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Good morning, and you're very welcome to the show and papers dominated today, obviously by still the fallout from Phil Hogan and who should replace Phil Hogan. And, of course, covid-19 always with us.
The Irish Mail on Sunday has cabinet plans cracked down on student parties. And they're saying that college parties are expected to be the next major battleground in the fight against covid-19. So you might have thought the next major battleground was getting the testing and tracing. Right. Are getting our act together in general, but it's not.
It's students vs. students. The Sunday Times is leading with the European Commission or story. They're saying Coveney set to win battle for a Brussels post.
They do say in that piece there would be a degree of pushback from finagled grassroots members voicing concern that losing a big hitter from the domestic political scene.
There is a little trade around in some of the papers that Venezuela's who a lot of them didn't particularly want to go into government, but they were brought into government and led in by what somebody calls the three wise men and Pascal, Leo and Simon. I know Simon heading off to a big job in Europe and they're left there in government in the current situation that they might not be thrilled about that on the lead on the Sunday Times story that any other in different circumstances would probably be splashed across the front page.
UK shows no deal to trade over EU state aid rules. Lord Froths, Westminster's Brexit negotiator, has signaled his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, that he will recommend Britain leaves without a trade deal unless Brussels drops its demand that the UK aligns with its rules on state aid. You would have thought that the EU rules on state aid are a bit all over the place at the moment. Given that, given that governments are basically paying half the people's wages by bailing out companies left, right and center and everything else.
But it's that seems to be the sticking point right now.
The business post also has Kovno favourite for Europe astate bids to keep key portfolio. But they are saying in that story there is growing acceptance in both Dublin and Brussels that Ireland may also struggle to hold on to the powerful trade portfolio, no matter who is put forward from from the government. The Sunday Independent has a very, very powerful, very moving, but life affirming, I have to say, interview with and with parole. Geraldine Mallen, who lost her husband, John, and her son TMOS, and, of course, her daughter Amelia in that car crash at Loch Foyle.
And the headline there is Cherish Every Moment with your loved ones. And you know what? The Moreland's do sound like a family who did cherish every moment with their with their loved ones. The Irish Sunday Mirror, 14 days to stop Lockton two. And that was killing Degassing and talking on this program yesterday and the Irish Sun on Sunday. Joe's killer can't hide forever.
And that is the mother of Jodeci who you remember was a young Englishman who was killed when he was on holidays in County Mayo in 2017. The Sunday World has a Necla Talent exclusive, the cartel and Mittman. Right. So they're revealing how Kennan's last loyal lieutenant is now a dairy deliveryman as once mighty mob crumbles.
And I suppose there's a suggestion there that he's come down in the world that he's just delivering milk now. But to be honest, delivering milk is a far more noble thing than than what he was doing before, really. So he's come up in the world, if anything. And listen, just for a bit of perspective here and just just you know, we're all here in are in our kind of delusion.
I think most people think that the government have committed not to raise taxes ever kind of thing. I think they've made a commitment on income tax. But the Sunday Telegraph bombshell tax hikes to pay for vires. That's what's going on over in the UK. And I suppose not no harm to be reminded that this all will need to be paid for sometime now.
Our panel this morning, Jennifer Bray, our Times political reporter, Karen Murphy, head of the School of Law and Government in DC. You and you seem to Creighton, who's the CEO of American Consulting and former minister for European Affairs.
And that's our panel for the moment. And good morning and welcome to you all USINDO.
We'll start with you, because I suppose this Europe is your area of expertise and everything. And the former minister for European affairs and God knows we're having a lot of European affairs forced on us at the moment. Would you like first to address your mentioned in the mail on Sunday today as potentially the European Commission?
Or do you want to rule yourself out before we go any further? I don't know what my phone has not been hopping that way round. I think there are other more current political actors who are who are going to be in the frame.
OK, so do you agree with no date? The Sunday Independent is still kind of toting. Marie McGuinness, do you agree with the general consensus here that Simon Coveney is going to be. The man for the job, I think so, and I suppose it's a difficult one for Simon, I think, frankly, if Simon Coveney had shown an interest in the role a year ago, he probably would have become Ireland's commissioner for a variety of reasons.
But I think he wasn't interested. Simon's focus is very much on domestic politics, and I'm sure he has some ambitions in terms of domestic politics for the future whenever the current regime ends.
And I'm sure that won't be anytime soon. I'm not speculating about that at all.
So, you know, I think he has been you see, some people would say he's gone as far as he can go here now and that he would head off to Europe.
And I'm sure you think he's still ambitious, but I'm sure he wouldn't agree with that. And I'm sure many of his supporters wouldn't wouldn't agree with that for one second. But, you know, he's been sort of thrust into this position now. Nobody expected, you know, two weeks ago that that, you know, our sort of our heavy hitting trade commissioner would suddenly no longer be a commissioner. So it's a most unusual circumstance, one that was not foreseen.
And the Irish government, if it has, is to have any prospect of holding on to, you know, a significant role in the commission, trade or otherwise, has to send somebody with, you know, extensive executive experience and Simon cogency executive experience that rules out Murray McGuinness then probably I mean, if you look at all of the commissioners who are either executive vice presidents, vice presidents, or hold economic portfolios, they're all either former prime ministers, former cabinet ministers.
If there is a very obvious person to some people that we should be sending and that would be your friend, Leo Varadkar.
Well, I mean, Leo ticks all of the same boxes are Simon Coveney in that sense. You know, he's been he's been thishow he's been a cabinet minister in a number of portfolios. So, frankly, either or, you know, anybody who might be interested in going, I don't know.
