Inaction on charity fraud can’t go on
Once again the ineptitude of government and the HSE to exercise oversight of public expenditure is demonstrated in the serious financial irregularity exposed in Console. In 2013, the then Minister for Health, James Reilly, accompanied by a senior official in his department was informed about the carry on in Console that was in receipt of very significant funding from the HSE then and since.
Mr Reilly, now a nominated Senator, needs to explain what he did with the information he was given, and what efforts he made to see the outcome. This is very important, to hold ministers and civil servants to account for their actions or inactions.
Three years later, it is RTÉ that has exposed this misbehaviour, and now state agencies are tripping over each other to be seen to be doing something. What has each of these been doing since the HSE received the audit report in early 2015? How long more would the HSE be considering the report if RTÉ did not break the news of such serious malpractice within a high profile charity? Does the HSE or the Department of Health really understand transparency and governance practices?
Once again, we see legislation — sections of the Charities Act 2009 — passed by the Oireachtas still sitting on a shelf awaiting a ministerial commencement order. Meanwhile, the Charities Regulatory Authority does not have the relevant power to deal swiftly and robustly with what is, perhaps, the most serious irregularity to date in the charity sector, that makes such a huge contribution in provision of essential services that the State is either unwilling or incapable of providing to citizens.
As we have seen in other inquiries, the likelihood now is that, if the Gardaí get involved in a long drawn out process, the plethora of other state agencies will have to stand back.
Such delay will only do further damage to the valuable charitable sector upon which so many citizens depend for essential services.
The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee must now step in to ensure that robust and effective procedures are in place to deal with such financial irregularities by individuals within charities.
Term fatal foetal abnormality false
The Examiner has recently carried several expansive narratives on poignant abortion-related scenarios. While compelling cases can be corralled and contrived to argue a case for a liberalising attitude to the 8th Amendment, there is much distorted and disingenuous commentary and labelling afoot.
The way the phrase “fatal foetal abnormality” is being used in the campaign to liberalise abortion laws on this island is dishonest in the extreme.
First, there is no such medical term; and secondly, even when there is a diagnosis that the child is not likely to live very long after the birth, that diagnosis can be wrong. I can speak from personal experience concerning this latter point.
Almost 17 years ago, my wife and I were advised one month before the delivery date of our first baby daughter that she was suffering from a condition that the doctors believed would be fatal at birth, and that she had zero chance of living more than a few hours after birth.
Our little girl, Hannah, was beautifully born, and lived for seven powerfully life-filled months. She radiated total love, incessant emotionality, and had a consummately winning personality to melt all hearts.
The impact she had on a worldwide circle of friends and family was astounding, empowering, and life- affirming. We would not have missed it for the world; and are still relentlessly inspired by her doughty spirit and determined radiance in adversity.
This gives lie to the term ‘fatal foetal abnormality’, which is being brashly bandied about as a given ‘truth’ to suit a fallacious perspective.
No one can be sure how long a child with a condition that will limit their life will survive. But whether it is minutes, hours, days, or months, their short lives have infinite value. To deny them their brief time is a travesty, and to allow their sad circumstances to be used as a wedge to force open the door to abortion on demand so that perfectly healthy babies can be denied their right to life would be tragic.
WW1 nurses had immense courage
The 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War was last Friday. It lasted from July 1 to November 18, 1916.
The incessant noise of the big guns and shells was heard at times across the English Channel in London.
It was seen as the big push to shorten the war and the war’s biggest battle on the Western Front; 623,907 on the Allied side and 419,989 on the German side — over a million dead and wounded. Its hottest day was August 2.
Soldiers wearing heavy uniforms must have felt huge stress and pressure fighting near bodies decomposing faster in the hot sun.
Nurses and medical orderlies died in WW1 and showed immense courage under fire. Australia, for example, had thousands of nurses with the Allies in Europe and as far as Egypt, anywhere where WW1 was fought.
One Australian female nursing officer wrote in a diary on the Western Front “The noise was so terrific [loud], and the concussion [blast] so great that I was thrown to the ground and had no idea where the damage was. I flew through the chest and abdomen wards and called out ‘Are you alright boys?’. ‘Don’t bother [worry] about us’ was the general cry”.
An Australian nurse in Bombay, India looked for the wounded from an aircraft bomb one night in a faint moon, and wrote, that when running, she fell into a bomb crater and would never forget the awful climb out on hands and feet of the dead in the crater about 5 feet deep with greasy clay and blood (‘although I did not know then it was blood’).
Seven military medals for bravery were awarded to Australian nurses in WW1. See www.warandidentity.com.au. In spite of the loss of millions of lives, and of men in particular, in WW1, wars still happen in our enlightened times like the, five-years so far, war in Syria.
Is Rio withdrawal about blood tests?
My wife is wondering if the real reason all the top golfers are refusing to go to the Rio Olympics, is nothing to do with the Zika virus, but more with having their blood tested?
Why do we joke about everything?
In a recent article, I read that a lot of people don’t understand why the Irish feel “obliged” to add humour, when commenting on serious issues like the Brexit debate and the bin and water charges. I completely agree.
In fact, the lack of outrage from the Irish people in general is very noticeable.
On the bin charges, a friend of mine used to work at a recycling plant. His job was to crush cans. It was soda pressing.
We need backbone on ties with UK
Following Brexit, the EU leaders were quickly out of the blocks seeking the maximum punishment and embarrassment for the British people for their courage and audacity in upsetting the undemocratic and dysfunctional gravy train that is Bruxelles today. Instead of reflecting on the clear and obvious shortcomings within the EU that prompted 17.5m Britons to vote to leave, the bully boys reverted to type.
What will almost certainly follow will be an attempt to mirror the brutal and mindless jackboot treatment doled out to ordinary innocent Greeks, as well as the untold austerity horrors inflicted on our own people with the abject compliance of our own government.
Unlike ourselves, the British will no doubt demonstrate some backbone and face down these threats. It is self evident and vital that the special long standing relationships between Ireland and Britain must be maintained in full.
These relationships include not only the €1.2bn trade between our two countries every week, but also the free movement of goods and people across the Irish Sea and the border.
In many ways, our ever closer relationships have been consolidated over the years by mutual respect and intermarriage in both countries.
Sadly, recent experience with our own government has been to meekly capitulate and to allow our so-called EU partners to ride rough shod over the interests and welfare of ordinary Irish people.
The result has been mass suicide, emigration, homelessness and widespread child poverty, as well as massive interest payments of €8 billion every year for private banking gambling debts.
Another failure by Kenny and Noonan to show some courage and independence surely cannot be contemplated on this occasion.