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Lindy McDowell

Even coronavirus isn’t going to stop our terrorist thugs

Lindy McDowell



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This handout illustration image obtained February 27, 2020 courtesy of the National Institutes of Health taken with a transmission electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the US

This handout illustration image obtained February 27, 2020 courtesy of the National Institutes of Health taken with a transmission electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the US

National Institutes of Health/AF

This handout illustration image obtained February 27, 2020 courtesy of the National Institutes of Health taken with a transmission electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the US

It's not just Boris Johnson, then. Isis, the terrorist outfit better known for beheading than hygiene best practice, this week updated followers on coronavirus avoidance.

Would-be jihadis were advised to "stay away from the land of the epidemic". Which one? Europe in general, apparently.

In a series of "sharia directives" Isis supporters are being encouraged to cover their mouths when yawning or sneezing and then, of course, to wash their hands.

Whether or not to scrub to a couple of choruses of Boris's preferred Happy Birthday is unspecified.

I know. Surreal.

But the self-isolationists of Isis are not the only members of the terrorist brotherhood currently devoid of any sense of self-awareness...

There's no news on whether our local paramilitary community has been similarly impacted by concerns about germ warfare.

Have they issued their volunteers guidance on whether surgical masks should be worn inside or outside traditional balaclava masks?

Are they advising social distancing during drug dealing? (Anti-social distancing?)

The wearing of latex gloves when counting banknotes collected via extortion rackets?

Who's to say?

But what we do know is that in a single night in Northern Ireland this week two brutal attacks were carried out by paramilitary gangsters.

The entire world is gripped in terrifying and unprecedented crisis. Yet for the men with woolly faces it's just business as usual.

In the Creggan a man was shot in the leg. In Ballymena a man was set upon by masked thugs wielding a machete.

It goes without saying that the attacks on both men were evil in themselves.

But at a time when the country is in the grip of emergency with Health Minister Robin Swann warning of a surge of casualties that may be of biblical proportions...

How low can these self-styled protectors of the community go?

Parish priest Fr Joe Gormley says of those who carried out the attack in the Creggan that they seem to be living in a parallel universe. They're actively, deliberately hurting their own people.

They must know that their attacks put even more pressure on a health service already buckling. And that there has to be a knock-on effect on dealing with coronavirus patients.

But obviously none of this bothers them in the least. Which says everything about where their priorities lie. They're contemptible. But then, nothing new there.

Of others, however, we expect more.

For a while there, earlier this week, it seemed as if some politicians were hellbent on turning Covid-19 into yet another party political dogfight.

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Outburst: Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd

Outburst: Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd

Outburst: Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd

But following the fallout from Mr O'Dowd's now infamous "shire (surely shower?) of b******s" outburst all hands have now regrouped and there seems a general and genuine sense of opposing parties working together for the greater good.

Cometh the hour, cometh the common ground. And the common sense.

Crisis - and this one is unprecedented and frighteningly unpredictable - brings out the best in some citizens, the worst in others.

And where others still are concerned, the unrestrained greed.

Stores as we know have had to impose limits on many goods and groceries being hoovered up by hoarders.

The toilet roll and pasta stockpiling frenzy was bad enough.

But worse even than macaroni-virus is the selfishness that's seen some people scoop up vast quantities of baby food.

There's something particularly appalling about the stockpiling of baby milk formula.

You can understand why any parent would want to ensure their child would be fed. But stripping the shelves and leaving others short is pretty despicable.

The good, the bad and the ugly...

There have been plenty examples of all these things this week.

On one hand there's the heroism of health workers. On the other the mindless savagery of paramilitaries adding to their burden.

Our politicians are showing some signs of wising up and working together. But shoppers need to wise up too. And calm down a bit.

In the face of a global emergency where none of us can really be sure of anything, we have to stand together.

And stand against the lunatics and the lunacy.

Betty Williams was a true heroine of peace

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Betty Williams

Betty Williams

AFP/Getty Images

Betty Williams

The week's news agenda has understandably been dominated, engulfed really, by reports on coronavirus. But the death of Nobel Laureate and Peace People founder Betty Williams (76) also deserves mention. An outstandingly brave and determined woman, Betty helped set up a people's movement that brought together hundreds of thousands from both sides of the community in our darkest of days. A true heroine.

New homeschooling ‘roll’ for many parents

School's out, which I feel may be a mixed blessing for some parents who, as well as working from home, now have the role of home teaching thrust upon them. Are the children even allowed out to play? And how are parents supposed to work with the little ones bouncing around the room like bluebottles? At least the home art class will be well resourced. No shortage of empty toilet roll tubes for the kids to glue together to pass the time.

Poetry, humour and song can all help lift the spirits

My friend Alison, who lives in Prestwick in Scotland, sent me a poem taken from the Positive Prestwick Facebook page, where it’s described as having been contributed by ”one of our followers”. It’s genius.

Entitled “Tae a virus” (shades of Rabbie Burns) here’s a sample verse..

“Twa months ago, we didna ken,

yer name or ocht aboot ye

But lots of things have changed since then,

I really must salute ye

Yer spreading rate is quite intense,

yer feeding like a gannet

Disruption caused, is so immense,

ye’ve shaken oor wee planet...”

It’s just one of the many lighthearted contributions doing the rounds on social media.

But is humour inappropriate at a time when people are losing their lives, their livelihoods — or fear doing so?

I don’t think so. Especially as the intent behind it is generally to lift people’s spirits in these deeply troubling times.

The same applies to the release of the old Lennon song Imagine with a number of major LA stars, including our own Jamie Dornan, taking part in the recording.

My only reservation — the song choice. Imagine has always struck me as a bit of a dirge. But fair play for kind intentions.

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Jamie singing the John Lennon song Imagine

Jamie singing the John Lennon song Imagine

Jamie singing the John Lennon song Imagine

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