I don't at all. I think Leo is interested in returning to the office of a.. I think he he's already said that in the last few days. I think significantly, Simon Coveney has not ruled himself out in the last couple of days and obviously is actively considering it. And I think, you know, from a national interest point of view, it makes sense that Simon Coveney would, you know, would accept the nomination from the government. And and then it's up to ourselves, von der Leyen.
And I think we have to be clear that ultimately it's her call as to what portfolio our new commissioner will receive. And it may not be trade, unfortunately.
Do you think Arcelor 109 is feeling well disposed towards Ireland right now?
I would say she's feeling a little bit irritated by Ireland, I would imagine. And I think, you know, this is a distraction that she and the commission could have done without for the last few weeks. So not in the mood to reward. Not in the mood? No, I wouldn't think so. I would imagine she's feeling quite frustrated. You would rather have concentrated on the agenda, the work programme of the commission, which is a pretty extensive work programme, and it was already an extensive work programme before covid-19 hit.
And, you know, I think, you know, it's seen certainly in Brossel circles that Ireland did extremely well to to win the trade portfolio in the first place. It is one of the most coveted roles. And Ireland being a pro enterprise, small, open economy, you know, for many of the larger member states who are less enthusiastic about global trade, we were not the natural, you know, member states to hold that portfolio. There was quite a bit of resistance and it was, you know, genuinely and I wouldn't have always seen eye to eye with Phil Hogan, you know, to sort of put it probably mildly over the years.
Did you hang around at all? No. Well, we wouldn't have been political allies, we put it that way. But, you know, in fairness to Phil Hogan, you know, he is somebody who proved his worth in the commission over the previous five years.
And it was very much related to the individual that that appointment, you know, having somebody who was a second term commissioner, who was seen to have done a good job in the agriculture portfolio, you know, somebody who was seen that he'd been involved in Merkies or in other trade negotiations as a commissioner, he was somebody who was who was understood to be a political operation.
Was it foolish of Liveright criminal Martin in their name and trying to come out so quickly and and kind of put Europe in the position of saying, we want rid of this guy?
Well, look, I understand where they were coming from. I mean, the government has had a torrid time for the last few months. You know, a government needs moral authority when it's imposing huge restrictions on on its population.
And I think the whole of the antics around the golf dinner had a massively negative implications for the governance.
So I understand where they were coming from, you know, but that's not to say that there aren't significant negative consequences for Ireland arising from their actions.
OK, Gary Murphy, former. Do you think? Well, I think the government could have clear the separation of powers argument that they played for Seamus, Wolf, they could have simply said, look, the commissioner is the commissioner and we can't interfere because this is the sort of underlines decision and we're not really in a position to play with what to make of the commission, notwithstanding the sort of idiotic appearance Arthur Clifton of the commissioner on his fumbling attempts and over the following week to explain his his Eclectica travel itinerary.
So they certainly could have played that card. But he came out straightaway. We had our O'Brien and Morning Ireland calling for the minister for the commissioner excuse me, to resign. And then you had to metaphorical gun to the head to the commission to say, we have no confidence in our commissioner.
I mean, if I was in front position, would you be would you be looking at it at all? No, probably not. And I would be very concerned. And if I was Simon Cornhole of whoever, you would run the risk of being nominated and ending up as was a Michael Kennedy was in charge of personnel, you know, and you could be far more important to be at the Brexit coalface. I would.
I wonder, we got a snapshot, I think, of the European view of this when Claire Daley made or has mentioned to say, I think a lot of people thought it was quite extraordinary.
You say you weren't you wouldn't have been a political ally of Phil Hogan. We would have imagined you send Claire Daley was much less of a political ally. Did you see that?
I did see it on Friday morning and said she was baffled that Logan couldn't do what he did. Yeah, I thought it odd.
I mean, as long as we're clear, I was very eloquent and fluent and whatnot. But bemusement, I think, would have bemused many people in Ireland. I mean, the reality about to Phil Hogan issue in relation to his attendance at Clifton was that it was a spectacular misreading of the regulations. But B, of the public mood when he didn't come out on Friday, I steer clear he didn't know and apologise. I made a statement on Friday and just just to finish.
And I mean, the reasonable point you did make was, you know, that there are different travel regulations.
But Phil, she walked away and she said that MEPs are going back and forth willy nilly Irish MEPs to Ireland.
They're getting a call test. When we saw Kealoha that this is accepted in Europe and they've basically been told what we saw being the case.
We saw Billy Keller turn up at the inauguration of the government and the T at. But there's a more fundamental point, it seems to me, is that you have to have trust in your politicians to do the right thing. The idea that Phil Hogan got his advice from the Citizen Information Bureau, it just spectacularly like odd to put it. And while you would have thought that he would have an adviser to say this is the rule in Ireland, this is the rule in Belgium, this is the rule in Portugal.
So I then pointing out Tony Connolly, I mean, it just showed all the arrogance of the with all due respect to a little sended of the political elite and he's fallen on his sword, is that it is about gender.
There are the optics of the arrogance of a political elite.
Yeah, I think I think it was I think if he had to come out earlier and issued a more fulsome apology because his first statement was not an apology and explained his movements in detail and basically come clean on his itinerary, things would have been different and the public anger would have still been there. There would have still been all of that visceral reaction that we saw that wouldn't have changed, but the political reaction might have changed. So what happened was over the weekend, you had Mehar Martin and Leo Varadkar dealing with what they called a changing narrative.
