A New Focus

Another week drags on, a long weekend passes by, people spend it outdoors in the sun, many still wondering when they can get back to work, or when life may regain some semblance of normality again. In Ireland, the hand-wringing continues. A large solidarity demonstration in Dublin raised eyebrows, as thousands marched from O’Connell Street to the US Embassy to show support for the the Black Lives Matter movement. We have plenty of problems here, but what’s happening over in that fucked up country across the Atlantic is horrific, but sadly not surprising. So though I was not in Dublin myself, I fully support the idea of marching on the US Embassy. I would have marched myself if I wasn’t on the other side of country.

Meanwhile, here in Galway, a bunch of teenagers caused some hassle on the beach. Nothing serious. A few videos circulated on social media, and everyone had their say of course. More than one laughable comment suggested the army be called in to deal with it. But anyway, that’s the cesspool that is social media. The reality was a bunch of teenagers were drinking cans, someone called the Gardai, there was a standoff with lots of shouting, and one kid was taken into custody.

That’s not really newsworthy. A bunch of teenagers acting the idiot. We’ve all been there. In so-called ‘normal’ times. But what did people expect was going to happen when tens of thousands of teenagers have no school to go to, and no jobs to go, for months on end? I’m far from a teenager, and I’m still working (online of course, ugh), yet I’m constantly agitated about the state we are in at the moment, and about the impotency and cowardice of the so-called government to take any sort of decisive action. Adults are bored senseless and wound up, let alone teenagers.

If the powers that be are concerned about people gathering in large numbers, then why not let people go back to work? Go back to school? Though secondary schools would have finished classes for the summer by now anyway, the primary schools should still be open. Students should be taking exams. Teenagers who don’t have exams could be working summer jobs. The rest of us could get back to our workplaces. We could gather in pubs and cafes and restaurants, instead of in mass groups outdoors. With so much of the country still shut, the places people can meet up are restricted, so this whole thing is counter-intuitive.

People need to still take precautions and be careful regarding hygiene, but that should be something we keep doing regardless. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its recommendations, so that now outside of one metre is considered a safe distance (RTE never replied to me by the way). Yet Ireland are still insisting on double that, making life untenable for so many businesses when they do reopen. And pretty much impossible for schools and universities to operate effectively. The government, who are supposed to, you know, govern, are following the advice of the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE was Ireland’s attempt to copy the UK’s NHS. The results were just as successful as Homer Simpson’s attempt to built a barbecue pit. The HSE is a bureaucratic quango which has done nothing but make jobs even more difficult for healthcare workers. Their incompetence and lack of organisation are legendary. Yet now, state policy is following the HSE’s advice over that of the WHO.

Of course keeping the economy in lockdown does suit Fine Gael. After all, sending the country into a spiraling recession will benefit them and their wealthy backers. It’s in recession time that the haves gain even more, while the have-nots pay the price. Neo Leo and his cronies couldn’t care less about the physical or mental health of the working class, nor of their financial stability. That doesn’t gel with their Chicago School philosophy. So they’ll continue to hide behind the HSE and avoid actually making any sort of bold decisions to get people back to work.

Instead, they keep everybody scared and distracted, grimly broadcasting a daily death toll (thankfully significantly decreased, along with the massive decrease in the spread of the virus) to keep the perception that the virus is still a massive threat. It’s a threat, sure, but a pale one compared to how it was a couple of months ago. When a Nobel-prize winning biophysicist who predicted accurately how the virus would play out in China is confident that Ireland will not get a second wave of infection, we should probably start paying attention.

Or we could just focus on teenagers drinking cans instead. Priorities.


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