The people need the truth – but they also need hope

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Tomorrow we will be asked as a nation to one more time grit our teeth and suffer for the greater good in this almost year-long battle with Covid-19. All the signs are that the nation is collectively in low spirits but resigned that there are few options beyond an extended and strict lockdown.

ne thing the new Government Covid-19 plan must do is banish the confused Government messages over the past week about what the future holds. And, above all, despite the inevitable grim realism, our political leaders must hold out some hope for the people.

From day to day, over the past week, our political leaders have been visible and vocal on the virus issue, which should ordinarily be commended. But the difficulty is that their messages were different and diffuse, making it hard for citizens to have full confidence in their leadership.

We are left to choose between an official communications machine which is not entirely up to the job, or an unhealthy competition between our government leaders which suggests a lack of unity. Neither option is too encouraging when we consider what is at stake for the nation economically, socially and politically. The people deserve better.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin must not try to sugar-coat the grim news which he must give us tomorrow. Despite people’s weariness, nobody wants a repeat of the serial lockdown/reopening cycle. Everyone realises that a premature end to Lockdown Number 3 will only precipitate a fourth such shutdown with even more national depression. We have been over this lamentable course twice before.

We know even before the Taoiseach addresses the nation that the lockdown will by and large continue into early May. We know that the only hope of progress is the phased re opening of schools. We know that the building sector is far less likely to get the early return many of us had hoped.

Everything now depends on the virus data – not putative dates for eased restrictions.

Yet there are many reasons for us all to be cheerful. There are good grounds for arguing that Ireland is now in a far better Covid-19 place than it was even one month ago. Case numbers have continued to decrease.

An early and reasonable return to a vestige of normality in Ireland now depends on the vaccine roll-out. It has been slow thus far when compared with the US, the United Kingdom and even Israel, even if Ireland is ranked reasonably among the sluggish EU performers.

But there are signals coming from the European Union that supplies are improving and there is no earthly reason why Ireland, given adequate supplies, cannot ramp up and speed up its vaccination programme.

This is where real political leadership is required. We must be kept up to date with real-time information on the vaccine campaign. We must know what supplies are available and what numbers of people are being vaccinated and where.

There must be no attempt to fudge, obfuscate or obscure these vital truths.

Source: Irish News