And, you know, when they're faced with a situation where they feel they're not getting the full facts, how can they give their confidence to Phil Hogan? How can they put their their half behind him?
So there's a suggestion somewhere in the papers today that there was a fear the country would become ungovernable. If you do something about it, is that what they were thinking, do you think?
From from people that I've spoken to, I suppose a cabinet level, there was a real fear that if they said that this was OK for Phil Hogan to come in to not follow quarantine rules, to move in and out of lockdown counties, to go to dinners that other people were given, the sacrifices that everybody else has made, that if they said that was OK and that they if they accepted his excuses that the whole public health response would breakdown, that people would say, well, if he did it, why can't I?
If he can go to a function where to people, then I'm going to have my wedding with 70 people or I'm going to go to a party, a house party with 30, or I'll have ex-wives that over at my barbecue. And that would be catastrophic.
But you could say the same for the Supreme Court judge. You know, the same could be said for him. He sits in the highest court in the land, which makes decisions which affect all our lives, you know, from Europe to to morality to to planning, to all sorts of matters that are still in train, that are still being dealt with at the moment.
And the difference there is that that's a situation that's dealt with outside of the public glare of in politics. The politicians are accountable to the people who elect them or to people who are unaccountable. No, I'm not saying that. And actually, in fact, maybe they are, because we've seen now that there's a. Very there's one resolution that's been totally untested in the doll in China to remove a judge, it's never been used, never been tested. And the other mechanism is through a judicial process which hasn't been enacted and wasn't enacted by the last government.
So, yeah, maybe there is right now a complete lack of accountability.
Gary, you were looking at Shane Ross, who, of course, has has a dog in this race. He's writing in the Sunday Independent today. And he said separation of powers is a mere flag of convenience as well.
Well, there's no horse high enough that he won't climb on, it seems to me. But he but he does make the point, which a few major during the week, that there is not there are no rules.
And these guys are like you talk about the country being ungovernable. The judges are on government.
The answer to nobody and I heard a man with Caravana during the week make the same point. And to be fair to him, his efforts at reforming judicial accountability within the Cabaniss world were met with a hostility, to put it mildly. I was very interested when he tweeted during the week about the launch of his book in October and pejoratively titled In Bed with the Blueshirts at the Charlie Flanagan riposted that this would be the best work of fiction to be seen in the winter in DeWinter title.
So you can see there is no love lost still. But his article today is very forceful and it's very well-made that there does seem to be one rule for the political elite and for everybody and a separate rule for the judiciary. It's something that a lot of people have been concerned about for a long time. And Jennifer is quite right. The last government did everything in its power not to to reform the way judges are appointed. But I'm not convinced that I'm not convinced a political appointment really then translates to how Judge operates on the bench.
No, I think I think in fairness, there's very little evidence that judges do behave politically on the bench. But I mean, I do think that this this question in relation to the Supreme Court judge will rumble on. It's not inconceivable that it would lead to a constitutional crisis down the road if it's not dealt with appropriately.
And frankly, you know, these issues never really arise in relation to the judiciary, because any time previously where there has been a scandal of these types of proportions, the judge has resigned.
That's what has happened. So it's quite unusual that this is that we now have a scenario where there's an investigation by a retired judge, etc. It's most unusual.
And there's the further question here, which is that, you know, whatever about former Rockfest members, including Phil Hogan, who is a former rockiest member and, you know, in fairness, has been part of the practice of society for many, many decades. As far as I'm aware. I don't know. I don't play golf. I've never been to it.
But what a Supreme Court judge was doing there in the first place, irrespective of Kovács, the word that is used is like the way they used to call people convivial before. You know, we keep hearing he's sociable, a sociable to a fault completely.
But then it seems that a lot of judges are not sociable. A lot of judges basically do give up having any kind of a social life.
Plenty of them are sociable. But but you can you can socialize privately. But attending a formal practice, golfing, outing, the formal Iraq does golf outings.
It's nothing to do with the with the government or anything. No, no. And it's you know, it's a lot of people said it's a bunch of old offers like Alec Addus.
They're not exactly the cutting edge of politics and plenty of planty.
I mean, obviously, some people exercise their judgement on this occasion. Well, plenty of serving rock. This members attend those golfing outings and retired members, they you know, it's it's it's not it's not unusual for serving members to to participate and to be actively involved. There's a rotating captaincy and all the rest of it like any golf society. But it is not normal.
It's the dinner rather than the golf.
And I mean, I was quite struck with James Woods first forced entry into the public fray after it appeared where he said he ended off and said, no, I'm sorry, you say it enough for me.
You know that I'm happy to play golf. But, you know, like, separation of powers goes both ways, really.
It seems to me that's been missed.
And former District Court Judge Hossie was on again with ClearPoint going to be making the point that, you know, once you're up to bench, you stop socialising with barristers and you should stop social because they appear before you and you say stop socializing with politicians a little bit like the count out of the dole, who, you know, has this private dining room in Huster is a place to go and eat alone, doesn't go into the dole bar any longer.
Any lunch with the. Absolutely. And and that's a convention that's been there for. And that's because once you become can call off the dole, you you know, you become impartial and you're supposed to treat all of your colleagues in the same fashion, irrespective of their political party, etc..
Jennifer, you were looking at Pat Roberts piece today in the business because the public don't have a taste for blood. They're hungry for leadership.
But he's making the point that what's underpinning all this is that the government is weak and he had cold and supine to public anger. Is he's right.
