Sending Irish patients to Spanish hospitals won’t improve health services here

Sir — John O’Brien (Letters, July 17) is curious about the wrong thing regarding HSE plans to send patients abroad for treatment in a deal with a Spanish private hospital built to provide the services.

sking how “Spain can build a state-of-the-art hospital for €60m” compared with the cost of the new children’s hospital is missing the point. Surely the question is: Why are we not building up our healthcare infrastructure to meet need, instead of sending sizable chunks of our health budget abroad for other countries to build up theirs?

It is simply bonkers to be planning to send citizens to other jurisdictions for routine healthcare on an ongoing basis as this plan proposes.

Aside from the obvious loss of the benefits of keeping healthcare spending at home, it will make an already unfair system of delivery even worse — the most vulnerable cannot afford the costs of travel and other expenses that would be incurred.

Instead of eradicating the two-tier system, this plan will not only fine tune the unfairness, it will also push delivery of a single-tier system farther down the road. The funds required to build up our healthcare infrastructure will be constantly drained away to bolster healthcare infrastructure in Spain and elsewhere.

I would have no problem with this scheme if it were a stop-gap service put in place alongside a plan to make it obsolete as soon as possible. This can only be done by building infrastructure at home to treat our people at home.

Members of the Green Party in government constantly lecture us about the pollution we cause when we travel and when we use imported products that could be sourced at home.

Did this scheme not ring any bells, given it too will add to the pollution of the environment caused by what should be the unnecessary travelling for healthcare?

Jim O’Sullivan, Rathedmond, Co Sligo

Sinn Féin’s faux rage to kill foreign investment

Sir — Political opinion polling consistently shows a large swathe of Irish society has decided to experiment at the next general election by removing Ireland’s successful centrist economic governing model in favour of full-scale republican socialism.

These voters are driven largely, it seems to me, by a combination of personal frustrations, faux rage and populist narratives that go largely unchallenged.

Given the realities of taxation and welfare in Ireland (one of the most redistributive systems in the OECD), the penal rates of marginal tax and the dramatic scale of public expenditure generally — all put in place by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led governments — we cannot reasonably call either FG or FF a centre-right party.

The centre-left and far-left have thus become crowded spaces, and in such a political environment the loudest screamer will stand out most.

The loudest screamer is undoubtedly Sinn Féin. The party’s approach, sadly, fits perfectly into the rage and populism of the new Ireland with its mantra that the current government has a policy of “prioritising elites and vested interests”, as if the burdensome public spending, massive state intervention and heavy personal taxes on high earners — all put in place by FF and FG — are not in the interests of ordinary people.

From a foreign direct investment perspective, if we end up with a leftist Sinn Féin-led government after the next election, with all its planned new taxes on capital, it will be a very bad look for Ireland.

Investment capital is mobile, especially from a small, open, highly globalised economy. Much of the capital planned for Ireland will be diverted elsewhere; much of the investment capital that is presently here will go elsewhere.

Mark Mohan, Castleknock, Dublin 15

Speculators steal any hope of owning home

Sir — I came to Dublin with a suitcase and £20 in 1978. Nothing else. I knew, with careful saving, I’d get a house. I did.

Today the Irish government is enriching Canadian, American and Irish speculators and pension and cuckoo funds. This generation of youth will be the first to be worse off than Mammy and Daddy. Stop the steal.

John Cuffe, Dunboyne, Co Meath

Cases of ineptitude must be punished

Sir — A family member and her boyfriend recently flew to the United States for a holiday. On their return with British Airways, through Heathrow to Dublin, their suitcases went missing.

They spent days seeking answers. Eventually, one of the lost suitcases, along with a bag not belonging to them, came to the family household. The unknown bag was returned. The one outstanding suitcase was either in Heathrow or Dublin.

After many phone calls and face-to-face conversations with staff at Dublin Airport, the missing suitcase was located. It seems it was in Dublin Airport all along. Who compensates passengers who have to go through this turmoil, aggravation and expense? What action, if any, will the DAA take against incompetent baggage handlers?

