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Padraig O'Morain: Our financially, and now morally, bankrupt nation

Outrage or despair? That's the only range of emotions that fits the betrayal of people with cystic fibrosis.

It is a betrayal of which Mary Harney and her fellow politicians in the Dail should be truly ashamed. It's a betrayal which costs lives.

This week the issue of our disgraceful treatment of people with cystic fibrosis reignited on Joe Duffy's Liveline programme following a searing article by Orla Tinsley, who has become the public face of people with this condition.


Orla and other sufferers took to the airwaves to reveal their plight, lamenting the delay in the delivery of a vital 120-bed facility at St Vincent's Hospital.

In what has become one of the most disgraceful legacies from Ireland's wasted Celtic Tiger years, the health system is still not equipped to provide a decent standard of treatment.

It was shocking to hear again the recklessness with which the political and health systems treat people with cystic fibrosis and to hear the absence of hope that anything will be done. It all centres around infection. If you have cystic fibrosis then you must avoid infection and hospitals, as we know, are like swamps of infection.

Given the special needs of people with cystic fibrosis it is obvious that they need their own rooms during their fairly frequent bouts of treatment to avoid potentially fatal infections.

Between 30 and 40 rooms would do the trick. It should be utterly unbelievable that we do not have this number of rooms in one of the world's most developed countries, one which flung money around like a drunken sailor for years.

Yet we haven't and that failure costs lives.

Cross the border and you will find that people with cystic fibrosis live 10 years longer on average than those in this morally as well as financially bankrupt sham republic.

And yet this was all supposed to be fixed.

The isolation rooms were promised for St Vincent's Hospital for this year. Only a year ago Joe Duffy's programme was told by St Vincent's that all would be well. It's 2010. Where are the rooms? They don't exist.


Instead of rooms we are given a lot of blather about contractors and tenders. You know what? We don't want to be told about contractors and tenders. We want the rooms. It was up to people in authority to make this happen and they didn't do it.

I am not one of those people who blames Mary Harney for everything under the sun but she really, really should have made this happen.

The most telling contributor to the phone-in was Paula Garvey who lives in the US. She believes if her family had to come back to live here, "it would be like a death sentence" for her daughter Rosie.

What an indictment.