He he says so was this to do with the government being weak and getting spooked by a bit of public anger, whereas. Government that wasn't all over the place would have been able to ride it out. To be honest with you, I think it's a bit of both. I think they were absolutely spooked by the public anger. And I think anybody who has kind of followed the news over the last week or two would agree that the outpouring of anger has been unlike anything we've seen in years and years.
And it's pent up frustration that people have for months and months are forgoing social activities, maybe having loved ones passed away, like it's a real human visceral emotion. And it's been building up. And this was basically the straw that broke the camel's back. So they could feel that they could see that. But I wouldn't I read Pat Roberts piece, a very interesting piece, and he did say that he felt the government were cowed by in the face of public anger.
I don't think that story goes back to Liveline, but are we now into government by Labor?
I don't think so, no, because I think there is a key difference here. I think I mean, I'd be the first person to criticize the government and say that they've been shambolic over the last few weeks. Communications have been absolutely awful. But in this particular instance, the only person who is responsible for the downfall of Phil Hogan, in my opinion, is Phil Hogan. He's the person who went to the dinner. He's the person who travelled in and out of lockdown, cold air for whatever reasons.
And he's the person who people had to drag the information out of. As journalists, you're supposed to persist in the face of resistance. It's not easy to get that information. He shouldn't have been that way. And that's the difference we did.
We had to get it from random holiday makers who were I mean, we were that we were getting thousands. I was have people tweeting me and emailing me and saying he was seen here. He was seen there. It was like, where's Wally? It was unbelievable. And it was getting to the bottom of it was really, really difficult. And that's what I think the difference is here. The difference is his situation is not just the dinner, it's everything else that happened and it's the explanations and it's how it came out.
And at the end of the day, what really happened was he lost the faith of the person of his employer, Ursula von der Leyen.
He eroded that trust and she couldn't trust him any more at that point very strongly that he lied to his female boss, Roberts.
And you can see that she in the first few days, she tried to she wanted a report. She wanted details. She was taking her time. She wanted a full assessment. And she was really not doing anything particularly hasty in relation to this. But it was clear at the end of the day, he had no choice. He had to go.
OK, Lucinda, just just one more note on this.
You were looking at David Quin's piece in the Sunday Times today, holding out the decent dog politics.
Do you feel that he makes the point that now you know?
No, I don't think there are too many people arguing that, you know, Phil Hogan behaved that decently in this situation.
But do you feel that this kind of thing is going to stop good people from wanting to go into politics?
Which is the point David Crean's making.
His piece is interesting. I suppose it has some parallels with Pat Roberts kind of thought process as well. And he cites Elmar Brok, a now retired German MEP who's a long serving CDU member of European Parliament. And he said, look, born during the. Exactly. And and and Brooke was making the point that in Germany also prominent politicians have been found to break covid guidelines, etc., but they were given a second chance. So, David, Quin's point is, well, you know, maybe we shouldn't be so hasty to force people to resign as the first first step that perhaps somebody should be given a second chance.
Now, you know, Verheugen probably have possibly not necessarily drawn to that to that point.
But I mean, there is a question. I mean, everybody has been saying are necessary, not everybody. But, you know, a team over the last week has been you know, this is the new era of accountability in politics.
You know, and I certainly would like to see more accountability in politics. We've you know, we've had situations in the past where tribunal findings have effectively been ignored, where, you know, where members of parliament have been convicted of tax fraud and there have been zero consequences, a toothless motion of censure in the dole, and that's that. And those people then go on to support governments and have governments rely on on their votes, etc. and, you know, where is the accountability there?
So, you know, I think I think, you know, having a clearer code of ethics and perhaps levels of accountability in terms of of censure, in terms of other consequences for politicians, maybe not necessarily always resignation and a head on a plate, but other types of of of punishment that's not really ever been thought through, I think.
Well, I think one of the issues is it's not just about accountability. It should be about leadership. And I think David Quinn misses the point here. And we expect our politicians, particularly this time of crisis, to lead. And that was certainly happening, I think, during the teeth of the Lockton. Now, maybe it was easier because we were all sort of cocooned in our homes. We can only walk two kilometres and whatnot. And it's much more difficult now.
And there's a bit of ennui with everybody because of the, you know, the strange times. And but I think there are I think politicians. To lead, and I think what we saw clearly last Thursday week or Wednesday week, whatever it was, was a spectacular failure to lead by by those who went to that dinner. And I think the accountability comes with our leadership should come with accountability. And I'm not sure he got that point himself today.
In one way, he's right. We want good people in politics, like I'm in favor of politicians being well-paid because you want the best people to go in to make a difference, to lead us. And I think that's what's missing here.
Gary, just before we leave this, you looked at Jodi Cochrane's piece today and did the Independent, didn't you? Varadkar as Europe, as big failed plots, revenge. So like there is there is a thread of story here in the sense that big field would be viewed as the one field organ I should call him.
Phil Hogan would be viewed as the one who basically backed Leo Varadkar for the leadership and was decisive in getting it for him. And he's done that kind of thing before. And that would have been a sense that he, you know, Leo Automan and Leo Turner.
Will have revenge. Yeah, that's an interesting piece.
And there's a bit of Jordan meeting with with Phil in the key club years ago, a big, big fella who very interesting because as Lucinda would know well, of course, he was the person in 2010 who stem the tide away from from Enda Kenny and saw Richard, Richard Bruton and Lucinda, Leo Varadkar and others who were keen to take Enda Kenny out.
