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Good morning. Is it Sunday, is it Monday? Is it still Christmas? Is it New Year's? Yes, it's not. Brendan O'Connor sounds a little bit like Philip Hayes. It is the confusing where the hell are we weak?


But let us take you gently by the hand and guide you somewhere in the direction of 2021 with newspaper front pages that are for a change filled with quite a lot of hope because we're in a very different place this week than where we were a week ago. We have a Brexit deal and since yesterday we have a vaccine in the south of the island.


So to the paper's Sunday business post leads on first vaccines to be given in nursing homes this Wednesday, Sunday, independent delivery of hope mail on Sunday, Dawn of Hope, Sun Times kind of mixing the smooth with the rough covid vaccine arrives as daily cases hit a peak Sunday mirror.


Get the job, says Christy Dignam. In a swipe at anti VAX campaigners. Christie, who beat a heroin addiction, said people will buy a gram of coke and stick it up their nose, yet they won't take the vaccine. It doesn't make sense. The Sun on Sunday leads with the needle has landed and the Sunday world. I'll go to war with Kinahan. That's the lawyer in the U.S. who's going to subpoena Daniel Kinahan in an alleged racketeering case.


The British papers are really worth taking a closer look at today just to see how bumpy or smooth the ride the Brexit deal is going to get. The Sunday Telegraph notoriously, obviously a platform for whatever stray thought crosses Boris Johnson's mind leads with big changes are coming for Britain VWs PM over a piece which suggests that the deal does have the support of most Brexit years, but it only actually names to in the paper. The Sunday Times says the hard liners are prepared to back the deal, but the IRG is demanding that a full vote be delayed for three weeks so they can scrutinise it properly.


And the Observer takes a leave that will leave fishermen here who are feeling betrayed scratching their heads, because over there they're saying fishing industry chiefs cry betrayal. In its editorial, The Observer says that the deal is no political triumph, no diplomatic feat. It will one day surely be regarded as one of the greatest ever defeats inflicted on the electorate. And the Sunday Express says Brexiteer, Tories are close to backing an historical trade deal under the headline The Future is in Our Hands.


Back to the Irish papers, some of the other front page stories worthy of note, The Sun Endo is flying a political case in its front page sidebar, we should explore reintroducing water charges. That's coming from a Green Party junior minister Malcolm Noonan in the piece, which notably has no comment from Fianna Fáil or Fiona in it.


And below the fold of the business post at. They are telling us that the government is expected to give the Brexit deal its go ahead on Tuesday.


That, folks, is two days from now in case you have completely lost your place in the week. And the main picture and the business post front page is of Mary Lou McDonald, who is, according to Michael Brennan, telling Sinn Fein supporters to stop being pig ignorant on social media from beneath an avalanche of wrapping paper.


Three newspaper reviewers have joined me now to wipe the brandy bottle from their lips and let reality intrude again momentarily. Political journalist Louise Hand. How many calories did you manage to pack into the last three days?


I shudder to think literally every time I open my mouth, somebody watching them and spy into somebody's leg or a Florentin or something of a few harsh words with that, somebody I myself have managed to consume enough to not have to eat until March, which is going to be rather convenient.


Irish Times consumer journalist Conor Pope kind of.


Can you enjoy Christmas knowing as much as you know about what it is that you're unwrapping? Is it possible to have an article free Christmas? Absolutely.


I just switch off entirely and I eat about four and I'm not joking for full Christmas dinners, but I have eaten four full Christmas dinners between in the one day, you know, since Christmas Day, Stephen's Day.


And I will probably go home and eat another one.


And I don't mind because, you know, if people say, I don't like Turkey, I love Turkey, I love Brussels sprouts, I love all of that stuff. So this really. You love Brussels sprouts?


Yes. Yes. Leave the studio. Do we leave this studio cooking my Brussels sprouts? You'd like them to trust me. Professor Sun McConkey, public health expert.


I was wondering, Sam, what chance you were going to have of getting a day or two of covid duty, but you're not in here with us in studio because you are isolating?


Well, one of my family contacts over Christmas is having a test this morning, so I'm feeling fine. But he had some symptoms, so he's off getting a test on. So I didn't want to go spreading it around that time not to spread this. And this is it. So I didn't have so many calories, more protein. There was a lot of pig. There was a lot of turkey eaten. As I said, I think it's about foregoes and then lots of nibbling in between, which I really enjoyed.


You have had a good look at the papers this morning and most of the. Vaccine related headlines. What do you make of that? Well, we go to the Scinto first delivery of hope.


I think it's fantastic. I think it's just a great place to be. And with the vaccine story, it's happened much, much quicker than certainly I'd imagine and most people had imagined. And here we have not just one vaccine licensed, but there are about three others hopefully coming in the wings that will give us more doses quicker. And I know we're doing this wonderful challenge of how to roll it out quickly to the most vulnerable. And I like the plan, this idea of going to nursing homes where the most vulnerable are and vaccinating the staff and and the residents.


There seems to me like a very practical, feasible way to start over the next few months.


Are we getting the tone of the coverage right, not just in the newspapers, but also broadcast journalists as well? Because, you know, given what we don't know about this vaccine and what it is going to do, particularly in terms of transmission of the virus, might it not be better to tell people?


Well, you know, we're going to have to hedge your bets here, folks, and just wait and see.


So I think there's different attributes of a vaccine, one of that quite rightly concerned people most is, is it safe? And because this vaccine being tested in very large numbers, thirty to forty four thousand people, and they have a safety database that's gone to our regular regulators in the EU and obviously in the US and in Britain as well. And they've said, yes, this looks very safe. That is profoundly reassuring. So I think on the safety message, we've got very strong and powerful messages.


