Cruel And Unusual


Charlie Bird

This morning.

RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sarah McInerney.

Former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird – responding to reinforced restrictions on the elderly – said he wears a mask and downloaded the Covid Tracker App…

“…even though a couple of days after I took it, it practically ran my mobile phone down where it nearly burned.

But I’m doing everything they’ve asked me to do…I’m sensible. I’ve got five grandkids, I don’t want anything to happen,

I don’t want anything to happen to my neighbours or to anybody else but that does not mean I should stay inside. I live in a part of Wicklow where I can walk out and see nobody for hours…”

It’s all very well to say we’re going to throw away the key on 70-year-olds again and I hate the word, absolutely hate the word ‘cocooning’ former colleagues in the media are giving the Government an easy ride on this.”

Mr Bird repeatedly called for people to listen to Professor Jack Lambert’s interview on last night’s Drivetime on RTÉ Radio One.


This morning.

The National Public Health Emergency Team’s (Nphet) will today reccommend a number of measures to ‘curb a resurgence’ of Covid-19.


Older people will be asked to restrict their movements and avoid congregated settings under new advice from public-health experts.

Nphet has also recommended that only six people should be permitted in a home from three separate houses in a bid to clamp down on house parties and outdoor home gathering should be reduced to 15 people.

People who can work from home will also be asked to do so for the coming weeks. The Cabinet will meet to discuss the recommendations today.


‘A Cabinet source said there were concerns at the highest ranks of Cabinet that Nphet had “departed from the European mainstream in the severity of their advice” as they are “under pressure from academic commentators as opposed to solid science“.’

Older people will be told to limit time outdoors and family gatherings to be reduced to six to try to stall resurgence of Covid-19 (


53 thoughts on “Cruel And Unusual

  1. Johnnythree

    This is criminal. Despite there being no evidence for most of their actions they still push them. When I see that picture of two people walking in the open air with masks I feel really sad. Theres no need. It’s Ok, you probably wont get infected but yet they have swallowed the ‘advice’ and spend lives dulled by fear.

    1. Broadbag

      @JohnnyThree: There’s no advice (in Ireland) towards wearing a mask outdoors, so they may well have become confused by mixed messages but not sure what ‘advice’ they have ‘swallowed’? Perhaps they feel it’s an extra layer of protection for others and feel safer themselves wearing them.

      1. frank

        they should be wearing crash helmets, stabilisers, goggles, face visors / welders mask, rubber gloves, gauntlets, a bale of cottonwool, an overcoat, a raincoat, sun protection, he should be wearing a condom and she should have a sponge or be on the pill. Corks in their bums of course.
        Are they mad???????

      2. Johnnythree

        I know. I think people have internalised fear to such an extent they are doing stupid stuff like wearing masks outside. If I told that couple they’d be wearing masks, for a walk, by the sea in August a while back they’d have laughed. Its strange how people don’t look at the bigger picture.

        1. Formerly Known As

          I am in Melbourne. Masks mandatory once you leave your home, curfew from 8pm to 5am, 1 shopping trip per house per day, 1 hour of exercise, stay within 5 km of home, only essential workers to go to work. This is our second lockdown. Masks don’t cost jobs and they work in Taiwan.

  2. GiggidyGoo

    The higher proportion of new infections are coming from factories that are using cheap labour, stacked high in ‘accommodation’ unless I’m mistaken.
    Instead of doing a clean sweep and correction of the situation of these factories the solution that NPHET come up with is a blunt instrument. That just suggests to me that NPHET are winging it and have no clear notion of what the situation or the solution is – they just have to be seen to be doing something – anything.
    Once you see a colour coding being applied (which is basically an excuse for not explaining in detail), then you know that NPHET has lost credence.

    1. george

      People keep complaining that simple recommendations on travel are confusing. The colour coding system is about communicating clearly including to many people who, lets face it, aren’t too bright.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        And the rest of my post?

