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Personal Responsibility

Words matter. As journalists, we have to believe that.

When the tánaiste goes on a flagship RTÉ Current Affairs programme to undermine the advice of public health experts, it matters.

When the taoiseach promises everyone they can have a “very special” Christmas, words matter.

When the cabinet dithers and postpones lockdowns while they know people will gather in large groups on (and after) Christmas day, words matter.

When vaccines are over-promised, adding to the belief that it’s nearly over and people can let their guard down, words matter.

The tone is set at the top.

What senior political leaders say matters.

What senior political correspondents write matters.

And I get it. We’re human. We make mistakes. But when we recognise the mistake, the next words we say matter.

When we get it wrong, acknowledging that is a critical in restoring trust.

Feeling sorry for yourself, or trying to blame a new virus variant, or grumbling about hindsight, isn’t going to help.

There were lot of voices advocating caution in October and November. Claiming everyone supported your moves at the time isn’t going to work. The internet remembers.

Saying sorry matters. It may be the word that matters most of all.

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