Jake O'Kane: If a comedian can see what's coming, why couldn't our politicians?

Those who continue to demand that we must celebrate the baby in the manger should ask themselves, is it worth putting Granny in the morgue?

Dame Esther Rantzen who in a Channel 4 News interview this week about Christmas and Covid said: "I don't think we have the right to make individual decisions. I think this is too big for that"
Jake O'Kane

EARLIER this week I commented on social media, "We will look back at this Christmas and wonder why NI politicians put sentiment over science with regard to Covid over Christmas. I dread to think what the NHS will have to face in January." I know what you’re thinking – I’ve no medical expertise – but that’s the point: If a comic can see what’s coming, why couldn’t our politicians?

Many eminent scientists agree, including Dr Gabriel Scally, president of the epidemiology and public health section of the Royal Society of Medicine, who says the handling of the pandemic in the north "beggars belief". He went on to predict that "the health service is on the brink of being overwhelmed", a fact borne out when, on Tuesday night, medics were forced to treat patients in ambulances, 17 of which were queued outside Antrim Area Hospital, and by the subsequent six-week lockdown announcement.

Dr Scally joined Esther Rantzen in offering a solution to our Christmas dilemma, suggesting we postpone family gatherings until the summer solstice next June. By then the vaccine roll-out will have eased pressure on our health service. Those who continue to demand that we must celebrate the baby in the manger should ask themselves, is it worth putting Granny in the morgue?

The Tories, having abdicated responsibility for legislating the necessary measures to curtail the spread of Covid over the holidays, argue that any restrictions can be left to the "common sense" of the British people.

I bet this new laissez-faire attitude doesn’t extend to allowing individuals to set their taxation rate; only multi-national businesses such as Amazon, Apple or Google are allowed to do that.

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EMPERORS of ancient Rome regularly held games to distract plebs from the harsh reality of their existence; this is the origin of the phrase ‘bread and circuses’. A cynic might argue that having reneged on the Irish Sea Border, the allocation of £3 million to commemorate the centenary of Northern Ireland is this government’s version of bread and circuses.

That Seamus Heaney’s image is being used to mark the celebrations may prove problematic. This is just the latest example of Heaney being misappropriated; having previously been described as a British poet, Heaney retorted, ‘Be advised my passport’s green. No glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen’.

Those who find it impossible to join in the celebrations aren’t guilty of petty churlishness but rather an understanding of history. Northern Ireland’s first prime minister, James Craig, memorably boasted, "We are a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state".

So, while we’ve hopefully matured to the point where we can respect the right of unionists to mark this commemoration, it’s a bit much to expect nationalists to celebrate a party to which they were never invited.

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I’M GLAD Edwin Poots is recovering well from his recent appendicitis operation. I don’t believe disagreeing with someone means you wish them any ill will.

Mr Poots also tested positive for Covid while in hospital. I did wonder if his catching the virus meant his calculation of the discrepancy between nationalists and loyalists contracting Covid reduced from 6/1 to 5.99999999999999/1?

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?THIS Sunday sees the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award (SPOTY). I won’t be watching due to the exclusion of Jonathan Rea from the shortlist. It’s somewhat fitting that Tyson Fury, who did make the cut, is bringing legal action to have his name removed.

When you consider that Rea won a sixth consecutive Superbike World Title in 2020 as well as BBC Northern Ireland’s local sports personality award, it’s baffling why he hasn’t been considered for the main SPOTY. The BBC states: "The criteria for selecting nominees for the shortlist is, and always has been, centred around sporting achievement."

I don’t wish to compare and contrast with those who made the shortlist, but I would remind people – six consecutive Superbike World Titles! What more do they expect the man to do, ride backwards while blindfolded?

The fact Rea was SPOTY runner-up in 2017 may have led to jitters by organisers. After all, this is Lewis Hamilton’s year. Not that I have a problem acknowledging Hamilton; after a seventh World Championship crown, he deserves to win in 2020. However, I’d argue his win would be all the greater with Jonathan Rea sitting alongside him.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Christmas and a healthy New Year. And remember, if you love your granny then leave her alone; by doing so you’ll increase her chances of being around for Christmas dinner next year.

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