Restrictions and a weary public


Sir, – The Tánaiste’s suggestion that, like in 1967 due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain, people should not travel to Ireland at Christmas, is mind boggling for its complete lack of comparison and context.

Some 53 years ago, air travel was an adventure and limited to the few. The trip to London for the vast majority of those that made it was by boat and then the overnight train.

The notion of regular European weekend city breaks, shopping trips to New York, holiday homes all across the Mediterranean, and the relative ease with which long-distance travel is now undertaken would have been alien to the vast majority of people.

The fact that the Christmas break is now a minimum of a 10-day event for many would also have been laughable. New Year’s Day only became a public holiday in 1974.

The Tánaiste should be told (for he wasn’t born until 1979) that everyone today has greater expectations than existed in the Ireland of a single TV channel, “push button A” pay phones, two days off at Christmas, and no dual carriageways, let alone motorways.

If he is trying to motivate the population and those overseas longing to come home, he’ll need to be more creative and convincing in his messaging. – Yours, etc,


Mount Merrion,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Thank goodness for Jennifer O’Connell’s article on the slings and arrows of control inflicted by the State (“The Government’s speculation on Christmas is infantilising”, Opinion & Analysis, November 14th).

Sanity and courage at last in the face of Government rules imposed by Nphet. What a brave lady to express how we feel. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Whatever the rights and wrongs of expats coming home to Ireland for Christmas, the implication of “Thousands set to fly home for Christmas despite ‘recipe for disaster’ plea” (News, November 16th) is that those coming home will wilfully ignore – “set to disregard advice” is the term used – what is at present a widely reported comment from the chief medical officer, not rules nor even official advice.

Yet the basis for this claim is bookings on airlines, which could have been made either before or after the comments were made.

Given that airlines often make seats available a year ahead, and most people plan their Christmas travels months in advance, these bookings could even have been made before the pandemic.

In short, we do not know these people’s intentions, their motivations or whether they are even able to disregard something they may well not know about, given that, apart from a blessed few, they probably don’t have access to the running commentary on the topic in the Irish media. – Yours, etc,



A chara, – Never mind South William Street, you should see the carry-on in a certain park in Rathfarnham which shall remain nameless.

Rain, hail or shine, gangs of those aged 70 years or more descend on the place mid-mornings. Armed with stools and fisherman’s chairs and dressed unfashionably for arctic conditions, they sit in socially distanced groups of two or three, drinking coffee from flasks and takeaway mugs. With pointed glances at the “priority to cocooners” signs, they intimidate those of us who are younger, while they loiter, talking loudly and laughing raucously.

Surely this outrageous merriment in times of Covid should be discouraged! – Yours, etc,




Dublin 24.

Sir, – The recent growth in the numbers of coronavirus-infected people is worrying. It appears that this is driven predominantly by community transmission. Recent reports of large gatherings in cities suggest the situation will deteriorate rather than improve.

It also suggests that the public is getting weary. Indeed a recent media report on such gatherings claimed that the reason groups congregated was that they had no alternative social outlet.

The Government risks losing the support of the public and must act. Whatever restrictions we live with from the end of the month must be finessed to allow some greater freedoms that conform with Covid19 guidelines.

Circumstances where there is controlled access, contact tracing and social distancing is maintained will have to be permitted.

The Minister for Health defended blanket restrictions when Level 5 was introduced by saying that if an exception was made for one activity everyone else would want one.

I respectfully suggest that by making decisions based on the above principles, the Government would ameliorate the current concerns, dilute the incidences of close contact and make for a safer, heathier (both physical and mental) society for all. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – All the evidence points to increased viral spread indoors rather than outdoors.

Be careful what you wish for. If you ban takeaway pints and fine young people for drinking outdoors, please don’t be surprised when they move indoors. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Ireland sober is Ireland Covid free. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 8.