Questions mounting for Gerry Adams
GERRY Adams is in mid-town Manhattan, New York, tonight hosting a fund-raising dinner expected to net Sinn Fein a hefty six-figure sum. But in Ireland many serious questions persist about his political credibility and competence.
When Sinn Fein launched its pre-budget submission last month, Mr Adams, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and other senior TDs said they would pay their water charges. But Mr Adams had earlier revealed that he was unsure whether he would have to pay charges at all on his holiday home in Co Donegal.
By yesterday he had changed his mind. "I'm not paying," he said on RTE radio. A host of other SF TDs have had similar conversions to the militant anti-water charge corner in recent days. They insist the conversion is not linked to fear of being out-flanked by other groups taking a more militant anti-water charge stance.
But the public will make up their own minds on that one, reflecting on the outcome of the Dublin South West by-election on October 10 last, when Sinn Fein lost to a candidate with a very unambiguous stance on water charges.
At the same time, lingering doubts about the level of Mr Adams' knowledge of the Republic's politics and economics have again been revived. He bluntly said on national radio that he did not know of the need to keep Irish Water's EU status as "a market corporation" so it could borrow for big projects without inflating the national debt.
He followed that display of ignorance by publicly advising the Taoiseach to tell the EU to "bugger off". Taking such advice would certainly not help Ireland's case at home or abroad. It should be a matter of reflection for people who see Mr Adams and Sinn Fein as potential candidates for government.
There are also the unresolved questions about Mr Adams' and Sinn Fein's response to Mairia Cahill's statements about their treatment of her rape at age 16 by an IRA man. The Sinn Fein president has said he accepts Ms Cahill was raped - but rejects her assertions about a republican cover-up.
When you put together all these factors, it is clear that Mr Adams is not making much sense at all these days.
Health insurance must cater for all
Health insurance has been in turmoil for several years now, with rising premiums and the recession combining to produce an exodus of more than 300,000 customers from the sector since 2008.
While talking about the importance of private health insurance, successive Ministers for Health have presided over increased charges and levies -which continue to push middle-income earners from private health care. At the same time successive Ministers for Finance have basically removed tax incentives that made it attractive. Matters were not helped by promises of Universal Health Insurance, which is now on the back-burner.
Recently-appointed Health Minister Leo Varadkar is now having a tilt at broadening the private health insurance sector by encouraging younger people to take out health cover. Human nature dictates that younger people may be more inclined to go on an exotic holiday or upgrade their phone than take out health insurance. However, it is good that the Minister is trying. Possibly restoring some of the tax incentives might be a credible solution.