This week unfortunately I find myself back in St. James’s Hospital. Wonderful care but not where I want to be, and even here you can’t escape Brexit with the sound of TV News travelling through the walls at some unearthly hour in the morning. Forgetting the shambles at Westminster for a moment, let me move closer to home and to a truly outrageous scandal, the cost over- runs at the National Children’s Hospital. Frankly I am incredulous at how this has been allowed to happen. Nobody is being held to account. This fiscal incontinence is going to suck badly needed resources out of the Health System. It is, bluntly, a national scandal. The Taoiseach is a doctor. He used to work at St. James’s Hospital, although from some of the remarks made to me it seemed he was more interested in campaigning around Blanchardstown than medicine. If ever there was an example of what is wrong with how this country is run, this utterly ill-disciplined project is a prime example. Leo Varadkar, you are a doctor, you are a former Minister for Health. You are Taoiseach. This has happened on your watch. Make no mistake, you are answerable to the people on this and at the very least you should explain yourself.
Now to the drumbeat through the walls. Brexit. The Minister for gaffes Shane Ross’s overheard exchange with the Tanaiste let the cat out of the bag. There is real concern in government that they might get some blame for the introduction of a hard border. This was always a danger. Have no illusions, the EU knew that the Backstop was a way of putting manners on the Brits. I have held the view for some time that under more pragmatic leadership a way to deal with this highly contentious issue would have been found. The stakes for our country are unbelievably high and the potential danger to the agri- foods sector doesn’t bear thinking about. If for a moment it was to seep into the public consciousness that our government had over-played its hand the backlash would be severe. Then sometimes the Taoiseach displays a woeful ignorance of his responsibilities. Take his remarks about eating meat as the leader of a country that is a major exporter of agricultural products.
For what it’s worth don’t panic. I am a great believer in the markets. Sterling is holding up. The markets haven’t crashed. I still believe a fudge will be found despite the best efforts of politicians to screw it up.