I don't think that's being too pejorative, saying take him out because, you know, the election was looming and whoever was Leader Phenergan was going to be at teacher then. He was, as far as we can tell, was very important in the 2017 election of Leo Varadkar as leader of Phenergan and subsequently Tea Sugar. And I think that was important. What you read right at the start of the program, Brendan the Grassroots and Feen again because remember, they voted for Simon Coveney convincingly voted for Simon Coveney.
But the point here but the point he makes about Varadkar is that, you know, where else he's been tesha to this done this already.
And, you know, it's a well-paid position and both and ultimately makes the point that if he's in Europe, Israel, well, he can call me. Yeah, exactly.
And Phil Hogan is inevitable revenge, but I'm not sure what that what that revenge would actually look like, particularly if Leo was hiding in Europe.
I have to say, I do think that the notion that Leo Varadkar has Phil Hogan to thank for becoming leader of finical is a complete overstatement. Is it a complete. OK, all right. All right.
We just got one more for you basically to read. Lucinda staying with us and Gary Murphy and Jennifer Grey. Let's take a quick break.
Brendan O'Connor on our TV Radio One. Welcome back. No, we had this situation last week where we were getting a lot of text telling us that it would be an own goal to to to to not have Phil Hogan out in Europe.
So it seems today there are, as far as I can see, from text five one five five one. There are several campaigns on the go today for everyone from Maureen McGuinness would be an excellent commissioner in the EU. And she knows, like the back of her hand says says one texta in the national interest. Leo Varadkar should go to Brussels, says another Liz O'Donnell. Our Mary Harney says another force, Lucinda. There is there is a bit of momentum behind your campaign.
Israel Overland Clark says it's so refreshing to hear Lucinda Creighton on the airwaves. She'd make a great commissioner herself, a super dealer. And we need intelligent women like her in government to make to make positive changes. So there you go. All the campaigns are today. Now. So Lucinda Creighton, Gary Murphy and Jennifer Bray still with us. And we're joined now on the line by Mary Favore, who is president of the Irish College of GPS and also a member of Nafez.
Good morning, Mary. Mary, you I thought you kind of calmed the nation very well the other night, I think at the evening briefing about the going back to school. And, you know, you talked quite colloquially about, you know, if the kid has a snotty nose, some kids have kind of its snotty nose is endemic with them. Send them in. And then but then there was kind of, I guess, three levels and there was a level four, keep them at home.
And then there was a level four where they should get tested now. Can I ask you about a kind of buried in a piece that Daniel Bryan has in the Sunday business post today? She says a new algorithm issued to GPS last week stated that the entire family of a child sent for covid-19 testing would have to isolate in advance of the result in an indication of the disruptive influence. She she also says, though, that OK, so it is known that young children often have a persistent core children with a black nose, a runny nose, but no fever can attend school or child care.
Right. So so far. That's the gist of what you were saying the other night. Now, if they need passes, one are ibuprofen for their symptoms are pretty smart, which would cover Calpol just for anyone who snore paracetamol.
And if you need to give the child Calpol, they must not attend school for 48 hours. And testing may be indicated. Right. And then it goes on to say that even if the virus so if there is testing and even if the virus is not detected, the child must isolate for 48 hours after symptoms resolve, the algorithm qualifies and then that in this case, the family could also end up isolating. And I think that, like I think some parents are going to be kind of slightly surprised to hear that it sounds a little bit more disruptive than what you were saying the other night.
Can you clarify on that for us?
Well, the first thing is about the calmness, I think it's the role of us as general practitioners to try and be as calm as possible and to apply the evidence as best as possible. And this new algorithm that's being developed has been the result of work done by the faculty of pediatrics, the Department of Health, Public Health, the Irish College of GP's, working over the summer knowing that we needed to be winter ready. So this went live on Tuesday morning and we held an education webinar for a GPS on Monday night that had over 2000 answers.
And we'll have them weekly from now on. It's OK.
So if it continues, if a kid's needs of the they do not attend school for 48 hours and testing may be indicated, correct?
Yeah, well, no. The algorithm says that if you have a sustained temperature of more than 38, 38 degrees, you should not go to school and isolate your stay away for 48 hours, consult your general practitioner if you're concerned. And the point is made that if you've needed to give your child Calpol or Ibuprofen to get the temperature down, that child still needs to isolate and stay home for 48 hours and consult your GP. It's it's to to prevent you as well as we've done before.
I mean, we as parents, I did it myself. Sure. They'll be all right. We'll see how they go during.
And they need to stay. Yes. Yes. They need to stay at home for another 48 hours, another two days after the symptoms have resolved.
That's in the absence of other tests.
That's the standard advice for anybody who gets any form of symptoms of respiratory type nature is you need to be well for 48 hours before you return out into the work or into public social engagement. So what we're trying to get at here is that lots of children, as you point out, have runny noses and constantly wiping the noses on their sleeve all winter. But those children are if they're otherwise well, they can go to school. It's new symptoms of a new sustained temperature of thirty eight, new cough and shortness of breath.
And in the older child, a child who tells you that they can't taste their food or things smells strange, and a child who might have a regular respiratory issues, but they've become worse than usual. Sadio, the asthmatic who deteriorates or any child who's in contact with somebody else who's ill, that there's another family member. We're saying they potentially need testing and they should all stay stay home from school and contact should be made with the general practitioner. So and then the runny nose kids who's well can go to school.
Otherwise, we need to be that bit cautious. So this is a different winter. Kids have gone back to school as normal, but it's not normal.
And listen, just to clarify for me, at any child that is indicated for testing, then that whole family has to stay at home and isolate until they get a result on that test, correct? Yes.
