Diarmaid Ferriter: Island mentality and threat of infection

Offshore communities have mixed feelings about Covid-19’s geographic access

 Inis Mór: Our island communities have to be particularly careful of coronavirus.

Inis Mór: Our island communities have to be particularly careful of coronavirus.

Staring out at Clare Island and Inishturk Island from mainland Mayo last week, I thought of the observation of the late Tim Robinson: that if Ireland was intriguing as an island off the west coast of Europe, then its offshore islands were even more fascinating as “Ireland raised to the power of two”.

It’s an idea that carries even more weight in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. When historians come to assess the global response to the current public health crisis, how islands fared will make for interesting reading. There has been much interest in the success of New Zealand in taking advantage of its island status to lock down hard and fast with far-reaching and positive results. Yet the reappearance of the virus there this week is a reminder that even that fortress is not impregnable and there will be much debate about the appropriateness of using a sledgehammer to smash what appears not even a tiny nut by locking down Auckland again.

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