Irish Examiner letters: This country needs martial law to tackle pandemic

Travel restrictions being ignored, vaccination programme too slow, it's time for firm borders, says one of our letter-writers, Dr Florence Craven
Irish Examiner letters: This country needs martial law to tackle pandemic

Ttravellers walking through Dublin Airport with their luggage during a national Lockdown. Do our highly-paid, but inept, politicians and medical experts really believe that someone would book a sun holiday this week just to stay in a hotel for their entire holiday and further isolate when they return home? Photograph: Leah Farrell /

Something akin to martial law will have to be implemented as human nature is basically selfish. All travel in/out of the country should have stopped months ago. There will have to be border checks in the North, even if this upsets trivial political sensibilities.

Do our highly-paid, but inept, politicians and medical experts really believe that someone would book a sun holiday this week just to stay in a hotel for their entire holiday? Can these miscreants be further trusted to further isolate once they return to Ireland? I wouldn’t trust them to be that socially conscious. Such selfishness needs to grasped by the neck, instead of applying the usual impotent and timorous “solutions”. In my experience, most gardaí just don’t care about packed houses during lockdowns.

In addition, vaccinating people is too slow here. I suspect that there’ll be another longer lockdown soon after March 5.

Even before Covid, thousands of families have silently suffered the loss of relatives to the acceptability of MRSA in our hospitals. I’m one of those people.

Finally, we need to stop all of this silly, sentimental hand-wringing, the insincere concern about mental health, the lamentation for needless deaths and darkness into light mantras.

Covid has proven that it’s better to prevent than lament. My intractable belief in firm borders has become even more so.

Dr Florence Craven

Bracknagh, Co Offaly

So predictable

“Nobody could have predicted it”. Our Government is really fond of that phrase. They have used it when faced with very predictable influenza-driven overcrowding of hospitals in winter. They have used it for recent surges in Covid cases.

Will they wheel it out again when Covid variants spread to Ireland from incoming travellers? Will they use it when these variants render current vaccines ineffective and put us right back to where we were in March 2020? But with thousands more lives lost and billions of euro spent with little long term benefit? And with prolonged negative impact on both physical and mental health?

At present the Government points to safeguarding strategies such as requiring a negative PCR Covid test from incoming travellers. PCR tests are known not to have 100% sensitivity. This means that some people who are actually infected with Covid have a negative PCR test — a false negative. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine cites sensitivity rates of between 71% to 98% for PCR tests. Another cites sensitivity rates of 63% for nasal swab Covid PCR tests. In brief, travellers bearing a negative Covid PCR test will not keep Covid variants out of this country.

Managed quarantine of all incoming travellers for 14 days has been a key strategy in the successful New Zealand fight against Covid. Limiting mandated quarantine in approved facilities to travellers from countries where variants emerge is not going to keep variants out. Variants spread quickly far beyond geographical borders. A person does not have to travel from South Africa or Brazil to be infected with a variant which originally appeared there.

Relying on travellers to quarantine themselves at home after travel has proven to be a failure. Even if the government increases its hitherto abject checks on self quarantine, there will still be numerous quarantine breaches and quarantine failures, resulting in the spread of variants in this country.

When we are back to square one again, perhaps the government might bear in mind that anybody might have predicted it. Unless they didn’t want to.

Dr Emer O’Flynn

Douglas, Cork

I’m bowled over by Afghanistan

With Covid-19 breaking new records, one thing that helps us cope is hope, and seeing good examples of this is important.

In this respect, one has to admire a country that has been at war for over 30 years and produces a team that beats another living in the luxury of peace, in a challenging sport.

I refer to Afghanistan who this week beat the Irish cricket team three to nil.

Hope is truly alive and well!

Peter Kennedy

Sutton, Dublin 13

War on control of women in Ireland

Following the publication of the mother and baby homes report it is easy to understand the public’s outrage that such atrocities could happen in our communities, in our country coupled with a search for answers and vows of “never again”.

I believe what happened then and what is still happening in Ireland is a war on the control of women, women’s bodies and women’s sexuality. Looking at the then and the now, who made the decisions, whether it was within the Church, State or family? Who impregnated the women who were incarcerated?

The abuse took place within a dysfunctional system, a subtle system, a system that was and continues to be so “normalised” that it is difficult to recognise, The system of patriarchy.

During the period of the mother and baby homes, men held power at all levels of society, women were invisible and had little or no access to the decision-making process in the public or private sector. As in all corrupt, unjust systems whether it be race, culture or gender there are those who collude with the oppression knowingly, those who collude with the oppression through ignorance and those who collude with the oppression through indifference.

Today, women have access to more freedoms and opportunities to engage in public life. Divorce, contraception and abortion are readily available. However, like our secrets of the past, the war on women’s bodies continues. Since 1996 over 236 women have been murdered. During Covid-19, a greater awareness of domestic violence has emerged. And yet, when women try to flee with their children to a refuge for safety, spaces are not always available due to lack of funding.

Violence and degradation can be found in pornography. The availability of women’s bodies in prostitution is widespread.

Kate McCarthy

Terenure Road West, Dublin

Did Tuam nuns not read the Bible?

As a practicing Catholic I wish to express how appalled I am at the historical treatment of single mothers at the hands of both Church and State in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Some Catholic journalists have advanced the argument that a genuine discussion about the report must take into account the wider context of Irish society during the time in which the home was in operation.

Nonetheless, as Catholics I believe it is important to reflect on some of the accounts contained in the report; in particular the taunting of young women in the throes of child birth with the callous remark “ya should have thought about this nine months ago”. It is evident from such accounts that these religious, like many other Catholics, had no relationship with the word of God or sensitivity to sacred scripture. Was not the Virgin Mary herself, in effect, pregnant outside of wedlock as the Gospels report, albeit through the Holy Spirit? Was not the Virgin herself on the cusp of being turned out, but for the intervention of an angelic dream and the faithful heart of Joseph? Did the nuns running these institutions never stop to ask themselves these questions?

John O Riordan

Killarney, Co Kerry

Superb job Joyce

Joyce Fegan did a superb job on both articles on your paper dealing with a very sensitive subject — religion (Irish Examiner, January 25 and 26).

It is truly inspiring to read and know that each person fulfilled their true potential in different ways. Thank you.

Mary Corcoran,

Douglas, Cork

Children deserve only the best

Hopefully, special needs education will resume as soon as is safe and practical. These children deserve nothing but the best. And that includes ministerial industrial relations nous. You don’t get anywhere implying that others are not on these children’s side. You don’t get anywhere by calling a teacher’s union liars. All heat and no light. You can’t beat experience.

Michael Deasy

Carrigart, Co Donegal

European of the Year — ah now

European Movement Ireland has conferred the “European of the Year” award on Michael Barnier for his “outstanding contribution” towards what must be the most unsuccessful and failed negotiations for many a long day. It will be hard to top that for naivety or silliness this decade, as the negotiation of Brexit from the EU side was about as ham-fisted and non-productive as it is possible to get.

From a position of strength, after all only 4% more voted for exit than for remain, it is widely believed a conciliatory approach with a few minor concessions could have swung British public opinion towards remaining. Yet “gung-ho” determination to crush the slender democratic voice for leaving succeeded only in turning a chaotically divided UK Parliament into an 80 seat leave majority for Boris Johnson. Such negotiations, which achieve exactly the opposite to what was intended, could in future be known as “barnier” just as ostracism is known as “boycott”.

It is hoped “European Movement Ireland” has little influence or authority; we cannot afford such foolishness.

Pádraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

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