On Saturday, we described how a man committed suicide in prison. Sean Hayes Barrett was mentally ill and should have been in a hospital where his urgent needs might have been met. In the interim, an election opinion poll has been published. It must make disheartening reading for the Government, as they are 12 points behind Fianna Fáil.
It would be preposterous to suggest this poll was driven by anger over failing mental health services in a country with the resources to provide them. However, as this scandal, and others, show our public administration seems to have neither the capacity or determination needed to provide them. It is an example of public need — and aspiration — falling because it has not been prioritised by government, any government.
Today we publish more details on our mental health crisis. The details are familiar: 25% of those referred to psychology services wait more than 52 weeks for an appointment; there are fewer than 100 beds available for children and a significant proportion are not in service. The list, as is usual, goes on and those who wish to form our next government will use it as a campaign rallying cry but it is entirely predictable that these shocking, shaming instances will continue. It may be too late for this administration but maybe their successors could avert a 12-point poll gap weeks before the election after next by actually delivering basic, decent health services.
It wouldn’t be before time.