Time to stay steady and resolute about restrictions

Comment & Opinion

BRIGHTER DAYS AHEAD The usually busy main street in Knock, as seen at evening time on March 1, two months into the country’s third coronavirus lockdown. Pic: istockphoto/Simon Roughneen

THIS is not the time to crack under the prolonged pressures of the pandemic. It is not the time either to rebel against restrictions, throw our toys out of the pram. Whether we like it or not, the centre must hold now. We must trust our political processes, the integrity of our leaders, the expertise of Nphet.   
Otherwise, who will we be hurting? Only ourselves or our loved ones.   
We may be fatigued from the restrictions, frayed at the edges from the anxiety, but this is a time for hope, a time for staying steadfast.
The vaccines are being rolled-out, albeit slowly; albeit with some glitches. These teething problems will be resolved. The numbers being vaccinated will grow exponentially.  
Meanwhile, our most vulnerable citizens are becoming safer, day by day. Soon the loneliness of a nursing home room may be filled with familial chatter.
Our brave frontline health workers are less and less in danger of contracting this pernicious disease as they continue after a long, difficult year to care for the complex medical needs of their patients.

Protests and parties
THAT is why the scenes of some University of Limerick (UL) students partying on a street close to the college last week are so concerning. The fact that it happened just days after a rally in Dublin that turned violent and led to a number of injuries and arrests seriously exposes the fragility of society at the moment.
Not because there is any comparison between the two events. The first one clearly had sinister intent and an obvious element of thuggery, even if many of those who attended were simply protesting in good faith about various issues.
Whilst the scenes from Carysfort Avenue, College Court, Castletroy, last Tuesday night were less menacing, they were still disturbing, alcohol-fuelled and certainly frightening for local residents.
Apparently an ongoing issue with student behaviour in the area has been exacerbated by the lockdowns. That brings little comfort to those who are affected by such bad behaviour.   
Speaking afterwards, the President of UL, Professor Kerstin May said it is ‘a small minority among our 16,500 students who live off campus who are consistently ignoring government and institutional guidelines’. She said those students found to have flouted the university’s Code of Conduct would face disciplinary actions, including temporary suspension or even expulsion.
During these difficult times, don’t such outcomes have to be difficult for the parents of these students? What can they do? Lock young adults in their bedrooms? A zero-tolerance approach for such unruly gatherings must be adopted. But how is that implemented?  
We have prided ourselves as a nation on our level of compliance to date. Let us not crack at the seams now as the ‘game changer’ Johnson & Johnson one-jab vaccination –  which can be stored in a fridge – is due to be approved by the European Medicines Agency in the coming days.
The country’s upbeat Covid-19 guru, Professor Luke O’Neill, repeatedly urges us to stay the course, to keep compliant, to wear a mask, to stay socially distant, to wash our hands. He has likened the obverse to goading a World War I scenario.
“The best analogy is that it’s a bit like you get shot on November 11 in 1918 just before the war is ending.”
During these final weeks and months before the majority of us are inoculated with a vaccine, why not embrace the positives of the lockdowns?
After all the birds are busy singing in our treetops and the daffodils are blooming even better than ‘the golden hosts’ in William Wordsworth’s poem.