The coronavirus in Ireland has claimed the lives of 1,650 people, a large majority of whom were those confined in nursing homes and unceremoniously left to meet their fate. For the rest of us, the last several months have been about making unprecedented personal and collective sacrifices in order to save as many lives as possible and slow the spread of a deadly pathogen. In the name of protecting each other, and the country, Irish children have sacrificed their education. Irish workers have sacrificed their jobs. Irish families have sacrificed the comfort of companionship in times of great sadness and joy. Wives have watched their husbands die from behind a pane of glass, and grandchildren have stood outside churches and funeral homes unable to say goodbye to their favourite relative.
The fight against Coronavirus, we’re told, isn’t over. Last night, Gardai were raiding and breaking up house parties in Cork. Every day, Tony Holohan takes to a podium in Dublin and warns the public to be cautious and to put public safety and health first. Yesterday alone, more than 60 new cases were diagnosed, all of them capable of passing the disease on to other people.
For reference, on the day when Leo Varadkar walked out of a Washington DC Hotel to announce to his country by satellite link that schools would close and the country would lock down, there were only 41 new cases. More people are getting Coronavirus today than they were when the crisis was considered bad enough to introduce the restrictions to begin with.
Football matches are banned. Masses are banned. Funerals and weddings are restricted to less than ten people. Pubs are closed. Restaurants are slowly starving into permanent closure. Some hotels will never re-open, and wives and girlfriends across the country are taking the place of closed barber shops. All because people are banned from opening a business.
But this, apparently, is A-okay:
— Sorcha Pollak (@SorchaPollak) June 1, 2020
In the face of somewhere between five and ten thousand people clustering together in the middle of the capital city to protest an event in the United States, one might have expected the Taoiseach, or a leading politician, or the media, to remark on the recklessness and danger of people behaving like this. But no, says Varadkar. The Coronavirus might be important, but there’s another virus that matters more:
Racism is a virus that we have been fighting for millennia. Despite the progress we have made, it is no less virulent today and no less dangerous. We need to show solidarity as people of all races & backgrounds around the world come together to stop its spread and defeat it.
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) June 1, 2020
It says a lot about Ireland that the thing that finally motivated people to come onto the streets wasn’t the calamity in our nursing homes, or the shutdown of our economy, or the retention in office of politicians we ejected at the ballot box months ago. Instead, the only thing that motivates our protesting class (and yes, the country has a protesting class) is the sight of riots in America, an ocean away.
Yesterday’s protest in Ireland won’t make a blind bit of difference to the people of Minneapolis. The only thing it might achieve is an increase in Coronavirus cases in Ireland.
The protest did not draw a word of complaint from any of the voices of official Ireland. RTE, the Irish Times, and the Journal all covered it, but not one of them mentioned that it was a breach of lockdown. No opposition party raised as much as a whimper of concern. No public health union spoke up in defence of the nurses, or the doctors. The Gardai, who by night are zealous defenders of the law, watched on with ambivalence as the protected class broke the law.
There is, you see, one rule for the taxpayer funded, NGO-led, professional protest class, and another rule for everybody else. Their feelings of outrage about America matter more than your health.
The Taoiseach, as ever, knows whose side he is on. Having spent months saying that the laws he imposed on us were to save Irish lives, he explicitly condoned them being broken yesterday. What does that say, except that to him, sending the right signals about the American culture wars is more important than whether nurses live, or nurses die?
In Ireland, the politicians, the media, and the unions, and the biggest companies are all on one side. And it’s not yours.
They would literally rather look like hypocrites to the whole world than risk criticising their own people.
There is no longer any justification for any other Irish person who does not want to obey lockdown rules to continue doing so. If the Taoiseach doesn’t care about public health, why the hell should you, or anyone else?