Marie Louise McConville: Less than impressed by Stormont's handling of the latest lockdown

The Northern Ireland Executive's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been shambolic at times
Marie Louise McConville

What an absolute shambles.

I mean, I don't think they could have made any more of a mess of it all.

Oh yes, the very well paid boys and girls up on the hill have really outdone themselves and it looks like everyone's hopes of a normal-ish festive season have gone up in smoke.

The thing is, our political leaders have been telling us since March that if we follow the rules, we can win against Covid-19 and look ahead to better days.

The majority of us have done just that.

We have washed our hands, socially distanced, worn masks and stayed indoors.

And for what?

Is this what we get for having followed the rules?

Two weeks of December in lockdown with no clear idea what is going to happen next?

The political handling of this whole pandemic has been deeply unimpressive, from last minute decisions and quite astonishing breaches, to screeching u-turns.

As usual in Northern Ireland, what is best for the people fell far below the priorities of political point-scoring.

Just a few weeks ago, the circuit-breaker could and should have been extended until the end of November. That might have allowed some sort of normality in the run up to Christmas.

But thanks to some, restrictions were eased and before we knew it, another lockdown was announced.

Here we all are now, and it is not totally clear what we will be allowed to do during the festive period, including visits to see Santa with our children.

Worst and saddest of all, people are dying in care homes having not seen their families in months while others are now looking towards a Christmas without their loved ones.

I can't even begin to imagine what it's been like for retailers or those in the hospitality trade, it must be just awful.

The thing is, I've supported Stormont.

I believed that sacrifices had to be made if we were to save lives and myself and those around me did just that, so why then does it feel like we are back at square one?

In two weeks time, my daughter turns six and, despite the fact that she and children everywhere have been through so much these past nine months, I'm unable to tell her if she will be able to see her friends at the park or elsewhere as a birthday treat.

Common sense should have told the executive to keep us locked down throughout November so we could enjoy December, that time of year when special memories are made.

In other places the governments brought in tougher restrictions that are due to ease at the start of December.

But that didn't happen at Stormont and here we are.

The festive season has begun and mental health is at an all time low and feelings of social isolation have never been higher.

Happy Christmas I don't think.


Comedian Matt Lucas has announced he is doing his part to try and inspire some Christmas cheer.

The Great British Bake-Off presenter has this week released a festive charity single to raise funds for Fareshare, which helps fight hunger and tackle food waste.

The 46-year-old said he hoped the self-penned tune `Merry Christmas, Baked Potato' would also help put a smile on some faces this festive season.

Speaking about the new release, he said: "Santa Baked Potato's on his way! I hope my silly song will put a smile on your face".

What a lovely gesture.

Well done Matt.



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