Sunshine for the politicians; shade for the peasants

Prof. Drumm must be sick, sick that he accepted the job as chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE). Sick that he allowed himself to be duped into taking the job of reforming a heath system that has become an uncontrollable monster. Sick to witness the very people responsible for creating that monster; turn on him like a pack of vicious wolves.

For decades, Irish politicians were in charge of the health service and for decades they did what Irish politicians do best, used it as a means of buying votes. It was ‘jobs for the boys’ and to hell with the consequences.

There was a time when there were only two or three health boards but because every politician wanted a board in his area this number mushroomed into eleven. Imagine, eleven health boards to organise health facilities for about three million people.

This meant that there was eleven separate, grotesquely overstaffed, administrations choking the system to death and literally putting lives in danger. When the situation began to get out of control it was decided to abolish all eleven boards and replace them with a single authority that would bring reform, efficiency and, most importantly, a good health service to the Irish people.

To achieve this laudable aim job cuts would have to be made, work practices would have to change; civil servants would have to move, efficiencies would have to be made, some jobs would even have to be lost. In a nutshell, politicians would have to show courageous leadership and civil servants would have to cooperate.

This, of course, never happened. Instead, the cowardly politicians pretended to abolish the boards, it was all done – on paper. Not a single civil servant lost his job, nobody moved, there were no rationalisations or efficiencies. Everybody was still entitled to guaranteed promotions, guaranteed wage rises, guaranteed benchmarking – for life.

In effect, all that happened was the creation of a new twelfth health board. This was the mother of all health boards, it was going to supervise the inefficiencies and incompetence of all the other boards and for that it required and got a super bloated layer of administration staff.

From that moment, the grotesque monster was rampaging out of control and Irish citizens began to suffer even more, and at times, die. But the cowardly politicians had covered themselves well. In a by now common strategy, the HSE and in particular its chief executive was used as a buffer to distance cowardly politicians from the mess they had created. Mary Harney, the alleged Minister for Health, frequently suggests that the latest scandal is a matter for the HSE, nothing to do with her.

It must have been sickening for Prof. Drumm to listen to the wolf pack as they set about their work of abdicating responsibility in our national parliament yesterday; it was certainly vomit inducing for me. Here’s a flavour of what the cowardly incompetents had to say: (Full report on Drivetime, 3rd item)

Labour TD, Joan Burton spoke about the lack of trust that the public and politicians had in the HSE, about how impossible it was for politicians to get answers. No mention of political culpability.

Fianna Fail TD, Mary O’Rourke who has been in politics for decades, who has held several senior positions in government, who is a member of the party that has held power for more years than any other party, who, by dint of her cowardice, is one of the principal architects of the present mess, was ruthless in her condemnation of the HSE and in particular Prof. Drumm.

She related how she had recently left a boring session in the Dail to take a walk down to Brown Thomas. On the way she met eleven women all with horror stories about friends and relations affected by cancer.

Think about that, an Irish politician leaves our national parliament suffering from boredom, meets several distressed citizens and is incapable of making a connection between the two events. She then demonstrates a complete lack of intelligence by using the event to bolster her attack on Prof. Drumm as if it was he, rather than her that was responsible for their distress.

Fine Gael TD, John O’Mahony from Mayo spoke with the typical narrow minded parochialism, the hypocritical ‘but’ factor that Olivia O’Leary (Drivetime) spoke about. “I’m all in favour of centres of excellence” ‘but’ my constituency should keep its facilities.

Labour TD, Liz McManus spoke of the need for the establishment of a patient’s safety authority. Yet another layer of bureaucracy staffed by self serving unaccountable civil servants.

Fianna Fail TD, Margaret Conlon, amazingly, spoke the truth with clarity. “We cannot talk out of both sides of our mouths; we need to ensure that our resources are not spread too widely and too thinly because if this is the case, everyone loses.” Cleary, Ms. Conlon is a new TD and has yet to learn the mafia traditions of her chosen party.

Fianna Fail TD, Beverly Flynn would make an excellent tutor of those mafia traditions. A politician with no reputation to lose, daughter of a disgraced politician who had no scruples about cheating on his taxes and operating illegal offshore accounts, took the same narrow minded and hypocritical view as Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony.

Progressive Democrats TD and Minister for Health (without responsibility), Mary Harney, mouthed the standard and by now insulting apology to the victims.

Mary O’Rourke spoke about a dawn that is always promised but never actually dawns, that she was in despair over the health services.

Why would she be in despair? She exists in the unaccountable, grotesquely overpaid and arrogant world of Irish politics. She, like most of her colleagues, do not have the courage to actually do anything about the situation.

