Distance working or watching box-sets?


Sir, – I was interested to hear that Deputy Marc MacSharry was suggesting those public servants working from home were “lying on couches watching box-sets”. It has more recently been suggested that he was specifically referencing the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) (Marie O’Halloran, Home News, August 4th).

I had a communication from a member of the secretariat of Sipo on July 14th, urgently seeking information from me.

I rang the direct line, as it was a complex issue, but had to leave a voicemail.

I got an apologetic email the following day from the person, explaining he was working from home and, as there was a departmental IT failure, he did not have access to his files. He agreed to phone me at a later date, which he did, by appointment. The matter was resolved with a three-minute phone call. Had he been in his office, the file would still have been unavailable to him.

Having spent several weeks doing “tele-medicine” for health care workers who had contracted, or been exposed to, Covid-19 let me inform Deputy MacSharry that it is no easy task to change to distance-working. But it protects more people.

I feel the good deputy needs to take a step back and understand that Covid-19 is both deadly and, when not fatal, very disruptive of all aspects of human endeavour.

Those who make this country work should be lauded, not castigated. – Yours, etc,


Clinical Professor of

Emergency Medicine,

Trinity College Dublin,

Dublin 2.