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Human damage

• Some time ago when he was in opposition, the Finance Minister Michael Noonan broke down before RTE's cameras in relation to his experience pertaining to his wife's terrible illness, and its impact on himself emotionally.

One might ask where now is the Michael Noonan who engendered such public compassion?

He has not only upheld the 2010 policy of cutting home-help hours for fiscal reasons put in place by the previous government but now -- through the Health Minister James Reilly (who seems to have taken Holy Orders and retired to a monastery) Mr Noonan wishes to wield the savage axe to a far greater extent, at the truncated, depleted, and desperately required remaining hours, in existence for thousands of home-help recipients.

Home helps provide an indispensable service; they are women of high calibre; their remuneration is low; they engage in this kind of work because they care about their clients, and love what they do. They work at the coalface, saving the State millions of euro by allowing the old, the frail, the frightened and infirm, often isolated from their families, to remain at home, rather than flooding our hospital wards -- a scenario which would render our health service completely inoperable.

During his time in the rainbow coalition, Mr Noonan earned the scorn of women infected by hepatitis C, who were struck by his lack of a sense of social morality, or simple justice. It would seem that his lack of social empathy has blinded him again to the human damage he is inflicting.

However, we as citizens living in a democracy, must assert that cutting home-help hours for fiscal reasons is not only inhumane, it is objectively a social crime.

Pierce Martin
Celbridge, Co Kildare

Irish Independent