Many products just get into licensing with safety data on five or ten thousand individuals, whereas this, as I said, is 30 to 40 thousand. So I think we can very, very confidently say this is a safe product. It's clear that the Fizer vaccine prevents mild and moderate illness in young, healthy people. Now, of course, illnesses and worry about its death in the 90 year old. So how sure are we that it will be 90 percent effective at preventing death in 90 years?


We don't quite know that yet, but it seems like it will prevent mild and moderate illness and probably some death. So I think there's a time you have to move ahead with knowledge of safety, confidence and safety and some very strong evidence of it preventing mild to moderate disease, not a pointer towards preventing death. So I feel this is a time for celebration. It's New Year, it's Christmas. We need some hope. So I wouldn't fault a little bit of hysterical hopefulness at this stage.


We need a message of hope. This is the right message now for Christmas and New Year. Days are getting longer. The sun is shining, the storm is over and the vaccines are sorry. I think we all need a bit of hope.


Who are you and what have you done with some mcconkey?


Yes, people are normally thinking I'm very sad. Oh, I know we are all out.


The pessimists get us all of which is very reassuring, all of which is very reassuring to the people who are going to believe the message around the vaccine. But then there are obviously large numbers that won't. Binish O'Hanlan in the Endo page 26, there is writing that we're back to stoking fear to ensure covid compliance issue. Right.


Is there any other way? Well, I just I was going to let Liz in on this sorry, sorry, sorry. Yeah, it's interesting because I think that you, yourself and Sam touched on something that's really, really important. And I've actually been for the last three months, I've been working on a kind of a project to do with disinformation, fake news. And a lot of my time has been spent looking at anti vaccine sentiment and anti vaccine messages and so on.


And it is quite staggering the how deep and how far into the online community the anthrax messages are that are spread out there, disseminated everywhere. And they take many different forms and very, very many different guises. And I think that as long as well as the rollout of the vaccine, that it is so crucial for the government to get it right, I think equally crucial is the rollout of the message that this is that, you know, that this vaccine is safe and debunking of all the of all the myths surrounding not just the current vaccine, but vaccines in general.


I think this is this is a unique chance to to literally rewire people's brains with vaccines when you are chasing your tail, correcting all of the mistakes that people are deliberately putting out there. You're not setting out your own agenda, are you?


Well, you see, this is it, because I think that an awful lot of the disinformation and as we're going a little bit off topic, but a lot of disinformation, it starts online and it takes it often takes journalists and, say, media outlets a while to pick up what is out there. And I think what needs to be done is finding and there's a difference between people who are nervous about a vaccine and vaccine hesitancy. That's understandable. You know, people look at, my God, this is a new medicine, you know, is it OK?


But then there are the anti vaccine brigade who are going there's you know, there's weedkiller in this. There's microchips in this. They're going to surveil you, you know, through them, through the vaccine. There's you know, there's all kinds of poisons in this and, you know, tinfoil hat nonsense.


Yeah. But you know what? It gets a massive pick up online and it's enclosed rooms where people have been told this and they're getting the messages from God knows where. And it's really sinking in. And I think that in order to to roll out a campaign, you've got to start at the very beginning and literally debunk everything, explain why how vaccines work, explain how these vaccines work, because then you and get are people who are genuinely been fed bad information by bad actors.


I mean, these aren't this isn't just your next door neighbor going, oh, Jesus. You know, many told me that if I get this, you know, I'm going to go three hours. These are people who are really are trying to disrupt the vaccine program. And this I cannot you know, just having spent the last few months looking at this, it is the campaign to get people to take up of this is absolutely vital.


I couldn't agree, at least more importantly, no disrespect to you when you say tinfoil hat wearing crazy people, it kind of diminishes the seriousness of the role.


And I know you didn't mean to do that, but the reality is that these people have like their malevolent and they're operating in spaces that we don't normally see. And I think that's why when the messaging is being done, it has to be done in the places where it needs to be heard most. And there are there I'm talking about the echo chambers that most of us are very unfamiliar with.


And I wouldn't have a huge degree of confidence that the apparatus of the state and the government are sufficiently tuned in to where these messages are being spread to such terrible effect. Like there's a there's a platform that was set up arguably to counteract the liberalism of Twitter called Parler. I'm not sure if you're on parler now.


I joined Parler a couple of weeks ago, a couple of weeks before the US presidential election, just to see the nature of the conversations that are happening on that particular platform.


And for some inexplicable reason, I set it up so that my phone gets alerts every time some of the people I follow on Parta posts something and I can't for the life of me figure out how to turn it off, which means that 24 hours a day I'm being bombarded by the craziest nonsense that you could possibly imagine.


And all of these people are agreeing with each other and they are all doing it to spread a message of disinformation for you.


Might even you might not have a better insight as to why this is being done, because it's really, really troubling.


And the government and governments across the European Union are not very good at that.


And when we saw that in practice, we saw that with the whole Cambridge Analytica, the manner in which it derailed the Brexit debate and that kind of social media madness is what we have to be really combating.


Now, I analysed some of the vaccination related stuff on Tic-Tac recently and the positive messages about what the vaccine can do that are sort of being put out there by influencers who are working in conjunction with government, are outnumbered by the factory just eight or 10 to one concern.


When you see this stuff infiltrating from the online sphere into mainstream media, are you like the the poor man driven demand to trying to connect correct the Internet until the wee small hours of the morning? Or do you let it pass? Not not really.


