Irish Current Affairs and Politics Blog of the Year
|Noel Grealish TD has targeted immigrants and asylum-seekers
Why bother blogging about the election?
After all, every fool seems to have an opinion, and nobody seems to want to pay for decent journalism these days.
Why bother writing about the old friend you met at Christmas who you rarely bump into any more?
He’s voting for Noel Grealish in the upcoming election, he said, because he “said what nobody else is saying”.
With a straight face, he told you that immigrants and asylum-seekers are to blame for nearly all our woes, but nobody else has the courage to say so.
Your friend has a business to run, a young family to feed, and spends hours stuck in traffic every day. Life’s a struggle, he said, and when he heard a local politician describe African migrants as “spongers” it seemed to really strike a chord.
My old friend doesn’t pay much attention to what goes on in the Dail. He doesn’t know that Noel Grealish has one of the worst speaking and attendance records in the Irish parliament or that he was exposed as one of the worst offenders for signing in, claiming travel and accommodation expenses, and failing to turn up for votes.
Or that he plucked figures about Nigerians from thin air before raising spurious questions about reparations in the Dail.
He’s too busy to pay attention, you see, but he bought into the atmosphere of intimidation, fear, and hatred whipped up by the prospect of a Direct Provision centre being located in a small Galway town last October.
Blaming the immigrants because you can’t buy a house or get a bed in a hospital allows him to find a scapegoat and feel better about himself, but does it offer a solution to our problems?
Scapegoating the most vulnerable and marginalised never tackles the cause of injustice or inequality, but it sure allows some people to find a target for their rage.
Why bother blogging about the health service?
Why bother writing about the 48 hours your late father spent lying on a trolley in a corridor after a fall in his house two years ago?
Dad was 93, a lifelong Fine Gael supporter who had worked hard for 45 years, when he suffered that fall.
Like thousands of others around the country, he lay in silence at University Hospital Galway for two full days and nights before being transferred to a ward.
It is hard to know exactly when the unacceptable became the norm, but the tendency of Irish people to just grin and bear it – and never complain – was very clear to me when I took two days off work to sit or stand by his side.
How could such an elderly man be left to lie for 48 hours in a brightly lit corridor with not a hope of privacy or confidentiality for such a long time? It felt like a war zone in that Emergency Department just down the road and I wondered what kind of Government could treat its most vulnerable citizens with such contempt.
My dad was lucky because he had a family member by his side, to provide him with an occasional glass of water, to look out for him, or just to ask what the heck was going as his wait for a bed and some comfort continued over two horrible nights.
All around me, other relatives were faced with the same ordeal. We shared each other’s agonies and frustrations. I had to stand for three hours without a chair as I paced up and down, feeling like a burden or an inconvenience on the nurses who seemed unable to cope with so many patients.
“If you treated an animal in the way the HSE (Health Service Executive) is treating patients you’d be up in court and rightly so,” a woman tweeted me in frustration, four months after her father died 36 hours after being admitted to an overcrowded public hospital.
I counted 18 trolleys occupied by patients in the corridor at any one time and I know the situation has deteriorated since then.
Almost 900 people were left lying on trolleys in January 2020.
What kind of heartless Government would allow this kind of situation to continue, to promote a “two-tier” health service which favours the rich?
What kind of canvassers would dare to come around to our houses to ask us to vote to keep the people responsible in power for another term?
Why bother blogging about the housing crisis? The students sleeping in hostels, or sharing rooms with strangers, or sleeping in vans, or forced to clear out of their accommodation on Friday nights so that the landlord can get tourists in (and make bigger profits) at the weekends?
Why bother blogging about the domestic violence victims who opt to stay and be abused because the alternatives are unthinkable? Or the people you know in their 30s and 40s who have moved back in with elderly parents because they can’t afford the rents?
In a country which is supposed to be “booming” it’s amazing how many of us are just a monthly pay cheque or two away from living on the streets.
Why bother blogging about job insecurity?
Why write about the colleague you know who, at short notice, was given just one week’s work for the month of January? He still has the rent to pay and feels guilty each week when he has to share the bad news with his wife.
He won’t go on the dole, he tells me, because people on Social Welfare are “spongers” and it just wouldn’t feel right. So he suffers on with no money, hoping things will pick up, and the Government statistics will insist that he – like thousands of others – is gainfully employed in 2020.
So there’s an election coming up and the choice seems to be between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, the two parties who have shared power between them since the foundation of the State.
When Fine Gaelers come canvassing will I be too polite to tell them the devastation their policies are causing in the provision of health care?
When the Fianna Failers knock on the door, will I thank them for being so greedy, bankrupting my country, and forcing many of my friends to seek new lives overseas.
Or will I do “the Irish thing” and smile and thank them for calling, because their dad used to play for Galway or they once managed to get a few workmen to fix the road outside my estate?
We vote for the same chancers time after time and then we are surprised when hospitals are overcrowded, houses are unaffordable, and there is no security in our jobs.
We vote for them again and again, and we expect the results to be different.
Yep, when there are false promises and appalling track records to be challenged, why bother blogging at all?
|A meeting to oppose a Direct Provision centre in Oughterard