Monday 27 January 2020

Reilly's cuts are bad logic

Cutting the number of home-help hours is not a tough choice, it is the wrong choice, writes Willie O'Dea

There is a form of deductive reasoning called a syllogism. In essence, it consists of deriving a conclusion from two related statements of fact.

A classic example is: all mammals are warm-blooded. All dogs are mammals, therefore all dogs are warm- blooded.

But there are false syllogisms too, such as: all runners sweat, you are sweating, therefore you have been running.

To judge from Taoiseach Enda Kenny's recent utterances, it appears that his scriptwriters are fans of the false syllogism. The prevailing one runs like this: doing the right thing is often unpopular, cutting home-help hours is unpopular, therefore cutting home-help hours is the right thing to do.

No, it is not.

But not content with peddling this form of twisted logic, the Government's in-house syllogism fan goes one further and suggests that it's all the fault of the troika, the IMF, the EU and, of course, the last government.

Almost two years after the public gave its overwhelming and devastating verdict on the last government, the current one thinks it can still blame everything on it.

While worried and anxious Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers might be eager to believe and regurgitate that line, others are not.

Yes, there are many tough decisions and tough choices that we can blame on the troika and the banking collapse, but this is not one of them.

The blame for the hardship being caused by the home-help cuts lies fairly and squarely with the Minister for Health and the Cabinet.

These heartless cuts stem from Dr Reilly's failure to adequately plan and properly manage the Health budget. He was the one who brought in a health estimate that was based on assumptions and targets that were simply not deliverable.

Further cuts are now being made to cover his failure to deliver what he promised.

There is no point in Mr Kenny asserting that anyone with an assessed need for a home-help service will not be left without one. That is simply not the reality.

These cuts fly in the face of repeated commitments in the Programme for Government, yet they proceed. I suppose this is yet another example of what Roisin Shortall discovered: when it's a choice between the Programme for Government or what's in Dr Reilly's mind, Mr Kenny will side with the doctor. So will the Tanaiste.

As recently as last Tuesday, Mr Kenny was still blithely, perhaps naively, claiming that people with assessed needs would not be cut and that their cases would be treated with sensitivity.

At my clinic last Thursday I met with families who told me plainly that this is not happening. One of them received a phone call informing them of a two-thirds cut in their elderly father's care hours from 15 hours to just five.

They are experiencing no sensitivity in treatment.

Yes, there are tough decisions to make. I have played my part in making several, but I also know the difference between making a tough choice and a bad choice. It is time this government did too.

Willie O'Dea is TD for Limerick City

www.willieodea.ie.

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