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I hear the question: what’s changed?

Other questions about dates for this and that; when someone might be able to travel to their holiday home, play a game of golf, go to a garden centre or to a church for private prayer?

All of this misses the point, and all of those things can wait – perhaps for not too much longer.


For an answer to the question what’s changed, just take a walk on that road beside the old Kinnegar army base in Holywood – that calmest of places – where they prepared an emergency mortuary with facilities for 2000 bodies.

This was part of the story of Covid-19 coming to kill; what had us running for cover not that many weeks ago.

Have we forgotten already?

What’s changed is this. That, so far, that facility has not been needed. The lockdown and the new rules have saved us from that worst-case scenario.

For a calendar date, or for some quicker step, do we want to throw away all that has been achieved in this fight with the virus?

Tuesday’s political message was not about dates, but about something much more important; about people and about protecting them and not allowing the politics and the pressure and the push for dates and calendars to get in the way of that.

The Executive kept its nerve – held the line.

We remain in a critical period in this fight with Covid-19.

This was Tuesday’s big message and big warning that should not get lost in some rush or run through the calendar months.

I wrote on this website a few days ago about the risk of a sleepwalk into a second spike.

This is what I mean when I say everything else can wait.


What else has changed?

That politics here is beginning to show it can work on the same page.

Just a few months ago, with Stormont lost in some limbo, who would have believed that?

I would like to be able to sit in my mother’s house and have a cup of tea; go for lunch with my daughter, hold my granddaughter – but I understand why I can’t and I can wait.

We don’t need a calendar.

We need slow and careful steps; patience not pressure.

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About Author

Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist/author. A former BBC correspondent in Belfast, four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast Awards. He is the author of several books on the peace process. His latest book (published by Merrion Press) POLITICAL PURGATORY – the battle to save Stormont and the play for a New Ireland is now available at

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