        The colour coding. Where do you envisage it being used? On the news only?

  3. Joe

    The government are inept clowns in the hands of the monied class. The recommendations are tokenism at best and a deflection from what must be done. If the infection is increasing by the economy being opened up coupled with dreadful working conditions the virus spread will increase. A massive increase in testing, with the shortest possible time for results, coupled with more random workplace inspections to ensure the essential safety of employees must happen now. The virus can only be controlled by controlling it’s spread it’s now increasing due to government mishandling and it’s policies of putting profits before people.

    1. f_lawless

      ” If the infection is increasing”
      Is it though? A small rise in detected cases after a big increase in testing is not evidence that infection is increasing. By all accounts the vast majority of the cases detected show no symptoms at all. It’s a known fact that the PCR tests used can’t distinguish between an active infection and viral debris which can remain in the body for months. On top of that they’re known return a certain percentage of false positives which become more significant when the total number of cases detected is low.

      Over in the UK, Prof Carl Heneghan recently worked out that, despite an apparent rise in the number of cases per day there, when the figures were adjusted for the big rise in testing over time, the rate of new cases wasn’t increasing after all. Seems plausible the same phenomenon is happening here.

      Across Europe, deaths and hospitalisations have been at next to zero for several weeks now despite restrictions being eased. I think that’s the best indicator for judging the level of risk currently.

      “The virus can only be controlled by controlling it’s spread”
      What end game do you envisage here?

      1. Brother Barnabas

        “It’s a known fact that the PCR tests used can’t distinguish between an active infection and viral debris which can remain in the body for months.”

        is that an uncontested fact, f-lawless? [not disputing, just asking]

        1. SOQ

          As below george- the % of those tested has not increased.

          Combine that with an unknown margin of error and that people can flag positive for months after infection- the whole thing is looking very questionable.

          1. Micko

            It’s also people returning to work.

            As I said in a previous thread. I was tested two weeks ago and have to go for another this week.

            Hope this one is negative too, or I ain’t gettin the gig ;-)

          2. george

            So if people are now being tested for no reason other than returning to work then you would expect the % of positives to reduce but they aren’t.

          3. SOQ

            Not if the test has up to a 5% margin of error and cannot distinguish between live infections and previous ones?

  4. george

    Charlie Bird needs to go out for a walk and relax. His rant on the radio this morning was embarrassing.

    Recommending older people restrict their movements is an attempt to reduce deaths. It is not a punishment and it is not legally binding it is a recommendation. A bit sensitive about turning 70 perhaps.

    1. bertie blenkinsop

      The whole “Free Bird” thing made me think of Lynyrd Skynyrd…. they’re still going, working on a new album.
      So now.

    1. SOQ

      And another fact- we keep hearing about how the number of PCR positive results are increasing except the positive rate had been consistently sitting between 1.2 and 1.8%.

      So- if the number of cases are increasing then the amount of testing is increasing- nothing more. The exact same thing would happen when testing for flu or other Corona Viruses during the summer months.

      NO new ICU admissions and NO new deaths- that is it folks.

      1. SOQ

        Of course it is a blunt metric but so is per million.

        Brazil and Peru have similar conditions.

        Brazil had no lock down and Peru had a hard long one- Brazil has a lower rate per million than Peru.

        1. Johnny Green

          same island-who do you think had a lockdown ?
          -number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths rose to 86,737 and 1,481, respectively, in the Dominican Republic.
          -Haiti has confirmed more than 7,800 coronavirus cases and more than 190 deaths.

        2. george

          I’m not saying “it is a blunt metric”. I’m saying it is completely meaningless to quote it in isolation as proof that lockdowns don’t work. A lockdown in a slum probably won’t work due to the many many problems in those places

          The actual science link to above indicates that lockdowns do work.

      2. f_lawless

        I think you highlight an issue there George that there’s conflicting expert opinion out there. It’s up to us to use our own critical judgement to decide which, on balance, appear to be the most convincing.

