It’s doubtful that any government Minister, bar maybe junior incumbent Thomas Byrne, has ever had to drive an excited child or teen, from east Meath to Ballinabrackey on the border with Offaly, Summerhill where it touches Kildare or Clonard where the county is close to both Offaly and Westmeath, to play a football match.
But hundreds, if not thousands, of parents, have done the trip, not just the way we describe it but the other way round as well, and their sole reward was to see their kids in action on the pitch, to say ‘Well done’ or ‘Hard luck’ afterwards.
Under government restrictions issued yesterday, which state that all sporting fixtures must be played with no supporters watching that reward has been denied them.
What are they to do, drop their young ones off turn around and go home and make the trip back to collect them?
Given that the distance between Stamullen, for example, and Ballinabrackey is 101 km (63 miles) that’s obviously impractical, and with all due respect there’s not a lot to do in Ballinabrackey on a wet Wednesday if you can’t see the match.
The restriction that says sports fixtures are to be played behind closed doors has therefore clearly not been thought through.
To illustrate it further, a reasonable amount of Dublin parents travel to their kids’ games on the 19B or the 46A or whatever and now they are being advised not to use public transport for travel. although there is of course little point in hopping on a bus if you can’t get into the game at the end anyway.
BUT! Can those restrictions be enforced evenly everywhere?
While it might be possible, with a struggle admittedly, to convince an angry mother that she can’t get into see her child play in Ballivor or Moynalvey, no matter how far she has traveled, how can you do the same to a mother or father whose child is playing a match, in whatever code, in the famous Fifteen Acres in the Phoenix Park or any number of council pitches which are public property in the large cities.
If a law cannot be applied in the same way everywhere it is pointless that it exists.
If a law cannot be enforced it is pointless it exists.
None of the above is to lessen the seriousness of Covid-19, it is a deadly pandemic that we all need to play our part in controlling, but were any other options considered.
For instance, was any thought given to making the wearing of face masks mandatory at all sporting events, which would surely help.
It’s ridiculous to think that supporters of a team, in any code you like, cannot attend a game yet if they spend €9 on a meal in the team’s clubhouse or a local pub then they can gather with as many as they like to watch a live stream of the game, providing it doesn’t last longer than 105 minutes of course.
On the whole, the population has adhered to everything that has been asked of them, most pubs have remained closed, most people stuck with the advice given during lockdown, but there is a simmering undertone that suggests many believe that this is a step too far, and politicians here should remember Abraham Lincoln’s quote, ‘Government of the people, by the people and for the people’.
The belief is this is neither by nor for the people. Ask yourself would this decision, taking everything, pandemic and all, into consideration, pass a democratic vote.
There is a legal maxim, first used by St Thomas Aquinas, and made famous by Martin Luther King, that reads, ‘Lex iniusta non est lex’., which translates as ‘An unjust law is a bad law’.
That certainly applies here.