Silencing of John Crown 'disturbing' From Alice Leahy
I WRITE to express how appalled I am at the perceived attempts by the Dept of Health and the government to silence Prof John Crown, and to urge your readers to make their voices heard in supporting him as a fearless voice in condemning our two-tier health system . . . the root cause of so much misery for the disadvantaged and the marginalised.
We are very familiar with the way pressure is brought to bear on those who work in all of Social, Health and Homeless Services when they speak out. Indeed, twice over the 30 years in my work with TRUST, as our Trustees can testify, I have had to get legal advice in confronting situations where pressure has been brought to bear when we sought to draw public attention to shortcomings in services for people who are homeless. In that context, we are very disappointed that despite alleged reforms, the prevailing culture remains one in which the person who speaks out is always deemed to be the problem rather than the injustice or mismanagement that was brought to public attention.
However, the most disturbing aspect of Prof Crown's case is what he said in an interview on radio recently about how he perceived as intimidatory the remarks made by the Taoiseach in the Dail, and he would have to consider his position as a public advocate for patients. Do we live in a democracy or some kind of pseudo dictatorship? Are there no limits to which politicians, including the Taoiseach, will go to avoid taking political responsibility for what is going on in the health service?
Alice Leahy, TRUST, Bride Road, Dublin 8.
Simple legislation may rectify register From Nancy Irwin THE 11 November article on electoral fraud amply demonstrated quite preposterous figures for electoral turnout; however a quite small piece of legislation could reduce, if not wholly eliminate, many discrepancies.
Unlike electoral law in the UK, Ireland does not allow examination of used polling station registers after an election by individuals or representatives of political parties. These are the electoral registers used by electoral staff to 'tick' or crossoff the poll numbers of those of the electorate as they prepare to cast their ballots.
Most political parties depend on voter contact: ie canvassing to ascertain likely supporters prior to an election. This means a local canvasser knows his local area well and most certainly knows whether Mrs Murphy died two years ago or whether Mr Jones moved to Hong Kong in 1993.
Therefore, on examining after an election the polling station registers, if either of the above has cast a vote, then impersonation has unquestionably taken place.
True, there are provisions for polling staff to ask for additional identification, but in practice a poll card is all you need.
Although this change in electoral law cannot eliminate 'constituency hopping' (registering in more than one constituency and voting in two or more) it would certainly reduce the over-optimistic turnout figures shown in your article.
Nancy Irwin, Courthouse Cottage, Courthouse Lane, Limerick.
All party approach is not the answer From A Leavy SHANE Coleman (11 November) has called for an all party approach on Health.
This follows arguments that the present government, which is over 10 years in power, is not responsible for the shortcomings in the Health Service after years of unprecedented prosperity.
The last thing we need in this country at present is an allparty approach on anything.
Twenty years ago we had an all-party approach called the Tallaght Strategy.
It destroyed the political career of the then leader of the opposition and resulted in perpetual one party government ever since.
Naturally, as a result, the members of the government have become arrogant and feel themselves untouchable. All the political commentators seem to be able to do in this situation is obsequiously call for a consensus. Is it any wonder that journalists are being nominated to the Seanad?
I, therefore, disagree with Shane Coleman's all-party approach. In a democracy nothing is 'too important an issue for party politics'.
A Leavy, Shielmartin Drive, Sutton, Dublin 13.
Who's meant to be watching solicitors?
From Brendan Hegarty KENMurphy, director general of The Irish Law Society, tells us that when "solicitors are acting for themselves, you had better watch out."
Self-regulation is 'acting for themselves', and as the man himself has said, "you had better watch out".
Brendan Hegarty, 'Lisselton', Ballymacool Wood, Letterkenny, Co Donegal.
FG also guilty of banana republic From Cllr John Carroll "ARE we living in a banana republic where the government decides what the public can hear and what RTE is allowed to broadcast?"
asked Fine Gael Health spokesman Dr James O'Reilly, re the Health Services debate.
Answer: we are and have been for years. His party diligently promoted this policy as a partner in government and also in opposition by supporting the implementation of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act.
This policy denied me the opportunity as an elected public representative to express views on either our national or local broadcasting service on subjects as mundane as the state of our roads, housing shortage, environmental issues and of course cuts in our Health Service.
It was censorship then and you accepted it, so why do you think the leopard will change his spots.
Cllr John Carroll, Birr, Co Offaly.
Very few hospitals able to measure up From Elaine Pryce I WAS somewhat taken aback by Ms Prone's criticism and lack of knowledge of accreditation in our hospitals (News, 11 November). Very, very few of our hospitals, and certainly none of our so-called "centres of excellence" have even reached a stage where they can be awarded by the latest euro-gulping quango . . . HIQA.
The Irish National Accreditation Board, partially funded by the Dept of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, have been in existence for many years and remain unused by the HSE. INAB are in a position to enable the accreditation of our hospitals and laboratories using Irish employees. I can find no Irish hospital that has received accreditation from ACE.
Our pathology laboratories, especially cytopathology labs, where cervical smears are analysed, remain unaccredited to any EU or International standard. Our newly graduated pathology technicians and pathologists are without jobs because the HSE are running down the laboratories and are sending cervical smears and whatever other body parts that are available to America. At what cost? The HSE are not saying!
Standards, Ms Prone, standards.
Elaine Pryce, Galbally, Co Limerick.
M3 possible without destruction of Tara From John T Farrelly THE new M3 intersects the old N3 just north of Dunshaughlin, then it heads off into the Tara Skryne valley before returning to dissect the N3 again at Blundelstown. The reason given for this destructive swerve into the heart of our history is that to stay and widen the old N3 would mean destroying too many houses.
However, between these two intersections there are just 30 houses on one side of the N3 and 24 on the other. Only one side would have to be sacrificed, some are far enough from the road to be unaffected, some are old cottage types and some are in disrepair. If these home owners had been offered five times the market value of their properties many of them might have sold and moved into new ones. Putting CPOs on the rest would be no different than putting CPOs on a farmer's fields.
This would have been considerably cheaper than the green field land take that did happen, it would have safeguarded sites of immense historical, spiritual and mythological importance and avoided their destruction. It would also have provided a straight road.
Some day Irish journalism may do its duty and investigate why this did not happen.
John T Farrelly, 29 Ballybough Road, Dublin 3.