Things haven’t changed all that much since I last wrote. The date for the election has been picked but one can hardly describe that as a change; more of a chance really, and by the time you read this maybe we’ll know who’s going to lead us by the nose for the next five years. But the nurses and consultants squabble still drags on as I write, and for all of us who may be sick or ailing, or have a loved one or friend in that situation, it’s a lot more pertinent to us than listening to political spoof.
The Minister for Trolleys got some stick on Questions and Answers t’other night (April 30th) but fair dues to her she fought her corner well. Like all politicians she’s well able to dish out loads of statistics and figures and amounts of monies spent, which are meaningless to the average listener, and skilfully side step awkward questions. Admittedly, when questioned by a nurse in the audience with twenty years nursing experience behind her, and on a salary of forty two thousand euro per year, what her salary was, she quickly gave us in convoluted manner a sum that added up to something over two hundred thousand euro per year and then pleaded the sob story about the possibility of being out on her ear after the 24th and becoming redundant. Dear dear, is there no cushy state board jobs left, and what about the Senate where you can sit, either on the way up or down? Neither was there any mention of a ministerial pension to help keep the wolf from the door! I don’t know what the pension amount is, but it’s a safe bet that it tops what that nurse from the audience will get.
The debacle with the consultants drags on. Bear with me while I tell you a true story. Two consultants are having morning coffee in the canteen of a well known hospital. Consultant No 1 with feigned surprised says, “What are you doing here, I thought you’d be hard at it down in theatre”. Consultant No 2: “I should be, but my patients have been cancelled because there’s no beds for them”. Wouldn’t you just love to be one of his patients, especially if you were near deaths door? If the present compliment of consultants are idling away their time in the canteen through no fault of their making, what will these extra consultants that the Minister for Trolleys is about to employ put in their time at? A footnote to the advertisement should read, -- “Top priority will be given to those who can bring a bed or two along.”
Isn’t it amazing how an election can concentrate the mind, certainly the minds of those holding power? Take for example the proposed new motorway up at Tara. A wrangle has been going on between concerned residents, archaeologists, and government since it was first mooted. Alternative routes were suggested and proposed, but the government held fast; this highway had to go right on, through probably the most important historical site in the country. To hell with history progress can’t be stopped was the attitude taken; then all of a sudden an election looms up over the horizon. Wha-da-ya-know it is now possible to put a bend in this modern work of art, so’s that the dead can rest easy; but more important, can a bunch of jittery politicians who’ll jig and jive and promise what ever you’re havin’ you’re self hold onto power? Stamp duty couldn’t be tinkered with, huffed and puffed Minister Cowen when delivering his budget six months ago; why the whole economy seemed to hinge on stamp duty. Tinker with it and the whole country would descend into rack and ruin. Just like Maggie Thatcher some years ago ‘ the man was not for turning’. Then other parties, interested in gaining power promised to tinker with it if elected, and all of a sudden the present shower decide to have a look see and just maybe, a bit of tinkering could be feasible! Then out of the blue comes a news flash. --- ‘Stamp duty to Go’. It would be ‘prudent and affordable’ to do so, says the man at the top. When is a U-turn not a U-turn? Like the change of direction on the N3 at Tara could it be described as a ‘Bend’? Where do we go from here, whom do we believe? Is your confidence in politicians shaken somewhat?
And what about the ‘On again, Off again, On again,’ party. The following few lines should sum it up.
McDowell he was a lawyer man with the facts he couldn’t quibble
So he called his team around him to cut out all the drivel
To be or not to be said he, that really is the question
So they all went home to think it out, and we got indigestion.
I suppose the things that matter at election time will eventually be talked about before the big day, but as I write I for one am heartily sick of hearing who got what sums of money and where they went or how they were spent. We’ve heard it all before; if it wasn’t politicians on the make it was big business, or banks, and very few heads rolled. The higher up the political or corporate ladder you climb, your chances of getting kicked out reduce in proportion to your position, so lets be hearing from all parties as to how they might manage the next five years. Our Celtic Tiger’s gallop will settle into a canter and the jockey in charge will want to know how to pace him. Constantly hearing that we’re the richest nation in Europe or the fastest growing economy in Europe is heady stuff and if a few millions go astray on a tunnel or highway what the hell, there’s more where that came from is dangerous thinking. Squander mania needs to be checked up on; the deplorable condition of our roads and some of our schools, the chronic health situation, no provision for essential amenities in new housing estates, crime, the list is endless.
Before you cast your vote ask yourselves where your priorities lie; the essentials in life, or pie in the sky living, and what you seek for in leadership; evasiveness or integrity, bearing in mind that like the newly appointed priest or rector to a parish, non of them like ourselves are perfect!