The View from the Blue as featured in this week’s print edition.
THE Health Service Executive (HSE) is a machine that has never worked properly. People have often requested its reform but as a public service system it’s simply too gargantuan to change. The train has left the station and it’s never coming back. The HSE budget is over €20 billion a year and you only have to ask someone within the system itself if they think that money is being spent prudently. The answer has always, and will always be a resounding no. To those wondering why other countries are giving out vaccines with their corn flakes and we’re struggling to even make a dent in our population, that’s why. The system responsible for acquiring and administering the vaccines is deeply, deeply flawed.
When you combine a flawed system with a weak government, you get catastrophe. As regular readers of this column will know, I don’t have a political affiliation. In fact, I don’t think anybody should. Parties and politicians should be supported on merit. Each party in Ireland at the moment has some great politicians but they also have a serious amount of chancers and spoofers. This isn’t like supporting a soccer team – we shouldn’t just accept whatever is put in front of us because they wear colours we’re affiliated with.
The reason I say this is because the election last year was a complete and utter disaster for Ireland. I sometimes lay in bed at night wishing it took place a month later so it could have been postponed, like the census has been (until April 2022). Before the three party Government was born (breeched), it’s fair to say that Fine Gael were doing an adequate job of dealing with the pandemic. Simon Harris is not the sharpest tool in the shed but he was starting to get his head around the Covid message (even if he did think there was a Covid for every year on the calendar) and it didn’t make sense to change Health Ministers during a global pandemic. What’s worse is that we got Stephen Donnelly who is such a weak politician that every time he speaks, the Department of Health has to issue a clarification. This type of nervous, substandard leadership does not inspire confidence in anyone, hence why we’re all still scratching our heads today.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. While I’m laying in bed at night thinking about last year’s election, I also curse everyone who had anything to do with putting the three of these parties into a power sharing coalition. Fianna Fáil’s leader Micheál Martin is not even liked in his own party and he was so desperate to become Taoiseach that he did, and said, whatever the public wanted to get to that position (“we will NOT go into coalition with Fine Gael” was one of the things he said publicly, until it became clear that this was the only thing he could do to become the leader of the country).
At the end of November 2020, Covid cases in Ireland were still over 300 but it seemed that there was a public outcry to reopen society. Christmas was coming and after the year we all had, it was surely the least we deserved. The outcry was listened to and the shops, pubs and restaurants were reopened for the festive fun. A lot of the people who screamed for the economy to be reopened, screamed even louder when we all discovered that it was the worst thing we ever did and we were all flung, head first, into a third wave of coronavirus.
What am I going on about, I hear you ask. Well, here we are, three months into another lockdown and people have gone beyond annoyed, they are angry. The problem is, they don’t really know who to be angry at. The government, who have never seemed as unsure as they are right now about what to do… or their fellow man and woman, who are finding it harder and harder to comply with these restrictions. Another cluster of cases in Cartamundi last week… remind me again why a toy factory is essential? This is the problem, isn’t it? Let’s close one clothes shop but not another. Let’s fine one person for going outside their 5k, but not a whole bunch of others. The policing of this pandemic from Government and Garda alike has been a case of picking low hanging fruit. Let’s not upset the large businesses, let’s close the small ones instead. Let’s not take on that large group of protestors, but let’s fine the elderly couple who had the audacity of going out to Tramore for a walk on the beach.
I feel that very little about the handling of this pandemic has been done right. The government were castigated so strongly for reopening the country in December (when the cases were above 300) that I can’t see them reopening again unless we’re less than 100. The big question is, how on earth are we going to get to that level when nobody seems to want to play the waiting game anymore?