Hospital A&E system is very badly broken
In fairness to our health service workers, it is always important to note that each day tens of thousands of people receive the best of care. But the state of our hospital A&E system is a cause of near despair and every other week we learn a new horror story about it.
Today, our report on the large numbers who walk out of our hospital A&Es, worn down and frustrated by a long and fruitless wait, will not surprise too many people who have had to endure a marathon wait, sitting on a chair while suffering either illness or injury.
The report reveals a shameful situation and points up the real crisis afflicting our hospital A&E system, which by now is very badly broken. Each month, some 4,000 patients who register at emergency departments in the hope of being treated, end up walking out.
Some of these people may have had minor enough complaints. Others may have been under the influence of drink or drugs. Their decision to quit A&E in those circumstances may not be of major importance.
But our health professionals say the 'walk-out rate' is a good deal higher than it should be. It is clear that over-crowding and poor service from over-burdened staff are big factors in all of this.
The hospital A&E is the main experience most citizens have of our health system. It is proving to be a very poor and discouraging 'shop window'. It is even more dispiriting when you consider that almost one euro in every three of our taxes is spent on this poor and flawed service.
Many older citizens fear going to hospital A&Es because they dread a prolonged ordeal of pain and lack of privacy to be endured on a trolley or a chair. This is no longer acceptable and change is long overdue.
Rory gives us reason to smile through the rain
The weather gods did not smile. But Rory McIlroy made up for that with a sparkling display before a proud Irish crowd who braved sometimes torrential rain on the plains of Kildare. It was a superb win by one of our great sporting heroes.
He delighted the loyal supporters, who persisted through squalls, torrential rain and even hailstones to back the great young Irishman. When Rory came under pressure on the final three holes, he upped his game and turned in some champagne golf in difficult conditions.
Afterwards, he admitted that he had struggled to hold back his emotions on the final green. It was his first Irish Open victory and came after some disappointments in recent years. He graciously acknowledged the support of home fans, family and friends in helping to power him on to victory.
In Ireland, we have learned to live with disappointing weather. More importantly, the event at the K Club showcased the best in one of our most loved games, which is also a great source of tourism and jobs.
Rory McIlroy was a worthy tournament host of the Irish Open. He carried himself with dignity and grace.
Appropriately, worthy causes will also benefit. Rory McIlroy will donate his €666,660 first prize to the 'Rory Foundation'. All in all, it was a very good weekend's work and a credit to all concerned.
Irish sports fans will take great pride in Rory McIlroy's big win and look forward to more great days, more sporting memories and still more celebrations.