Fintan O'Toole: Last week's hysteria shows politicians and judges need to get a grip

Sensible coronavirus advice prompts wild overreaction among establishment elites

Members of the  Dáil and  judiciary  completely have misinterpreted expert advice on  management of the coronavirus crisis. File photograph: Getty

Members of the Dáil and judiciary completely have misinterpreted expert advice on management of the coronavirus crisis. File photograph: Getty

Last week, two of the three principal arms of the State – the Dáil and the judiciary – morphed into drama queens. They completely misinterpreted expert advice on the management of the coronavirus crisis. The State had hitherto been good at projecting a sense of calm and at delivering clear and consistent messages to the public. Now, there was panic, not among ordinary citizens, but within the political and legal elites.

A garbled, alarmist version of this very specific advice then spread through the top layers of the State apparatus like fake news on social media

This story started with a very sensible piece of advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team. Fans of Star Trek will have understood it immediately: never put all your ranking officers on the same space shuttle. If you have a leadership team in close physical contact with each other, and one of them tests positive for Covid-19, they will all have to be tested and to self-isolate for 14 days. This could knock out the top management all at once. The advice, therefore, is: don’t have all your core management group in the same room for more than two hours at a time.

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