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Postcard from the Republic of Ireland

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HAVING lived in the UK for four years after graduating as a mechanical engineer, I decided to return home to Dublin in 2019. After a number of years of graft I was looking forward to enjoying the rich nightlife, warm welcoming pubs, music and sporting events that make Ireland so special.

When the then Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar announced the beginning of restrictions in March 2020, there was a collective sense of goodwill towards the government: we were facing the unknown and we trusted they were doing their best to pilot the ship through the oncoming hurricane.

Little did we know that the storm would prove to be never ending, at least by way of government policy.

Since March 2020, Ireland has been locked down three times. The current lockdown is the longest in Europe. Ireland is one of the most restricted countries on the planet.

The country I longed to return to has become a dystopia. The mainstream media have been nothing but ugly cheerleaders for government policy. Instead of questioning the scientific basis of on-going restrictions, our opposition politicians simply criticise the government for not having locked down sooner.

Policy is being dictated by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to a government cabinet who are at best ignorant of science and complex problem solving.

NPHET is headed by Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer of the State. He has been lionised by the media, was awarded the Freedom of Dublin in 2020, and was nominated by listeners of a popular radio show Today FM as the man of the year.

This is despite his record of being involved in two major public health scandals.

During the swine flu ‘pandemic’ he stated publicly that he was fully confident that the Pandemrix vaccine was safe to administer to school children despite concerns already having been raised about it in Germany. This caused numerous cases of narcolepsy in children, with compensation court cases in Ireland to this day

He was also involved in the misreporting of cervical smear test results under CervicalCheck, a national screening programme. He was aware of tests being misreported as far back as 2016, yet advised the Irish Minister for Health against an external review of the Department of Health in favour of his own report

Ireland went into its first lockdown on March 23, 2020, on the promise of two weeks to flatten the curve. ICU loading, cases and deaths did not peak until April24, indicating that the restrictions had little impact on trajectory of the virus. There were numerous outbreaks in nursing homes, as the authorities decided to move elderly patients from hospitals into nursing homes without testing them beforehand. Half of all deaths in the first lockdown occurred in nursing homes.

Nevertheless, despite the low ICU bed capacity in Ireland, ICU demand never outstripped supply.

To give context, the population of the Irish Republic is nearly 5million. The average life expectancy for men is 78 and 81 for women. The median age of death of Covid-19 in Ireland is 83, meaning it has had no impact on life expectancy.

Total Covid-19 classified in the state were 1,571 deaths, with 34.64 per cent of the pandemic-attributed deaths occurring from February 29 to May 20, 2020, the first wave. The confirmed case to fatality rate during this time was 6.46 per cent.

As Ireland entered into the summer of 2020, cases fell dramatically, though the authorities were slow to reopen the country. Only pubs that served food were allowed to open, meaning many of Ireland’s traditional pubs remained closed throughout the whole of 2020, with the media callously referring to them as ‘wet pubs’.

After months of (correctly) saying that there was no evidence for the effectiveness of facemasks, face coverings were made mandatory on public transport and in retail in August 2020, long after the pandemic was over, demonstrating that the authorities had no exit strategy.

Cases began to rise in September of 2020, which led to a tightening of restrictions across the country. My personal awakening occurred when Ireland went into lockdown on October 23, on the basis that more cases would lead to more deaths. This was unfounded and not supported by any real world epidemiological data.

During the second lockdown, despite there being a record number of ‘cases’, 276 deaths were attributed to Covid-19 from the second wave of cases, which lasted from September 1 to November 30, 2020. The case fatality rate fell over 90 per cent to 0.63 per cent during this second wave.

The Republic of Ireland remained in lockdown until December 15. We were told this time around that we needed to stay restricted so that we could enjoy a ‘meaningful Christmas’. Once the country reopened, cases started to rise as it was in the middle of the respiratory illness season. The pubs were ordered to close on Christmas Eve, and restrictions were brought in after Christmas Day.

During the run-up to the third lockdown the pandemic followed a similar trajectory to the second lockdown. The case fatality rate was 0.69 per cent, with 114 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in this period from December 15 to December 31, 2020.

Ireland went into a full lockdown in January 2021 and has remained under these restrictions ever since.

A particularly troubling aspect of the pandemic trajectory in Ireland is that over half of all Covid-19 classified deaths occurred since the vaccine rollout began in January 2021.

The growth rate of daily deaths increased from 0.3 to 0.68 per cent, and 2287 deaths have occurred January 1, 2021 to the present.

This is more than the 2,248 deaths in the nine months of 2020 when there was much less herd immunity to the virus.

The restriction measures by the Irish government have had little impact on the overall trajectory of the virus. Likewise a large protest against government restrictions in Dublin on February 27, a so-called ‘super spreader’ event, had no impact on case numbers.  Each wave of cases has followed a standard normal distribution, with the 13 months of data clearly showing a seasonal aspect to the virus behaviour.

An analysis of excess deaths by Graham Neary, an Irish financial analyst has shown that excess deaths in Ireland are actually less than the 2017 to 2018

As a result of the draconian restrictions in Ireland, Ireland is now the most indebted country per capita in Europe. More than half a million people are unemployed. At the same time between 2019 and 2020 the operational ICU capacity in Ireland increased by 21 beds to 276, showing that the authorities have preferred wasteful and ineffective lockdowns to real investment in healthcare facilities. I genuinely fear for the future of the Republic of Ireland slouching into this brave new world.

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John Murphy
John Murphy is a mechanical engineer based in Dublin. He has a strong background in problem solving and data analysis which has led him to become sceptical of the mainstream Covid-19 narrative in Ireland and the UK.

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