Friday 20 September 2019

Editorial: 'Taoiseach must begin to lead and stop playing to gallery '

'Since the CervicalCheck scandal first emerged, Mr Varadkar has been on the back foot.' (Tom Honan/PA)
'Since the CervicalCheck scandal first emerged, Mr Varadkar has been on the back foot.' (Tom Honan/PA)


The most consistent criticism of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been his inability to look past his public image.

The perception, fair or not, is of a conductor who would prefer to face the audience, and bare his back to the orchestra.

When things go wrong he then flourishes the baton about in all directions, hoping to direct the spotlight elsewhere.

He is not the only leader to do this. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was famous for his man of the people routine.

He would be seen to tut tut; rub his hands together - the very embodiment of a national soul-mate - and then solemnly intone: "Somebody really should be doing something about this." The shtick was so convincing one would almost forget he was the one at the head of Government.

Since the CervicalCheck scandal first emerged, Mr Varadkar has been on the back foot.

Today we report how he has sought to deflect responsibility for the slow pace in bringing some resolution to the matter by suggesting the courts have been too slow in handling cancer cases.

This is simplistic and self-serving; a transparent attempt to lift responsibility from his shoulders.

To be in charge means you fix failures and remove obstacles. You do not palm off critical decisions on others.

Today we also reveal how women may be left waiting up to nine months for vital cancer treatment.

It is some time since Dr Gabriel Scally's report dealt a stinging rebuke to the HSE and a system that was "doomed to fail at some point".

At this remove it is vital that the focus is on providing immediate answers and appropriate care for all of the affected women. All else is a distraction.

The test of a leader is to make a positive difference. It shouldn't be forgotten that from the outset, the root of this scandal was a failure of earlier intervention.

As far back as June of this year, Mr Varadkar laid down a red line insisting on full cooperation by all agencies.

It behoves him, therefore, to insist that he gets it. Recently, Mr Varadkar was also out and about blaming hospital consultants for taking their Christmas holidays and thus adding to the health chaos.

For the first time, the total number of patients on trolleys passed 100,000 for the year. No amount of spin will conceal Government failure to sort out the health service. Last month, Minister Michael D'Arcy was busy blaming the scale of court awards and exaggerated claims for ramping up the cost of insurance premiums.

Psychological projection is a theory where the human ego defends itself against negative impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while projecting them on others.

The Government is in danger of collectively falling prey to just such a delusion.

Irish Independent

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