Delzer, from the People’s Republic of Cork website, asks:
Many people, possibly even most, Irish people, do not know all the words to the national anthem. People want to move on as soon as possible from the silent awkwardness of not knowing it so you’ll hear roars of “C’mon [insert county]!” well before the end of the song. The GAA do almost nothing to promote the Irish language or the national anthem. Almost all the interior signage in Pairc Úi Chaoimh and Croke Park is exclusively in English for example.
A small campaign to encourage supporters to sing it could be easily implemented at little or no cost. Instructing teams not to break away before the band finishes playing would help generate more respect for the anthem too.
In fairness, the lads at [GAA] HQ are busy though. There are pay walls to erect and big country music concerts to sort out.
A table (above) showing comparative generic drug prices between Ireland and Britain, from yesterday’s Sunday Business Post
Susan Mitchell, the health correspondent with the Sunday Business Post, spoke to Rachel English on Morning Ireland this morning in relation to the price of generic medicines in Ireland.
Rachel English: “Tell us about some of the price differences between here and the UK because there are some quite staggering differences.”
Susan Mitchell: “Some of them are absolutely colossal, you’re right. We have one which is called, the generic name of this drug is Olanzapine and the original brand would be called Zyprexa which is what a lot of patients would know it as. The British price is €2.65, the Irish price is €71.97, so it’s just absolutely massive.”
English: “It’s €2.65 versus €71.97, that’s just extraordinary…”
Mitchell: “It is extraordinary. Now, to be fair, that was the biggest variation we’ve seen but many of the others were also, were also huge. There was another psychiatric drug called [Anti-depressant] Seroquel, the brand name I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce it but the Irish price is €34.80, in other words what the HSE is paying. The NHS is paying €2.90. And there were many, many other examples for a variety of different medicines, medicines to treat breast cancer, statins, which are used by hundreds of thousands of patients, so these are adding up to an enormous amount of money for the State and the taxpayer.”
English: “For years, we were told that the wider use of generic drugs would be key to bringing down health costs, so why are the prices of these drugs so high?”
Mitchell: “I really cannot answer that. The HSE has brought down the prices. They have. The reference price which they’ve now set for all of these medicines and they’ve set prices for about 20 medicines over the past year is certainly lower than what it was. But the differentials between here and the UK remain absolutely colossal. I don’t know why that is. The HSE says they have to be cognisant of things like security and supply, we’re a smaller market. There is, I know that some people would, you know, theorise that we have to keep big pharma in the country happy because they employ so many people. A lot of other people dispute that because they say that nobody in pharma would expect variations of this magnitude, it’s more to do with incompetence more than anything else. I really can’t explain why the variations are so huge.”
English: “So, what’s being done to tackle this problem?”
Mitchell: “Well reference pricing was suppose to tackle this problem and that’s what’s so disappointing about this – certainly from taxpayers’ perspectives and, indeed, patient groups. Because reference pricing was supposed to bring our prices down and bring us into line with the rest of Europe. And that was what former health minister James Reilly actually said. He said that, under reference pricing, you know the time, or the variations between here and the UK would end. Unfortunately they haven’t.”
English: “Have the pharmaceutical companies had anything to say about this?”
Mitchell: Very little, they’ve said very little. Other than the fact that prices have come down, and indeed they have. They also would say that we’re a much smaller market. And, another important point and I think that is a valid point is that we have had a very, very small number or the competition for generic market here in Ireland has been quite small in the past. So there aren’t as many companies competing for businesses. So that possibly is a factor but as people suggested to me, why don’t we bypass all the generic companies here and go straight to the UK and buy our medicines from them?”
English: “And at the moment, how is the price decided? Who does the deal for the State?”
