Tuesday 25 October 2016

Give Health Minister a chance to bring in badly needed reform

Published 13/08/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Health Simon Harris. Picture Credit: RollingNews.ie
Minister for Health Simon Harris. Picture Credit: RollingNews.ie

Recently, I met the newly appointed Minister for Health Simon Harris in a shop in Galway. Apparently surprised to be recognised, he accepted my congratulations on his appointment.

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He agreed it was a tough task to sort out or even improve our health problems, but impressed me as someone who would not rest until he achieved a notable improvement. 

Like many of his predecessors, he set out the main difficulties and his goals and possible solutions. There was no surprise when this was criticised across the board, but I was further impressed by the youngest Minister in Cabinet's response (Irish Independent, August 11).

Unlike previous ministers who referred to the Department of Health as 'Angola', or others who informed us of what could not be done, Mr Harris answered his critics thus: "I am not going to be paralysed by the past, or afraid of future challenges."

I wish the Minister for Health the best of luck in his endeavours and will reserve judgement until after his term of office, unlike those who try to put a dampener on any initiatives to improve a health system that is badly in need of re-organisation

Mike Geraghty

Newcastle, Galway

Time for a quick 'Eirxit'?

I agree entirely with Anthony Woods's letter regarding the EU's totalitarian attempts at micromanaging Ireland (Irish Independent, August 11). We are, for the moment anyway, an independent republic, and being told what to do and how to behave by Brussels is getting out of hand. It would be interesting to see the results of a survey on what percentage of the population would like to see a referendum on 'Eirxit'.

Mark Leach

Dublin 8

Reforming RTÉ and charities

Two of the major features of our society - our voluntary tradition and RTÉ - are in need of reform. Recent controversies, such as those involving the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), Console and Goal, suggest that we should consider the option of putting our eggs into one basket - through some taxation measure that could be properly supervised by the State. The Christmas after the CRC furore broke, voluntary charitable contributions were down by 40pc.

If the bad publicity continues, we could see this becoming a permanent drop. It's time for Government action.

As for RTÉ, it seems clear that the time has also come to re-examine its remit. Its sporting coverage, for example, shows some very obvious signs of cuts and poor judgement.

In rugby the Six Nations competition has been lost to TV3, and in GAA we have had to turn to Sky to witness one of the great hurling encounters of all time, Kilkenny and Waterford. This is a worrisome trend where coverage of our national games is concerned.

Then there was the decision by RTÉ to send what seems like a cast of thousands to Rio to cover the Olympics.

Also, could someone explain the rationale behind the empire building that has made RTÉ such a large organisation? We need popular channels like RTÉ 2 to raise revenue, we're told. For what? To put on junk like the 'Republic of Telly' and curtail sports fixtures of such importance as the GAA semi-finals or the Six Nations? Is sport not the greatest moneyspinner of all for any station?

Tim Pat Coogan

Glenageary, Co Dublin

A child's miraculous survival

I was delighted to see that Neil Shanahan has made a full recovery after his fall from the rooftop of a hotel in Limerick. How is it that a little two-year-old can fall five floors and survive? There's a theory that children that young don't know any fear and they don't tense up on falling. Hence their bones don't break. I can't imagine the trauma and worry the parents went through - but what a wonderful outcome for the family. I know they cherish their little boy every day after his miraculous survival.

Niall Morris

Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2

On creators and disasters

F Whelan (Irish Independent Letters, August 10) raises an interesting question regarding natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis: "So we have to believe an all-powerful god designed and built a world he knew would kill and maim many thousands every year, as if an omnipotent being couldn't arrange release of the earth's pressure build-ups, etc, without bringing about death and destruction."

Many philosophers came up with their own answers to this, among them Leibniz, who claimed this world is the best of all possible worlds - whereby he did not mean that everything in this world is perfect, but that the omnipotent God created a world in which the sum of good is as great as it can possibly be and the sum of evil is as small as it can possibly be. In his view, evil (such as earthquakes) is a consequence of the fact that everything in the world is finite, and everything that is finite is imperfect.

Had an omnipotent God created a perfect world, such a world would be God's equal in its omnipotence, and that would be logically impossible. The reader might object to that that the omnipotent being should not be bound by the principle of non-contradiction; however, this opinion can be confuted by the reminder that if the non-contradiction principle was invalid in the universe, then the reader's attempt to formulate the omnipotence paradox would be futile - because in such case no language could refer to the entities his paradox considers (as Wittgenstein wrote: "When the answer cannot be put into words, neither can the question be put into words.").

Grzegorz Kolodziej

Bray, Co Wicklow

It's WC gone mad...

As I stood at the urinals in the gents toilet in Connolly Station recently, a cleaning woman appeared, and calmly and diligently mopped the floor as myself and other men attended to the 'business at hand'. Perhaps from her point of view it was a case of, "you've see one red light, you've seen them all."

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, D9

Restoring vacant premises

Probably the most depressing aspect of our rural towns are the closed pubs and shops that will never open again. Why not amend planning regulations so the building can turn into a dwelling without administrative fuss? The only restrictions might be a solid-to-void relationship of 3:1 on street frontage (the proportions of the traditional Irish house) and a requirement that the upper floor finish be continued to the ground floor (to fit in with the neighbours). Apart from ensuring conformity with these two conditions, the local authority would not be involved and the layout and standards of the house would be a matter for the householder. Using a registered builder will ensure compliance with regulations.

On completion, the occupant might receive a grant from the Rural Town and Village Renewal Scheme to acknowledge the revival of a redundant premises and the arrival of new customers who will contribute to the viability of the surviving shops and pubs.

Fergal MacCabe

Sandycove, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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