The idea that we are all in this together through the coronavirus pandemic is “absolute nonsense,” according to broadcaster Ivan Yates.
The former Newstalk presenter is fronting a Cheltenham special of The Green Room on Virgin Media television every night this week.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, he offered Andrea his tips for the week before discussing the Gordon Elliot controversy and a year of COVID-19 restrictions.
“I hate lockdown with a passion,” he said. “I was watching the Players Championship in the golf on Sky Sports from Florida and there were huge crowds there watching.
“I mean, I don’t know how docile the Irish people have become but the reality is that, when this is over there is going to be a massive economic reckoning insofar as people have lost their jobs permanently and they don’t know it yet.”
All in this together?
He said the idea we are all in this together is nonsense – noting that certain sections of society have been hit far harder than others throughout the pandemic.
“What I keep coming back to on this is that there are three types of people affected by lockdown,” he said.
“There is a third of the population that is actually doing better in lockdown. People in grocery, people in pharma, in health and in tech who are absolutely going gangbusters.
“There is one-third not really affected – the public sector – and then there is one third that has lost 90% of its income.
“So, this notion that we are all in this together is absolute nonsense and always has been.”
Mr Yates said authorities have continually placed too much emphasis on the virus, forgetting the damage that is being caused by the restrictions.
“In the UK, they had the UK budget and said the cost of this is going to be £355bn,” he said.
“Have you heard one conversation in Ireland about how much this is all going to cost and who is going to pay for it?
“We have just absolutely, in a myopic way, focused on the public health issue to the exclusion of all else – that won’t last.”
Life after lockdown
He also criticised the media which he said has “not really gone beyond the daily death count” and failed to hold Government to account.
“The fact of the matter is the agenda of life after lockdown has to start,” he said.
“Somebody has to punch through and say, do you know what, if the most vulnerable are vaccinated … and you know, it is no surprise that everyone has made a hames of the vaccine in Ireland. It is an absolute shambles and it is back of the queue for Ireland in every respect. It is a disaster so all of that is taken as read … but we have to actually have some sense of when we can get back to normal.
“You can say to me April 5th, June 10th or September 1st but a lot of businesses can’t switch on or off their businesses like a tap.
“I chaired a big webinar for engineers last week. We are the only country in Europe where every construction site is stopped. In every other European country, construction is continuing as normal. Go figure.”
The 61-year-old said he particularly feels for the hospitality sector, noting that hotels, pubs and restaurants “have been the sacrificial lambs through all of this.”
“I have to say, it is no surprise to me, over debates over the last 30 years, that there is an anti-alcohol agenda in the Department of Health – and by god they didn’t waste a god crisis when it came to the drinks industry,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is, drink is something … if you don’t want to drink, that is fine. If you don’t want to socialise in the pub and never do, that is fine. But please don’t tell me or anyone else who might want to have a quiet pint, sipping in the corner on your own, how to live our lives.”
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