The Gist: The Worst Lock-In Ever

The numbers are ballooning, the consequences will be tragic and the government is compounding its political error by refusing to admit it. This is the Gist.

The Gist: The Worst Lock-In Ever

The new year has dawned and never was there greater consensus that everyone was glad to see the back of an old one. And, as its a new year, let’s do a little run around to see what we can expect for early 2021. Firstly, let’s acknowledge, it gets better. Secondly, there will still be fuck-ups.

Covid explosion

The Government starts the year with the worst holiday hangover ever, with January’s projected infection rates so high, they will literally be off the chart. One-man news engine, Gav Reilly of Virgin Media News revealed that the software to compile the daily infection rates has a built-in maximum of 2000 per day. As of today, there’s a backlog of 9,000 stuck in the system with NPHET saying that’ll swell hugely by the end of the month, with thousands per day.

The Taoiseach tried to suggest this was not because the Cabinet substituted their own epidemiological expertise for NPHET’s, but due to a mutated virus.

NPHET said different. You can guess which story the public has chosen to believe.

A small aside on this: This is almost a non-party political problem for the government- Even their own supporters will turn on them if it turns out they screwed this up by choosing to fund retail and restaurants with the lifebreath of people’s parents and grannies instead of through state supports.

And their problems will be compounded if they keep making baloney excuses in the face of questions- the anger that burned down Fianna Fáil and Labour’s house was, in part, an anger they they kept justifying themselves long after it was politically helpful to do so.

What’s most galling is that ‘saving money’ by reopening early always ends up costing the state more money because of the severe economic effect of the subsequent lockdown. We get the worst of all worlds, simply because the State’s impulses are to treat economics as if it was book-keeping.

Remember that TDs aren’t holding normal clinics, aren’t circulating in their communities, aren’t chatting after mass, funerals, in shopping centres. They’re cut off from their normal feedback systems which would alert them to an oncoming storm. This one could be a hurricane.

Mother and Baby data, still

Meanwhile, the Mother and Baby Homes issue is looming again, with the Commission report sitting on the Minister’s desk and some very questionable (from a GDPR perspective) letters about redaction of records going out to women over Christmas. Expect this entirely avoidable fire to burn hot again just as the public is at its most distressed in early February.

The Minister’s department has not had a good time with understanding the GDPR that actually exists, as opposed to the one they wished existed. Lest we forget, this resulted in the magnificent moment where the Minister, reading the notes prepared by his Department, explained at Cabinet he was following Attorney General’s advice only to have the Attorney General, sitting at the Cabinet table, disagree with him.

The controversial legislation was passed while the Department were still denying that the GDPR applied to the data held by the Commission. As a result, some of the provisions in the act aren’t in compliance with the superior EU law. It remains to be seen if the Minister and his Department are thirsty to repeat the experiences of October 2020.

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