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Ireland tipping into ‘blame’ culture over Covid breaches, Holohan warns

The chief medical officer said no one was perfect and people should be encouraged when they let their “guard slip”.

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Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin (PA)

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin (PA)

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health during a briefing at the Department of Health in Dublin (PA)

Ireland has tipped too much into a blame culture over breaches of coronavirus rules, the chief medical officer has warned.

Dr Tony Holohan said too many people appeared to be looking for the nearest lamppost to hang those who have let their “guard slip” in respect of adhering to restrictions.

The CMO said he would rather see encouragement and support offered.

“I think we have to just be careful about the extent to which we’re all then starting to blame one another for this,” he said.

“I’ve talked before about the importance of responsibility and people having and exerting as much personal responsibility for their own behaviours as possible and not tipping into blame.

“And there have been examples of people where things have happened and there’s been a strong sort of blame-orientated response and I don’t think that that’s necessarily always appropriate.

“We have to try and support each other, encourage each other to do as much as we can, to behave as responsibly as we can and to accept that not each one of us is going to be perfect all the time.

“But if we each strive to do as much as we possibly can, and when the guard slips encourage each other to try and do that little bit more to get as much out of this as we can – I think that’s a much better culture for us to be trying to promote.”

At a media briefing in Dublin, Dr Holohan declined to criticise GAA players who breached social distancing guidance when celebrating provincial title wins over the weekend.

I think that we have tipped too much as a country into a sense of blameDr Tony Holohan

“Teams that win titles and important matches tend to celebrate, that’s not a surprise,” the CMO replied when asked about the issue.

“I think we all have to have a certain understanding and tolerance and acceptance in broad terms.

“I think that we have tipped too much as a country into a sense of blame and trying to find the latest person who’s in breach of some particular guideline and trying to find, as it were, a lamppost to hang that person from.

“I think we need to have more tolerance and acceptance that, look, this is a very high standard of behaviour that the whole population has kept up.

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“We have, with good reason, sought to maintain and preserve elite sporting activity. I think the weekend for anybody who enjoys sport – and I know and recognise it’s not everybody – was a very enjoyable weekend for people and part of what has helped, I think, people to get through the challenge of the stay-at-home measures that are in place.

“The sporting organisations concerned have done a huge job to try to deliver those relatively modest number of sporting activities in as safe a way as possible. I think they’ve done great work in relation to that.”

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Irish Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Irish Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Irish Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Asked whether the National Public Health Emergency Team will recommend emerging from Level 5 restrictions as scheduled at the start of December, Dr Holohan declined to speculate.

He said efforts to suppress the virus in the coming days would influence the shape of the restrictions next month.

The CMO said the more progress that was made, the more potential relaxations Nphet could contemplate.

He said the team’s deliberations were “never easy”.

Dr Holohan said: “It’s never easy to be providing advice on the basis that you know that if that advice is accepted that it has implications for people, not just in their daily lives, and how they live their lives and their interactions and things that are important to them, but obviously in the functioning of the economy and people who have businesses and in particular people who have had jobs and have been out of work for long periods of time.

“So we take those decisions and offer that advice in full understanding of that.”

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