Thursday 13 December 2018

Letters to the Editors: 'Kyne should lobby for GP expenses instead of ministerial hotel bills'

Political costs: Minister for the Gaeltacht Seán Kyne (left) and Paschal Donohoe
Political costs: Minister for the Gaeltacht Seán Kyne (left) and Paschal Donohoe
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Open letter to Minister Seán Kyne

Dear Minister,

As a rural general practitioner in Carraroe, south Connemara, I read with interest that you recently attended a meeting with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in relation to helping with the cost of overnight hotel accommodation in Dublin for Ministers of State ('We need more expenses to pay for hotels in capital, say Fine Gael junior ministers on €130,000' Irish Independent, December 3), compounded by having foregone two annual salary increases that have been awarded under pay restoration.

I also note that this Government, including many senior ministers and the Taoiseach, frequently refer to full employment and an economy which is in great shape.

As you are fully aware, during our financial crisis, vicious Fempi (financial emergency) cuts were applied to general practice, including the removal of distance codes that particularly impacted upon rural GPs.

Despite Government reports of a recovered economy, there is simply no move on the part of this Government to restore these Fempi cuts, and this is despite all the evidence that money invested in general practice is money well spent, including incontrovertible and worldwide evidence showing that every €1 moved from hospital care to primary care saves €5.

If you see fit to personally lobby in relation to help with your own hotel bills, what lobbying are you doing to support the 12 rural GPs that provide crucial healthcare services to the Connemara members of your constituency?

No one covers our costs when we travel, often relatively long distances, to essential house calls.

Perhaps you might ask Mr Donohoe if he has money for my travel expense when I next visit my elderly 96-year-old patient who lives 25km from my surgery rather than lobbying for ministerial hotel room costs?

Dr Peter A Sloane

Carraroe, Co Galway

Ministers failing to raise morale in State schools

Analysis of your 'Feeder Schools Tables' supplement (Irish Independent, December 4) show the greatest percentages going on to Irish universities are from schools that are fee-paying, in more prosperous areas and are Irish-speaking. Deeper analysis would show that in respect of disadvantaged Deis area schools, fewer students go on to university.

In my early years as principal of two English Catholic secondary schools, I dreaded the annual publication of league tables which were so dispiriting for my staff and students.

Then, in my later years, performance tables changed and were produced on the basis of value-added, which allowed for prior attainment at age seven, 11, 14 and 16, as well as gender, date of birth and economic background of students.

This fairer mode of measuring performance often put us to the top end of national tables and led to a rapid rise in staff and student morale. It also became easier to recruit and retain better-qualified staff.

It could never have been fair to compare my school's public examination results with the two single-sex grammar schools on the same campus. They creamed off the top 5pc of 11 year olds and without fail topped England's annual school league tables.

How sad it is that successive Irish education ministers have done nothing to introduce value-added measures and help raise the spirits of teachers and students in Ireland's less economically favoured areas.

Finally, even though I have a grandchild attending a school that tops the Kerry table, I am not naïve enough to automatically conclude that it is either best or of gold standard!

Alan Whelan

Killarney, Co Kerry

Public sector like broken gun - they can't be fired

Sean O'Donnell totally misses the point of how "we" see public sector workers (Letters, Irish Independent, December 1).

The general annoyance with public sector workers is not that each one is well off but that there are far too many of them, that many of them take huge amounts of sick time; that many of the ones who do show up every day do not really achieve much, if anything, for the good of the country; and, finally, that however useless many of them are, like a broken gun, they can't be fired.

They are as unaccountable as our politicians but we still have to pay a huge amount of taxes for all of them. That is the reason for our frustration.

Richard Barton

Maynooth, Co Kildare

Conscientious objectors' rights need protection

The deep divide in public opinion on the abortion issue was reflected in the Dáil debate on the Government's Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill. From reports on the recent meeting of the Irish College of General Practitioners, it is evident this divide is also present among doctors ('Up to 50 GPs walk out of meeting over concerns about new abortion legislation', Irish Independent, December 2).

While acknowledging the right of doctors to conscientious objection, Health Minister Simon Harris says that "women also have a right to healthcare".

He dismisses the concerns of doctors who on grounds of conscience are unable to co-operate in any way with the provision of abortion services. He makes the outrageous suggestion "that a woman with an unwanted pregnancy would be shown the door or given the cold shoulder".

The minister is also reported as saying "the people have spoken and the campaign is over". Mr Harris should remember, however, that the people did not speak with one voice. For the 34pc who voted No, the campaign may indeed be over, but their conscientious objection to abortion is not. The right of doctors and all healthcare staff, on grounds of conscience, not to have any hand, act or part in the provision of abortion services needs to be fully protected.

John Glennon

Hollywood, Co Wicklow

Christmas throws light on global warming

You know that most people in Ireland have no regard for climate change when you see the amount of electricity required to light up houses with Christmas decorations.

To cap it all, our politicians are happy to be gathered around their very own Christmas tree in the grounds of our legislature, after which they all decamp to pleasanter places where they can plan with imagined impunity to wreak even more havoc with our climate obligations.

Liam Power

Dundalk, Co Louth

Irish Independent

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