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Children's hospital -- Harney's legacy

THERE have been many critiques in the media of Mary Harney since she resigned last week.

I have read them carefully and have noticed that there are many in the political field who have some praise for Ms Harney.

But there are notably very few health professionals or patient groups who share this view.

The minister did achieve some positive things.

The care that patients receive in our hospitals is still excellent, even if waiting times for treatment remain far too long and trolley counts remain horrendous.

The free medical cards for the over 70s and the cervical vaccine for girls were important steps taken by Ms Harney.

The older generation is most likely to suffer from chronic diseases which require regular intervention and supervision and the free medical card allowed these patients to access this care without any financial worries.

The introduction of the cervical cancer vaccine is vital in protecting girls and women as cervical cancer is responsible for more than 100 deaths a year in Ireland.

It should be noted, though, that it took considerable and inspiring lobbying by our older generation to ensure their benefits were not lost and considerable political pressure was brought to bear to ensure the vaccine went ahead.

Her legacy will not, however, be positive in so many ways.

I have seen criticism of many of the policy decisions taken by Ms Harney in the media this week, but there is of course one key government decision that stands out for the parents and children of Tallaght and its surrounding areas.

The disgraceful decision on the location of the New Children's Hospital is symptomatic of all that has gone wrong under Ms Harney's watch.

The wrong location, millions spent on inaccurate consultancy reports which attempted to justify a government decision and a ridiculing and vilification of any and all concerns voiced are just a few examples.

It is important to the Tallaght Hospital Action Group that it is noted this was not solely a ministerial decision, but was fully supported at all levels in the Government, including the Green Party in their revised Programme for Government.

It is really a sorry state that the only reason being put forward for this project to go ahead is that to delay it may mean we end up with nothing.

Fear of being left with nothing is understandable, but the fear of not developing the best facility to serve our children should frighten us much, much more.

There is much debate about political change on the airwaves. Those who advocate such change (on all sides) would do well to start with the reversal of this decision.

Triona Murphy
Chairperson, Tallaght Hospital Action Group

Irish Independent