A hollow ring
• I was extremely shocked and surprised to hear the Minister for Sport and Tourism, Michael Ring, state that "money spent on sport, it's better than putting it into hospitals, consultants, doctors . . ."
My daughter Alina was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two, and died in May 2011 at the age of three. She never had the chance to go to school or take part in sports. She spent most of her illness in Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.
I knew what she was in for when, in the first days there, I saw peeling murals of Bosco on the walls. I was there to observe the dilapidated rooms, corridors and machines. I saw first-hand the effects of understaffing, low morale and disorganisation.
When she suffered complications after liver surgery, the expertise and equipment to look after my daughter did not exist in this State, and she had to be urgently transferred to London. Even the transport had to be provided by a Royal Air Force helicopter.
I have no doubt that participation in sport has real health benefits. However, not every hospital patient ends up in hospital because they are not athletes.
At its heart, Michael Ring's speech was a cynical attempt to put pressure on the Minister for Finance and wrangle a few more euro for his department. It looked petty and pathetic.
While Irish officialdom could not even manage a proper homecoming for our team, surely they deserved better than Michael Ring in a hall in Dublin airport.
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