What exactly is “Essential ” Travel.
Readers will know that my big hobby is travelling around Ireland …for free. Since I became entitled to a SmartPass three years ago, I have been in all 32 counties. I have been in around 173 towns and villages on this island. Some places like Cork, Limerick and Waterford, I have been on more than two occasions. And of course I have travelled to every Dublin suburb by LUAS, DublinBus and DART.
My most recent outing on public transport was train to Dublin, BusÉireann to Newtownmountkennedy (Co Wicklow), a cup of tea and cake and another BusÉireann to Ashford. Then a BusÉireann to Bray, then DART to Killiney and a walk around. Then train to Portmarnock and back to Dublin. And a meal before the last train home.
I think it is important to stress that this amazing freebie is good for the physical and mental health of senior citizens. And it is economically beneficial to bookshops, tea shops and other businesses in (say) Warrenpoint, Enniscorthy, Ballinasloe and Edgeworthstown.
In early March, I was hoping to see a lot of places before going into hibernation around November.
I have lost months. And it is really hurting. I dont expect to be back on the road before the end of August.
In pragmatic terms BusÉireann and DublinBus are currently operating at 50% capacity. Only 36 people can travel on a DublinBus.
For the good of the nation that I actually love, it would be very wrong for me to take up one of these 36 seats, travelling without any real purpose to Inchicore, Dundrum and Swords.
The public transport is primarily for …….essential workers.
The downside of course is that I am 68 years of age. I am not the person I was when I was 60 years old or 65 years old. It has always seemed to me that getting to 75 years old in reasonable health is as much as I can reasonably expect. So six months out of active life is a heavy price to pay. But others have paid a higher price.
Have I broken Lock Down restrictions?
Yes. My wife’s best friend died in May and there were child care considerations which in strictness made us break guidelines and I dont regret it. But I missed a cousin’s funeral on the north coast.
My wife and I have taken three car journeys to Fivemiletown, Clogher, Augher and Ballygawley…Tynan, Middletown and Caledon…and Carrickmore, Pomeroy and Donaghmore. Again…no regrets. We only left the car long enough to take pics for my travel blog.
So I wont be judgemental about private individuals who broke some rules. Especially if rules seem vague.
Nor would I be too critical of an Alliance Party councillor who sought advice and was told that “essential travel” can include a visit to Spain to maintain a property she owns. Fair play to her.
Indeed as she wrote on Facebook (4th July) that after 14 weeks of LockDown and being heavily involved with the local response, she was taking a break. Again…fair play.
“I’m going to take a holiday for a few weeks and catch up with my own wee family, we haven’t all been together since Christmas”.
I dont know if all of that “few weeks” was spent in Spain. I dont know how long it takes for maintenance work on any property in Spain. Nor do I know how many family members travelled to Spain.
I am honestly not that bothered. Few would begrudge anyone taking whatever opportunity was there.
More serious is that the Alliance Party spokesperson on Health ……..Health!!!!….Paula Bradshaw…was seemingly unaware that travelling to Italy on a family holiday was not “essential” until an hour after she announced her plans on RTE Radio.
More worryingly, Ms Bradshaw is an adviser to the saintly Naomi Long…who is Minister for Justice. ….Justice!!!! Now of course its perfectly possible that Ms Bradshaw and Ms Long dont actually talk about personal things like vacations.
But it seems a bit odd that Ms Bradshaw did not say “hey boss I have booked a holiday in Italy in a couple of weeks”
What is the proper response from Ms Long.
A…..”Great….send me a postcard”
B….”Thats not actually essential. Cancel it.