MEP Luke Ming Flanagan.
Occasionally RTÉ takes its remit as a ‘public service broadcaster’ seriously and Monday night was one such occasion. ‘Living on the List’, a programme by the RTÉ Investigates team on the tens of thousands who are on the HSE’s almost interminable waiting list for operations, exposed some hard truth about Ireland 2017 for the whole nation to see, and it was ugly, painfully ugly.
It brought anyone who saw it to tears, real tears for most but – and I make no apology for saying this – crocodile tears from those responsible for the scandal.
We had Health Minister Simon Harris, the man-child appointed by Enda Kenny, saying how he was ashamed, how ‘this is wrong, this is something that as a country we can't stand over’.
We had Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher, without a hint of irony, saying ‘we are exhausted from talking about reform’, when it was his own party leader Micheál Martin when he was Minister for Health who abolished the old regional Health Boards and GAVE us the HSE in all its bloated administrative top-heavy glory, back in 2005. This is not to mention the cuts in beds and services implemented by that same party over the last few decades. Reform?
I know money isn’t the only problem here but it IS a major element of it. Time after time when it comes to issues like this, or issues like water, education, broadband rollout, road infrastructure, the question interviewers most like to ask is – ‘Where will we get the money?’.
I’ll tell you EXACTLY where we can get the money – in fact I’ll give a few sources:
• First, stop destroying the Promissory Note billions (€1bn in 2014, €2bn in 2015, a reported €3bn last year - €31bn in total to be destroyed), every euro of which is borrowed by the NTMA, and instead divert that money to where it’s most needed;
• Second, stop using our MNC-distorted GDP as a basis for calculating our annual contribution to the EU;
• Third, stop the challenge to the Apple European Commission ruling and accept the €19bn.
For the last couple of years, every opportunity I get I have challenged the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and the ECB President Mario Draghi, on the legitimacy of the Promissory Note debt; last week I challenged the Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger on the fairness and legitimacy of using our GDP to calculate our EU Budget dues; in the Parliament and in the ECON Committee I have debated the Fine Gael MEPs on Commissioner Vestager’s Apple decision, and congratulated her on it.
Ultimately however, all the above will be done only by our own government, with Michael Noonan at the heart of that. In the last week we’ve witnessed incredible scenes from Romania, where the people, sick of the corruption within their own government, have finally risen and said ‘Enough!’
It’s time we in Ireland did the same and if RTÉ now continues in this vein and puts the spotlight on the Promissory Note destruction of billions, on NAMA and what Mick Wallace is exposing, on Siteserv and the work done by Catherine Murphy, on what has truly happened and is still happening in Irish Water, that modern insurrection will surely happen.
It is long overdue.