So it’s 2022 and we’ve all come a long way; mentally, physically, for some even spiritually. We’ve made do with the cards we’ve been dealt with, some of us have even managed to make the best of them. Yet with this rollercoaster of restrictions never seeming to come to a stop, how much more are we expected to merely make do with? And is there any hope for being let off?
Apart from the usual shenanigans of facemask and covid cert diligence, we have recently been smacked with the early curfew of 8 pm. With the government’s plan of forcing nights out to an end before they even begin, surely we would see some sort of lowering in the rate of infection. But can we really say that this approach has been as effective as it was showcased to be?
In short: No.
As this rule was mainly targeted at those who make the most of night-time hospitality – i.e. those on the youthful side of Ireland – you’d think a better-suited restriction would be implemented. Because, as we all know, even in the best of times, the night doesn’t end with the bars. It doesn’t even end with the nightclubs. For those of us that keep the spring in our steps even after the dancefloors and the baby Guinness, there is always the revered Afters. So really, what is the difference between starting the night that bit earlier? We all end up at the same place anyhow.
This fact leads us to a different kind of question entirely. A question that begs to know, do the powers that be really care about lowering the spread of the pandemic in the youth of today? Or are they just trying to seem as though they do?
This, like everything, is up for debate, and, as we all know, would of course be completely and utterly out of character for our government.
Our other little Christmas present was the Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol. This little snippet of the Public Health Alcohol Act of 2018 was enacted on the 4th of January with the main goal of stopping the sale of strong alcohol in supermarkets at very low prices. In other words – Huzzar, Revero and Prazsky aren’t worth the burn anymore. So what we can basically expect is a basic doubling of our cheap and cheerful favourites with beer, wine, and vodka now costing a minimum of two, eight and eleven euros respectively.
So we are left with two options: Get Taste or Get Sober.
According to drinkaware.ie, the expected effect of this price shift is to “contribute towards reducing consumption amongst the heaviest drinkers” meaning the members of our population who “buy the cheapest, strongest alcohol”. Now we’ve all heard the woeful stories of those affected by consumption abuse and addiction in general. We’ve heard of the number of livelihoods ruined by consumption. We’ve heard of the number of families and relationships devastated by consumption. But when you interview someone who has managed to get loose of addiction’s tight hold or even someone who is unfortunately still within its grasp, they will not tell you that it was too expensive so they quit. If that was the case, Ireland would not be in the position it’s in today where it feels the need to implement strict legislation surrounding alcohol.
If anything, would we not see this as a quicker road signposted to rock bottom? It seems the government’s thinking is that of little thought at all when they are basically saying that they’ll enforce rules that will make the repercussions of addiction more severe so people are forced to reach a low that leaves them with no other option but to reach out for help, regardless of whether they choose to or not.
Maybe I’m thinking of this in the wrong light, but would I be wrong in saying that perhaps we should make help more readily available and awareness more effective? This certainly seems like a less ‘cruel to be kind’ alternative, but once again, it is up for debate.
Another aspect where the government seems to be showing us tough love is the continuation of the abomination that is the rising cost of accommodation in this country. Students are still being faced with next to impossible rent prices from all angles; be it digs, flatshares, as well as on-campus accommodation. It is a travesty that the young people of Ireland, the deemed “future” of Ireland, are resorting to couch surfing and astronomical commute times in order to receive an education. What is even worse is the ‘shut-up and put-up’ mentality that the pressing situation is being met with. For a nation that showcases an ever-growing emigration rate, you’d think those in power would do their best to transform the country into an attractive home for people of all ages, not just retirees and corporations with twinkling pockets. You’d think that it’s all well and good to have these beautiful, modern apartment blocks and estates; you’d think it’s a tremendous leap into the corporate world with the contracts being signed inside elite boardrooms, but you could also question what is the point? What is the point when eventually, we are running out of the able workforce to fuel such leaps and to occupy such homes? If you are not providing for the audience at hand, are you providing at all?
Yet we mustn’t get bogged down by these ever so little, minuscule, fractional even, slights of the government. Because news just in! If you haven’t heard already, firstly, where have you been? Secondly, the majority of restrictions are being lifted as of 6 am on the gorgeous day of January 22nd. And with this wonderful day, we once again get a whiff of what once was, and what should have been a long time ago. We can go for a pint. We can stay out until 3 am. We can take a break from the toxic relationship intertwining with Students and The Government, overlook the letdowns for just a little while, and enjoy the life we’ve been refused until now.
Rhoen Eate – Features Editor