Proper government should be about prioritising the major issues of the day and getting things done in the interest of all of its citizens.
Unfortunately, that is not what we appear to have. Side issues, some of which although important in themselves, are seen to be given priority rather than dealing with the most critical and urgent issue of the day.
That issue is getting the economy back on its feet. Yet what we are getting are merely distractions in the overall scheme of things.
What appears to be government’s priorities since earlier this year? Two issues come to mind. The first is that of the vote on the abortion issue. Granted this issue should have been dealt with 30 years ago. It was not dealt with then.
While Fianna Fáil had been in power for much of the intervening period both Labour and Fine Gael also had their turn and didn’t deal with it either.
What they have now spawned addresses nothing other than giving the perception of a government doing something. It’s just another attempt to kick the proverbial can down the street.
The second is that of the elimination of the Seanad. A referendum is now scheduled for October and the objective is to fundamentally change our Constitution and its alleged effort at checks and balances. We will also supposedly save €20m per annum by getting rid of our senators — small change in the overall scheme of things. Given the powerlessness of the Dáil and its subjugation by the Executive it is a dead certainty that we are losing considerably more through bad decision making.
It could be argued that we could get rid of the Dáil completely and just have an election for the government. In simple terms, our whole parliamentary system needs to be reformed from top to bottom so that there are checks and balances to ensure a functioning democracy which makes good decisions rather than political decisions.
This government was elected on the basis it was not Fianna Fáil and because of its claims that it would drive the recovery of the economy. However, what it has done is to adopt the policies of the previous government, at least as far as the economy is concerned and buy into the policy of never-ending austerity, hook, line and sinker
Prior to the election, it insisted that it would face up to the troika to ensure that the troika’s policy of austerity would be ameliorated to get some stimulus back into the economy. What it actually did was to lie down, roll over and ask the troika to tickle its tummy. Government’s job is to manage the economy effectively in the interests of its citizens and not to act simply as ciphers for the troika whilst neglecting urgent issues.
Given recent headlines, I am sure that the sick children of Ireland would agree that Government, through its proxy the HSE, is not doing its job. On Tuesday this paper informed us that more than 16,000 chronically ill children suffering from heart, bone and sight problems are being forced to wait up to four years for vital hospital treatment. It was noted that just 12 months ago 645 children had seen their outpatient appointments delayed by up to 2 years. That number has now doubled to 1,201.
This is a national disgrace. It’s not as if nobody is aware that the HSE, aka our national health system, is a basket case that has needed major overhaul for a very long time. Yet Government would rather deal with less pressing issues than deal with this major and urgent issue that goes to the crux of our wellbeing.
Unfortunately, the health system is symptomatic of the failure to tackle the powerful vested interests that control much of this state. We urgently need a government of the people and for the people rather than one of the people but for the already powerful.
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