Christy Galligan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Blue in the face from defending attacks

Sir — Eilis O’Hanlon made some serious points in relation to the forthcoming Incitement to Hatred and Hate Crime bill. I would like to add another.

I have been a member of Fine Gael for around 60 years. I have often been disparagingly referred to as “only an auld Blueshirt”. I take exception to this slur on my character as I have never supported Dublin in my life.

Eamonn Tynan, Via email

Irish rugby stars lack World Cup pedigree

Sir — Once again, after another great Irish sporting achievement, the debate opens about Ireland’s best sporting moment. Eamonn Sweeney was first out of the blocks last Sunday after Ireland’s series win in New Zealand.

But was it Irish rugby’s finest moment? It certainly wouldn’t be worthy of inclusion in an Irish sporting top 20 moments when you start to consider Ronnie Delany (1956), Katie Taylor (2012), Stuttgart (1988), Pádraig Harrington (2007), Genoa (1990), Giants Stadium (1994), Cardiff (2009), Sonia O’Sullivan (1995), Shane Lowry (2019), Ken Doherty (1997), Dennis Taylor (1985) — and there are plenty more of that type.

The quality of Ireland’s rugby has deservedly elevated the team to the top of the world rankings, but until the team reaches a Rugby World Cup final it won’t capture the public’s attention in the same way as the Olympics, Fifa World Cups or Euros. Can the team deliver in France 2023? I don’t think so.

Tom Devane, Portumna, Co Galway

State far too soft on our drinking culture

Sir — The Department of Agriculture and the Marine has teamed up in partnership with the Irish Whiskey Association to controversially sponsor distillery tours to support the alcohol trade in Ireland.

According to EU law, state support of private industry is not allowed, yet when it comes to promoting Ireland’s drink culture the rules go out the window in the blink of an eye.

The Government has done everything possible to promote the sale of alcohol. Any local shop can now get a licence to sell certain types of alcohol. You will also see it sold in many filling stations and a range of other retail environments.

One would be forgiven for thinking this country is living for the drink, with the Government supporting the addiction culture. There is hardly a bottle bank in the country that is not full to the brim.

Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork

French hospital trip simply magnifique

Sir — On a recent trip to France for a funeral, I had to visit a public hospital for treatment.

At 10.15am I arrived at reception and was seen by a nurse. At 10.45am I was examined by a doctor and sent for an X-ray. By 11.15am I was in a hospital room and put on oxygen. At noon I was visited by a doctor who explained the results of the X-ray, prescribed medication and discharged me.

At 1pm I was having a light lunch in a downtown restaurant.

Isidore Cosgrove, Glasnevin, Dublin 9

Tough calls helping us cope with crises

Sir — Gene Kerrigan (Sunday Independent, July 17) scoffs at the decisions made that helped this country out of the collapse in 2010. He declared it a case of rescuing “bankers and billionaires”.

He therefore implies that Ireland should have defaulted. The Greeks tried that and we see where that left them.

Ireland is recovering from the biggest economic collapse since independence, is coping with the economic and political results of Brexit and has been dealing, since 2020, with the consequences of a worldwide pandemic. While we are still suffering from the serious consequences of all three, international comparisons show Ireland so far is coping.

Anthony Leavy, Sutton, Dublin 13

Damning politicians is the cynical choice

Sir — It would be better if your renowned columnist Gene Kerrigan could give us something more constructive. It’s easy to damn politicians, but cynicism only leads to the electorate not voting at all, or voting for change for the sake of change.

Gene has an articulate and respected voice. Maybe he was just more grumpy than usual last week. I hope so — he’s always a great read regardless.

Tom O’Connor, Leamlara, Co Cork

Media all fired up for a 24-hour heatwave

Sir — What an event our 24-hour heatwave was. The great and good from the media were sent out, presumably to find the hottest spots. Their disappointment was palpable when we did not secure a new record.

The experts were rolled out to again frighten people with apocalyptic predictions. One even suggested this was a pattern. A pattern with 1887? Did anybody think of asking what happened in 1887 that gave us the record temperature we still have?

