Ailin Quinlan: Oh the shame... are Paddies just too thick and too selfish?

If you have any moral compass at all, you will do the right thing for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for your work colleagues and for everyone around you, says Ailin Quinlan
Ailin Quinlan: Oh the shame... are Paddies just too thick and too selfish?

“The government can’t wash your hands for you,” as Tony Holohan said recently Picture: Getty Images

THE sight of Micheál Martin holding out the promise of a normal Christmas in the hope of persuading a foolish electorate to protect itself from a potentially fatal virus, was like watching an anxious parent offer the promise of driving lessons to a lazy Leaving Cert student in the hope of encouraging him to work harder.

The whole thing struck shame into my heart. Shame on behalf of the sectors of the Irish public who have to be wheedled and tempted in this way:

Shame on behalf of the anti-mask-campaigning idiots who have some kind of “principled objection” to protecting themselves and others from a potentially fatal virus (a bit like the “principled” twits in the US decades ago who opposed the wearing of seat belts on civil liberty grounds).

Shame on behalf of the I’m all-right-Jack-so-I-don’t-care crowd, who understand the risk all right, but who don’t feel Covid could possibly ever happen to them — and they themselves are all that counts, naturally — so they don’t wear masks.

Shame on behalf of the genuinely stupid who can’t see the point of wearing a mask (well, as we’ve said before, there’s no vaccine for feeble-mindedness).

And most of all, shame on the house party idiots who don’t even think about the prospect of spreading the virus, or if they do consider the risk to others, don’t care.

Along with the Christmas carrot, the cabinet has finally also decided to wield a bit of a stick, putting fines in place for people who won’t wear masks where they’re required, for the House-party Hooray Henries, for those caught outside the 5km limits without due justification, for those who don’t wear a mask in the appropriate venues and so on.

People making their way to a house party who refuse to leave an area, after being requested to do so by gardaí, could also face a fine under a fixed penalty notice. Ha Ha Ha. About time.

I have to say, it’s just as well I’m not in charge of the world, because if it was me, then by this stage, given the devastation caused to families, businesses and the elderly by the virus and the super-spreading behaviour of the house party morons, I’d be happy to order the army to round them up, stand them against a wall and shoot them.

Someone told me this week that she was sick and tired of obeying the rules; all the rules and more. She wears a visor all day, her hands are chapped from constant use of sanitiser, she maintains strict social distancing, no longer attends her gym and hasn’t been out for a proper meal or a drink in months. Yet, she says, she sees others breach the protocols all around her while the media reports cases rocketing ever upwards.

Someone else related how she watched a fellow shopper being obscenely abused after asking another customer to wear a mask in a shop.

I watched a TV news report which revealed that second-level schools, which are knocking themselves out to keep their students and teachers safe and spending thousands on hand sanitisers and social distancing are hearing stories about family birthday parties and sleepovers being organised with the permission of parents. And now we hear that there’s been a rise in Covid cases in primary schools too.

Well, you know, if parents are hugger-muggering at the school gates at drop-off and collection and allowing sleepovers and birthday parties… what do you expect?

Next thing you know, you’ll see the schools all shut down, and the self-same parents will be whinging that they can’t work at home properly while trying to mind small kids, or can’t go to work at their essential jobs because they have childcare responsibilities.

And all as if the birthday parties and sleepovers and family gatherings in their homes had nothing to do with the rise in Covid, or schools. As if their behaviour has nothing whatsoever to do with vulnerable small and medium-sized businesses having to shut down again for an extended period.

Some of these aforesaid businesses, by the way, also experienced massive damage due to flooding in Cork city centre just before being forced into a lockdown for the second time.

The way I see it is, if you have any moral compass at all, you will do the right thing for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for your work colleagues and for everyone around you. That’s how you have to think about it. The government can’t wash your hands for you, as Tony Holohan said recently.

And I really don’t want to hear any more self-justifying guff about how “the Oirish” are this courageous, carefree, helplessly anti-authoritarian race which just won’t be told what to do, which just can’t recognise authority and which utterly refuses to “knuckle under” as if it’s some class of an admirable thing to break rules put in place specifically to keep everyone safe.

I’ll tell you what all that talk really sounds like when you take away the veneer of complacency and self-congratulation and self-righteousness in which some of us like to cloak our self-indulgence. It sounds like the Paddies are too thick and too selfish to see the wood for the trees.

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