There’s a peculiar irony at play in the current crisis: on the back of the worst imaginable departmental advice to nursing homes, telling them to lift a visiting ban that would eventually see over 600 elderly residents die, the Minister for Health Simon Harris and his Fine Gael colleagues are riding high in the polls despite the fatal consequences of their incompetence and mismanagement.
This surprising outcome of popularity in spite of gross negligence is made possible because of two things: the first is our current Stockholm Syndrome, lauding our leaders because they give the appearance of calm control and diligence, which apparently soothes collective hysteria, whilst the second factor is the media’s unwillingness to shine a stark light on our lamentable death rate compared to most other countries, not to mention focusing on who is responsible for it.
Ireland is floating in and out of the Top Ten countries with the worst death rates per million, a fact largely attributable to how our caretaker government handled nursing homes. Over 50% of Ireland’s coronavirus fatalities are from there after all. Along with scant regard for PPE in nursing homes, this move by Harris’ department continues to wreak havoc in the lives and deaths of many:
Department of Health has said that general visiting restrictions that some hospitals & nursing homes have introduced, should be lifted. The National Public Health Emergency Team has not recommended these.
— Fergal Bowers (@FergalBowers) March 10, 2020
You would think that the people who allowed this to get out control might be held to account, might show some integrity and offer their resignation, or might otherwise be pushed.
But no, not in Ireland. So long as you please the right people, any amount of negligence seems to be not only overlooked, but quite ok. You can still be a cause célèbre, so long as you hit the right note in public, with few of us told by any reporters that we have more fatalities per million than almost every country on earth, save ten.
Thankfully at least one member of the Medical Council, Dr. Marcus de Brun, was good enough to blow the whistle on the government’s failures, resigning from his role in frustration.
Q:Why are so few speaking out?
A: RTE & State funded QUANGOS are responsible for both the guidelines, and spending the Covid-cash.https://t.co/zfnHEUIBvA
He who pays the piper…
— Dr. Marcus De Brun (@indepdubnrth) May 5, 2020
Harris, like many others, knows how to survive in media-infested waters, and it’s not just because of his background in journalism. It’s also because he has championed the countless causes most woke journalists hold dear, not least abortion.
It’s a remarkable feat to survive overspending a couple of billion on the Children’s Hospital, to somehow come across as pro-woman following the cervical smear disaster, and to then poll brilliantly as a party this week despite causing so much devastation in nursing homes. You’ve got to hand it to Simon Harris and Fine Gael: they know how to keep the right people purring.
This fiasco and many others could have all been avoided if Harris had been pushed during the No Confidence motion last year at the height of the Children’s Hospital controversy, when Fianna Fáil could have done the job opposition parties are supposed to do, even if it meant an election.
But by protecting the political cartel that are currently in talks to re-enter government, rarely exposing their weakest points and empty rhetoric, Ireland’s media have committed their own dereliction of duty: that of holding power to account.
Whereas a handful of journalists might still endeavor to uphold the notions of integrity and truth in high office and journalism, ensuring that the body politic are well-informed, most appear to incessantly calculate about the effects certain facts might have on the standing of their preferred leaders and parties.
Should the country not be up in arms that its elderly are dropping like flies because of the stupidity of a handful of politicians and civil servants? Would it be too much for journalists to express anger when questioning politicians about another royal cock-up caused by those we pay excessively to make the right decisions?
I’m not holding my breath for any change to the status quo, not that any major party would improve things in my view, but it must be said that the buck finally stops with we the people in a republic.
We put them in power, we pay the TV license and buy the papers, and now we’re living with the consequences. The problem is, some are dying with the consequences.