We cannot allow the 8% to paralyse our nation

Throughout this pandemic the Irish people have done their bit. That does not mean people were perfect in following every single restriction. It does not mean that they did not get tired of what has seemed an endless struggle against an endlessly frustrating virus. What it does mean is that the vast majority of people were conscientious, the vast majority of people did the basics. Most importantly, 92% of over 18s got vaccinated.

The framing of Covid vaccines as a personal choice is deeply flawed in many ways and that folly becomes clearer by the day in this nation. The new surge in cases, hospitalisations and ICU admissions in Ireland is being led by the unvaccinated. Despite making up 8% of the population, the unvaccinated make up 65% of Covid related ICU occupancy. 

Most in this country know that our health service is not fully fit for purpose. That does not mean that consciously playing an individual part in pushing it past collapse is somehow inevitable or moral. The preventable deferral of elective procedures will cost people their lives. The absence of parents in maternity wards costs people their sense of security and dignity. Another winter of now preventable sustained death cannot be laid before our hospital staff. The method of prevention is very clearly the vaccine.

The reality is that the anti-vax movement is centred around viciously warped narratives of individual rights and protection of health. That concern for individual freedoms however, is only centred around selfishness and objective ignorance. What about the freedom of the responsible citizen to once again live a normal life?

A clear choice now befalls Irish society. A choice between freedom and paralysis. A choice between consciousness and ignorance. Why should we spend our winter locked in due to the choices of the entitled fringe minority who show a complete disregard for shared rationality and wellbeing?

The vaccine pass is a simple system. It works. It has worked well since it was implemented. There is no reason why people who actively endanger public health should enjoy the privilege of access to ‘non-essential’ venues. Going to the pub is not a right, going to a nightclub is not a right, going to the cinema is not a right.

The ordinary, decent, conscientious and hardworking people of Ireland have done their duty. We as a country have already endured one dark winter, hunkered down and voluntarily limited the liberties of life enjoyed in a democratic society. That is what a good society does when faced with an enormous threat that endangers the wellness of a nation.

The behaviour of the 8% is fundamentally undemocratic and the vaccine pass is the antidote. If these people will not make any effort to protect society, some even actively undermine those efforts, why should they enjoy any privileges associated with our society? 

It is time we as a nation acknowledge how utterly irresponsible this minority is. We are being held to ransom. A full re-opening for the vaccinated should commence. And the remainder will self-relegate themselves to a winter devoid of entertainment, venues and businesses. That will be a choice, it is one that they will make knowing the consequences. It is their right to do so, but 92% of society also has the right to choose freedom.

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