The week started with a surprise for businesses serving food. Failte Ireland told them that, starting immediately, they had to keep a note of what each of their patrons ate and store that record for 28 days, so the Gardaí could come and look up our dinners.
Apparently, in August the Government had approved this “Who ate all the pies?” law but forgotten to mention it. Who knows, maybe at this stage they didn’t know they’d done it themselves. We’re told Cabinet meetings are frequently virtual now anyway. Perhaps it was inevitable they would produce virtual decisions.
As the week wore on and it became clear that this law was unpopular, possibly illegal, and probably unnecessary Ministers attempted to offer solutions.
Unfortunately, they each offered a different solution, culminating in three Ministers (Health, Taoiseach and Other Taoiseach) each offering a different legal intepretation of a law they’d all agreed to a fortnight earlier, in the same news report.
This was quickly followed by Eamon Ryan announcing the new plan to tackle waste, which also proposed…well, let’s do just two quotes;
Over the medium to long-term, examine the potential role of economic instruments (e.g. levies) on ‘fast fashion’ which could also support higher value indigenous producers by reducing the cost differential.
We will work with retailers to end the sale of multi-buy packs to prevent over-buying by consumers.
or, as the Irish Times reported, a proposal to reduce buy one get one free offers (BOGOF, in the retail parlance) on food, and to increase the baseline price of clothes.
Not unreasonably, people responded by wondering had the Greens ever met a poor person, or even seen one on TV and why did they hate them so? (Also, from lawyers, a groan at the thought that 5 decades into EU membership, there are still Government Departments who don’t know they’re not allowed to assist ‘indigenous’ products with levies)
The Green response was instructive. As these government thoughts appeared in public and the public didn’t like them, multiple Green representatives expressed shock that everyone was reacting to things that weren’t in the plan.
When the above bits of the plan were produced, this switched to general statements about how unreasonable people are to harp on about the bad bits of a plan without also praising the good bits.
A response which appears to confuse the role of a politically engaged voting public with a Montessori teacher.
Under normal circumstances, a Government unable to stitch two sentences together without stabbing a fork in its thigh would be a source of national gaiety.
But the pandemic tinges these failures with a dark edge. We need these people to make good choices and express themselves clearly.
Any day now.