Coronavirus caution still very much en vogue as Government talks make minute progress

So we’re another week further on, heading towards May 5. However, in the last seven days, the Taoiseach, Simon Harris and various other people, some political, some scientific, have begun to say that there is no certainty at all that we will open up any area of life come next Tuesday, May 5.

I don’t at all like this yo-yo land we’re living in. First, we’re being given a thread of comfort in that yes, some matters could open up after May 5, particularly those which affect people in lockdown (such as myself ). We no sooner have absorbed this piece of good news when there is another declaration saying no, there will be absolutely no opening up because of the fact that people are already disobeying the rules and going out. I believe the roads are much busier in the last week.

So we are going from one extreme to the other. We were told first that in these coming days the Government would share their opening-up plan with the public, and then, as I said, in the day or two after that we were told there would be no opening up at all. So I wish the powers-that-be would make up their minds.

Now I know this is very difficult, and I know that it is extremely dangerous for anyone to break the rules. I have never been outside the front door since lockdown came in. I have been outside the back door into my own back garden, and that’s allowable, but outdoors to the front and getting into a car – oh no, no. You see, I think it’s far too early to be hopeful. We should practise caution, caution, caution, and I wish they would all stop giving conflicting signals to everyone, raising hopes, dashing hopes, until we don’t know what’s going to happen or if there’s going to be any break in the lockdown whatsoever.

The Government talks seem to be inching ever-so-slowly to what I hope will be a satisfactory conclusion, with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens, and perhaps Denis Naughten’s eight-person Regional Independent group.

Eamon Ryan of the Green Party has been quite insistent that they will not even enter into talks unless the matter of carbon reduction has been agreed and tied down. That will be a difficult one to agree to implement, but if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are not serious about this matter, well then the formation of a government is certainly gone off the agenda. But I am hopeful this week that when Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar sit down to talk on the 17 questions posed by the Green Party, they will have satisfactory answers to those questions.

I very much like Eamon Ryan in a personal sense. He was in the Government of the economic collapse in 2008, and Brian Lenihan, then Minister for Finance, told me several times that he had great back-up and advice and friendship from Eamon Ryan during that very dark economic time. Eamon Ryan has been there before and knows what the hard times are like.

The Sunday Independent last Sunday had some terrific interviews, one with Micheál Martin, one with Sean O’Rourke, and one with Eamon Ryan, so you had your choice of whatever viewpoint you wanted to read and absorb.

The news about the resignation of Sean O’Rourke was very new to us all, and he chose to make the announcement in his own inimitable way. Sean O’Rourke, to my mind, is one of the best of the RTÉ interviewers, and he has scored some remarkable scalps in his time. He is knowledgeable, understanding and wide-ranging in his approach to issues. I am glad to read that RTÉ intends to use him in some format in the future, and that will be something to look forward to.

I am sure the readers, like myself, when evening time comes are looking at various programmes on TV. There are two which caught my eye recently, and they will be going on for some time, so if you missed the first instalment you can tune in to any night they’re on.

One is titled Cheap Irish Houses, and it deals with a woman who has made a speciality of hunting down generally rundown Irish homes which are selling cheaply but would have a good basis for renewing the fabric and making it worthwhile again.

The other one is Building Ireland, and we’ve had two episodes of that; it’s on a Thursday evening at 8pm. The first instalment was about the reception area of Dublin Airport, built way back in the early 30s. Then last week, we had a marvellous historical and knowledgeable depiction of the first cable link between Valentia Island in County Kerry and Newfoundland in Canada. If you can catch that programme you will really enjoy it, and if you can get a playback of the previous two editions try for that as well.

I am so much missing my grandchildren. When Aengus comes with food to me, he often brings either James or Scott. They stay out in the garden and I shout at them through the back window, and we make hugging and kissing faces and all the rest of it. But of course, it’s nothing like the real thing, and I so miss their warm spirit and warm arms. Will we ever be back in close contact again with all our loved ones?

The hubbub about the Leaving Certificate has emerged again. But at least Joe McHugh has given a date, July 29. Now the Department has to work out the details of how that examination will be carried out in a socially distancing way, obeying all the protocols. I think it is good that there is a date given, and that everyone will work towards that date, particularly the students. They have a date and an objective now in mind.

I am worried about the Junior Certificate, and I do not think a school-based examination sometime over the transition year period is a good idea. I would prefer that the students would take the State examination and have it corrected by the Examinations Board. In that way, they are at least doing preparation for when their Leaving Certificate will come about. More about that anon.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, stay at home, stay safe and mind yourself.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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