I suppose I see that a number of things are common. One is that there are about three concrete ways out of this covid-19 mass pandemic. One is the New Zealand one, which I've been able to confirm and we really haven't gone down that route. And the second is an effective vaccination and the third is in effect. Of small molecule like Ram Disappear, which, you know, we don't have an effective small molecule yet. So we've got to turn folk who are against something and ask, what are you for?


It's a bit like I was the most Peisley used to say. Alster says no, but the question is, what does he stand for? So we've got to turn the question around and say, what are you advocating for? Are you advocating for anything useful here? And in my view, there's only four options. One, stay in this mess, which none of us want to, as is article but three is an effective vaccine.


Unfortunately, they are all they are for things that are nebulous but nonetheless attractive words like freedom, words like safety. And it's really rather hard, isn't it, at the level at which you're speaking to counteract those messages?


I see. Part of it is some of the folk that are in this. Unfortunately, I'm sort of lost a broader trust in society. They've lost a broader trust in institutions that many of us believe are the the mechanisms. But by our liberal democracy gives us a better life and brings us a better life. Some of it, as we've just heard, is almost nefarious, not just from Cambridge Analytica, but from banks, from maybe countries and individuals and nations that that don't want essentially liberal democracy to flourish and survive.


So a lot of what's driven on my view in social media is actually coming from alternative ways of seeing the world that want to destroy ours. So I think we have to see it for what it is. And, you know, we've seen that in the British Brexit thing. It was in the US elections. There's no doubt that information is really power. And being able to drive that public information forum, which is something we take pride in in our liberal democracy, is this idea that, you know, I can walk up and down the street, more or less have relatively free speech was relatively few restrictions.


I can criticize the government. To me, it's important that we have a world that we can continue to do that. And that commitment to openness, transparency, free speech to me is a valuable attribute of our society. But it's the old paradox and liberalism. How do you tolerate the intolerant? So we've got this very vocal group that are intolerant of others and almost shutting down debate just by force of numbers. Truth is not a democracy. If they are to one, that doesn't mean that they aren't a right.


You know, that that's just something that most of us realize. So so I think it's learning to find mechanistic ways of tolerance, tolerating and even cherishing diverging voices when they're open to listening to others. The problem is when the other diverging voices sort of swamp the the the debate and kind of prevent debate and closed down debate by overwhelming other voices, then that's very divisive, in my view, and very, very wrong and very unhelpful. Back to the papers.


I want to take a look at Tony O'Brien, the former head of the HRC in the Sunday Business Post. In his final paragraph, he says, And it really is time to seriously engage with the zero covid-19 strategy, ideally for the island, but certainly for the republic. The government has treated Nephites advice as though it were a tasting menu and used it like an incomplete course of antibiotics, creating resistance with no curative effect. Now it's time to take the strong medicine.


Is there any indication that the government is going to do anything other than continue to perform this balancing act between the scientific and the industrial and commercial advice?


No, I don't see any indication of that at all. I think that the zero covid option, I mean, it's you know, it would just be too dramatic, I think, for the government because it would require far too many, you know, literally the shutting down of the country. And, you know, unlike you, New Zealand gets trotted out a lot. But, you know, New Zealand is different. It's it's not a member of, you know, a nation of, you know, united nation of other countries.


It doesn't have the same sort of literally amount of traffic going through dialogue, you know, open borders, all that thing. But we've seen I mean, in a funny sort of way, the the tensions between the coalition partners, between fearful for the Gael and the Greens, these sort of pivotal during the year. So they stopped sniping at each other and they started sniping at nothing because it became sort of the government versus Nephites. And the once the the initial LRM of the first lockdown was over when everybody was in it together, and then it became much more complicated, coming out of the first lockdown was much more difficult and complex than going into it.


And of course, it was a transition into a new government here as well. And all the rocky start of that, then they sort of coalesced together around the push back against an effort.


And, you know, they are looking at the they're looking at the scientific data. They're looking at the figures. They're looking at the numbers are looking at the, you know, the hard data, whereas the government are looking at businesses, the economy, the political ramifications, what it means for the border, trying to figure out how we fit into Brexit. It's never going to be a fish. And I don't think the government are ever going to embrace Lefferts desires and ever it's not going to happen that this will carry on this push back against, you know, there's.


Carry on until we come out some kind of far into some shape or form, but yet kind looking at page two of the Sun Times, there is an appetite in the public for starting to think about doing things differently. Mandatory vaccination, win support from the public.


Yeah, there's a broad acceptance that there are certain cohorts of people that will need to be vaccinated. And people in health care settings is obviously one cohort people in schools.


And, you know, I think people are moving towards an acknowledgement that if we are to get through this, there does need to be a high uptake in the numbers taking the vaccines.


And I think everyone would be loath to suggest that you'd have to have mandatory vaccines because you can't really do that. You can't strap someone to a gurney and inject them with the vaccine. That would just be absurd. But what you have to do is incentivize people to get the vaccines in whatever way possible.


So, for instance, there's a huge acknowledgement that if you want if you want to travel on a plane, if you want an international travel, you'll have to have a vaccination served. And some people are saying, oh, no, no, no, that can't be done. Well, I'm sorry, it's being done across Africa already because there are countries in Africa like like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, where you can't go into the country unless you have a research to prove that you have a vaccination for yellow fever.


So this isn't new, requiring somebody to have a piece of paper to say they've been vaccinated from covid-19 six months, a year down the line. I think it should be essential. And I think we have to be putting we have to be giving people incentives and encouraging them and indeed putting pressure on people to get vaccinations in key settings. For instance, mumps. In that piece in The Sunday Times, they're talking about the increase, the incidence rate of mumps because the anti vaccines are suggesting that the mumps vaccine is in some way damaging to to, you know, the civic world in which we live.


It's nonsense.


