When the UK Government's Chief Advisor, Dominic Cummings, went on a 200 mile road trip to Durham with his family last May, he went against his own advice issued by the government. The country was told not to travel unless absolutely necessary, and to stay at home if they suspected they'd covid-19 symptoms. He justified this trip by saying he needed to isolate after both he and his son displayed symptoms. The symptoms were later proved to be non-covid-19 related, but this was enough for him to drive to a cottage on his father's estate. Our Prime Minister didn't see this as breaking the lockdown rules, but a later "minor breach" did occur. Dominic Cummings drove his wife to Barnard Castle some 30 miles away on her birthday, apparently to see if his eyesight was safe to drive back to London.
The reaction of the UK public, and some of Boris's and Dominic's supporters, was overwhelmingly negative. As a direct result, the UK public's attention to the lockdown rules changed. It was understandable and inevitable when millions of folk had endured mental and financial hardship during the lockdown, only to see a special case being made for the privileged few. Why should health workers have to live away from their families to protect themselves from the virus? Why should elderly relatives not be able to see their son or daughter? Why shouldn't you be able to travel the ten miles to see your boyfriend / girlfriend for the evening?
The saga of Dominic Cumming's trip and subsequent explanation beggared belief. He got away with a mild slap on the wrist, and told not to be a such a naughty boy ever again. Still, it couldn't happen again, could it? Surely people in positions of power would have taken note?
Well obviously not in Ireland!
On 19th August, 81 guests attended a dinner at the Oireachtas Golf Club in Co.Galway, in direct violation of the country's lockdown rules. At that time indoor gatherings were limited to six people from no more than three households. Among the great and the good who attended were:
- A number of high-profile Oireachtas club members.
- Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Trade.
- Séamus Woulfe, a Supreme Court judge.