody has to turn up to Leinster House today and produce a piece of paper to be scrutinised by a chap or a gal wearing mirror sunglasses, the characteristic option perhaps for our own who didn’t take the test – now that would be an interesting survey – would be just say nothing and go in anyway. Probably looking sheepish and hoping they would not have to lie and say, “Ah sure of course I did. Didn’t you?”.
Ironically, the bolshie PBP TDs, who are the most likely to kick up fusses about stuff, will not be there anyway in protest over Yankee Imperialism but would probably agree with not only tests but a revival of the entire carnival of lockdowns and statism.
We live in a country grown strange indeed…