Listening the other week to British Prime Minister David Cameron addressing his party's conference, I was struck by something he said regarding a democratically elected government's responsibilities to its citizens:
"Yes, fairness means giving money to help the poorest in society.
"People who are sick, who are vulnerable, the elderly -- I want you to know we will always look after you.
"That's the sign of a civilised society and it's what I believe."
It of course remains to be seen whether Mr Cameron's actions will match his words, but I at least share his belief in the fundamental requirements and measurement of a civilised society -- that government looks after and cares for its most vulnerable citizens.
With this in mind, one can only reflect on the already severe or threatened cuts by our own government.
There are cuts in funding to the elderly, and to support services for the mentally and physically disabled, and for those suffering from cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer's disease, to mention but a few examples.
Far from being looked after and cared for, those most in need of assistance within Irish society are being all but discarded as an unnecessary drain on resources.
The question must arise therefore, at least in respect of our political leaders, of whether Ireland can truly consider itself a civilised society.