But, you know, does that mean that a child needs to have a search to prove they've been they've had the MMR before they can go to a crash?


I would argue that if you want the benefit of going to a crash, well, then that comes with a responsibility.


But the flip side of that is that you then end up running the risk of excluding those people who most need public health outreach by not bringing them into settings like crashes where they can be persuaded of the benefits. Yeah, but it's all I see.


It is about, as I say, persuasion, education and incentivisation and punishment and persuasion are almost contrary.


But at the same time, if you can't get the MMR, if if like if you have a baby under the age of six months, you can't get vaccinations are under a year, who can't get vaccinated?


Other babies, other children who don't get the vaccination are putting the baby who physically can't get it yet at risk. So, you know, there has to be a degree of responsibility shown by parents, by parents of young children when it comes to childhood vaccinations. But actually, we're moving away from the reality is we're talking about covid-19.


And what we have to do is we have to get to a place where the vast majority of society recognise the fact that the vaccinations are safe. They they work and they will get us out of this unholy mess that we're in.


Let's leave that there for the moment, because after the break, I want to, for the last time ever in 20/20, talk about breakfast.


Brendan O'Connor on our TV, Radio One.


So one more time with feeling then, folks, is the absence of a hard Brexit the worst thing that's ever happened to you, Connor?


I'm absolutely thrilled because you must have had all of those.


What do we do now? Articles for the whole of 2021 written?


No, no, actually, I mean, I there's been a lot of rewriting of articles over the last couple of a couple of days. For instance, I wrote a big piece about the sales on the twenty third of December 22nd of December, which had to be entirely scrapped come the 23 December because the government announced that there would be no sales. So I've written the pieces about what happens to your UK shopping in the event of an ordeal Brexit.


And of course, that's not going to happen now either. Fingers crossed, hopefully.


So I don't think there's I don't think we can celebrate the deal.


I think it's really I think Fintan O'Toole is a really strong piece in the British, but I don't think this is anything to celebrate.


It's a terribly sad event.


That's let's talk about Vinton's piece in the Observer opinion piece in which he says, look, naturally, of course, it's going to be the case that a divorce or a breakup is going to be the thing that characterises a relationship. But we should think back on 50 years in which the EU shaped Britain and Britain shaped the EU. And it's all quite positively.


Yes. I mean, the this is you know, this is the point. It's that it is easy just to focus on. I mean, the last four years have been so bitter. They've been so full of chaos and confusion and finger pointing and so on, that it's very easy to concentrate on that and have our overview shaped by that. But, you know, when you look back, you know, that's sort of the history of of Britain in the EU while the.


There is a huge amount of Euroskepticism that has always sort of run like a big vein through through a lot of the British politics.


I mean, interestingly enough, among the archive, the papers released in the archives today, there's a piece which talks about Thatcher's conversations with Charles Sophy and how she was complaining about how, you know, the German did you know the Germans were trying to sort of control everything and all her wariness about, you know, the EU becoming coming to control more of British laws and sovereignty? I mean, it's interesting that you go back to that. But at the same time, there's a lot of positive as well.


There's a lot of positivity as well. You know, going back to Wasta, you know, the what the British did in terms of shaping some of the larger views, even those fenthion points out some of the things like, you know, pushing the single market agenda and so on. They didn't really understand at core, he says, what that would actually imply in terms of the breaking down of barriers, you know, between the different EU countries and so on.


So while it's sometimes, you know, the British were quite proactive. They also didn't understand that at the same time, they're proactively basically pushing some agendas. Now, this was just feeding the fires of the of the never really, you know, absent Brexiteer feelings and sentiment in Britain as well. So I you know, he he sort of says we should be kind enough to sort of, you know, think think that they're all members of, you know, flaming members of the org and so on.


And we need to look at it over the context of the last 50 years. But I think it's going to be very difficult for the bitterness that the last four years. I mean, he says, you know, we should look past. I think it's going to be very hard for that bitterness to subside, I think to be a long time before there's complete trust between the two nations and the two governments. Again, that's my own. Yeah, I think you're probably right.


But I think the two things that he cites, the two ways that Britain really helped the European Union were, as you say, the single market and enlargement and the enlargement. Peace was incredibly important because both Margaret Thatcher and then Tony Blair were very anxious to enlarge the European Union and obviously the single market, which is the European Union's perhaps greatest achievement because it has taken away all the friction that would have been associated with trade. You know, that wouldn't have happened without it, without Britain.


But he's also pointing out in the piece that Britain benefited hugely from its membership of the European Union and it allowed it to move from its imperial past, which it had lost in that by the late 19th, by the early 1970s.


So it allowed it to share that imperial cloak and move forward into a future when it was central to a new European project. And the great tragedy is that Britain has turned its back on that. And the great tragedy, Philip, is that it has turned its back on it for the most nebulous of reasons.


And because effectively and without going back over the referendum, the fact that it was what the British people were so effectively and consistently lied to.


And as a result of that, we will now all mourn the passing of Britain as a member of the European Union, and it is really sad.


It's not something to celebrate.


And the deal, while it was essential, it's just it's another sad moment in our modern 21st century history.


I'm joined on the line by John Rentals, chief political commentator for the London Independent.


John, my cursory examination of your press this morning, I don't see an awful lot of those very prominent Brexiteer voices out endorsing this deal. I presume, though, that with labor support it is going to pass parliament. Oh, yes.


I mean, there's no question about that. It would it would pass parliament anyway, because I don't think there's any sign of significant opposition from the conservative Eurosceptics. I mean, they say they're going to look at it and they've got laughably entitled star chamber of of lawyers. Eurosceptic lawyers are going to scrutinise the deal in detail, but politically, they've got nowhere to go. They you know, they have their prime minister telling them to to vote for this deal.


