Leaks and U-turns


Sir, – Two weeks ago, Nphet’s recommendation was for a move to Level-5 for four weeks. All going well, that would have resulted in the country exiting “lockdown” at the beginning of November, thereby facilitating a good run-in to Christmas.

It has now been necessary for the recommendation to be for six weeks, meaning that restrictions will only ease at the beginning of December – potentially giving rise to a more chaotic pre-Christmas period and an increased risk of virus transmission.

There’s no perfection in this world, and genuine mistakes should be forgiven. However, that’s not what happened in this case.

The Government’s (rather than Nphet’s) lack of level-change execution plans was exposed a fortnight ago. Instead of acknowledging that reality, the Tánaiste, in particular, decided to play the men and women of Nphet rather than the ball, which he and his colleagues so clearly dropped. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 9.

Sir, – Is it now a part of being in Government that every major decision is leaked to the point that, when a formal announcement is made, everyone knows it in advance. This has been going on for a few years now. An example is budget day, which is now a non-event, with virtually no surprises.

The recent Government Covid plan is also a good example, with most of it leaked in advance. As for the announcement of the move to Level 5, we all could have written Micheál Martin’s speech for him in advance of the announcement.

This is all adding to the 24/7, day in and day out discussion and analysis about Covid. It is mixed with continuous media speculation, speculation about leaks and probably speculation about speculation. Have politicians never heard the phrase “less is more”?

The drip, drip leaking is getting beyond a joke. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

A chara, – It would become Leo Varadkar to overcome his arrogance and make a sincere apology to Nphet. – Yours, etc,



Baile Ãtha Cliath 5.

Sir, – The exponential growth of the coronavirus has now been surpassed by the exponential growth of Government arrogance.

Can any political figure just say, “We made a mistake. Nphet was right’”? – Yours, etc,


Dundalk, Co Louth.

Sir, – Pat Leahy advises us that the Government’s latest decision on Covid-19 restrictions is “a U-turn, whatever way you look at it” (“With dramatic Level 5 U-turn, Government weakens its own authority”, Analysis, October 20th).

But no matter how closely I look at the letter U, I can’t see a shape that represents the changes of recent weeks. A U-turn implies a reversal of direction, whereas the Government has progressively tightened restrictions from Level 2 to Level 3 nationwide and Level 4 regionally, and now Level 5. Always in the same direction. A J-turn possibly? – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – On October 4th, the National Public Health Emergency Team warned the Government the entire nation must be moved to Level 5 for a period of four weeks, in an urgent effort to contain a growing rate of Covid-19 infections. The Government ignored this warning and settled for reduced levels, while stressing concerns about the economy. Now the consequence of delay has struck. The Government is now required to apply Level 5 restrictions for at least six weeks in a belated attempt to curb the virus now at a much higher level of infections. The restrictions strike at a point when many businesses were hoping to start their Christmas season operations. A start of restriction in early October would have provided these firms more time to restart again. The end of the six-week period may prove to be a case of too little, too late. Medical experts do not provide warnings for the sake of aggravating people; they do it for the purpose of defending the health of the nation’s population. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.

Sir, – During a famous interview with RTÉ’s Claire Byrne on October 5th, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stated that 400,000 (and, later in the same interview, “half a million”) people would be made unemployed immediately following the imposition of Level 5 restrictions. Yet following the eventual announcement of Level 5 restrictions on October 19th, Mr Varadkar stated that the actual number unemployed would be 150,000.

This represents an enormous miscalculation in relation to his earlier estimate.

As Minister for Business, I would have thought Mr Varadkar should have a more firm grasp of the impact of Covid-19 restrictions, especially in light of his criticism of Nphet’s members for not considering the economic impact of their recommendations. Or perhaps instead he simply wanted to discredit a respected panel of medical experts? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.