Saturday 1 October 2016

Greece crisis shows Europe is no longer a 'community'

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

A supporter of neo-fascist party Golden Dawn at a march in Athens
A supporter of neo-fascist party Golden Dawn at a march in Athens

What the Greek crisis has achieved, above all else, is the provision of a theatre for political posturing for European leaders. One fails to detect even a trace of moral integrity in the discussions so far. Nobody will emerge with dignity from this unseemly mess.

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Ditching Greece would inevitably create a failed state in a critical part of the world, waiting to be devoured by Mr Putin's insatiable appetite for power and influence.

An odd aspect of this unedifying affair is that the current ruling elite in Greece is more intent on looking to Berlin for rescue and support than on putting its own house in order. The suggestion from the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, that his creditors are seeking to humiliate the country in order to cover up their criminal responsibility for the current sad state of the economy is eminently disingenuous.

Even if Greece manages, by hook or by crook, to get back on its feet it will be a Pyrrhic victory. It will still have to redeem itself from inept public administration that is allied to an inability to manage and control its tax-raising mechanisms, with the result that tax-dodging has become a national pastime.

The Greek populace have taken the understandable action of removing their finances from the banks, and who can blame them. Unfortunately, this will further weaken the chances for recovery.

The Irish had trusted their banks and are still suffering the consequences of their misplaced faith.

Mr Tsipras trades in radical left-wing thinking under the perpetual threat of the hovering presence of the neo-fascist party, better known as Golden Dawn, and the Communist Party, who will thrive on the political vacuum created should Greece part company with the European Union.

The universal purposes that the European community was intended to serve have long since been hijacked by the self-interest of its individual members. The concept of community is seriously misplaced in describing current European realities.

Philip O'Neill, Oxford, England

Support for Berkeley victims

This week, as the families of the six students lay their children to rest, we are once again struck by the genuine grief and sympathy expressed not just within their home parishes, schools and colleges but by the whole country and by the people of Berkeley, California.

Our thoughts are also with the students who were injured, including Sean Fahey, and with their families. Aoife Beary, Hannah Waters, Conor Flynn, Jack Halpin, Niall Murray and Clodagh Cogley remain in hospitals in San Francisco. Their families continue to keep a vigil by their bedsides and, we have heard, they are taking great comfort from the outpouring of support from the local communities in Berkeley, as well as from everyone at home.

Since the accident, we have had colleagues on the ground in Berkeley to provide support to these students and their families. They are dealing with the reality of their injuries along with the emotional strain of the loss of their friends. They need, and will continue to receive, our support while they are in the US and when they come home.

We are acutely aware that close friends and students who witnessed the accident are also deeply affected by the trauma. For most of these young people, this is their first experience of the loss of a friend and it can be difficult to deal with such an experience.

Over the past week we have been struck by how well our students have provided support for one another. They have come together in groups and wrapped comforting arms around those who are suffering. They have used their own social media groups to reach out and get in touch with one another.

Our support services are available to provide counselling and ongoing support through the summer and in the academic year ahead and we encourage students who need help to come to us. We know that some of our students may face a long road of physical and emotional recovery and our colleagues are here to offer support, both now and in the months to come.

Andrew J Deeks, President, University College Dublin

Brian McCraith, President, Dublin City University

Brian Norton, President, Dublin Institute of Technology

Annie Doona, President, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology

James Browne, President, NUI Galway

Patrick Prendergast, Provost, Trinity College Dublin

Nursing homes a last resort

The percentage of our elderly population in nursing homes is 35pc greater than the EU average.

In recent years, the HSE has adopted a policy of increasingly funding nursing home places for older people. However, juxtaposed to this has been the systematic reduction in the funding of home care supports for older patients who wish to remain living at home, but who just need some additional home help to do so.

This has led to a situation whereby older people are preferentially being pushed into nursing homes at huge cost to the HSE and, more importantly, at huge cost and anxiety to the patient.

Nursing homes play a vital role in the Irish health system and most older people enjoy their time at nursing homes. However, as a doctor in the HSE, it has been my experience that the vast majority of my elderly patients have a deep desire to live at home for as long as they can. I fundamentally believe that if a patient wishes to remain at home, the HSE should provide the adequate resources needed to facilitate this for as long as possible.

Despite the Programme for Government and the HSE Service Plan all claiming that helping older people to live independently at home for as long as possible is a major cornerstone of their healthcare policy, their patterns of funding paint a very different picture.

Funding for home help has been cut by €1.6m since 2011 and Housing Adaption Grants for older people have been cut by almost €30m.

While at the same time, Minister Varadkar recently announced another further €44m in additional funding for the Fair Deal programme.

We need to correct this imbalance of funding and reallocate some of the money invested in the Fair Deal programme into providing home supports to older patients, thereby ensuring that nursing home care is a last resort rather than their only choice.

Dr David J Tansey, Department of Medicine (Endocrinology), Mater Hospital, Eccles Street, Dublin 7

Irish Independent

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