Una Mullally: Six false narratives about Level 3 Covid restrictions

Narratives that get a lot of airtime such as ‘people don’t want a hard lockdown’ may not be true

Face masks and social distancing reminders in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Face masks and social distancing reminders in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Narrative 1: Avoiding a hard lockdown is about personal responsibility.

On Monday, Josepha Madigan - interviewed on RTÉ’s Drivetime - repeated over and over again that it all comes down to personal responsibility and the actions of the individual. Actually, Ireland entered this pandemic with a stretched health system with little capacity for crisis response. That does not seem to have changed in half a year. Of course the fundamentals of individual behaviour are paramount, everyone knows that, but lockdown is also about ICU capacity and general hospital capacity. The health system has been the elephant in the room from the get go, which is why you rarely hear politicians address its failings head on, as it’s easier to point to us.

Josepha Madigan - interviewed on RTÉ’s Drivetime - repeated over and over again that it all comes down to personal responsibility and the actions of the individual. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.
Josepha Madigan - interviewed on RTÉ’s Drivetime - repeated over and over again that it all comes down to personal responsibility and the actions of the individual. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

Narrative 2: People don’t want a hard lockdown.

Not true. The public are ahead (or behind, depending on your point of view) the politicians on this. The ESRI’s research shows that people are worried, but also ready and willing to take the hit on stricter measures. Some 40 per cent of people think the measures (before a national Level 3 lockdown was announced) were “insufficient” compared to 12 per cent in May. Just 7 per cent think government measures have been “too extreme”.

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