NOTHING says a brand new year like a man hovering over his laptop struggling to figure out the date of the piece he’s about to submit.
God knows it’ll be March before I’ll be able to confidently write 2022 on a page.
Yes, it’s another new year in these strange Covid times but rather than focusing on Omicron, infection levels and the various crises of the moment, I’d like to take the opportunity to look into the middle distance a bit this week. I
’m going to stick my journalistic head above the parapet to make a few predictions of what’s to come in 2021, sorry 2022.
So strap in folks, it could be a bumpy ride!
Although Covid will sweep through Ireland like Oliver Cromwell on a horse during the early months of 2022, the vaccines will do their job and the health system will just about stay intact.
The hold the virus has over our imaginations will diminish. We will stop greeting each other on the roads by quoting the positivity rate in the local area.
People who cough on buses won’t be immediately manhandled out the double doors.
Covid, won’t go away of course, but it will become more harmless and endemic, much like the music of Nathan Carter.
Newer variants will emerge for sure, but will get ever milder.
I know this because, like most of the rest of you, I have recently graduated from the Luke O’Neill School Of Armchair Epidemiology and I have passed with honours. After Omicron will come rho, sigma, upsilon, sleepy, snoozy, sneezy and dopey.
The last variant of 2022 will simply be named Emer and will have the kindly, unthreatening manner of a newly-qualified primary teacher from Mayo.
The symptoms will be a slight tickle in the nose and a small smirk that creeps across the face for about five to seven days.
Next winter will still be challenging, of course, but with new boosters, antiviral drugs and a few songs from Luke, we’ll muddle through it.
The Fix-All Shinners
Over the next year, I predict that Sinn Féin and Mary Lou will continue their rise in the opinion polls. They’ll be more popular than a Bobby Storey funeral by the middle of the summer.
The party will achieve this by continuing with their campaign of promising to fix the country. They will promise to fix housing and to fix healthcare. They will promise to fix our cities and fix our towns.
They will cross their hearts and hope to die and say they can fix the Mica problem, fix the roads, fix the sky and fix the seas. They will fix your gutters, fix your marriage and Eoin Ó Broin will even call around and fix you an omelette for brunch. And who better to do it?
Anyone with a passing knowledge of Northern Irish politics will tell you how adept they are at fixing things up there. And 2022 will also be the year when the Labour Party and the Social Democrats will finally begin to make some progress to find out what actually separates them.
A phalanx of Nasa scientists will be flown in by PriceWaterhouseCoopers who will use specialised microscopes, initially conceived to find life on Mars, to discover the policy differences between the two parties. After all this expense, however, the answer is to be that one of them is red and the other one is purple.
On the international stage, it will be another challenging year for Brexit Britain as Bojo struggles to do a game-changing trade deal on herring with the Norwegians.
He will continue to bumble away at the helm like Toad from Toad Hall, babbling on about bendy bananas and building back better while continuing to sire more children, as is the Tory tradition.
There seems to be little Labour and Keir Starmer can do to get a foothold. You get the sense Boris could eat a baby on live TV and the public would just roll their eyes and give him another chance.
In the US, Joe Biden will continue to slow-jog from helicopters pretending that everything is cool, man while it’s clear to everyone else that the USA is actually having some sort of extended nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, in a gold-encrusted bunker deep in the bowels of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump will plan his reascension to the throne surrounded by a phalanx of rednecks, assorted loons and empty pizza boxes.
More love all around
I THINK 2022 will be another challenging year for the coalition government parties in Ireland. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, so it will be interesting to see how both parties navigate these commemorations in the current political context. With Covid hopefully beginning to disappear in the rearview mirror, it will be interesting to see if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael might begin to sell their successes to the electorate as a unit ahead of the next election.
Micheál Martin will have to perform the unprecedented task of handing back the office of Taoiseach to Leo Varadkar in December, presuming that Varadkar is still the leader of Fine Gael. Anybody who has ever tried to mediate between two children sharing a single toy knows that it’s all very well until one of the kids has to give it back to the other for a go. So this is likely to be crunch time for the two main parties.
In the past, this would have been a recipe for total collapse, but with the sceptre of Sinn Féin growing larger, I predict an extremely boring and relatively stable transition. Both parties know that to explode things at this point would be the death knell for at least one of them. Meanwhile, Eamonn Ryan and the Green Party will continue to quietly go about the business of pushing through transformational climate change policies so it’s in their interest to keep the show on the road too.
So here’s hoping that 2022 will be an extremely boring year full of few surprises and far less news. We’ve had enough excitement for one decade, if you ask me.