Letters to the Editor: 'Confront HSE union scourge'
Sir - We have all heard the stories about our failing health service, the lack of funds, the lack of beds, nurses and doctors, and too many managers.
My partner started a job in the HSE a number of months ago and I have been in and out of our local main A&E and medical assessment unit over the past few months also, with conversations in both instances and areas coming to the same conclusion - it's not the above issues that are mainly to blame, but the restrictive demands and impact of the unions.
I heard instances where a new manager trying to introduce new, improved practices was ganged up on by his team, who insisted he be removed, and concocted identical stories of bullying and aggression. They were also refusing to complete work assigned to them by their line managers, saying they were too busy.
They even insisted that they made out their own rosters, not him, and management declined to challenge them on their refusal. Previous reports to senior management and HR had apparently been passed back down with a "resolve it yourself" instruction and: "Don't rock the boat."
If this were in private industry, either they would be fired and a "cleansing strike" would ensue and the issue would be resolved, or the owners would just close down and move elsewhere.
What appears to be in place, is that in many instances, the administrative heads of our hospitals were once head union bods and now they are supposed to negotiate with their old pals on behalf of the management to secure better levels of care for the patients, with obvious outcomes.
I had a specialist consultant tell me privately that there was a growing list of unfilled consultant positions, nurses positions and a quickening flood of departing junior doctors as the salaries, and more importantly, the progression opportunities, were better in the NHS, Canada and Alaska. While the Government had placed salary restrictions in the years of austerity, they had failed miserably to rectify these deficits as the economy returned to full employment. Again, the unions were loudest in preventing a rise in higher medical staff salaries.
Our populist (in his own mind) minister is presiding over this continuing mayhem, giving speedy orations, attending photoshoots and playing to the mob, but miserably failing to get to the crux of the matter and totally letting down the Irish public, like all his predecessors before him.
It is well time that the union scourge in our healthcare system and hospitals was exposed and confronted.
Name and address with Editor
Empathy won over hate
Sir - We are so lucky living in this wonderful democratic society here in Ireland. We get to pick our politicians, president and even got the right for women to choose whether abortion is the correct option for them when in a precarious situation. "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," as Benjamin Franklin said.
Today is Armistice Day but the wearing of a poppy is not obligatory. At this time of the year, though, I am reminded of the compassion and not hatred from a man who had just lost his daughter in a horrendous atrocity, the Enniskillen bombing. Gordon Wilson may have saved more lives with his empathy and concern for others, rather than showing hate and venom for what occurred on November 8, 1987. Some of us today will remember those from all walks of life who gave their lives for us in all conflicts.
Grandfathers who atone for past ‘sins’
Sir — I thank you for raising the issue and bringing awareness to the role of grandparents in Ireland (Sunday Independent, November 4). However, I wish to correct you on the discourse offered, for while it may contribute to the vista today, it does not tell the complete story.
Exploring the world of grandparents reveals that, in many cases, ‘grandparent’ is de facto synonymous with ‘grandmother’. The world of the grandfather remains elusive, although evidence is emerging that recognises the significance of the role.
With this in mind, I undertook a PhD on grandfathers in Ireland and developed a theory called ‘Redemption Theory’ based on the need for grandfathers to ‘pay back’ to their adult children for being absent (for many reasons) when they were young children.
There is no literature that explores the grandfather and his place in the family within contemporary Ireland. I found that many facets contribute to the understanding of the complexities faced by grandfathers in Ireland, where legislation and judicial experiences influence whether a man has an opportunity to engage as a grandfather or not. The findings also challenge the assumptions in the literature that masculinities are foremost in the lives of grandfathers.
The men’s narrative contributes to the development of typologies or different types of grandfathers, that explain who these grandfathers are and how the masculine identity, although still prevalent, is evolving — therefore, obliterating the presumptions in your article.
The findings can contribute to the broader discussion on the best interest of the child and challenge legislation on child minding.
So while the perception is that adult children are ‘using’ the grandparents, the grandfathers in Ireland would offer that they feel they want to ‘pay back’ for their absenteeism as fathers and ‘redeem the sins’ by offering care, in all its formats, to the grandchildren.
Dr Susan Kent PhD,
Children’s Research Centre and School of SWSP,
Trinity College, Dublin
Stay a while when you visit the elderly
Sir — The late, great Willie Bermingham, who founded Alone, once said: “The elderly never die from hunger. It’s mostly due to loneliness.”
Next time you visit a senior person, don’t jangle the car keys saying, “Have to dash, promise I’ll drop in again real soon”.
It could be your visit was so much looked forward to, like a child promised to be brought to see Santa.
Old people have so much to tell you, everything told by them was bought the hard way — it’s called living.
Stay a little while longer next time, have that cup of tea, it won’t be long before you yourself are looking forward to someone calling.
Behind that lonely door lies a wealth of experience.
Sing with Sinatra
Sir — As someone who sent in various ‘contributions’ (not today or yesterday) to the Gay Byrne radio show, I noted Gay’s comment that he would like to be 60 again. Perhaps Gay, and indeed myself, can take consolation from the lyrics in Frank Sinatra’s Young At Heart — “Here is the best part, you have a headstart, if you are among the very young at heart”... indeed.
Truth is stranger than fiction
What in God’s name is the matter with this country? Do we ever learn? The opening scene of RTE’s new Sunday night drama Taken Down shows a boat out on the ocean packed with refugee asylum seekers. Next a scene where an agreement is made to a mother and her two sons to give them what is called ‘direct provision’.
This is a means of meeting their basic needs, while claims for refugee status are being processed. Before the following scene, we read on the screen “eight years later”.