And I think almost all of them will do so.


If I could be so bold as to try and some of the attitude of the press here today anyway towards this deal, it would be largely one of the kind of regret that you've been hearing there from Leveson, but also a hope now that our nearest neighbour is able to make a success of this, that there are sunlit uplands and splendid isolation ahead for you because we don't want a cranky and cantankerous Britain on our doorstep.


Is there a sentiment, is there a strong feeling of, yes, we can do that now, we have won a workable deal? Yes, I think I think there is.


I mean, I think I mean, it's hard to sum up the national mood, but I think the mood in the UK is fairly pragmatic, accepting that, you know, Boris Johnson has actually made a reasonable compromise here. I mean, my own paper, The Independent, has, you know, welcomed the deal obviously as preferable to a no deal outcome, but also pointed out that, you know, in many ways the deal is is reinventing the wheel of European cooperation because it just reinvents many of the the structures and arrangements that we had in the European Union.


But just at a slightly, slightly arm's length distance. I mean, I remember my colleague Hamish McRae, once suggested that the UK would move from being half in the European Union to being half out. And I think that's roughly where we are. I think we're actually going to remain quite close to the European Union. And it is important that we've done that while remaining on reasonably good terms at a leadership level.


Yeah. Speaking of leadership, now, look, he's still a figure of fun on this side of the Irish Sea, but is Boris Johnson due some kudos today because he has done what nobody else in British politics appeared able to do?


Well, absolutely. I mean, I. I think I take my hat off to him. I think it's an astonishing achievement. And, you know, it automatically puts him in the pantheon of British prime ministers who've achieved something consequential, whether you agree with it or not. I mean, he is up there with with Ted Heath, who took us in, Margaret Thatcher, who reformed the EU and as many people have pointed out, helped build the single market in.


Harold Wilson was able to hold that referendum in 1975 to keep us in. That was a significant political achievement. And now Boris Johnson's got Brexit done, which is what he said he said he would do. And, you know, people will criticize it. But I mean, it is a significant, significant historical achievement.


And did he do it by grinding out a scoreless draw with the EU or are there clear wins that he's going to be able to point to in the days ahead?


Well, I think on any balanced assessment, the UK has given in to a large extent on fish. But the point is that any gains for, you know, for our fishing industry, any gains at all on the status quo are going to be welcome. But we have we have given up on our ambition just to sort of I mean, this ludicrous notion that we don't want any foreign ships in our in our economic economic zone is just just absurd.


But I think I think the gain of tariff free access to the single market, admittedly with with checks at the border. But I mean, that's inevitable because because of what Boris Johnson wants. But I mean, the access to the single market is a huge, huge gain. And I think I think both sides will be satisfied with that.


John Mitchell, thank you very much. Conor, on that point that he mentions there, Michael Brennan has a good piece, page seven of the business post about the revenue ramping up preparation. Plans for Brexit, lots of red tape stories for you to write about in the coming weeks. Yeah, no, it'll be like it. That's the reality of it. You know, the tariffs have been avoided and there isn't going to be any of those taxes and duties that people would have been fearful of.


But there is going to be a huge amount of red tape and it's going to it's going to create logjams that poorest is going to create logjams at airports and at postal depots. And there's just no way around that now because the the UK has left the European Union. And while it won't be treated as a so-called third country, so it won't be treated like China and the United States when it comes to trade, there is still going to be paperwork and, you know, it's going to create difficulties.


It's also probably going to create delays. But, you know, the flipside of that is it might see more Irish consumers making the very conscious choice that they've made so far in 2020, which is to spend more of their money in Ireland and, of course, within the European Union zone.


Because if you can avoid all those complexities and complications by shopping locally or by shopping in Germany or Spain or France, people might make that choice. And ultimately, the people who lose out there will be the UK traders.


And is that is these hand and with that, are we done with Brexit? I remember one of my senior colleagues pleas to two years ago saying with a sigh, I said, I'm going to be doing Brexit stories for the rest of my career.


Can we put it to bed now, or do you think that this is a dynamic process that's just going to keep on popping up?


I think it will keep popping up. I would love to sit here and say we, you know, here's your hat, what's your hurry? And, you know, she was out the door was Sansing and Olanzapine at the same time. But I don't think so. I mean, it's been an extra 14. If I was in London covering the referendum when it all went sideways in the summer of 2016. And my last time out of this country was was I was in London when they officially left at the end of January of this year.


And I remember at that stage thinking, gosh, that's done and dusted. Now they just have to, you know, dot a few I's and cross the T's and the job is OKso. And here we are.


You know, the of politics is going to be to Rockall. Yeah. I mean, that was that was some year because of 2016, because I was also in, you know, a few months later, I was there for the Trump victory. So I was in I was in shock for the rest of 2016 after those two. But I think that the the sense of the sense of relief in government is enormous because the they were, despite all the documents were prepared.


And, you know, every day everybody say, no, you know, no deal is a possibility. I don't think anybody would have been ready, ready enough for a deal. It would have been catastrophic. So I think the sense of relief around government buildings this Christmas is absolutely enormous. They know this is will pop up. There's going to be flare ups when somebody says, I didn't realise we signed up to that and there'll probably be a few rows.


But I think overall, yep, the heavy lifting is done.


And of course, there was a piece by a huge Conlin's in the index on the Independent quoting the Tanisha Leo Varadkar, pointing out that the door isn't entirely closed on Britain coming back into the European Union.


The political life, I would say a lot of people are going, just who stole the ball?


