The COVID-19 pandemic remains the dominant story in Ireland, as it is in most of the world. Wish there was happier, more diverse news in this month’s roundup … maybe May:
As of April 27, the coronavirus death rate was roughly the same in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: 1,102 deaths, or 22 per 100,000 population in the south; 405 deaths, or 21 per 100,000, in the north, according to The Irish Times. (The number of cases and fatalities reported by media and government varies widely.)
Reunification of the island of Ireland through cooperative pandemic exit strategy? “Happily, there is now an official agreement between the two jurisdictions that could facilitate the achievement of a harmonized approach,” one public health official wrote to the Times. “… there is a ‘compelling case’ for ‘a common approach to action in both jurisdictions’ where appropriate.”
Ireland said it would quadruple its contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO) after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would cut American funding.
Trump’s Doonbeg, County Clare, golf course has accepted Irish government relief to help pay furloughed workers.
First the St. Patrick’s Day parades, now the Twelfth of July parades: The Orange Order cancelled 17 Northern Ireland parades that commemorate the Battle of the Boyne. Locally organized Eleventh Night bonfires also are being discouraged.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar rejoined the medical register to help out in the crisis. Varadkar studied medicine and worked as a doctor for seven years before leaving the profession for politics. He was removed from the medical register in 2013. The New York Times wrote an April 11 story about how the pandemic “Rescued the Image of Ireland’s Political Leader.”
Politicians in the Republic are still trying to form a coalition government from the outcome of the February elections.
The scheduled Aug. 29 college football game between the University of Notre Dame and Navy in Dublin has not yet been cancelled, despite the city’s ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
Dublin’s Abbey Theatre is producing and posting on its YouTube channel a series of 50 pandemic-themed “theatrical postcards” called “Dear Ireland.”
Orange Order parades have begun peacefully, the BBC reports.
There were no incidents as a feeder parade passed a sectarian flashpoint at shops in Ardoyne in north Belfast. … Chief Constable George Hamilton said:
“I’m optimistic, but it’s a cautious optimism and I’m just hoping that people take responsibility for their own actions and they need to understand that, as I’ve said throughout the past couple of weeks, the police will do our piece to keep people safe and also to collect evidence where people step outside of the law.”
The Irish Times reports that the Police Service of Northern Ireland is deploying 3,500 officers, with about one third deployed to north Belfast hot spots. After several years of relative calm, loyalist violence erupted last July when Orangemen were banned by the Parades Commission from returning home past the Ardoyne shops. The commission decision was upheld this year.
Here’s a good background piece about “Orangeism,” also from the BBC. By the way, that “L.O.L” on their banners refers to Loyal Orange Lodge, not laughing out loud.
It’s July, and that means Orange parade season in Northern Ireland.
The trouble has already begun as the two main unionist parties walked out of talks at Stormont after the Parades Commission banned Orangemen from marching by a republican area of north Belfast on 12 July. The Guardian reports there are renewed fears that serious street disorder will break out in the coming days over the ban.
[Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa] Villiers said: “The last thing Northern Ireland needs is any kind of public disorder which could put police officers at risk of injury or worse and which would damage Northern Ireland’s reputation abroad and undermine efforts to attract jobs and investment. Any reaction or protest needs to be both peaceful and lawful, as called for by unionist leaders in their statement today. “
Here’s the full statement from five unionist leaders, including Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. We will see what happens, but in Northern Ireland in July, it usually isn’t anything good.