Sunday 21 July 2019

Working it out: This HSE decision is so much HOGwash

A salesman pushes a Harley Davidson motorcycle to a parking spot at a Miami dealership
A salesman pushes a Harley Davidson motorcycle to a parking spot at a Miami dealership

John Masterson

First, I must declare an interest. I ride a Harley and am a fully paid up HOG. That is a member of the Harley Owners Group. I have spent many happy hours on my machine and regard biking as the perfect way to travel. Irish weather permitting. We HOGS like to keep our bikes shiny.

And I must declare a prejudice. I believe that public money is frequently wasted. People tend to treat money that is not their own differently from the euro in their own wallet. As anyone in a cash business knows, money has a habit of walking. And anyone in a large company will know that the company is paying’ sounds like it is not real money. This is more understandable when the company are faceless shareholders, rather than a family business, but the principle is the same. And what bigger bunch of faceless shareholders are there than you and I. We pay our taxes so that the government and its employees have cash, that they forget is ours, to play with.

My interest and my prejudice collided recently when I saw that the HSE have spent 66 thousand of our euro to buy three Harleys. My first reaction is to want a job in the HSE. I can think of nothing better than zipping around the city and country from hospital to hospital saving lives with my cargo of blood samples. Except that the Harley is the wrong bike for this work, and I long to see the person responsible for this decision strutting their stuff before the Public Accounts Committee.

If you are nipping around the city carrying medicines, paramedics or refrigerated organs, a scooter is the job. That will cost about a fifth of a decent Harley. It will be quicker, easier to park, and will probably have better luggage. It can also be ridden by people who are not qualified to ride more powerful bikes.

I concede that this mode of transport is not suitable if you need to get a liver from Dublin to Cork pronto and there is no helicopter around. But again the Harley is not really the man for the job. The BMW that Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor rode around the world is ideal and about ten grand cheaper. And that is only one of a lot of possibilities. The Gardai get along fine on Hondas that are cheaper again.

I hope this analysis doesn’t offend anyone in that HSE because I really would like that job.

PS. I have a full licence and no penalty points.

Sunday Independent

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