For many people in Ireland, these are tough times.
Businesses are in danger of bankruptcy. School students face uncertainty, and teachers are struggling to teach through restrictions. Many people are entering their sixth or seventh month since being able to see, or hug, elderly loved ones. Christmas itself, we hear, may now be imperilled.
So, here’s the Minister for Health, with a reassuring new message:
This week I marked 100 days as Minister for Health. I am proud of the start we have made but I know there is much more to do. Working with my Department and the HSE, I want to develop the best possible healthcare system because that is what patients, staff and the public deserve pic.twitter.com/moABG2bQeA
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) October 7, 2020
611 new cases yesterday, and five new deaths, for anyone keeping count at home. The country is on an inexorable slide towards a level five lockdown – level six, even, if some of our more exuberant public health experts get their way.
The Minister for Health, meanwhile, is putting out a video about how great his first six months have been.
Even if the video were entirely accurate, it would be one of the most tone deaf moves by an Irish politician in recent memory.
But this has always been Stephen Donnelly, hasn’t it? Since he entered politics, riding into the fray as the independent Harvard graduate in the 2011 election, we’ve always been told how great he is, by an array of people ranging from Stephen Donnelly, to Mr. S. Donnelly. But in nine years in elected office, two political parties, and about forty thousand television appearances, what change has he delivered?
In the video above, he takes credit for a series of things that have little to do with him. Did he launch the covid tracker app? Sure – but that’s taking credit for standing in a photograph. He had little to do with actually developing the Covid tracker app – the previous Government did that. Listen to how many of the achievements listed begin with the word “announced”.
Did Donnelly announce the biggest ever winter plan? Sure. Had he anything to do with it? No, not a thing – the decision to spend money rests with the department of finance.
Did he launch the biggest ever flu vaccine programme? You bet. Did he have anything to do with it, beyond showing up for a photograph? Not on your life.
Note too, how many of these decisions are about allocating your money to things: Is it really an achievement to spend ten million euros on something, when most of that cash has been borrowed and handed to him by the finance minister?
All of this might sound mean, but it says something about the state of this Government, and the state of Irish politics, more generally, that the health minister, in the middle of the worst health crisis to ever have hit the state, is putting out propaganda videos about how he allocated a few million euros to homecare.
In the end, it’s all about Stephen Donnelly. It’s not about you, the voter, or we, the public. It’s been about Stephen Donnelly, since the first day he entered Irish politics, and it will be about Stephen Donnelly until the day he’s finally kicked out.
Nobody else matters.