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Are Northern Ireland politicians protecting us from Covid any better than they protected us from the Troubles?

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What must it be like to be Professor Sir Michael McBride at those joint UK Chief Medical Officer meetings to approve courses of action on the pandemic?

Given that NI is the equivalent of Typhoid Mary in the British Isles, with the highest per capita death toll, rising infections and a creaking health service, he must feel like muttering, “Sorry, the Stormont Executive has ate my homework.”

Sometimes only the blackest humour will suffice.

Let’s be clear: Sir Michael isn’t responsible for public policy decision-making any more than hospitals are accountable for staff shortages. He can only give advice. Whether it’s heeded is another matter.

But after months of confusion and a tight-lipped approach to honest questions, it’s obvious that, compared with our closest neighbours — the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales — NI is a Covid death-trap.

Why so? Bizarrely no one appears to be addressing that question at Stormont or Westminster. It’s not that the answers have been inadequate, it’s that there haven’t been any.

Facing into what’s evidently going to be a horrible winter, we wonder what we might do differently. But not having discussed what we’ve done wrong up to now, we’ve no idea what that might be.

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We urgently need to have vital conversations, but so toxic is the public discourse on Covid those no longer seem possible.

Recently I wrote that to save lives we needed some kind of circuit-breaker. Days of abuse followed. Such is the hostility which our gung-ho Executive has encouraged that I’m not surprised many concerned citizens feel gagged.

Yet we need........

© Belfast Telegraph

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