Monday 20 November 2017

Pensions debate must allow for facts of life - that the poor die younger

You'd need the constitution of an ox to be an unhealthy person in Ireland. WB Yeats was half right: this is no country for old men. But it isn't exactly paradise for unfit/overweight men and women either. Harassed, hectored and hit in the pocket at every turn, the unwell are the hard-pressed group it's okay to discriminate against.

In much of the western world, a diagnosis of illness is a distress signal, heralding a period of rest and recuperation. Here, it's often the opening shot in a bureaucratic battle with the HSE. The healthcare provided by our health system is usually top notch but securing access to that healthcare can be a sickener in itself.

Even before arrival at the hospital door, Ireland is a cold house for those who are not in fine fettle. When an individual's ill health is attributable to poor lifestyle, officialdom's disdain mutates into something akin to vengefulness. Smokers, boozers, overeaters and other wilful desecrators of their bodily temple frequently speak of feeling like refugees in their own land; despised, harried, endangered.

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