        Can I ask why do you find that particular study more convincing than the various ones which concluded that the lockdowns weren’t effective?

        Whereas the study you link to is limited to Italy, this Lancet study below looked at the top 50 countries effected by Covid-19 and found that lockdowns did not reduce the spread of the virus:

        “Data was collected from the top 50 countries ranked by number of cases…. government actions such as border closures, full lockdowns, and a high rate of COVID-19 testing were not associated with statistically significant reductions in the number of critical cases or overall mortality”

        Also, a couple of quotes from the study you linked to:

        “These findings should be considered specific for the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Italy and may not necessarily apply to outbreaks based on other viruses, having different transmission features, or occurring in other places..”.

        And this next one seems like there’s a potential for bias. Are they picking an arbitrary endpoint to suit their findings?

        “.we acknowledge that the time to peak endpoint we computed following the implementation of a tight lockdown is not the only endpoint suitable to assess lockdown benefits”

      3. Rob_G

        Just admit it George -your peer-reviewed studies from the Lancet are no match for SOQ’s tweets

  5. AKA Frilly Keane

    Anything to divert and avoid discussion on the real reason for the spikes

    Labour intensive factory floor operations
    With low paid, mostly immigrant labour
    Who will work through any illness, and are unlikely to complain
    People who are accommodated in over crowded dorm type/ hotbed units, where this virus is having a field day

    And all Charlie could do was tell older, retired people to say at home
    Talk about taking the soup
    Isn’t it grand he got access to the most listened news in Ireland
    probably got his brekkie there too

    This country is actually being turned into a knackery yard
    We are all just beasts waiting to be profited from and used for the gain of a minute percentage
    We are not suppose to have our own lives
    only what they can extract out of us

    1. george

      There is no claim that older people are responsible for the increase in cases. The suggestion they limit their movements is not a measure to prevent the spread of the virus. It is an attempt to limit the number of deaths as the virus is more active in community settings than it was in July.

      Charlie Bird is 70 and was not telling people to stay home he was angrily ranting against the recommendation to older people they reduce their time outside the home due to the increase risk that they will die.

    2. Ragamuffin

      To be fair to Charlie the interview with Professor Jack Lambert is worth listening to (from 12mins here and makes many of your points. Prof Lambert says:

      – Issue is not public complacency but compliance with health advice (eg mask wearing, social distancing).
      – Government need to speed up their decisions as new evidence & solutions emerge internationally.
      – Outbreaks are occurring in identified at risk groups (eg DP & meat workers), we knew of these issues in April but didn’t train, educate, support, supervise, inspect, or improve conditions. 
      – Closing down is not the solution, education & compliance is the critical issue. We have to tackle the clusters properly, not just close down counties.
      – This is going to happen again and again and again, if we don’t learn our lessons. We need strong leadership with strong (not punitive) messaging.

  6. Kate

    That masked elderly couple can take them off when out for a stroll. Close contact means within a metre of another for more than a minute so keep walking. And stay 2 metres away and spend no more than 15 minutes if you stop for a natter. At least enjoy your walk!

  7. John Smith

    Sadly, it is quite probable that this couple has been frightened silly, not so much by what has actually happened but by all the hype. I have a friend who has worn a mask throughout, who won’t walk down her quiet country road in case she might have to pass a neighbour and, worse still, might be expected to stop for a minute or two, on the other side of the road, to exchange a few words. No amount of explaining what you have said, Kate, makes any difference because she is petrified, even now.. People who are that scared will be driven into a hole to hide if this further guidance IS adopted.

    Those over-70s who just followed the compulsory regulations that applied to everyone will, no doubt, continue to do the same thing, whatever guidance is promulgated.

  8. Lilly

    In other news, Teddy’s at the end of the pier didn’t close for long. It was doling out 99s a couple of days after news of their micecream problem.

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