There are a lot of insofar as it affects academia, some mcconkey. I noted that there was a story yesterday, quite a generous story on the part of the Irish government continuing to pay for or going to pay for Erasmus students from Northern Ireland to travel to wherever they want in Europe. Six hundred and fifty a year it was well, it was certainly last year anyway. Are you worried by the effects of Brexit is going to have on the exchange of ideas within the scientific community?


So there's a very, very long tradition of hundreds of years of scholars travelling between colleges, and I'm sure that will continue. So we have external examiners, often from Northern Ireland and from Britain, and I'm sure that will continue.


Where it's a bit more tricky is mutual recognition of professional credentialing. So if somebody qualifies as a surgeon with our CSI in London to those qualifications automatically now transfer into Ireland or other EU countries, I don't believe those details have been worked out in detail yet. I'm hoping the good sense will prevail. And people like physiotherapists and airline pilots and other professional qualifications can be mutually recognised as they have for the last 50 years. But those things have really yet to be worked out in detail.


One of our taxers wants you to answer the question, Simon, vaccine shopping or vaccine choice? Is it can we have a choice in them? Can we have the one that Philip or the Prof gets? Are they all the same?


Yeah, that that's a really, really good question. Thanks. Thanks for not so that we have one vaccine on the market now that's legal to give. So there's no choice right now. What I really strongly expect that we'll have between three and five options available to us within four to six months. And that's a wonderful place to be. When the more details of research from Phase three studies come out, we'll find probably that some work better. For example, in children under two, some work better in your.


Are people some work better and 90 year olds, we might find that another one is better at preventing transmission, what's called a transmission blocking vaccine. And even though it may not prevent so much disease and death, it prevents the infection spreading to others. So obviously, health care workers and those working in nursing homes whose main risk is not only to themselves, but actually in transferring the as a vector of the virus to other people that they're caring for, those transmission blocking vaccines would be much better for those of us who are more worried about transmitting it rather than actually dying from it.


So over the next six months, I'm hoping get a lot more of this nuanced detail about specific characteristics of the different products. And then it will be a case of targeting appropriately the vaccines that suit best each individual group. OK, let's leave that there for a moment.


I want to go back to Brexit just one second, because there's John Rantoul mentioned the fisheries aspect of the deal proved to be one of the most sticky. I'm joined on the line by Patrick Murphy, CEO of Irish South and West Fish Producers Organization Part. And we're seeing headlines in the U.K. media today that UK fishermen are feeling betrayed by this deal and you are feeling betrayed by this deal. Is it possible that there are two groups of losers in this?


Well, we definitely are going to be losers anyway, because, you see, the Common Fisheries Policy was designed and relative stability, and that was protect the coastal communities and the sustainability of the stocks that everybody trying to catch. So thank you very much for putting me on the airwaves here and give another side of this. And our side is that we are the bargaining chip for to get this deal across the line with the last five percent. And we feel very aggrieved just to give you listeners a couple of understandings of where we're coming from, Taufique.


And everybody knows what he is at the European track where we fish 63000 tons, we get three and a half thousand tons. UK are looking for an increase in their share of. And they're currently at thirteen point six percent, eleven thousand tons, they're hoping to actually go up 150 percent of what we catch for our entire fleet. So I don't think that's a bad idea. The same with Monck, with mackerel and every other species. And somebody has to pay this price.


And the price we will be paying is not just with fish. It would be paying with jobs.


For generations of fishermen who have risked their lives to go out to sea to earn their living and support for coastal communities are going to be adversely affected by this unplanned, as you say, the Common Fisheries Policy set out the sustainability targets for fishing in the past in UK waters.


Now, will it be a free for all for British registered boats, or is there agreement on how to manage the stocks?


Well, I was told today that there was three Spanish flagged UK vessels landing into Dingle this morning. So for them, it's business as usual. Only they're going to have more fish to catch and we're not going to get that fish. So it won't be a free for all. And there's loads of complexities, Philip, that we won't go into into this radioshow. You'd be looking for a couple of hours like a multiannual plan. So there's all different rules and regulations that govern our fishing outside in the water with the main one is quota share.


And we in Ireland have a very poor quota share, as they said. So relative stability is no longer the way that the European Union.


Are you looking for a compensation package then passed?


No, we're looking to be treated the same as the UK. It's like this. If a plan that has been there since 1973 has been completely and utterly altered on the relative stability and one country, now we're going to get an increase of 25 percent of the fish stocks, then that means somebody else has to lose it. So obviously for me anyway, it means the plan has to change. So the European Union will have a decision to make with the Common Fisheries Policy.


Are they going to use an attachment, which is the reason why the UK has demanded the station? Got it? And are they going to apply that same rule going forward to the Irish fishermen and others on an attachment like you? Look at the mess that we sent into the RTC and who is going to be the greatest contributor to know of fish stocks and fishing grounds and fish to the European Union? It will be waters, surely be the guy that should be reflected in the future negotiations.


And our department and our minister and our Tannishtha live up to the promises that they made and to keep jobs in our coastal communities. Look, just just quick fact. We've already paid the price in my lifetime. We're 42 percent of our boats, over 60 feet have been wiped out, eliminators, gone never again to be seen underwater, 42 percent. We're down to 164 boats. In my estimation. We might lose another 64 if this goes ahead.


We lose the fish stocks because they just won't be able to make a living. Whereas if they apply relative stability rules where we give back some of our fish, just like the UK, we might be able to hold onto those boats. And I think is the country that's giving this fish and the fishing grounds, the European Union, surely that's that's a fair ask. All right.


Patrick Murphy, CEO of Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, thanks.


Brendan O'Connor on our TV radio wanted to bury that. Listening to that promo there, in spite of Joe Duffy's attempt to kill term against his career, you were making a point. Yeah.


