Consultation key to buy-in from people

January 17th, 2021 11:40 PM

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WHEN will our government come to properly appreciate the value of proper consultation about decisions on restrictions? They effectively undermined their own authority when they had to do an embarrassing u-turn about asking Leaving Cert students to attend school three days a week during this new height of the current pandemic.

With further more transmissible strains of the Covid-19 virus doing the rounds, students’ representatives had signalled their intention to boycott going into school and the teachers’ unions backed them up by refusing to co-operate with the idea. It seemed strange that the Department of Education would be seeking to mobilise some 60,000 Leaving Cert students at a time when the government was actively encouraging people to stay at home; surely remote learning is a better solution in the current circumstances?

On the other hand, not having a school routine is very difficult for children with special needs and their parents. This is a serious problem for the government to solve, but one that needs to be further addressed as the situation cannot continue indefinitely and there is no guarantee that schools will re-open on the newly-ordained date of February 1st.

The relaxation of restrictions will only begin to happen if the numbers of new cases of Covid-19 and resultant hospitalisations drop to manageable proportions. But this is dependent on people obeying government advice to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons.

Pandemic fatigue is making it more difficult for the government to get buy-in from the public to do the right thing. But, if they are not consulting all stakeholders properly and failing to be decisive about what they want people to do, then they are just undermining their own credibility and won’t get the level of public co-operation they need to suppress this deadly virus again

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