She only encounters reality when she wanders out of the rarefied world of our useless and boring parliament, she will never find herself in the situation of the eleven distressed women she met, she will never have to worry about a lack of medical facilities for herself or her family.

Her dawn and that of her colleagues arrived years ago when they created a system that provides constant sunshine for themselves, family and friends but leaves a large percentage of the people they claim to represent in the shade and some of them – condemned to the ultimate darkness.

Copy of this post to:

Prof. Drumm
Mary Harney, TD
Joan Burton, TD
Mary O’Rourke, TD
John O’Mahony, TD
Liz McManus, TD
Margaret Conlon, TD
Beverly Flynn, TD
Fianna Fail Party
Fine Gael Party
Labour Party
Progressive Democrats Party
Green Party

Still waiting for courageous leadership

With few exceptions, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cowardice are the hallmarks of Irish political life.

In today’s Irish Examiner, Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny accuses Bertie Ahern’s cabinet colleagues of cowardice because they will not stand up and say that what he (Bertie) did was wrong.

Before the election Kenny and Rabbitte scurried for cover when polls indicated that Irish citizens were not bothered by the low ethical standards of their Prime Minister.

Pat Rabbitte made his position crystal clear. (1st question)

“I asked some tough questions on the Bertiegate affair and I was down five points in the polls and Mr. Ahern went up five. In politics, especially coming up to a general election, you tend to learn lessons from that.”

In common with the majority of Irish politicians, Kenny and Rabbitte have not the slightest notion of what it is be a leader. It is not, as they seem to think, to slavishly follow the crowd, to pander to the lowest common denominator.

It is to state clearly where you stand, especially on the question of ethics in government and stand by that position no matter what the polls say.

Courageous leaders will attempt to persuade citizens that honest and visionary leadership will ultimately produce a fair society.

Eighty five years of independence and we’re still waiting for that courageous and visionary leadership.

Manipulating democracy

Every self respecting democracy in the world operates under the rule of law. Electoral law is particularly important because it is based on the authority of the people. Any interference, any sly manipulation of such law seriously dilutes the quality of that democratic authority.

Stephen Collins, political editor of the Irish Times, explained on RTEs News at One (4th item) yesterday how Irish politicians have been breaking the law for years by supervising how councillors are voting in Seanad elections.

This illegal activity is to make sure that the councillors are voting according to deals worked out between the political parties.

The United Nations frequently sends teams of inspectors to emerging democracies around the world to ensure that such vote tampering does not occur; Irish politicians are often invited to join these inspection teams.

They must feel odd to find themselves strictly enforcing electoral laws that they have been openly flouting themselves for years.

Roche secures Ruairi Quinn's defection to Fianna Fail?

“In a vindictive farewell Dick Roche signed the go ahead for the M3 before being tossed out of office.”

This was how Rodney Rice introduced Saturday View. I agree with his comments but judging from other reactions it would seem that Dick Roche’s action has put him in line for sainthood.

The ex minister was interviewed on Today with Tom McGurk (Fri. 15th June) where he informed the nation of what a great minister he had been.

I’m a great man for making decisions; I made the decision on nitrates when others feared to act.

My colleagues agree that I put together a very effective programme on environment.

The second Nice Treaty referendum was a very complex and badly written document. I broke it down into its component parts so that ordinary people (the peasants, so to speak) could understand it. I could have ignored the very negative views on the ‘no’ side but I chose to deal with them up front.

I’m very pleased that there are only three lines in the policy document on local government reform that weren’t written by my hand (Did he go through the whole document to check?).

I did great work on the EU Constitution.

I drove the civil servants in my dept very hard but they responded very well. (Obviously, these civil servants were an unruly rabble when Roche became minister).

I did John Gormley some service by not passing the buck to him.

(Echoes of Haughey there).

Tom McGurk was very impressed, he sounded like a schoolgirl who had just met her favourite film star. He was on the verge of breaking down in an uncontrolled giggle of admiration. He didn’t ask for the great man’s autograph on air but I suspect he was favoured afterwards.

Later on things became even more surreal when Labour TD Ruairi Quinn was being interviewed and made comment on the Roche interview.

“Any citizen of this Republic listening to that dialogue this morning, there are very few countries in the world that I can envisage where you would have that open frank exchange between an office holder and interviewer and the rest of the Republic and I just thought it was wonderful radio. I’m very proud of this county.”

I fully expected him to break out with a rendition of Amhran na bhFiann and announce his defection to Fianna Fail.

It has to be election fatigue, it just has to be….