There’s only one story to report in this month’s roundup: the COVID-19 pandemic, which exploded in Ireland and across the globe shortly before St. Patrick’s Day and soon cancelled parades, closed pubs and churches, and cloistered communities. As history’s longest March draws to a close, here are some key developments from the island of Ireland:
- A combined 67 people have died, and more than 3,000 have tested positive for COVID-19, in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as of March 29. Sadly, these numbers will grow.
- Citizens of the Republic are on strict quarantine through April 12, Easter Sunday. Gardaí are patrolling the streets to enforce the lock down.
- The Republic nationalized all its hospitals. “For the duration of this crisis the State will take control of all private hospital facilities and manage all of the resources for the common benefit of all of our people,” Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris said. “There can be no room for public versus private when it comes to pandemic.”
- Aer Lingus completed the first of 10 scheduled round trips to bring personal protective equipment (PPE) from China to Ireland in a €208m deal, RTÉ reported March 29.
- In the midst of the pandemic, the Republic is still trying to forge a new government. The Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil political parties, both center right but historic rivals, are reported to be nearing a deal on a new administration in the coming weeks. The left-wing Sinn Fein, which topped the Feb. 8 election, would be kept … well … isolated.
- The Irish people paused March 26 to applauded healthcare and front line workers fighting the pandemic. “In the Dáil, TDs stood at the allotted hour, forgetting their discussions of emergency measures for a brief moment to clap with gusto in appreciation of the hundreds of battles being fought by medical staff around the country,” The Irish Times reported. In the North, the “Clap for Carers” tribute featured buildings lit blue and cathedrals ringing bells.
- Irish Ambassador to the United States Dan Mulhall advised Irish citizens in America, especially those on short-term visas, to return to Ireland, “if there are doubts about the stability of your employment & your access to health care cover.”
- The 50th Listowel Writers’ Week in North Kerry, scheduled for May 27-31, was postponed until 2021.
- As encouragement to the people, Irish President Michael D. Higgins recorded his 27-year-old poem Take Care. Click the SoundCloud link in the tweet below:
Earlier today, on @NewstalkFM radio, President Higgins recorded one of his poems, first published in 1993.
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) March 27, 2020