So the child and the immediate family members restrict their movements so that so does that test indicated because of somebody in the school or the bubble having covered?
That means that if whoever is whoever is deemed a contact in that school, their families are all out until they get a test which could get a result.
This advice applies to an individual child who is sending for covid testing. The GP will give the family member that advice, then they need to self isolate. So if you have to if there's a positive result in a school, public health will then give the appropriate advice to the school and the other and the parents of other children, whether it's an pot or a bubble or a classroom, about what needs to be done next and whether self isolation of the wider family member network is given.
And that will be dependent on the individual cases. The reality is that if children have been getting covid across the summer, very few of them in Ireland, but they have. And the evidence is that schools are a relatively low risk environment. And the evidence that while it's limited because there haven't been many kids going to school over the summer internationally, that its children bring covid into schools rather than get it at school. So we need to be vigilant for the symptoms, but the average child can continue to go to school.
All right. Stay with us, Mary, because there's a few other things I want to talk to you about. Lucinda, do you have children going to school?
Yeah, tomorrow morning I have my six year old starting first class and I have my little boy is starting Montessori. Yeah. Are you feeling optimistic about it?
I'm I'm absolutely optimistic about getting the out the door to school. I just. Who knows. I mean, who knows how long it'll last or you know, I suppose everybody's a little bit trepidations at the moment. But I have to say the principal in my daughter's primary school and the head of the Montessori have been phenomenal. I mean, the communication, the preparations have been outstanding. So I'm hugely impressed. I think every precaution, every measure has been taken.
I feel very reassured by that. Yeah. My son's been back increased since June. So, you know, I suppose I'm kind of you know, we've we've had absolutely no problems with with the crash side of things.
So, you know, I'm very hopeful that it'll it'll sort of work out and that. Things will stay relatively calm, there's a great piece by Priscilla Lynch in the business post today, which just goes through the experience in Europe today. And, you know, the fact that, you know, the reopening of schools and most places have been much quicker than to reopen our schools. You know, they've not been associated with any significant increase in cases, some exceptions to that.
But broadly speaking, across the board, across a range of member states, there has not been a spike connected to school reopening. So, you know, I'm I'm very hopeful.
Yeah. Mary Xavier, would you kind of go along with that? Yes, and I think the issue of information is really important that parents see your schools have been excellent and school principals and teachers and if you're getting your information from a good source, is really important. So the U.S. has very good information on its back to school data service. There's information, there's translation services through the World Service covid-19 service, which provides translation into 30 languages for parents sending their children back to school with all this advice on it rather than conjecture and rumor.
Because, I mean, it's very hard. I think it's really important that we acknowledge the anxiety that the parents have. You know, this is this is a difficult challenge. But as a society, we also appreciate the absolute importance of our sending our children back to school, that they there will be more active. They will need to consult their general practitioners. And so we will have a busy winter and we would ask people to be patient with that because, you know, it's a busy time.
Yeah, yeah. Moving on to tittered level, you saw the stories in the Sunday independent Israelis saw the front of the mail today.
This notion that the battleground is moving on to student priorities now and all that kind of thing. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, I think the evidence is that it's it's close contact in home environments. It's largely been causing the outbreaks in the clusters and the young people who congregate more, they do indeed have more contacts. But the biggest contacts, for instance, you, is in sporting activities where young people congregate around and after sporting activities. So it's not the sport itself, it's the socialization that goes with it. So indeed, there have been lots of house parties across the summer.
But the reality is we need to acknowledge that the vast majority of young people like the population are responsible and careful. And I know know the restrictions. So I think we need to be careful that we don't, you know, be pejorative about young people. They have actually suffered the most in terms of all the restrictions and on all the real heavy lifting in terms of the knock to them. And I think they're doing a good job and we need to keep that in mind.
OK, Mary, I'm going to bring in Jennifer. Jennifer, you were looking at local news piece today. And look online is is you know, we kind of rely on him to be quite optimistic in general. And he ends on an optimistic note, but he's basically saying that there's a hard winter ahead, isn't he? He is indeed.
And I think he's making the point that it would be foolish not to prepare for for what is inevitably coming down the tracks. And there are a few things that that struck me after reading it, that sort of stick out like a sore thumb in relation to our planning, in relation to where we're at. And that will be the lack of extra capacity in our hospital system to deal with not only the normal flu cases, which completely overwhelm the hospital system every winter anyway.
Combine that with it with the COVA cases, because in the briefing note prepared for Stephen Donnelly, when he took up as minister for Health, there was a warning buried away in the end that given the need to socially distance and given the need to reduce the capacity in hospitals, we could be looking at a reduction or a shortfall of four thousand seven hundred beds out of a baseline of around 11000 beds. That's absolutely huge. So what we need to see now is a winter plan that not only addresses where the capacity is coming from, but addresses how we're going to scale up our testing and tracing system because there seems to be blockages throughout that system that nobody so far has been able to properly explain.
And there are other issues as well which would kind of stand out city west. Obviously, we know that was a facility for people to go into isolation and for that extra capacity should there be an extra surge that contract is due to. And there's been a lot of controversy about the cost of it. And then there still isn't a deal in relation to the private hospitals. We still don't know which private hospitals will give out their extra capacity. Will it be individual hospitals?
Will there be will there be a group agreement? So we have a really long way to go in terms of what we're hearing from the government about how prepared we are at this point in time. You'd be anxious looking at it. You'd be anxious looking at the winter ahead. So there's a huge job and I think Mary pointed out there, but the the need for proper communications, the need to feel that we are getting your message from is a trustworthy source and a reliable source.
