| 5.8°C Dublin

Yate Expectations Ivan Yates says the only thing that will keep him away from Cheltenham 2022 is if he 'won't be alive'

A Kremlin-like regime is running our lockdown, believes frustrated media pundit Yates


Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

As Ivan Yates looks back on the year that changed all our lives, he expresses a fear that the legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic could leave a lasting scar on Irish society.

Speaking exclusively to Magazine+ at a Virgin Media event, the broadcaster suggested the nation has long since lost patience with the political response to a crisis that seems to be moving at a snail's pace in Ireland.

Never one to hold his tongue on the big issues, the former Newstalk host was outspoken in his suggestions that the enduring lockdowns in Ireland have long since become a source of collective frustration.

"The last year has been absolutely awful for all of us and it has become hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel," he told us.

"It's long since beyond irritation that people in Ireland can't play golf and we can't go more than 5km from our houses.

"It feels like we have got a Kremlin-like regime running this lockdown operation in Ireland and the vaccination programme seems to be well behind other countries and I feel the grind of it is really getting to people now.


 Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

"Expectations were always low that we would have a successful vaccine campaign, even though we are a world leader in pharmaceuticals, but it has gone worse than we expected.

"Who is to blame? There is no doubt the EU did get it wrong in the way they approved and then ordered the vaccines.

"There was foot-dragging, red tape, too much hesitation in the first part of the process and they ended up not getting the supply line they thought they were going to get, which has affected all of us.

"It has been a bit of a cluster you-know-what and there must have been an opportunity at some point for a country like Ireland to do their own deals for vaccines, whether that be with the States or the UK.

"A couple of million vaccines would have gone a long way to getting us out of this hole quickly. A smaller country can be much nimbler and more mobile in the way they do things but, sadly, Ireland seems to have been at the back of the queue from the start here.

"I feel there's now a high level of silent desperation among many, many people in Ireland. It is horrible to see what has happened to us all in the last year."

Yates' comments will resonate with many across Ireland and while we can all look forward to the prospect of a light at the end of the Covid tunnel at some point in 2021, he suggested it will take time for us to get used to the idea of what was once normality.

"This has really affected people in different ways in their working life," he stated.

"I saw one survey saying one third of people are better off, a middle third has not been greatly affected and the final third have lost 90pc of their income. t really depends on who you talk to as to how it has affected people. I have been really involved in events and award ceremonies and everything has gone in that world, with no real expectation it will come back for the foreseeable future.

"When people look on their TVs and see that China is back to normal, the States is getting closer to normality, the UK is also edging there, but we don't seem to be anywhere near it.

"I was watching the golf from America a couple of weeks ago and could see the crowds in attendance, it reminded me how far behind we are in Ireland.

"This idea that we are all in this together was clearly there at the start of this, but it will all ring very hollow if this follows its present course for much longer."

Racing fanatic Yates hosted a series of his The Green Room with Ivan Yates shows for Virgin Media over the course of the Cheltenham Festival earlier this month and despite his pessimism over the events of the last year, he is looking forward to the revival that should follow.

"The last three months of this have clearly been the worst and the idea that we are paying the price for having a meaningful Christmas, it's not right.

"Everything was cancelled for us on Christmas Eve when my son couldn't get home from England.

"We don't even have a chance to gather in the pub and vent our annoyance.

"When I look to Cheltenham this year, it was so sad to see the empty stands in a week that always makes you proud to be Irish," he added.

"The only thing that will stop me going to Cheltenham next year is that I won't be alive, you can rest assured of that!"

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Sunday World