Brendan Hogan, Kilmore, Co Wexford

People power keeps money in our pockets

Sir — After a flood of anger from customers and politicians, AIB reversed its decision to end cash services at 70 of its branches. This is a victory for people power.

I want to congratulate and applaud all those members of the Irish public in standing their ground and refusing to allow corporate entities to metaphorically hollow out the services on which they rely.

The power people possess is, to my mind, always stronger than people in power.

John O Brien, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

AIB was not left ‘cashless’ by public

Sir — Maybe we taxpayers should have used the excuse we were “cashless” when AIB was up to its oxters in debt.

Billions of taxpayers’ money later and the phrase “Et tu, Brute” comes to mind. Brutal, all right.

Aileen Hooper, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7

Empty Croke Park shows disrespect

Sir — I write to comment on the pathetic treatment shown to the Wexford Jubilee hurling team in Croke Park last Sunday.

At 2.20pm the Wexford 1996 team walked out to a practically empty stadium. They were introduced individually and waved to an empty Hogan Stand. There were more people in the press section than in the stand. Unbelievable disrespect.

To add insult to injury, the 96-page programme had not one line in tribute to the Wexford team, whereas the Clare team who were also introduced had their photo of 25 years ago and a full page write-up.

It was always the practice to introduce the Jubilee team immediately before the senior final to a full stadium so proper appreciation could be afforded to the players.

Ray Quigley, Co Wexford

All-Ireland hurling sweeps cares away

Sir — What a tonic the All-Ireland hurling final was. My native county, Kilkenny, didn’t take home the Liam MacCarthy Cup, but the team excelled, and the great Limerick players deserved every moment of glory.

What a refreshing contrast those sporting headlines were to the rapid-fire succession of bad news hitting us from all angles: climate change, crime, political uncertainty, Covid still lurking in the shadows, financial worries, war without end.

The action in Croke Park took us away from that world and into another where different rules and values prevail.

There’s something indefinable that this annual display of true sportsmanship brings to the fore.

John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny

Hooter needs to blow on added time

Sir — With the curtain about to fall on the inter-county hurling and football season, I will be carefully observing whether the added time at the end of the second half will be greater than at the end of the first.

Having been confined to watching this year’s championships on TV, I have observed, overall, an uneven distribution of added time (and added time added to added time) notably skewed toward the full-time whistle, even allowing for the fact substitutes are mostly made in the second half.

It’s time to look at the hooter system again.

Michael Gannon, St Thomas’s Square, Kilkenny

Fine Gael sounder than other Muppets

Shane Ross believes new political blood is required and the public is simply sick and tired of the same faces (Opinion, July 17).

Shane reminds me so much of Statler and Waldorf, who used to whinge at the beginning and end of The Muppet Show.

Why are Fine Gael in government for the past 10 years? Because they rescued this country.

Despite what Mr Ross believes, no combination of any of the other Muppets in Leinster House has been capable of forming an alternative.

Thomas Garvey, Claremorris, Co Mayo

Provos’ murderous record in Fermanagh

Sir — Rodney Edwards writes (July 17) that “all sides” suffered in Fermanagh during the Troubles.

It should be noted the majority of the 110 deaths in the county were the work of the Provisional IRA.

That organisation murdered 64 members of the security forces in Fermanagh and most of the 39 civilians who died, including 11 in Enniskillen on Remembrance Sunday in 1987.

Only a relatively few deaths were attributable either to the police and the army or to terrorist action by so-called loyalists.

CDC Armstrong, Belfast

Trump support for federal executions

Sir — Mary Stewart says she is a “long-time opponent of the death penalty” (Letters, July 17), yet in your newspaper she has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, who did not intervene to halt 13 federal executions during his time in office.

Indeed, he is the United States’ most prolific execution president in more than a century. By contrast, President Joe Biden is an opponent of the federal death penalty.

Tom McElligott, Listowel, Co Kerry Sending Irish patients to Spanish hospitals won’t improve health services here

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