As a nurse and midwife by training, and as a public representative, I am absolutely convinced that the two most important pieces of reform this government must deliver on are healthcare reform and political reform. Events over the past few weeks show the link between the two, and show how urgently we must pursue these reforms.
I argued, and continue to argue, that the Minister for Health James Reilly needs to consider his position. I do this because his tampering with the list to add two primary care centres to his own constituency in North Dublin was irresponsible and wrong.
It was irresponsible because it undermines peoples’ confidence in the government, at a time when we need it most. This point was argued by the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore when he said that there was “another context” and that the country needed stability.
His actions were wrong because, in prioritising North Dublin, he has effectively robbed other needy communities up and down the country of a primary care centre to which they may have had a greater claim than Balbriggan or Swords. His decision conferred financial advantage on his friend, a developer, which he also failed to disclose, and which further undermines the government.
It has been said that, by highlighting and refusing to accept Minister Reilly’s actions, this in some way destabilizes the government. This is inaccurate. It is Minister Reilly’s pork barrel politics which are putting the country in jeopardy, the same politics which have brought us to the brink of ruin.
We have heard a lot about the difficulties of being in coalition and the need to find a way for two polar opposite parties to work together. That way is compromise, and that is only right and proper. However while compromise on policy is difficult but necessary, compromise on ethics is outrageous, and no matter the consequences- real or imaginary- we cannot start compromising on ethics.
I will not stand for this type of politics, the same way the Taoiseach and Tánaiste did not stand for it when they were in Opposition and the pork was being dished out by a politician wearing green instead of blue.
Phil Prendergast MEP.