Irish Examiner View: Crisis pushes ideology to second place

The country yesterday took tentative steps towards something that, in time, might begin to look and feel like normal.
Irish Examiner View: Crisis pushes ideology to second place

The country yesterday took tentative steps towards something that, in time, might begin to look and feel like normal.

The welcome phase one relaxation was, however, tinged with trepidation.

Trepidation that one-step-at-a-time discipline be observed so we minimise the possibility of re-energising what seems — though it is much too early to be sure — a waning pandemic.

The possibility of stoking a lethal second wave by dropping our guard prematurely casts a shadow over everything we do.

It will for some time, maybe longer than we care to acknowledge at this moment of release.

Three months ago, it would have been difficult to argue that we are culturally disposed to the persistent restraint shown by the great majority of people over the last few trying weeks, but we confounded expectations, and maybe ourselves too.

Solidarity, by and large, trumped selfishness.

Two hugely important processes trying to achieve a workable solidarity move towards decisive moments this week.

Though not related to coronavirus, they cannot but be influenced by its ravages. They both need to defy cultural expectations.

Talks around establishing a government run parallel to Brexit negotiations.

It is unlikely, however, that Brussels’ virtual negotiators are as interested in the Dublin haggling as those who would be our next government are interested in what transpires between Mr Barneir’s and Mr Johnson’s representatives.

The Dublin talks meander.

Suggestions that election preparations are advanced may undermine them or, hopefully, concentrate participants’ minds on the consequence of failure.

There seems but one — the second election of 2020.

That may, in the very darkest moments of negotiations, seem plausible, but calling one guarantees nothing.

Fine Gael hope it has earned a dividend, but the electorate might be more influenced by the party’s inability, contrived or otherwise, to successfully conclude negotiations.

A second election might as likely exacerbate fragmentation as it would curb it.

A hard Brexit would make a daunting situation unattractive enough to dissuade all but the most ambitious — or selfless — politicians from high office.

The Dublin negotiators can do little to avert international catastrophe.

Analysts have predicted the worst recession in 300 years, yet we all rely on them to pick a path through the carnage.

The CSO yesterday published data that paints the grimmest picture any Irish government has had to face.

Almost a quarter of businesses have ceased trading. Many others have cut staff and now rely on State subvention.

Unemployment is at a record high, the demand for State supports unprecedented.

At this time of crisis, ideology can be an affectation.

Those unable to be flexible, to contemplate the unthinkable, seem like a sailor clinging to a sinking hull — the only question is how long hope might defy inevitability.

This week’s talks in Brussels and Dublin may be the most important any of participants are ever involved in.

Let us hope they accept this is a moment for honest pragmatism rather than tribal posturing.

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