Junior Doctor Working Hours – Severe Penalties Needed

Reading the article ‘The Sound of Junior Doctors Cracking Under the Strain’ by Paul Cullen in today’s Irish Times leaves me astonished and incredulous that the European Union is not holding the Irish Government to account, through severe penalties and through holding individuals in positions of authority responsible, over the issue of hugely excessive, dangerous and health-damaging hours being worked by junior doctors in Irish hospitals. Apparently, not only have the hospital authorities, the Minister for Health and the Government treated European working time directives with contempt, they seem to have allowed, with full knowledge, a situation to exist where the junior doctors do not now even receive overtime payments for the hours that somehow they feel constrained to work. The medical profession itself surely has a lot to answer for too. How can a caring profession participate in the treatment of its own members in such a manner?

The solution to the problem would seem very simple on the face of it. Any person in authority at any level who knowingly allows a junior hospital doctor to exceed the working time directive while under their authority must be held responsible and the organisation responsible must be made to pay appropriately high penalties that would put an immediate end to the current improper and unjustifiable practices. Likewise, the Irish Government must be held to account by the European Community. The Irish Health and Safety Authority must also be held accountable, or empowered in this regard, whichever is necessary.

It is strange indeed that many of the best and brightest school leavers in Ireland do not seem deterred by the working conditions and lifestyle that await them some short years on, when they decide to undertake the long hard road of study and work to become doctors. Surely, caring should be at the heart of any caring profession.

My Reasons for Voting No in the Irish Fiscal Stability Treaty Referendum of 31 May 2012

I don’t want more bailouts for banks. I want fairness for plain people. I am not happy with the proposed Irish constitutional amendment that would incorporate the ‘Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union done at Brussels on the 2nd day of March 2012’ in a new subsection. I have made a list of my reasons for voting ‘No’ in the referendum.
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A Good Governor

I found John Lonergan’s autobiography (The Governor, Penguin Books, 2010) interesting because he had a very significant story to tell, and inspiring because of his humanity, strength of character, forbearance and patience. The man who completed over forty-two years in the Irish Prison Service seems to have had a remarkable ability to compartmentalize his work and not let the stress of it damage his self-worth, inner tranquillity or enjoyment of life, including his work life. He recognises and accepts that life is not ideal, that there are things one can achieve, things one can strive for and things one might go along with because not to do so could be to opt out of a possibility to do the most good that could be done in the circumstances. Reading the book made me feel glad, as an Irish citizen, that such a man was there doing his best for people, for so long, at Mountjoy jail and elsewhere in the prison service.
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Build the National Paediatric Hospital!

I am very disappointed at recent developments in relation to the proposed new Irish National Paediatric Hospital, which had the endorsement of so many, and was to be constructed at the site of the Mater Hospital. The process of replacing existing inadequate facilities has been far too protracted, but to have had a fully designed, developed and agreed plan rejected by An Board Pleanála, seemingly without appropriate forewarning, when so much time and money had been invested in the project, is deplorable. Ireland is a democratic country and there are planning processes in place. However, this present situation begs that the processes of democracy, good governance and planning step up to meet the challenge of preventing further unjustifiable delay and waste.
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Re-Designing Banks to Succeed or Fail

I have no qualifications whatsoever in banking, other than my own life experiences. Naively I assumed ‘banking’ looked after itself, or rather that there was proper and sufficient oversight of banking at a national and European level. In my mind somewhere there was even such a thing as a ‘World Bank,’ about which I knew very little—I considered it a positive thing in that it brought wealthy economies together to help developing countries. Modern major banks (the big names, national and international) were pillars of respectability, responsibility and hard-learned conservatism—at least in respect to their capital base and financial security. I had never set myself the specific objective of becoming wealthy. For example, I chose my career direction in keeping with my interests and what I perceived as my strengths, rather than to maximize my earnings or become a millionaire or billionaire. The distinction between the two never seemed very important to me, although in recent times in Ireland, especially before 2007, euro-millionaires (on paper) were common and included a lot of ordinary hard-working people who had not come from privileged backgrounds. These ‘millionaires’ included many who owned or had substantially paid-off their mortgages on, for example, three-bedroom houses in or around Dublin.
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Some Reasons to Reconsider an Auditor Nomination

Having listened to the news last Tuesday, 8th November, 2011, I was moved to tweet ‘Ireland should withdraw Mr. Cardiff from Court of Auditors in light of seriousness of debt overstatement on his watch.’ I felt shocked that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, the Táiniste, Eamon Gilmore, and the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, were all staunchly opposed to withdrawing the nomination of Mr. Kevin Cardiff to the European Court of Auditors. These are three very experienced and smart politicians, whom I value and respect, but I felt they were letting Ireland and the European Community down in relation to this issue.
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My Citizen Blog

Democracy is a delicate and very precious thing. It can never be taken for granted. No citizen, no more than any leader, is the fount of all wisdom, but the concept of democracy attempts to harness the innate wisdom of humankind and continually repair the failings and imperfections of communities and of society as a whole. I am very proud of my country, Ireland, and I am very proud that it is a functioning democracy.
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