I’m really only talking to the Northern Ireland government here, but if the rest of you want to take a leaf, then do something about it.
Everything is “Covid-Paralysed”. I just see inactivity in every area. People holding their breath. It’s not good enough. We have to be pro-active. But as a “cultural hand grenade”, I figured I’d write a list of things our government departments could do while they’re waiting for society to re-open.
- The Executive Office. – frankly, I have no idea what you do anyway other than argue and be ineffectual. This isn’t a personal dig – the EO has always failed to deliver. Look at the unspent social investment fund.
- Department of Education. – We have been constantly training more than 200 teachers than we need every year and we have a large bank of supply teachers. So rather than having parents killing themselves trying to educate children, get your act together and use this resource. Yes, not everyone has and iPad or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you do nothing. Find out who needs resources and work together. Use the existing teacher pool, the supply teachers and the unemployed grads to deliver education over Zoom or your tool of choice and take the pressure off parents.
- Department for the Economy. – Every skills program that can be opened over Zoom should be opened over Zoom. The lecturers are being salaried. We are in exceptional circumstances and much of it can be delivered over Teams or Zoom. So do it. Make it free and allow people to upskill quickly.
- Department of Health. – Be honest, we haven’t yet sorted this crisis. So make sure there’s enough PPE, find more staff to re-open the wards force to close because of sick nurses and doctors and let’s beat this thing.
- Department of Justice. – Start preparing law suits against employers who fired or made redundant workers rather than furlough them. And maybe a case against the UK government for wilfully endangering millions of people resulting in the deaths of thousands of people
- Department of Infrastructure. – You know, I’m never going to step into a taxi and I’m damn sure it’s going to be a while before I’m on a bus or train. So change the narrative. Convert parking spaces into bus and bike lanes. Do it now while you still can. And while you’re at it, a Greenway from Lisburn to Belfast would cut down on traffic. Plan it now. Execute when lockdown opens up a bit.
- Department of Communities. – it’s time for more parks, more leisure facilities, more public art (by local people, not half a million quid to somewhere else). You have a month before the summer starts properly. Are you going to watch the tourist industry completely fail? Get a move on.
- Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. Take some leadership and sort out broadband. Thousands of families are struggling without connectivity and if Education get their act together then the families will need it. Do it now.