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Gerry O'Carroll: Mary the moan

I'VE heard it all now.

On Monday our Health Minister Mary Harney unleashed a bitter outburst against what she considers to be her Iron Curtain-esque working conditions at the department headquarters in Hawkins House.

Aw, poor Mary, my heart bleeds for you, you big whine.

So now it's Mary the Moan, to go along with the Drummer bit of Drumm and Drummer.

Her whine is a slap in the face to anyone who has had to deal with Ireland's third-world HSE.

Harney moans that her offices are one of the worst buildings in the country. She dared even compare them to parts of Russia.

Worse still the put upon Minister says her department doesn't have the cash to refurbish her Ministerial throne.

This tirade was unleashed on the unsuspecting attendees at the opening of the state-of-the-art Nursing Education Centre in Waterford.


I fear she has lost complete connection with reality.

In Harney's world, perhaps we should ask the Finance Minister to fork out for the opulent, palatial surroundings that she feels she deserves.

Maybe the Taoiseach himself should move the Health Department to Farmleigh, seeing as it has undergone a multi-million euro refurbishment but lies idle for much of the year..

The appalling situation in our A&E departments has dragged on for years and, despite her promises, scores of patients still lie on hospital trolleys.

People like tragic campaigner Susie Long continue to die because of lengthy waiting lists for cancer treatments.

And, to add insult to injury, Harney delayed the roll-out of the cervical cancer jab to young girls.

In the latest disaster, a new report recommends the immediate closure of all mental health institutions in the State. If the Minister wants to see an Iron Curtain building, she should visit one of the many crumbling, filthy institutions where patients are robbed of their dignity.

And let's not forget the shocking situation at Tallaght Hospital where 53,000 X-rays were left unread and thousands of GP referral letters were unopened.

The Minister promised to appoint a new CEO to take over at the hospital, and Professor Kevin Conlon was appointed CEO-designate.

Now he's not taking up the job and Tallaght is still floundering without a leader.

Ms Harney, I would suggest that instead of wallowing in self-pity, you should consider climbing down from your ivory tower.

Take a trip to Grangegorman or St Senan's in Enniscorthy.

I guarantee, brass-necked as you are, those conditions will make you forget all about your office and leave you hanging your head in shame.

Dearbhla's deft touch gives us a gripping rival to The Wire

I'm always a sucker for a good crime drama, so I was quick to tune in to the BBC's The Silence, starring Dervla Kirwan.

Finally, it looks as if this side of the Atlantic has thrown up a gripping series that can hold its own against the likes of hit US show The Wire.


Best of all, it's directed by Dearbhla Walsh. Sligo girl Dearbhla has seen her career take on a meteoric trajectory since winning a coveted Emmy award last year.

We couldn't be more proud of her, and judging by the critics' reaction to The Silence, her latest show is another job well done.

Well done all round.

Violent GAA 'fans' must be banned

IT was billed as one of the great showcases of the summer GAA Championship, but the meeting of Meath and Louth will now be remembered for the extraordinary scenes of violence that erupted after the final whistle.

In the dying seconds of the game, a disputed goal was wrongly awarded to Meath, robbing Louth of its first provincial final win in 50 years.

Furious Louth supporters burst onto the field and immediately tackled referee Martin Sludden who had to be escorted off the pitch by gardai. I watched the game and was horrified at the sight of the man being attacked by thugs masquerading as sports fans. Sure, this was indeed a blatant injustice to the Louth team, but there was no justification for the ensuing mayhem and violence.

The people of Louth must be disgusted at the small group in their midst who created such ugly scenes. Martin Sludden was surrounded, attacked and shoved and punched by "fans".

I was heartened to hear that Louth County Board has unreservedly condemned the behaviour of these few supporters.

I hope that those responsible will face criminal conviction and that they will be banned from GAA grounds for the foreseeable future.

Worst task of my life in the garda

The horrendous car smash in Donegal brought back the worst memories of my days in An Garda Siochana.

Throughout my career, I endured having to act as a messenger of death.

I vividly remember the trauma of telling people that their loved ones had been taken. I shudder to think what greeted emergency services on the road between Clonmany and Buncrana, below. Eight people lost their lives, seven of them aged between 17 and 23. The sole survivor was the driver of the VW Passat that had eight occupants. Intense shock probably hasn't even begun to give way to grief yet. Throughout the week, parents will lay their sons to rest, an act which goes against the natural order.

It seems that despite the efforts of the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Siochana, tragedies are still occurring.

The State must now double its efforts to ensure that we will never again confront such an incalculable loss of life.