Wednesday 16 October 2019

Sinead Ryan: 'Right out of ideas for how to make mark'

Former leader of Renua Ireland John Leahy. Photo: Mark Condren
Former leader of Renua Ireland John Leahy. Photo: Mark Condren
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

They say the first rule of politics is being able to count. And the first rule of setting up a political party is to manage the split. The second is, know when you're beat.

Renua, formerly known as Reboot Ireland, didn't. The brainchild of political heavyweight Lucinda Creighton failed to ignite and it turned out that even conservative Ireland retained its small 'c' and decided it didn't really like the right.

Renua's only member to get a council seat in the local elections was its leader, John Leahy, who has stepped aside from the party, and his €65,000 salary, with, at least, refreshing candour.

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"My first big test was the local elections and I failed to return any councillor other than myself," he said with understatement.

Given local elections are all solo runs, most party councillors would consider this is a good enough result.

The 'party', such as it is, will continue to receive over €250,000 in taxpayer funding until it finds itself a new path, or fades into further insignificance.

Aontu, Peadar Tóibín's other right-ish party (at least socially), didn't flutter too many hearts in count centres either while Sinn Féin's car crash on the left only goes to show that we are a nation of centrists and prefer it that way - at least when the economy is performing.

It's preferential to the way some other European countries protest vote. In the UK, Austria, Germany and other places, fear swings voters to the extremes, mainly right. It's scary politics over that side of the spectrum and history has taught us it's rarely a good place.

'Brain drain' might end if doctors footed training bill

Also leaving in droves are doctors. More than 620,000 patients are on waiting lists to see a consultant and the medical profession has launched a new campaign (well, a hashtag, which shows how serious it is) over unfilled consultant posts in hospitals.

One in five is vacant and 700 newly qualified specialists have gone abroad in the past few years. They call it the 'brain drain' and cite Ireland as not being a very attractive place to work.

Interestingly, it was a very attractive place in which to get a monumentally expensive medical degree, mainly funded by the taxpayer, though.

Ireland trains more medical students for its size than any other European country. We then let them emigrate, and then recruit, at enormous expense, foreign-trained doctors to treat our patients.

It's a tradition in the armed forces that if you are trained through the system, you give a number of years to it afterwards in compensation. Why not so for doctors? It takes seven years or so to create one; surely it's not too much to ask that they stay put to give back for a number of years?

Of course it's great that doctors train and work abroad to enhance their experience, and a sorry pity that many don't want to return of their own volition afterwards.

Surely there is much more that the HSE can be doing to retain and encourage them - but it is the patients who continue to suffer in the absence of better joined-up thinking.

137-year wait for planning

We do give out about the planning system a lot. Everything takes so long and is so slow, it can be hard to see progress.

Well, it's not just us. I'm back from Barcelona, where Gaudi's magnificent Sagrada Familia church is one of its most famous sights. It has just been granted planning permission for construction… 137 years after building began.

A legal loophole meant that work on the cathedral, which remained incomplete when Gaudi died in 1926, was unlicensed. Thankfully it's been resolved and makes our building pace look good.

Irish Independent

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