Mitchell: “The HSE does this. So effectively what happens is the Irish Medicines Board groups a bunch of medicines in the same bracket. So these would all be off-patent and generic medicines. So if you take something like Atorvastatin, the original brand was Lipitor. When that comes off patent, the Irish Medicines Board bunches all of the various different Atorvastatins in a particular group. And the HSE then goes in and sets what is called a reference price. And this reference price is the amount that the HSE will reimburse pharmacists for that medicine. If someone with a medical card wants the original branded product, or a more expensive variation, they must pay the difference themselves, but this is what the HSE is paying.”
English: “You’ve been writing about this for several years now. Do you see that any attempt is being made to try and address the problems?”
Mitchell: “There is an attempt being made but I feel it’s inadequate. I don’t think that anybody can even try to justify variations of this magnitude. I think there’s something seriously wrong. And if the HSE is finding that pharma companies aren’t playing ball, well then it should come out and say this, and say this publicly and arguably maybe look to bypass some of these smaller companies in this market and go direct to the UK and purchase our medicines there.”
A press conference held by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties today to respond the UN Human Rights Committee report on Ireland (see below) at the Radisson Hotel, Dublin. From top: Chairperson of Atheist Ireland, Michael Nugent, and Independent TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Mark Kelly, ICCL director, and Chairperson of Survivors of Symphysiotomy, Marie O’Connor; Director of the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM), Brigid Quilligan (left) and Director of the Trangender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), Broden Giambrone
Last week, 16 civil society organisations from Ireland made submissions to the UN Human Rights Committee.
The committee has today responded.
The State party [Ireland] should:
(a) Revise its legislation on abortion, including its Constitution, to provide for additional exceptions in cases of rape, incest, serious risks to the health of the mother, or fatal foetal abnormality; (b) Swiftly adopt the Guidance Document to clarify what constitutes a “real and substantive risk” to the life of the pregnant woman; and (c) Consider making more information on crisis pregnancy options available through a variety of channels, and ensure that healthcare providers who provide information on safe abortion services abroad are not subject to criminal sanctions.
On institutional abuse of women and children
The State party should conduct prompt, independent and thorough investigations into all allegations of abuse in Magdalene Laundries, children’s institutions and mother and baby homes, prosecute and punish the perpetrators with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offence, and ensure that all victims obtain an effective remedy, including appropriate compensation, restitution, rehabilitation and measures of satisfaction.
The State party should initiate a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into cases of symphysiotomy, prosecute and punish the perpetrators, including medical personnel, and provide an effective remedy to the survivors of symphysiotomy for the damage sustained, including fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation, on an individualized basis. It should facilitate access to judicial remedies by victims opting for the ex-gratia scheme, including allowing a challenge to the sums offered to them under the scheme.
On non-consensual psychiatric treatment, use of electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services
The State party should ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroshock, and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services, is generally prohibited. Non-consensual psychiatric treatment may only be applied, if at all, in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort where absolutely necessary for the benefit of the person concerned, provided that he or she is unable to give consent, and for the shortest possible time without any long-term impact and under independent review. The State party should promote psychiatric care aimed at preserving the dignity of patients, both adults and minors. It should also amend the definition of voluntary patient under the Mental Health Act, 2001 so that the term only refers to a person who consents to admission and treatment, and bring the Assisted (Decision-Making) Capacity Bill of 2003 in line with international standards on the rights of persons with disabilities.
On police complaints
The State party should proceed with the timely adoption of the General Scheme of the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill 2014 to strengthen the independence and effectiveness of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. It should also ensure that the proposed establishment of the Garda Síochána Authority does not encroach upon or undermine the work of GSOC, but rather complement and support it.
On imprisonment for failure to pay fines
The State party should fully implement the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 to provide for a community service order as an alternative to imprisonment for failure to pay court ordered fines or civil debt, and ensure that in no case is imprisonment used as a method of enforcing contractual obligations.
On the right to counsel
The State party should guarantee, in law and in practice, the right to counsel prior to interrogation, and take concrete steps to facilitate the presence of lawyers during interrogation.
On asylum-seekers and refugees
The Committee recommends that the State party take appropriate legislative and policy measures to establish a single application procedure with a right of appeal to an independent appeals body without further delay, including the adoption of the 2008 Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. It should also ensure that the duration of stay in Direct Provision centres is as short as possible and introduce an accessible and independent complaints procedure in Direct Provision centres.
