The above quote is from a collection of essays by Albert Camus. So far, so wanky, but my aim in this post is actually to be pragmatic and straightforward about my homeland: Ireland.
I do not live there anymore but I haven’t been away for very long, and the titular quote resonates with me because of an article I read today. I’ve written on this blog about my absolute shame and horror at the 2009 Ryan Report into child abuse in Ireland and Ireland’s handling of the issue, but I’ve always stopped short of venturing into economic territory. I’m not qualified in that area, I don’t have an economic background, it’s not my strong point, and so I’ve always resisted putting down in print what my feelings were on the Irish economic situation. Today, though, I read this article from the Irish Independent.
In a nutshell, Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin, has been in existence since 1956 and has 248 beds, all of which are reserved for sick smallies. They contribute hugely to paediatric research, perform specialist surgery and provide oncology and cardiac care for children. The board has now said that they will run out of money before the end of 2011.
Things get talked about a lot in very vague terms in Ireland. Bailout, recession, bondholders…What I fail to see is how a situation where children in Ireland, sick children, are going to have surgery delayed is not a huge, heart-stopping, front-page issue that snaps people into action. Cut the dole, tax cigarettes until they cost 20 euro, impose a limit on governmental pay, do something to make tax money go to making sure that seriously and terminally ill children and their families do not have to get on a plane at the most difficult time of their life to seek treatment elsewhere.
The health system for adults has taken a fair bit of flack in Ireland in the past few years, people waiting in corridors for surgery, sleeping on chairs, my mother being one of them after an accident in her 60s. Is it really going to get to a point where children are unable to get the help they need when TDs are earning almost a 100,000 euro a year? I understand it sounds naive and simplistic, but from the outside looking in, it just looks simple. You do not leave a child without immediate access to healthcare. Not when public service incomes are still high and we are paying politicians to help us out of a ruined economic landscape. You do not delay an operation for a baby. You do not reduce the quality of post-natal care. You give time and money, your last cent, to making sure that is not part of Ireland’s fall.
We always recognise our homeland when we are about to lose it.