Then the drama unfolds, as we see the mother and her two sons all still living in the one room in this so-called ‘direct provision’. Why not be upfront and call them what they are — ‘concentration camps’.
This is supposed to be fiction but the factual situation is every bit as stark.
Some 55pc of those in direct provision have been there for five years OR MORE. Shame on us.
Good memories of working with Bono
Sir — I enjoyed Brendan O’Connor’s fine tribute to Bono and U2, Ireland’s iconic, world-famous group (LIFE, Sunday Independent, November 4). We are all proud of their great and ongoing success — long may it last.
As a senior civil servant, I worked alongside Bono as a member of the National Youth Policy Committee set up in 1983, a time of major youth unemployment, when more than half our population was under 25 years.
Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald met Bono, whose impressive enthusiasm and commitment to help young people led to the committee, chaired by Judge Declan Costello, and its influential report which followed. Bono told me some years later, that he felt this was the start of the good work that characterises his life.
No one is held to account any more
Sir — The article by Maeve Sheehan and Declan Brennan in relation to Eoin Berkley (Sunday Independent, November 4) highlights once again the failings in our legal system. How many times before have offenders committed serious crimes while out on bail? The answer is many.
Surely somebody is accountable for allowing this monster to roam the streets?
Drew Harris has promised to investigate the matter and it will be interesting to see the outcome of this. It’s the least the victim and her family deserves and also an apology.
Accountability is not something we do well in this country. We need only to look back at all the recent scandals in banking, the Garda (penalty points, Maurice McCabe) HSE (too numerous to mention) and clergy.
Almost always, no one is accountable. Are things ever going to change?
It’s time for NI to ditch outdated law
Sir — After seeking help for her daughter, a mother will be forced to go to court because of Northern Ireland’s outdated and inhumane laws related to abortion services.
Challenging the PPS’s judgment against her is brave, groundbreaking and difficult.
We, those of us who believe in the human rights of pregnant people and the right to bodily autonomy, stand with her. We support her.
It is time for Northern Ireland’s outdated laws to be brought in line with those of Ireland and the UK. It is time for things to change.
London SE17, UK
(formerly Co Dublin)
Sir — Contrary to Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, November 4), recklessness, not “bravery”, is how I’d describe Angela Merkel’s decision to allow 1.5 million mostly male Muslim immigrants into the EU without first consulting the other EU member states.
Muslims flock to the modern, secular world from their dysfunctional countries and many regard our openness as a weakness to be exploited for the spread of Islam.
No Muslim state preaches “multiculturalism”.
Why is that?
‘Show pony’ element inflames Tuam anger
Sir — I would fully agree with the sentiments expressed in Brendan O’Connor’s article (Sunday Independent, November 4). I would definitely veer towards a “show pony element to it all” opinion relating to Minister Zappone.
I think she has really gone too far with her decision to exhume the bodies in Tuam. What will be achieved? Minister Zappone is putting the Tuam orphanage on a par with a German concentration camp. I believe that the motivation is coming from a wish to heap more scandal on the church, rather than bringing any healing to the families of these children. Rather it will perpetuate the hurt and anger suffered by these people.
Brendan O’Connor is right in saying “we have to make sure, too, that acknowledging the past doesn’t distract us from living in the present”.
I would urge the minister to concentrate on doing something about the present-day scandals.
Telling the truth
Sir — It makes me smile to read that Minister Zappone delivered a talk involving “truth telling” when she, along with other ministers and TDs, have such a poor understanding of it.
They are, however, well skilled in twisting the truth so that untruth appears as fact, inhumanity as compassion and denial of conscience as the will of the people. Yes we are truly living in a dark chapter of Ireland’s history, but journalists like Brendan O’Connor (Sunday Independent, November 4) offer a way forward in holding our ministers to account. Let’s do that right now and not let it up to future generations to puzzle over our inability to see the slide of Ireland into the dark ages.
Well done to Brendan for his great insight on a Government that needs to step out of the fairytale and muddy their socks in the reality on the streets.
Gene in contempt
Sir — Re ‘What Does It All Mean? The Best Analysis’ introduction on your front page (Sunday Independent, October 28) regarding the presidential election. The review of the election and the candidates by your correspondents, certainly achieved a reasonable balance — until we reached the last page, ‘Soapbox’, and a different analysis emerges. “Analysis” not altogether apt, more a hatchet job to my way of thinking.
Gene Kerrigan’s heading ‘If it looks like racism and it sounds like racism…’ sets the tone for his diatribe. Not content with alluding Peter Casey as a racist, he indulges in a litany of insults. His intelligence (not as smart as Donald Trump), his speaking voice (weak, wobbly and cliched), his character (bog-standard, charisma of a string vest). Casey is all “flibbertigibbet”. I had to resort to my Concise Oxford Dictionary, ie gossipy, flighty, frivolous or restless person. But I think Mr Kerrigan reveals his own mentality when he referred to Peter Casey as “a creature”.
I doubt if he will read ‘Soapbox’, but if he does, I’m sure he’ll dismiss it with the contempt it deserves. I’m not writing this letter to defend Peter Casey, but to defend myself. As one of the 342,727 who supported his candidacy whom he classifies as bigots, confused, resented with a hint of racism besides.
Irish not to blame
Sir — Dan O’Brien (Sunday Independent, November 4) stated that David Trimble wrote recently, blaming the Irish side for the impasse over Brexit and we were breaching the Good Friday Agreement. That is simply not the truth.
The British Government and the DUP are the main offenders. As Arlene Foster stated recently that she wanted the Good Friday Agreement renegotiated and the British government is also to blame for going back on the backstop agreement that they agreed upon last December.
The main blame lies between themselves and the DUP. The Irish Government is right to speak out for our interests.