And from my perspective, from covering the various corporate communications from the government over the last few weeks, it has been sorely lacking.
OK, Mary, in terms of that, in terms of let's take the point of the health service and winter and everything from what we are dealing with, a chronically under-resourced health service, both in the acute hospital setting with Jennifer as well, elaborated there, but also in the general practice community setting where we're short 10 percent of GP's as we as we start the winter, which is a long standing problem of needing to increase training and resourcing into general practice and GPS that had the busiest August ever.
And this is supposed to be the time that it's usually our quietest time. So we there's a certain trepidation out in the general practice community that it's always historically taken about a week to get an appointment with me. It's now running out towards two weeks. So there's a real capacity issue. And now we have been working with the U.S. to do that. But there needs to be an acknowledgement that holding up our general practice service is going to be vital to not knock on into our services, see something like twenty seven million consultations a year.
You only need the tiniest fraction of an uplifting referral to emergency departments to overwhelm them. So we have to keep our GP's upright and those services upright. And for the patients out there who need will need to contact their GP's more often now because of all these running unwell children wondering do they need activities? We will need to be patient and we will need to try and really prioritize that service. So I think Luckly makes a very good point. We need to be prepared.
Yeah, absolutely. Listen, there's something else I wanted to ask you about, which is that Rachel Lavonne in the business today has a piece as a statistician whose name escapes me right now.
Jennifer, you were looking at it, but he's basically making the point that Rashon Sorry, Cauldwell. Caron's He's making the point that you rashaun more rational standards to to close contacts a day and that basically that would keep the virus in abeyance modeling or whatever.
We've heard the word rationing used a lot in the last week. And I suppose in reality a lot of people have created bubbles over the past six months and they tend to see the same small group of people all the time.
But is that becoming more explicitly the kind of common sense advice now for for the winter, which is that you just limit the number of people you're hanging out with?
I think so. And effectively, most people have done that. They have their close family members say, to four, six people and they may have their close work colleagues that they do their best to socially distance with if they must go out to work. And then a very limited number of social context, which up to now has been sort of in the garden and across the garden fence and the challenges as we move indoors now in the winter, that that we have to limit the number of people and we need to remember all the other things, which is the hand hygiene people forget that washing your hands and not touching your face is the most important thing we can do.
And the continuing these measures across the winter would probably be social distancing is probably the most important thing we can do and will assist our health services as we try and get through to next March or April and have made some indent into managing the pandemic.
Is there going to be fast track testing for schools?
Are not there there at the moment the children are being tested through the standard procedures and that that generally has, from a GPS point of view, will get will you get a test usually on the same day or early the next day with another day generally to the result, there is some discussion whether there should be a way of fast tracking the children testing, and that's up for discussion and hasn't been decided yet. But it's a possibility and exciting thing.
Rapid testing coming. I know there's a lot of products out there. And, you know, you hear of 15 minutes here and there and and then you hear nothing else about them. Is that something that's going to be coming on stream in reality?
In reality, slowly, because they are one of the reasons you hear about them for 50 minutes and then they disappear, is that their reliability and the ability to replicate the results repeatedly is not good. And so the test phase again, so we have to stick to the absolute standard, reliable test that we know have an evidence behind them. So unfortunately, we we have this set of tests and know if something new and better comes along. Yes, indeed.
The organized effort and the Department of Health will look at that. But at the moment, the most important thing people can do is as soon as they get symptoms that they consider, could this be covered? The slight sore throat, the runny nose, the slight cough, something that they would have in the past, waited a day or two and even gone to work with in the day to say, now, don't go to work, ring your general practitioner, because if in doubt, we will send somebody for a KOVA test.
There's this testing capacity and testing turnaround's is still quite fast and it's better that we find every case of the virus.
So are on the side of caution, even if you're kind of thinking, oh God, do I want to get into. The whole family are going to be isolated, et cetera, et cetera. You have to just you have to just do it. Yeah, you have to just do it. And it also raises the issue is that there's some evidence that people are feeling a certain amount of stigma about having covered and would almost prefer not to know because they feel blame about getting a diagnosis.
Well, I think if you get it yourself, you feel unlucky. But if someone else gets it, they were obviously careless.
Weren't exactly in the early days when so many people had it, there was no shame in it. Now there's an element of what you must have done something wrong. It's a very infectious virus. And so there is no there's no shame, no single stigma. It's really important we get out there and test. And it's an important thing that we don't judge other people if they become covid positive because it does happen. And it's much better that we find the cases early and track down their close contacts.
And on the subject of close contacts, if people are deemed to be a close contact, is that they do then go and get the testing that public health suggests and answer their phone when when they they're called with the results, because that's some of the things that are slowing down.
The contact tracing is like other people can ring back or text back either if they missed the call to wait for the call to come again. If somebody wants another person to their contact tracing list, they can't get in touch to do that.
There are some issues around that and they do need to be addressed. There needs to be a better texting service that gives us because we as general practitioners are getting patients ringing us, saying that they they know they've been contacted, but they haven't been able to hear from public health again. And could we organize the time and that's it. Yes, but they're being worked on and and but it does need to improve.
Favorite. Thank you very much for that clarity. Thank you. We'll take a break. Brendan O'Connor on our TV Radio one, when I come back, Jennifer Bray, Gary Murphy and Lucinda Creighton still with us. Text or text to five one five five one to say so.