It's the first Irish artist to be No.1 for Christmas, I think, in close to 20 years.


And I think it's directly attributed to the fact that X-Factor wasn't on this show because not including those Irish people who were in the. But Socotra destroyed the race for Christmas, number one.


And I just think and that meant that we've been kind of frozen in time for our Christmas songs. I think Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas might be it might have been the last one. So I think we might have a whole slew of new Christmas songs over the over maybe next year if X-Factor doesn't get resurrected. So I think that's something to acknowledge. Covers for the Sunday Times, page six lists a year to forget that we will remember forever.


Oh, yes. I mean, look, it's like looking back over the year, you I suppose this is because covid dominated everything that you forget. There was a lot of stuff going on as well. I mean, I really think most people really just want to get this year over and done with. They really do. There's a sense of just get into to 2021 and let's just put this behind us. And, you know, it was a bit I mean, quite a lot went on.


I mean, politically, it was it was an extraordinary year. We we had an extraordinary general election, which I even I have trouble believing it was this year. It was it seems like they aren't single.


I was about to fact check, you know, sorry. It actually was. So we had this extraordinary, you know, this extraordinary general election where, you know, the Sinn Fein did extraordinarily well. Then, you know, there's a long hiatus as they try to as nobody wanted to go into government. And, you know, as the pandemic arrived on our shores, we all remember where we were live. Radka made his famous speech and then the putting together of overgovernment by, you know, a fairly reluctant bunch of people who weren't particularly happy to find themselves in bed together.


You know, and then sort of the handover of power in the middle of the summer and the kind of ensuing madness where, you know, to lose one agriculture minister could be considered unfortunate to lose to his carelessness. And then we have this sort of slow slide into the into the winter. And it's it has been it has been the sort of you know, there's been quite a lot of extraordinary things going on politically. And they've just been completely overshadowed.


And just as things as those stories, negative stories about how all the parties are getting along with each other in government start to fade from the headlines. Conor, we guess this side bar and the sun window that I was talking about earlier on that water charges should be explored, suggests junior Green Party Minister Malcolm Noonan.


Yeah, part of me would call this the most tone deaf story of the year because the last thing anybody wants now is for a resurrection of the water charges that curse cursus for so many years.


But I. And water needs funding. Well, this is the thing on my Twitter timeline is probably about to explode, but I think water charges are a good idea.


And I think, you know, what you're going to be doing for the rest of the day.


And there's a reason for that. I think from an environmental perspective, it makes sense that, you know, polluter pays and we pay for our usage of these things.


It would have also delivered us a much, much higher level of water infrastructure that now has to come out of general taxation.


And I think the problem and I've said in public on many occasions, the problem wasn't the water charges.


The problem was how water charges were sold to us as a people and it was considered a tax on water. And it's outrageous that we should be paying a tax on water, this free commodity that falls from the sky. The reality is we have to pay for this stuff.


And this would have been an environmentally friendly and cheaper way to pay for our water.


And if the water if Irish Water had done its job properly, which it clearly didn't do, and if the government of the day had done its job properly, which it clearly didn't do, people would have understood that by paying water charges, we would have paid less for water than we do today and we would have had a better infrastructure to do today.


And the other reality is that right now, somewhere there, there at home, there are FENA fallen, Phoenixville members of this government setting fire to their heads, listening to Conor.


Oh, I mean, if Eamon Ryan thinks, you know, who suggested the reintroduction of wolves is bad enough, the reintroduction of water charges is a whole new level entirely. And I'm glad your meal, Martin, is hyperventilating and blowing into a brown paper bag somewhere. You know, in this courtroom, this is the last thing that they wanted to to rear their head at this particular juncture. There's no doubt about it.


But I mean, as Conor rightly pointed out, if you want to write a playbook and how not to to introduce a new utility, the federal government at that time did I mean, you had Phil Hogan coming under heavy, you know, threatening to turn people's water down to a trickle if they didn't stump up, making an absolute haimes of the collection of all charges to the extent that they literally dumped the whole steaming bag of ordure into the lap of the of of the revenue and just said, you guys deal with it.


And of course, anybody who sees an envelope with horror comes through the door by Garda compliance when you know, ruckuses overnight. And, you know, the whole thing was an absolute disaster because everybody just focused on, you know, the millions being spent on consultants and all that. I mean, this was I remember sitting through the committee, Zerok, this committee, you know, when they were all the various bodies were hauled into account for themselves.


And it was just there were so many hapless performances. I mean, it really was dreadful. So I really think that if if this notion was to be aired again and it actually looks back to where we started, it goes back to an information campaign. It goes back to saying here was a map of Ireland. Look at all those things there, all the like the millions of leaks and that could feel, you know, two billion. Here's how much it's going to cost, you know, so they got as far as last time.


So they'd get it next time as well, for sure. Well, I feel that I have to say something that may give them the benefit of the new government's new chance. All right. I'm putting off the Colvert house for a second, if you would. Is there anything else that caught your eye in today's papers that's not either Brexit or virus related?


Well, I was interested in. There's there's a spy story on a fellow called Blair who was one of the sort of Cambridge four greatest British spies ever, who managed to escape from British jail after being convicted of selling lots of secrets. The Soviets has finally died at the ripe age of 98. So all that sort of Kim Philby stuff from the 50s, George Blake, did he ultimately end up defecting?


You know, well, he was one of the most effective double agents ever. You know, he was found guilty of it, put in a British jail and then managed to escape from this jail, which is sort of the ultimate triumph, if you like, for the spy and then lived out his happy days in the Soviet Union. I mean, that's almost like out of a John le Carre, a sort of delightful spy novel that we've all sort of thought of that old Cold War stuff.