The State party should ensure that effective and appropriate assistance and protection is afforded to potential victims of trafficking, including by adopting without further delay the necessary acts of legislation which are compatible with international legal standards.
On freedom of religion
The State party should take concrete steps to amend articles 12, 31 and 34 of the Constitution that require religious oaths to take up senior public office positions, taking into account the Committee’s general comment No. 22 (1993) concerning the right not to be compelled to reveal one’s thoughts or adherence to a religion or belief in public. It should also introduce legislation to prohibit discrimination in access to schools on the grounds of religion, belief or other status, and ensure that there are diverse school types and curriculum options available throughout the State party to meet the needs of minority faith or non-faith children. It should also amend Section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Acts in a way that bars all forms of discrimination in employment in the fields of education and health.
On Travellers and Roma
The State party should take concrete steps to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority group, and amend the Housing Act of 2002 to meet the specific accommodation requirements of Traveller families. In light of the abolishment of the National Action Plan Against Racism, the State party should adopt an effective policy and action plan, developed in consultation with Traveller and Roma communities, to redress situations of inequality.
The Irish men’s lacrosse team faced their toughest challenge yet when they faced off against a Haka-pumped (above) New Zealand side in Thursday’s action at the World Lacrosse Championships in Denver.
“New Zealand controlled the first face-off and went straight to goal, but the shot was saved by Sweeney, who quickly cleared the ball back up field to Kris Prior who then buried a shot to put Ireland on the scoreboard first, 1-0. New Zealand quickly equalised however when the long-pole #10 headed straight down-field and scored to make it 1-1. A ding-dong ensued, first Tom Riley scored for Ireland to make it 2-2, followed by a New Zealand equaliser, then Mike McTernan scored his first goal of the day on a spinning jumpshot to make it 3-2. Ireland would then go on to score two more goals to make it 5-2 at the end of the first quarter. The Irish team continued to build on its small margin throughout the game, leading 8-3 at half-time and 11-6 at the end of the third quarter. But New Zealand are a team that plays to the final whistle, and they worked hard in the fourth quarter to reduce the deficit to just two goals (11-9) with just over 2 minutes left in the game. Ireland hung on and ran out 12-10 winners
Ireland will face the [gulp] Germans in their final game of the tourney tonight. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 here at MIDNIGHT (Irish time).
A lengthy weather delayed start failed to dampen the Irish march over the Czech Republic at the Lacrosse World Championships in Denver last night.
It was the Czechs who got their noses in front, scoring the first three goals of the game. The Irish team rallied and halfway through the second quarter had it all tied at 4, but the Czechs nudged ahead again and were up 6-4 at half-time. The weather once again wreaked havoc on the game and there was a second delay at half-time, but, once the game started again, the Czechs scored within the first couple of seconds to make it 7-4. The Irish team dug deep.. The third quarter ended 10-7 in favour of the Czechs, but the Irish team went on to score 5 unanswered goals in a spirited comeback to win the game 12-10
Ireland will face Switzerland today after defeating a fancied Wales team in the other ranking game.
At the World Lacrosse Championships in Denver Ireland suffered their first defeat to occupied Palestine Israel yesterday.
“Ireland came hard out of the traps and scored the first goal of the game through Tom Burke. But Israel was quick to respond and rattled off 5 unanswered goals to make it 1-5 at the end of the first quarter. Ireland had an outstanding second quarter though – Riley scored three goals, and Burke and Gillis each had one, while Israel managed four goals of its own. This left the score at 6-9 to Israel at half-time. Israel turned up the heat though in the third quarter, where a combination of penalties by Ireland and the goal-scoring threat of Israel’s Lee Coppersmith in particular put the game away for Israel. The final score was 19-8 in favour of Israel…”
Ireland will now face the Czech Republic with a high ranking tournament placing at stake.