THE St John of God order has joined a depressingly long list of agencies in receipt of State funds to do what is essentially State work but do not observe pay guidelines that reflect public policy. The order got €130m from the State last year.
The HSE has directed the order to repay executives’ bonus payments to its community services arm.
Health Minister Simon Harris suggests as much as €12m is involved and accused the order of “diverting” money earmarked for services to executives.
This is, no matter how it is dressed up, a dreadful breach of faith.
Unfortunately, this episode underlines that this society is afflicted by a sense of entitlement that undermines social responsibility.
That the victims are among our most vulnerable citizens suggests a disconnect that has no place in the work undertaken by the order.
The order responded saying it subsidised community services by €16m over the past four years, suggesting that it, like so many others, is underfunded.
This sector suffers because it is not political box office; it does not offer glittering career opportunities.
It demands huge resources, material and emotional, so it does not get the priority it deserves.
This episode and the insistence of the HSE in pushing through new policies on where service users might live despite very real concerns among their families suggests that it is time for a gloves-off review of the sector’s objectives, capabilities, and responsibilities.
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