Judges shouldn't play golf or dinner with too many people. What else should they be forbidden from doing going to the tears or watching football match going to mass? Heaven forbid they should actually meet other people. I don't think anyone was suggesting that. But you I think you have a point there texta that. There is a lot of complaints that judges kind of can be a little bit out of touch with real life sometimes. And Eckner emails to Brendan in order to try to say, please stop advertising.
Calpol the paracetamol based liquid that should be mentioned as there are other products out there. And there are indeed are there are there are paracetamol based liquids out there.
No, we it's funny how how how many times in recent weeks we've got through the whole hour we're talking about the economy as if it doesn't matter. But I think the economy is slowly starting to to start screaming out loud from the papers.
Gary, you were looking at there's a very clear piece today from tiebacks chief economist in the business about the cake shaped recovery we could be facing.
Yeah, Rachel Irwin has a piece with Caulton, Gerard Brady, Ebix chief economist, who talks about a key shaped recovery. We probably could have done with a nice graphic of what a key looked like. But the reality was that he makes the point that it involves some segments of the economy recovering quickly, even profiting due to the the effects of the pandemic. But others continue to decline. And he makes a very good point. I think an essential point really from where we are that the bottom is going to continue.
He reckons we've we've borrowed 30 billion so far following a balanced budget last year, and we need to borrow at least another 15 billion in 2020 one. And he talks Gerard Brady eloquently. I think of the that inequality is going to increase and going to increase substantially.
Yeah, because there's there's a K shaped recovery with households.
Exactly. And he's making the point that if you look at something like like housing, you know, low income renters are going to continue to to struggle and house prices could continue to rise, particularly in the more affluent areas of our cities, Dublin and Galway in particular. So it's I mean, it's a it's a warning piece in one way.
I mean, we can't borrow forever. Lucinda has a very eloquent piece herself talking about the balance between government spending in British courts.
And you're also making the you know, Anthony sorry guy Lucinda, you're making the point that this case, one consequence of it is that we are still supporting all businesses. With that, we're going to have to start getting more choosy.
Yeah, and I know Pascal Don, who was was out doing a number of interviews the other day in terms of, I suppose, the changes to the wage subsidy scheme, which will hit businesses, of course.
And the the the main difference, as I see well, one is the requirement for tax clearance rates, which I think is not unreasonable, and the other is that the threshold has changed. So originally it was if you're if you're if your revenue was impacted by 20, 25 percent fall, it's now a 30 percent fall. But that's a very blunt instrument. I don't think it's very sustainable. So, you know, you know, essentially, you you will be entitled to to to benefit from the subsidy scheme if you've been substantially hurt in terms of revenue.
But that really doesn't take into account your viability. Yeah.
You know, either of your own individual business in due course. I mean, Carl McCarthy, as always, has an excellent piece in from The Independent making a similar point and saying, you know, ultimately there there'd be a clash between job preservation and the recovery of real jobs in the new economy because the new economy will not look like the 28 or 29.
He makes the point that the old economy has to be allowed to die in order for the new to emerge, which is going to be very, very, very painful.
And Jennifer, that's not going to be politically easy either, is it, for them to suddenly saying, OK, we can't keep supporting all these jobs. Some of them are not coming back.
I mean, we saw when they suggested who suggested it recently and there was war, one of the other, obviously, Sinn Fein have been pushing for it to remain on the various different schemes, the wage subsidies, given the pandemic, unemployment payment, etc. And the government, like Heather Humphreys, has been warned by her officials that it's not sustainable to have these pandemic support schemes in place long term.
Heather Humphrey got in big trouble for suggesting that some jobs were not coming back. People freaked out, but I'm not sure about that.
I don't know whether or not the luxury of opposition is that you can you know, you can continually demand more spending, larger deficits, etc, but it's the people who are in government who have responsibility to ensure that ultimately it's sustainable and it's not sustainable to run 20 billion deficits every year. You know, that's so.
And then, of course, if you have a second lock down, that makes the whole task so much harder because we know we're going to be living with it for quite some time. And I think there's real trouble coming down. Certainly a sense in. The government that you ain't seen nothing yet in terms of how bad it can get and because, you know, the Sinn Fein are waiting in the wings for the moment, that it's absolutely not sustainable to maintain the level of payments anymore, it'll have to be tapered down.
It eventually have to be tapered out. And that's where they will come in and say that they wouldn't have done. It's very easy to say that in opposition. But that's what that's what that's what's waiting next year, especially early next year.
I'd say forget the pressure over Phil Hogan would be a walk in the park compared to the difficult choices ahead here. Here, I would think so.
And, you know, that's why I think that it's incumbent. But in my view, on the T-shirt and the tarnished and Simon Coveney to stay at the coalface in Ireland, I mean, European commissioner, you know, they come and go. But this government has got a very important job of work to do. It has a very effective opposition. But opposition in one way is easy at the moment with a by election help, with a by election to be won in south central Fianna Fail of two seats, they might win it.
But, you know, I wouldn't be putting my mortgage on that by any means. And I think Sinn Fein would win any other seat in the country in a by election. So that's the politics of it. But yeah, I mean, things are going to get much more difficult. And Gerald Brady talks about it here again in the piece. To higher income professionals working from home can cope. It's doors who are on lower incomes who have to go out, you know, work in stores, whatever, who are who are who will continue to suffer, I think.
OK, OK. Well, look, we have come full circle perfectly. So I think when you get back to discussing Simon Coveney the second time, it's time to go. Thank you very much, Jennifer Bray, Gary Murphy and Lucinda Creighton. And now, just after 12:00 noon, let's go to the NEWSROOM and Vivian Trayner.