2-4-6-8 Who do we not vaccinate?

Sadly the answer to that in recent times has been all those, of a young age, who could avail of the new wonder vaccine for cervical cancer in Ireland. This post was prompted by listening to the Ray D’Arcy show on Today FM this morning when Health Minister, Mary Harney, took her life into her hands and put herself at the mercy of the headline crusader himself.

While it is a crying shame that the health service in Ireland cannot be realigned to find the Eur 10 million necessary to commence this vaccination program for young females, and that money is still being spent on ridiculous overheads and crazy misadventures within the health service instead of this; my post is not about that matter.

The “interview” as I will refer to this morning’s airing of Mary Harney trying to get a word in was one of the most ridiculous, amateurish, wastes of air time that I have ever heard. Why oh why would anybody bring a minister onto a radio show to do nothing but constantly talk over them and hurl abuse at them, making cutting and insincere comments such as “I really admire the way you can detach yourself from the emotion” (not exact quote) in the context of talking about people dying from cancer. Ray, you should be ashamed of yourself as a respected, national media figure. While the on-going crisis in the health service is a cause for concern and people are probably dying on a daily basis without just cause, the way to conduct an interview with the Minister on this matter is not what you did this morning.

By all means point out the problems. By all means debate the point at hand but one should never descend into a shouting battle nor constantly talking over the guest on the programme if any value is to be obtained from it. We never heard you launch into “cuddly Bertie” like this despite all the problems and “issues” associated with him. Mary Harney took a poison chalice when she took the position of Minister for Health. Unlike every other spineless Fianna Fáil TD when her term was up, she didn’t dodge the bullet and head for the hills, she took it on again because she gives a damn. How many ministers in this country can that be said of? The task may be insurmountable, many thanks to the national pay deals and other union bowing maneuvers signed off by Bertie but no, this doesn’t come up in discussion.

I greatly fear that this is the opening of a floodgate for the media to have one last crack at the government without having to slate a Fianna Fáil minister. The window of opportunity is narrow with the dissolution of the PDs and Mary Harney is merely a sitting duck for wrongly directed criticism. The sad reality with the health service, no matter how well it is run, is that there is a finite budget and spending money on one thing means that it cannot be spent on something else, possibly people will die as a result of this but if the money is redirected then other people will die – it’s an awful fact of life. Tackling wage bills in the health service means that workers will strike and more people will suffer. Tackling taxis and buses that currently deliver people to hospital results in union disputes as to who should do the work now and that dedicated couriers should probably be hired, resulting in more wage bills, procurement processes for vehicles, dedicated fleet lying idle and costing maintenance charges when not in use for the majority of patients, training for drivers to deal with the infirm, insurance costs for people who could die in your vehicle from heart conditions when you are in full knowledge of their medical history, and delays for who knows what else! Trying to break up the animal that is the HSE with its massive wage bill is like breaking iron with a feather. There is no easy solution. Trade-offs will always be made. It’s a much bigger problem than a single ministerial position – this needs complete government attention across all aspects of society and management.

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  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I heard the majority of the interview on my way to work and was utterly disgusted at the approach taken by Ray D’Arcy. All he did was repeatedly shout over Mary Harney, desperately trying to make the very same 2 or 3 points over and over. You could sense Ms. Harney’s frustrations as she was a lot more animated than usual and all told, it was a very poor attempt at an professional interview in my opinion.

    Personally, I have a lot of time for Mary Harney and, despite being disappointed at many of the recent decisions she (or her government) has taken, I still trust her as a person and believe that she is fully committed to what she does. It is indeed a poisoned chalice but one which seems to be prepared to put up with, probably because she believes in what she is doing.

    Why else would she bother?

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