Editorial: Voters must take long, hard look at Sinn Féin
THERE is a bitter irony in the IRA usage of the term "safe houses". The reprehensible reality for people like Paudie McGahon is that they were anything but "safe". In fact, they could be places of great peril for young and vulnerable people.
Late last autumn, the Sinn Féin leaders were challenged by the Taoiseach in the Dáil to say how many sex abusers the IRA leaders "exiled" from the North into this jurisdiction. Last week, we learned the brutal story of Mr McGahon, a young man raped in his own home in Co Louth by a leading IRA man using the McGahons' home as "a safe house".
Tragically, it was anything but a "safe house" - though it did unknowingly offer safety for a long time to a sex abuser of the lowest kind. But - fully five months after the Taoiseach's Dáil challenge - Sinn Féin has yet to answer straight questions about how many child abusers the IRA dispersed around these islands and in what circumstances.
Instead, we have been treated to the Sinn Féin leadership's self-righteous fulminating as they try to characterise themselves as victims. We have heard deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald in one breath say she and others in Sinn Féin would do all they could to protect victims of sex abuse. In the next breath, Ms McDonald defends Gerry Adams - who three times failed to report instances of child sex abuse.
Sinn Féin's die-hard supporters can be expected to circle the wagons, publicly deny everything and rationalise whatever shortcomings they perceive within their own organisation. Floating voters, understandably irked by the established parties, do not have to fall into this gullible syndrome.
As the next Dáil election looms into view, it is time all prospective voters took a long, hard look at Sinn Féin. Let them take the controversy surrounding the party and transfer it to the leadership and members of another party.
How would Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Labour look in these circumstances? Would you want to change the leadership and have every available fact opened to scrutiny?
Without all of that, could you support such a party?
Health insurers need to be more forthright
MORE than four in 10 Irish people pay for health insurance every year and their hard-earned premium payments are important in funding our health services. But these self-reliant citizens do not always get fair play.
Today we learn that a number of patients, who have paid for private health insurance for years, are finding out too late that their policies do not cover the procedure or hospital care they need.
This newspaper reports one very disturbing case of a man who discovered only on the morning of his surgery that his policy did not cover him for the operation he was about to undergo.
In another case, two long-time health insurance subscribers discovered their cover fell far short of their expectations once illness struck.
All of us lead busy lives and when we pay for a service such as health insurance, we are entitled to know at a glance what is covered and what is not.
Our health insurers must be more forthright about this. It is also an urgent task for the Health Insurance Authority to ensure that the companies provide clearer information.