Tuesday 1 February 2011

When Irish Eye's Aren't Smiling

The UK media takes little interest in Ireland most of the time, apart from when a crisis or crime occurs. We are encouraged to think of them as another race despite the evidence of DNA and the fact that much of the UK population can sport one or many Irish ancestors.

Still, some of their preoccupations at present chime well with those across the water, here are some letters from today’s “Irish Times”. I like the one on Politician’s Interests in particular.

On Health Services:

One of the hardest tasks facing a GP is whether or not to send an elderly sick patient to hospital knowing that they need admission. The days of straight admission to hospital are gone and everybody must go through casualty and accept everything that goes with this, despite the best care of the dedicated staff.

It is bad enough to face a possible wait on a trolley for several days, stuck in a busy, noisy area 24/7, with lights on all the time, and with aggressive drunks or drug addicts – but when you are elderly and sick, this can be a frightening, confusing experience, possibly causing deterioration of your condition.

A lot of patients have told me they would rather take their chances and stay at home than face this, and who would blame them?

Is there an answer? I have always felt that we should take the lead from some other countries and have a separate casualty for our elderly patients, as their needs are totally different from the rest of the casualty population.

While this in itself would not shorten admission time, they could be nursed initially in a quiet and restful area while waiting assessment. This financially might not be a popular decision with our paymasters, but there is not a family in the country who would disagree with me. Hospitals are supposed to mean healing, not endurance.

When would-be politicians come to the doorstep, readers can put this idea to them. – Yours, etc,

On The Environment

The dangerous fire at the closed Kerdiffstown, Co Kildare landfill site, as reported by Frank McDonald (Home News, January 28th), is a salutary call to the Minister and Department of the Environment to recognise the value of properly run, controlled high-temperature incineration of waste rather than the protracted out-of-control low temperature burning now occurring at the landfill site.

Low temperature burning of waste produces a wide range of toxic chemicals in the emitted gases and not just sulphur dioxide as we are told is being monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The complexity of the chemical composition of gaseous emissions in the current situation depends on the type of waste and the oxygen concentration.

An obvious component of the emissions from low temperature burning is the group of very toxic, carcinogenic chemicals known as the dioxins.

Incineration of waste reduces the spectrum of toxic chemicals including the dioxins to infinitesimally low levels, that is, to levels which do not cause any significant risk to health. – Yours, etc,

On Politician’s Interests

The Oireachtas Register of Members’ Interests shows that more than a third of Dáil deputies are landlords and have interests (some substantial) in houses,apartments or commercial properties that are being rented or leased, and as such may be beneficiaries of the changes made in the Finance Bill. Was it just and fair that these Dáil deputies were allowed to vote on Sections 23 changes? – I think not. – Yours, etc,

On Foreign Aid

Anyone expecting, or hoping for, changes at the top in Uganda after next month’s election is in for a rude surprise.

Admittedly, the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni, who has held a vice-like grip on power for the last quarter-century, has seen his share of the popular vote decline over recent years. He even stated publicly, in 2006, that there is widespread corruption throughout his party, the National Resistance Movement.

None of this, however, should make any difference to the result.

Security forces are disrupting planned rallies by the opposition, and campaign funding for opponents is virtually non-existent because potential funders fear government victimisation. They can’t even appeal to the electorate via the radio, as station owners fear reprisals if they allow air-time to non-government candidates.

Our government gave €49 million in aid to Uganda during 2009, most of it channelled through Museveni’s regime.

Surely not even the Irish Government could argue that this aid has helped encourage liberal democracy and a respect for human rights in Uganda? – Yours, etc,


See you in “Davy Byrne’s” for a gorgonzola sandwich and glass of burgundy.

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