Tuesday 24 January 2017

Our problem is too much medicine, not enough common sense

Published 09/01/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar speaking to media at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, during a tour of A&E wards earlier this week.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar speaking to media at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, during a tour of A&E wards earlier this week.

In Old Ireland, 'Brehon Law' offered the provision that a freeman might sit outside the house of his debtor and starve himself to death in order to shame his oppressor into recompense. An evolution of this was seen in the Hunger Strikes of the 1980s.

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Self-imposed starvation has been with the Irish as a political tool that reaches back as far as our mythology. What defines this self-imposed abuse is the fact that there should be no other form of redress, and as such it is a last resort and the most potent appeal to one's oppressor.

If you brought your car to the mechanic to fix a puncture and instead he offered you a box of steak knives, you would reasonably consider him to be unhinged. Yet when we are presented with the ill-health of our health service in the guise of overcrowding at A&Es, we invariably seek to apply a solution that is in fact the cause of the malaise.

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