Tag Archives: Mary Harney

How Sick Are We?

Cystic Fibrosis patients are prone to picking up infections, and therefore should be accomodated in single en-suite rooms in hospital.

Until last year we had no such facilities in St Vincents, which is the national adult referral centre for the condition. This is despite the fact that we have the highest incidence of CF in the world.

Orla Tinsley

Orla Tinsley

In May 2007, two days before the last election, a brave and wonderful girl called Orla Tinsley wrote a 1500-word piece pleading for this to be changed. She pointed out that CF sufferers in the US have a life expectancy in the 40s. In the UK it’s in the 30s, and in Northern Ireland it’s 31.

In the Republic of Ireland it’s 21.

Orla was 20 when she wrote the article. In January 2008 she spoke from her hospital bed on Joe Duffy’s Liveline, and awoke a storm of anger & sympathy across the nation. Goaded into action, the HSE announced that 30 rooms would be provided in a new block in St Vincents that would be ready in 2010, and that in the interim 14 rooms would be made available in the existing hospital.

On Thursday last the HSE admitted that the block will not be ready in 2010. In fact, construction of it will not even begin “until 2011, at the earliest”. Furthermore, only eight of the promised 14 interim rooms have actually been provided.

Needless to say, the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland is shocked and enraged. And so is Orla, thankfully still with us, who wrote this piece in Friday’s Irish Times.

Read it, and remember it whenever you read that Health Minister Mary Harney had hair-do’s paid for by us when she was in Florida. Or when you read that Martin Cullen used a Government helicopter to travel to a meeting. Or when you read that the HSE is acknowledged by everyone to be badly run, with too many administrators and too many bad inefficient work-practices, but that its chief executive got an €80,000 performance-related bonus in 2007. Or when TDs justify receiving a Ministerial Pension while still being paid as a TD. Or when they receive a sudden €3,000 increase for reaching a certain length of service in the Dáil. Or when the useless Mary Coughlan defends this increase by saying they have “entitlements” to increases based on years of service.

Remember it when candidates call to your door looking for votes in the June local and European elections.

Orla and her friends have “entitlements” too. How sick are we as a society if we do not honour them?

Cop Yourself On, Mary

On the day that Jade Goody has died, aged just 27, of cervical cancer, I want again to express my disgust that Mary Harney backed out of a plan to give a cervical cancer vaccine free to 12-year old girls.

The plan would have cost €9.7 million, and might have saved who knows how many girls from deaths as painful and untimely as Jade’s.

But Mary decided we can’t afford it. Are we really that poor now?

When the announcement was made first I wrote this. Needless to say, not one of the wasteful practices I mentioned had been tackled in the period since, but more money has been poured into the banks, incompetent gobshites have got big pay-offs and other, even more incompetent, gobshites have thrown away money taking  helicopters to work.

I ended my previous post by saying “Now Mary, have the courage to stand up for your Department, your gender and the children of your country .”

That still stands. If she can’t find a way to fund this, even just via savings from some of the waste in her own HSE, then she’s not fit to be Minister for Health.

Apparently Jade Goody’s plight has led to an increase in women presenting for smear tests. This makes her more useful in fighting cancer than Mary Harney.

Yes We Can

Next year Revenue in the Tinhouse will show only modest growth. I’m due a review in January, but I don’t expect anything fantastic given the times that we’re in.

In the meantime outgoings will increase. I will be doing my patriotic duty by paying Brian’s Income Levy, the VAT increase will have raised prices and I will be getting less tax relief on my Medical Bills. I also confidently expect Stealth Taxes like  increases in rail fares, postage, Bin Charges, etc.

our-budgetSo Mrs Tin and I will draw up a fairly tough Budget to manage our finances. We might cut out things like going to the cinema. We might not go on holiday, or perhaps not for as long, or perhaps not as far away. We might scrap any plans for changing the car or TV, or doing work to the house. I might even (and this illustrates the true depth of the Economic Abyss facing us) not go to the pub as often.

Some things will be left untouched, however. When the Tinkids need school books we will buy them. If they have to go on school trips we will pay for them. If they – or indeed either of us – are sick we will pay to go to the doctor, and will pay out for whatever medication or treatment she recommends.

In other words we won’t fuck with Health or Education. In no household budget do people make cuts right across the board. Some things are, and always will be, sacrosanct.

So when Mary Harney says that we can’t afford the €10 million Vaccination Programme that we were going to introduce in Primary Schools to protect young girls against a virus that causes Cervical Cancer, I can only borrow the phrase of the moment and say yes we can.

Sell This

Sell This

As long as our Government Jet is unsold, then yes we can. As long as we still have the three Junior Ministries that were only introduced last year by Bertie to keep more backbenchers sweet, then yes we can. As long as we could afford not to increase the Duty on beer in the last Budget (even I, as a committed and enthusiastic beer-drinker, was expecting and accepting the need for an increase) then yes we can.

Tax This

Tax This

As long as TDs get paid unvouched, untaxed expenses, then yes we can. As long as Ministers get what in effect are Company Cars without paying Benefit-in-Kind, then yes we can. As long as there is an upper limit on PRSI, and as long as Public Servants pay it at a lower level than we do, then yes we can. As long as we’re still renting space to store those bloody voting machines, then yes we can.

As long as Tax Breaks for the very rich continue, then yes we can.

Crush These

Crush These

As long as we look forward to next year’s local elections without seeing is there any way we can do with fewer councillors for the next few years, then yes we can. And as long as we pay ministerial pensions to TDs while they’re still in office, then yes we can.

In other words, when we’ve cut every single penny from every other department, and raised as much money as we can as fairly as we can, if we still can’t afford it, then we’ll tell a bunch of 12 year-old schoolgirls that we can’t give them a vaccine that might save their lives.

Until then, though, yes we can.

Now Mary, have the courage to stand up for your Department, your gender and the children of your country by telling the rest of the Cabinet that.