When our Inside Politics Q&A webcast set off on its tour of Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies by dropping in on Upper Bann back in April the notion that I would be presenting a programme from the study at the back of my garage seemed ridiculous.
The concept of using Zoom (whatever that was) to put viewers’ questions to our locked-down politicians appeared equally outlandish.
But soon this weird new reality became the norm, and we no longer had to give our MLAs and MPs a tutorial when they appeared on how to connect their audio and frame a usable shot.
Like the assembly, Inside Politics Q&A took a break over the summer.
But with our MLAs returning for their autumn term we are back – picking up with a panel representing South Down.
During the spring we touched on issues particular to certain constituencies, whether it was fracking in Fermanagh or the future of the York Street interchange in North Belfast.
We also provided a voice for groups who felt especially hard done-by such as supply teachers without shifts, taxi drivers without fares or partners keen to accompany expectant mothers into maternity suites.
We heard tales of community groups going the extra mile to help the isolated and vulnerable in their areas, and surveyed the response from Stormont as the first wave of Covid-19 held us all in trepidation.
Debates raged over the lack of PPE for our health workers and the plight of those living and working in our care homes.
Confusion over guidelines
Now with our schools reopened and the jobs furlough scheme due to close, some of the issues under debate have changed.
But as I noted in a previous column, the virus isn’t interested in our news cycle. It has only one aim – to survive and propagate among us.
Some hope the second coronavirus wave which is washing across many countries might prove less lethal – perhaps due to the relative youth and strength of many of those recently infected.
However, those optimists have been given pause for thought by the tragic outbreak at Craigavon hospital reminding us all what Covid-19 will do if it is able to spread to those already battling ill health.
The on-again off-again loosening of the Covid restrictions has prompted a lot of confusion and some downright opposition.
The science has evolved – and so have the arguments – over face coverings, social distancing and what kind of balance to strike between health and wealth.
Send us your questions
So, as our second phase of Inside Politics Q&A begins, please let us know your perspective.
Whether it’s a matter related to South Down or a wider point about Stormont’s handling of the pandemic or even a completely non-Covid related point, we are keen to get your (hopefully succinct) questions.
We will then put them to our panel of former DUP health minister Jim Wells, SDLP executive committee chair Colin McGrath and Sinn Féin’s Sinead Ennis who topped the poll in South Down back in 2017.
You can email your questions to [email protected] or tweet them using our hashtag #bbcip
Inside Politics Q&A will be available as a webcast on this site on Monday, then will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster at 06:00 BST on Tuesday morning and you can also listen to it via BBC Sounds.
— to www.bbc.co.uk