How we proceed now really is a matter of life or death


Even the dark days have some light: Springtime growth in the heart of Killarney town.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

COMMON sense, we can only but hope, will prevail as this May Day progresses and the authorities decide whether or not to ease some of the coronavirus restrictions.

The early indication from the Taoiseach, that the rate of deaths and new cases of Covid-19 are not yet sufficiently low enough to significantly loosen limits, will be welcomed by most right-thinking individuals.

The sense of isolation and frustration experienced by many over the age of 70, forced to cocoon at home, is understandable but they have to realise too that they are most at risk and the measures have been introduced for their own good. There is no ulterior motive.

Complaints from people struggling to cope with being restricted to within 2km of home have a very hollow ring to them when one weights up their ever so slight inconvenience against the suffering, the pain and the anguish of families who have lost, or are at risk of losing, loved ones to the brutal virus.

We have had to endure more than our fair share of sheer nonsense over the past few weeks, and in recent days in particular, from those who really would need to call themselves aside and have a little chat with themselves.

There was, for example, the couple who went public to demand State intervention because their toddler was bored and, they feared, the child would suffer long-term psychological consequences from being separated from playmates in the crèche.

Take care: Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce President, Paul Sherry, highlights what really matters

There was a complaint from a man who couldn’t get to a church to say a prayer because he was on the far side of 70 and cocooning at home. The fact that the churches are actually closed didn’t really seem to come into it, not to mention that the said man was at pains to stress that he wasn’t that religious anyway. It seems he just didn’t like to be told what to do.

There are grumblings of discontent that shoppers have to endure waits of up to five or 10 minutes when they arrive at the supermarkets to collect their goods after availing of the ‘click and collect’ option online. So much to do, so little time.

And there are infuriating complaints from self-appointed experts that the wonderful frontline staff in the same supermarkets are wearing gloves and masks/are not wearing gloves and masks (delete as appropriate, based on your mood).

We’ve heard demands on radio for hair salons to be allowed to reopen to remove God’s own whitewash. We’ve listened to vocal arguments for bookies to get back to business for itchy-fingered gambler that don’t have the technology to place an online wager.

Some guesthouse owners and Airbnb providers have defiantly remained open right through the pandemic, accepting online bookings and welcoming door-knock strangers who have stubbornly opted to ignore appeals to stay at home.

Restaurant and pub owners across the county bounds, whose premises are currently off limits, want permission to let people eat on the street, banning through traffic to create a sort of a giant outdoor eatery.

Heroes: Frontline staff gather at University Hospital Kerry to carry out the world that really matters – saving lives and trying to get people better.
Picture: Domnick Walsh

We had to double check that it was the month of May and not April 1st with all the tomfoolery and complaints that leisure anglers weren’t allowed to catch fish, hunters weren’t permitted to shoot game, bigger dogs needed to walk further than 2km and Fungi the dolphin might be lonely because boats full of noisy, snap-happy tourists were being prevented from chasing him relentlessly around the bay.

For heaven’s sake, would those shouting loudest and longest not spare a thought for the families who have lost loved ones to the vicious virus.

Would they nor pause for a moment to reflect on people with family members in hospital – including children – and they can’t be at their bedsides to comfort them.

Can they not imagine how families whose loved ones have died in recent weeks – from natural causes, as a result of accidents or due to whatever reason – must feel when forced to select a mere handful to attend the Requiem Mass and burial to say goodbye.

Maybe, just maybe, the might pause for thought the next time they moan about shops being closed, hair salons being off limits or the fact that they can’t go for that 5km run in a scenic area that’s 10km from home.

Conference call: Kerry County Council Chief Executive, Moira Murrell (fourth from left) and Mayor of Kerry, Cllr Niall Kelleher (third from left) lead a teleconference meeting of party representatives and senior management of Kerry County Council to discuss Covid-19 issues.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

Thankfully, according to research by the Economic and Social Research Institute, a clear majority of people wants the government to move very cautiously if lifting the restrictions, particularly given the risk of a second surge of the Covid-19 virus. Let’s hope a sensible approach is adopted this afternoon, despite the noise coming from all quarters.

The State agencies, the frontline staff, many politicians and the local authorities are performing magnificently in very testing circumstances as they navigate their way through unchartered territory.

Give them a break. Exercise some patience. This too shall pass but, in the meantime, we all just have to adhere to the regulations imposed, whether we like them or not, for as long as is deemed necessary.

With 1,232 already dead and 20,612 known to be infected by the virus, there can be no other way.

One post on Twitter late last night sums it all up poignantly but perfectly: “Today, I watched my uncle’s funeral live streamed from the nearly empty church, his wife sitting alone, his family distanced, my cousin’s shoulders shaking and no arm around her.”

Tell that man about the white roots showing on your head, the bets you are unable to place, the fish you are unable to catch or how a dolphin is said to be feeling a little lonely.

We cannot overlook what really matters during this dreadful, vicious, unforgiving and heartbreaking pandemic. And that’s people. How this country proceeds at this point really is a matter of life or death.

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