A few weeks ago, Saint Patrick’s Day took a controversial turn in more ways than one. From The Dolores Cahill Fiasco to Anti-Lockdown Protests, heads were turning every which way, navigating the chaos in search of a decent takeaway pint. 

I will be the first to say that I am a strong advocate of free speech. I am all for voicing opinions and beliefs and even throwing a debate or two in the mix. But when this free speech takes the shape of a blatant kick to the teeth, I do believe there’s a problem to be addressed.

Yes, we are all struggling with the current Situation, but we make do. We settle for our decent takeaway pints and hope for a spot of sunshine here and there, and if not, we can whip out our umbrellas and make do with the rain. As a nation, making do is something we have become accustomed to, if not mastered. But can someone please tell me, why it is acceptable for Gardaí to be ordered to sit by and watch a horde of unmasked, un-distanced, protestors to storm through the streets of Inner City Dublin whining about a Lockdown that they were more than likely big contributors to. Prosecutions were minimal, if existent at all, as the spectacle was excused by the self righteous illusion that standing together may hasten the rise of a solution. But at least our minds are at ease now that the Boys in Blue got a jolly good show and a handful of the population had their voices heard. 

What is the true bafflement however, is that this uncontrolled social event is allowed, yet we are not permitted to get an education in a monitored environment. Yes, freedom of speech is one of the key pillars to our seemingly high functioning society, and indeed a human right, but so is the right to an education. Or at least it was the last time I checked, the Taoiseach may have changed it on the sly and without a clear explanation, similar to his approach in the altering of restrictions.

Alas, the third level Student Body is overlooked once again as we are not included in the Government’s ‘Back to School Plan’ or even the Vaccination Plan for that matter. We have unequivocally been placed at the bottom of this nation’s societal food chain. Ironic isn’t it? We students, apprentices, youths of today, apparent “future of Ireland” are among the last on the list to get vaccinated, the last back to school, the last to get back to some kind of normality. Our Government boasts about our progress, with headlines chiming to the general tune of “Marie, age 102, vaccinated today in Old Folks Home”. That is all well and good, it is morally correct to vaccinate the most vulnerable, and I am happy that Marie has the opportunity to go outside. But to be controversial (albeit realistic) and say the thing that everyone is thinking but refrains from saying aloud; Marie doesn’t go to the shops anymore, she doesn’t go into an office and contribute to the dying economy, and she probably doesn’t notice a difference between Ireland before and after the pandemic. Again, it’s brilliant that we are vaccinating people, and our most vulnerable at that, but I think with the devastatingly slow pace of the vaccination roll out, we must reassess our priorities. Do we want to have a safe older generation that doesn’t leave the house that much anyway? Or do we want to rebuild our country faster and get a strong workforce back up and running?

Rhoen Eate, Campus Correspondent