Unfortunately this week I find myself back in hospital in the good care of the staff of St. James’s. Every morning I draw the blinds in my room to see the shell of the National Children’s Hospital and I am reminded why we need a change of government. Such is the incompetence of Minister Harris that a member of his own administration agreed with me that the Taoiseach should fire him. When Leo parades his government as competent to run the economy I look at the staggering cost over-runs and just wonder how better those resources could have been spent to alleviate some of the more acute problems in the health service. I am in this hospital as a private patient, and I am not the only one. All the politicians are now promoting Slaintecare as the way forward. The revenue private patients generate is essential to the functioning of this great hospital. How they are going to dismantle that great relationship is going to present an enormous challenge to any government.
So at this stage how does the election look ? I still think, despite the valiant efforts of his handlers, that the Taoiseach cuts a less emphatic figure than Micheal. He understood a little too late that this was a major problem and he is struggling to deal with it. The leader of Fianna Fail is more natural. He seems to be a more sympathetic figure, better suited to dealing with the complex challenges presented by climate change and also coping with the leader of the Greens, Eamon Ryan.
I felt compelled to watch the Leaders Debate on Virgin One. First thing I have to say is that I think Ivan Yates needs to calm down a little. However, the leader who really stood out was Brendan Howlin, the leader of the Labour Party. It was refreshing to hear a politician being straight with the electorate. We can’t afford to cut taxes and indulge in irresponsible public expenditure. Howlin was a very good Minister for Public Expenditure, which brings me back to where I started – the Children’s Hospital over-runs. He wouldn’t have allowed it to happen.