Stunning furlough support shows the benefit of being in UK

News Letter editorial of Thursday July 8 2021:

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 10:50 am
Updated Thursday, 8th July 2021, 12:54 pm
News Letter editorial

DUP politicians including Gregory Campbell MP and his parliamentary colleague Sammy Wilson have levelled deserved criticism at the go-slow approach to the re-opening in Northern Ireland

All the way through the pandemic, since March last year, there has been a pull towards co-ordinating rules and dates with the Republic.

In the opening months of the crisis, there were endless comparisons between the Covid response of Ireland and the UK, with the former praised for its rigour and maturity, and the latter mocked for its supposed recklessness.

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There were clearly early blunders in London’s response, as there were most in most first world countries.

But much to the chagrin of its critics, the United Kingdom is still a global financial and scientific powerhouse and Northern Ireland is exceedingly lucky to be a part of it.

As you would expect of a country that has pro rata to its population more universities in the world’s top 100 even than America, it has played a central role in the unprecedentedly rapid development of vaccines.

And all the while, the Treasury has kept the nation’s economy afloat.

It is staggering to learn that around 14.5 million jobs and individuals have been supported by initiatives such as the massively generous (and massively costly) furlough scheme.

This combination of an ever growing percentage of the population not merely vaccinated, but having had a second jab, and an economy that has been kept on life support, and is beginning to roar again, is the perfect basis for Northern Ireland to re-open in line with England.

Let’s ignore the sour voices who only ever clamour for yet more subsidies, and never seem grateful for the largesse to date, and move on towards normality in NI.

Young people — who are at barely any risk from Covid — can get fully back to work, and drive this fine country forward in its centenary year towards its full potential.

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Alistair Bushe

Editor