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Facemasks a choice? Dearbhail asks you to think again

FOR NEWTOWNBUTLER student Dearbhail Hogan, wearing a face mask is not just a matter of choice but literally a matter of survival.
With a rise in anti-mask campaigners across the county, 24-year-old Dearbhail who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that mainly comes with muscle weakness, heart problems and respiratory issues that confine her to a wheelchair, has now called out those who claim face masks are a breach of their human rights.
“While people talk about their human rights, I just want to start off and explain a few things that I’ve had to give up or that this virus has taken from me,” she explained.
“I am 24-years-old, disabled and living in constant fear of catching Covid. I recently started back at university and I am having to work remotely from home, I cannot attend any class or any gathering. “I’ve had to watch both my younger siblings sacrifice their education and work remotely from home because of me, sacrifice seeing their friends the way they used to, sleepovers, parties, and their school environment.
“No one truly understands the guilt that brings until you have experienced something like this. Watching your loved ones sacrifice so much so that you are safe and healthy.
“Hearing the tears in my own home as I watch my siblings give up parts of their lives and while I know it isn’t my fault, the guilt is always there and that guilt keeps me awake at night.”
Speaking on how the Covid pandemic has affected her everyday life, Dearbhail said, “Since the start of lockdown I have left my home around eight times within seven months.
“That’s the only time that I’ve been able to get away from Newtownbutler and have some sort of normality and every single time I’ve worn a mask, not just for myself but for others around me.
“The idea that you’re giving up some part of your freedom because you’re being asked to wear a small piece of fabric over your face is both idiotic and selfish.
“The things you have been asked to give up don’t hold a candle to the things people who are vulnerable have had no choice but to give up. What use is your freedom to you when the people around you are sick? Or worse, dead?”
Highlighting her concerns about the dangers of social media, the 24-year old warned, “I read people preach about freedom and their god given right to not wear a mask and how we should stop testing.
“Yet what they’re really saying is that it’s OK for someone like me to give up their entire life and stay in my home for the rest of this pandemic just so they can shop freely without a mask.”
Dearbhail concluded, “We are not as untouchable as we think we are, no matter how healthy or how old you are. I know if I caught this virus my chances of survival aren’t the same as everyone else. I want to be able to leave my house more and feel confident and comfortable that the people around me are wearing their masks and following the guidelines. Please understand that your actions will always have consequences and there is no excuse to be that ignorant and selfish.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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