But it's still alive and he's still been living. That's interesting. I suppose my comment would be on the year that's passed, reflecting on in a broader way. I think there's a lot of really good things, shockingly, that we maybe have a. Burned through 2020. Despite all the horrors of but particularly, you know, appreciation of maybe cleaners and binmen, particularly realizing, you know, the whole housing crisis and crowding in housing, I think we know that's been highlighted in a way that we've already not just for Colvert, but it's almost inhuman to be squashing people together.


The whole digitalization we've know, at least in health care, speeded up phone consultations are now almost normal or paid for. And I think some of that will continue. A lot of the online retail will continue. A lot of that working from home will continue. People ask, why should we all squashed together in a big office when we can actually be more productive while being at home with appreciation of nature? We were lucky. The weather in March, April, May was fantastic.


Enjoy being outside. So we've got to just enjoy the outdoors, including our gardens. We're now growing herbs and broccoli and beetroot that we never did before, not to mention baking and yeast and flour all started to feel the more and more disagree because I'm doing about maybe a half of these things somehow.


How did you personally cope with going from being shy, retiring, and dare I say it, almost unknown academic to somebody who is now something of a national figure and household name. So I I'm I know I was portrayed myself as the academic professionalism, but I'm really at heart a very busy hospital clinician and I've been looking after it was kind of sepsis, HIV and TB for many, many years and trying to explain in a human way to people who are very sick and in some cases dying and their families what they're going through and complex technical ways, but trying to find metaphors and ways of communicating that that are accurate and yet also sensitive.


And there are a lot of transferable skills I've discovered, whether it's talking to you or talking to others and I suppose doing international health, I could kind of see what was coming in a pandemic and have been through a bit of Ebola and HIV and these things before. So that that sense of predictability and being able to see what was likely to come has come relatively easy to me.


I'm a bit of a lightning rod as well for those who don't accept what you're saying. Oh, well, that's OK.


My view is, unless you're actually upsetting a few people, you're not saying anything useful at all. So I certainly don't try to keep all of the people happy all the time. I worked in Sierra Leone in the middle of a very, very dangerous civil war for a couple of years as a as a military surgeon type of doctor in the past in 93, 94. And I regret it after that. Not speaking out more to the Red Cross, to the embassies, to the BBC to tell the story of the victims at that stage.


And that has inspired me to very much speak out and encourage me to actually tell the story as I see it.


And so that certainly experience working in Africa doesn't have put it in his perspective, culture wars when you've lived in a real war zone. Exactly.


So with a lot of people with bullet wounds, start a lot of bullets and so on, a lot of broken limbs and tried to get skin closure of these horrible wounds and, you know, largely successfully. But that was in a much more fraught situation for bombs dropping that we could hear. There were injured people coming through the place we lived and we end up it escalated so much we to close the hospital down. It was called Subu in southern Sierra Leone, run by the Holy Rosary Sisters.


And we had two together. Close the hospital and secure the assets, pay off the staff. So I've been through much bigger challenges and this shockingly at a personal level. And that has actually helped me a lot to to sort of talk sense and say the right thing during this time. I think it's been very tired. And I remember one day when Claire Burns show at 10:00 night, I said I was really tired. She said, Oh, what's going on?


I said, Oh, well, I did BBC London, you know, at 615 this morning.


And she was trying to get me to perform against Crickley at eleven thirty at night. That same evening, I was wondering why I was tired of some other dance to our tune. Any other stories catching your eye. Well we haven't talked about Trump yet and the fact that Trump is no and it's an absolute relief isn't business. But I think one of the really dispiriting and horrible things over recent days is just when you think he can't get any worse, he starts this raft of pardons of people who definitely, definitely do not deserve pardons.


So there's the Blackwater security officials who were found guilty of of mass murder in Iraq and killing children who worked for the brother of his age, who were exactly the people who lied for him to to to obscure and delay the investigations of of Robert Mueller, his brother, his father, Jared Kushner's father. He apparently there was a piece of research done by Harvard. 88 percent of the people he's pardoned thus far have direct links to Donald Trump, whatever about the pardon.


He's also now threatening to well, sorry, he hasn't threatened to veto. Yes, but he certainly hasn't signed the covid relief bill, of course.


And then the worst thing is William Barr, one of his most hardcore acolytes, is now gone.


And there's fears that he's going to put pressure on Rosen, the acting attorney general, to allow him behave in a more appalling way for the next three or four weeks.


So I think we just have to wait until January the 20th.


Well, I mean, I know that we just come up to 12 now.


And it's my job for me was so I was going to say I will be very brief, which is unusual for me. But the thing I think that struck me most, Philip, about the front pages today was that they they all had a positive story on it. You know, they they talked about, you know, the vaccines are coming and, you know, maybe things aren't as bad. And I remember sitting in a studio just after the last lockdown with was either on this show or possibly KARABA.


And it was either with the the great Sam or the great Luke, the like Madonna. I'd like to know the first names now. And whoever said that at that time, we're going to be waiting four years for a vaccine.


And I believe in here going out into my car. And I just started crying. And that's very unlike me.


You know, I'm a very positive person. And I thought for years I'm going to wait for a vaccine.


So I just think to get to the stage, absolutely. 100 percent actually say the vaccines are in fridges and they're in the country. I just think that is right. And before anybody can ruin that note of positivity, I'm going to send you all on your way with the best wishes for 20/20.


Thank you all very much for joining me remotely and in studio this morning. Please hand Kayapo and some McConkey.


Brendan O'Connor on our TV radio wanted a very.