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Message must be clear

On the Edge

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

AS the daffodils tentatively begin to break through the frozen earth, it is hard to believe that we have been living in the ‘new normal’ for almost a year now. Overall, our ability to adapt has been commendable. The bravery, commitment and selflessness of our frontline workers is a bright symbol of hope for all of us.
The leader of the Labour party, Alan Kelly is absolutely right to continue his call for Government to give them a token of our appreciation. What is a measly €1,000 in the greater scheme of things?
Ah yes, ‘AK 47’ –  as was his moniker, particularly during his term as Minister for the Environment, when his abrasiveness with officials was legendary – seems to talk a lot of sense these days. Indeed, he has even learnt to wind his neck in and present his arguments in a more moderate and considered way.
Wasn’t he correct to hold Government to account last week about mixed-messaging regarding its ‘Living with Covid’ strategy?    
“The Tánaiste and Minister for Housing over the last 48 hours making statements about what’s going to happen in two or four or six weeks’ time is not a strategy,” the Labour leader argued in the Dáil.
Like the group of high-profile medical experts led by Professor Anthony Staines who have championed the possibility of ‘Zero Covid’, he has urged for the adoption of a ‘national aggressive suppression strategy’, arguing that otherwise we will be moving from one lockdown to another.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Mandatory quarantining for those travelling into the country was key to the suppression of community transmission, Kelly also argued, saying that paying a €500 fine and then waving people off on their holidays wasn’t going to work either.
At least Taoiseach Mícheál Martin has responded saying the Cabinet would discuss increasing the fine for nonessential travel abroad to €2,000.  
Isn’t it past-time though for Boris and Arlene and Mícheál, and all those entrenched Unionists and Nationalists, to work together in the interest of everyone on these two little islands?  
Overall, Alan Kelly has been excellent at holding the Government to account since he became leader of the Labour Party. But then that is the job of Opposition TDs. There is no sense that he is playing party or petty politics with the issues that dominate our lives these days. Well, never has the pettiness of party politics been more important to eschew. Never either has the short-term gains of pandering to powerful lobbyists or interested parties been more important to ignore.
Despite the fact that there may be more traffic out there on our roads since the first lockdown, the Irish public has got the message and is largely compliant and responsible. Whilst the number of deaths and daily cases is decreasing significantly, the fallout from Christmas socialising has touched the majority of people on some level or other.
Meanwhile, the Irish public is way too smart to be ‘played’ by politicians. We see through power games. We see through spin and fatuous side-swipes. We see through the kite flying of a possible future coalition between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. It wouldn’t be the first time that this column paused and rolled its eyes up to heaven about the silly games played between the three largest parties, whose inter-connected gene pool reaches back to the foundation of the State.
So, as the new light of spring shimmers over the horizon, and hosts of daffodils prepare to open their bright yellow heads as the vaccine roll-out unfolds, let our politicians, no matter what party insignia they fly under, lead us by example out of this pandemic and onto better, unfettered times.