Columnists

Jake O'Kane: Belfast councillors' orange and green Glider bus row misses the climate change challenge

The vote split along sectarian lines, with unionists demanding it run along the Shore Road whilst nationalists argued it must go via the Antrim Road. This for a bus service which isn't expected to be operational until 2027...

Belfast councillors managed to paint a row over a proposed new Glider bus route in orange and green. Picture by Hugh Russell
Jake O'Kane

I remember when, if you wanted to see a good fight in Belfast, you didn't go to the Ulster Hall but rather the City Hall. Those were the days when more than words were thrown across the chamber and the police were often called in to keep the peace.

Things have settled since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement but, just occasionally, Belfast councillors let their masks slip. This is what happened when they debated the extension of Translink's Glider bus service into north Belfast.

The vote split along sectarian lines, with unionists demanding it run along the Shore Road whilst nationalists argued it must go via the Antrim Road. This for a bus service which isn't expected to be operational until 2027.

If you factor in our escalating global warming crisis there's every chance that by 2027, nature will have made the decision for them. With rapidly melting ice caps resulting in a rising sea level, the Shore Road could, by then, be under 10 feet of water.

Not that this will stop the arguing in City Hall, as councillors will no doubt then demand parity of transportation and the introduction of a ferry service where the Shore Road used to be.

While I'm being facetious, the reality may not be far from what I've described. This summer proved warnings about global warming were wrong, but only in so far as they underestimated the speed at which the impact of climate change would be felt.

While Germany experienced extreme flooding, wild forest fires in California resulted in whole towns burning to the ground. The tipping point of irrevocable climate change may have already passed, with severe weather events now becoming the norm rather than the exception.

An image which captured our conflicting attitudes about the issue was of a submerged car caught in the German floods with a sign on its back window which used obscene language to demonise Greta Thunburg. Don't you just love karma?

****

IT is bad enough when anti-vaxx propaganda is pushed by conspiracy theorists but when a doctor joins their ranks, the damage caused to public health is amplified.

A case in point is Anne McCloskey, a Derry GP who took to the internet to argue that the pandemic "had largely been a figment of the media and the government's imagination", adding that vaccines were "unapproved and unlicensed".

I've been waiting for the last 18 months for such claims to be held to account and this finally happened when William Crawley interviewed the GP on his BBC Radio Ulster Talkback show last Tuesday.

I only caught the interview at the weekend, and it's been a long time since I applauded a radio broadcast.

Crawley, with calm courtesy, forensically dismantled McCloskey's arguments with such precision she was left babbling like a petulant child caught in a lie.

Never raising his voice, Crawley systematically went through her assertions, proving each to be unfounded.

When two experts on the pandemic, Dr Simon Clarke and Professor Gabriel Scally joined the discussion, Dr McCloskey's position was laid bare as being woefully ill-informed on the science around both Covid and the vaccines.

Half an hour into the interview, sounding ever more desperate, Dr McCloskey stated 1,500 deaths had been linked to people having taken the vaccine.

Immediately challenged, she was forced to retract and admit she had been wrong in making the false 'cause and effect' connection between the deaths and the vaccine.

A matter of minutes later, she asserted she had been "reading the molecular biology around mRNA technology" and quoted a paper by a Stephanie Seneff. When challenged again by Crawley, she was forced to accept Seneff had no medical training but was in fact a computer scientist whose various papers had been discredited when checked by experts.

I cannot remember a time when a BBC programme so fully lived up to that Corporation's mission to 'inform, educate and entertain'. William Crawley gave a masterclass in the art of the interview I'll long remember.

****

MY thanks to all the kind people who got in touch after last week's column about my insomnia, and special thanks to the person who told me about a particular type of scented body lotion. When I told my wife about this miracle cure, she said we already had it.

When I asked why she had never suggested it, she reminded me of the time she had offered to use lavender spray on my pillow and I had reacted as if she had asked me to wear a nightdress to bed.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access