Responsible leadership

After footage of a packed bar in Dublin full of drunken revelers last Saturday night began to circulate on social media, the Irish government took the belated decision to close all pubs in the country. Some pubs and other businesses had already done so, but others continued unabated, as the naïve call for people to behave responsibly went unsurprisingly unheeded. Most people have taken precautions and observed social distancing, but of course it only takes a small percentage of idiots to undo any good work done by others. And we have a rather large proportion of idiots here in Ireland. In the world in fact. Idiocy is a pandemic in itself.

I did find something blackly amusing amid all this however. The Taoiseach, my buddy Leo Varadkar, and his cackling minion Minister for Health Simon Harris, have both berated those in the packed pub in question for being socially irresponsible. Those half-wits in Temple Bar were indeed being so, but hearing those words coming from the mouths of government ministers who have run the country into the ground over the last 9 years smacks of hypocrisy.

Let’s have a quick look at the legacy of Harris and Varadkar, himself a former Minister for Health, and their party.

  • Homelessness has almost trebled under their watch.
  • Provision of social housing is pitiful – 4000 new houses were built in 2018, but the waiting list today is 68,693 families.
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) were permitted to operate in Ireland for the first time in 2013 by this government, and now comprise the biggest landlords in country – all profit-driven.
  • The government have privatised the water service, putting corporate profits above the needs of the citizens.
  • Hospitals have been run into the ground, as the government moves towards as much privatisation as possible – as well as blaming the beleaguered staff for the shortcomings. This situation is even more critical now.
  • They have also presided over the Cervical Cancer screening debacle. And failed to take responsibility for it. Varadkar himself was Minister for Health during this, yet remained head of his party and Prime Minister when the incompetency was revealed.
  • TD (member of parliament) Regina Doherty’s IT consultancy firm went into liquidation in 2013 and was found to have obscured debts using shady accountancy practices. Among other debts, the firm owed the Revenue €59k. She got away with it and subsequently was made Minister for Social Protection.

The list goes on. Is this the sort of social resposibility the Taoiseach and Minister for Health meant?

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Glossary of Irish terms for international readers:

Taoiseach = Prime Minister

TD = Teachta Dála = Member of Parliament. The inflected Dála is the genetive case of Dáil, the name for the lower house of the Irish bicameral parliament.

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