We Don’t Expect Much

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Luke ‘Ming Flanagan MEP

We don’t really expect much. An odd good summer and for the children not to have to take the boat when they’re reared. People are being told that things are getting better. People are not stupid. It’s getting worse.

I had to use a ‘local’ A&E the other night. We got a letter from our GP and headed for our destination with a screaming 7 week old child. Before we left we explained to the baby sitter that our other two daughters were not to use the tap water when brushing their teeth due to it being contaminated with cryptosporidium. We arrived at the hospital at around 7pm to be met by very helpful staff. We got in line. Baby still screaming. After an hour we got to see a very helpful nurse and were then sent back into a waiting room. After another two hours we were brought into an area to see a doctor. Baby still screaming. It was wall to wall with people on trollies. Some had been there for two days.

So what eh! Sure this is normal. After all things are improving! The war zone hospital scene in front my two eyes is this governments idea of improvement. Even Terry “twist it” Prone couldn’t find a collection of words to make this place look acceptable. The people on the trollies looked both sick and sickened. When you are sick you want at least to be buffered from stress. All I could see and feel was stress. Doctors and nurses trying to manoeuvre around a maze of trollies packed into corridors. Howya Ming said one man. “Ashamed” I said. We didn’t need to elaborate. Another man approached me and said “my wife tried kill herself last night with tablets”. The first line of treatment for this couple in unimaginable trauma was to be subjected to even more. Not even a space to themselves. I had felt more dignity the evening I was committed to Castlerea prison.

At this stage we needed to call home as our other two children would be worried. We called but failed as there was no signal. I went out to the middle of the car park until I finally got one but I still couldn’t ring as our baby sitters mobile was out of range. You see unless we leave the phones in one particular part of our house then they can’t be contacted. By the way we live in the middle of a town.

As it turned out our daughter was fine. With cryptosporidium in your water supply you never know. No matter how vigilant you are as a parent there’s always the worry that somehow the child’s bottle has been contaminated. The basic instinct of being able to run something under a tap to give it a clean is turned on it’s head.

We travelled home that night and both my wife and I spoke about the services in this country. You can’t drink the water. If your child does and gets sick then they must endure the torture of an overcrowded understaffed A&E. That’s if you can get there on time. You can’t ring home with news because the phones don’t work. When you try to get to and from the A&E you must put up with diabolical road conditions. When we got up the following morning we sent our children to a school with a pupil teacher ratio so high that crowd control is the best the teacher could possibly achieve. You basically have to teach them yourself when they come home. I pity the committed teachers who are expected to work in these conditions.

I hear the cry from government deputies that it is easy to be in opposition. No it’s not. It’s torture. It’s torture to watch everything falling around our ears while at same time our government tells us things are getting better. We are a warned about the sinister fringe. How much more sinister can it get than the way things are at the moment. While we struggle to provide basic services for our citizens we at the same time continue to bail out the European banking system. The interest alone on the odious bank debt is €1.6 billion per annum. So even when you pay to get services there are cut to the bone because the banker must be paid first.

The last few weeks have been inspirational. I have a hope that people are starting to expect more. Why shouldn’t you? Keep expecting and eventually you will get it. Keep it up. Bring on December 10th and bring this government to its knees. The alternative is to accept that barely surviving is the new thriving. Accept it now and you accept it forever.

Luke Ming Flanagan (Facebook)

(Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland)

52 thoughts on “We Don’t Expect Much

    1. cluster

      I think a big part of the reason behind those problems is that so many people think that is a good or useful speech.

      He doesn’t engage with any of the issues or suggest how it be improved. Sometimes diagnosing a problem is worthwhile in itself except that 1) we know about this problems and b) his surface-level diagnosis is wrong.

      About 2.3% of govt expenditure will go to the bailout this year. Painful, yes, but it’s not the core of the problem. Problems with the water network and health system long predate the bailout. The mobile phone network is not a public utility.

      We need to get real about how best to provide public services – where we provide them (do we concentrate them into a small number if clusters for a better, more efficient service or do we dilute them by spreading around every market town in the country), how do we pay for them (who do we tax or charge and how successful is that likely to be), how do we mAnage the human resources involved (take on the unions or let them rule the roost) etc.

      1. Kath

        +loads

        There are many areas to make improvements and many people shining lights on bad situations and that’s good, that needs to happen.

        But we seem to get stuck in the finger pointing and complaining. Where to next? Who’s offering real solutions? That’s what I’d like to see more of and ‘I’ll fix everything when I’m in power’ opposition empty speeches don’t count.

  1. Soundings

    Never mind Ming, at least we have a first class police service….

    Which is so corrupt from top to bottom that the CSO can no longer publish crime statistics, which is so brazenly corrupt that even after the whistleblowers and the public outrage over penalty point forgiveness a year ago, they’re still doing it, a service which condemns its own whistleblowers all the time giving the nod to leaks about those deemed hostile eg Deputy Clare Daly, Deputy Mick Wallace.

    A police service so underresourced that when I rushed in there a little while back with solid ticking-bomb information on drug dealing, I left after 20 minutes (there was a woman there in front of me, who had been waiting there longer and there was no-one manning the desk at all). I phoned the station twice and got through to someone upstairs who assured me someone would be down in “a couple of minutes” and all the time waiting, you could hear some unfortunate in a room off reception pouring her heart out about domestic violence and both the woman and I waiting could hear every word through the paper thin walls. I just left knowing that most of the drug dealing in the town takes place just beside the Garda station anyway; why bother? And this is a Garda station broken into a few weeks ago, it was a burglary, though the intruder was miraculously caught.

    Ireland: the country with nearly the same flag as the Ivory Coast. As far as Irish public services are concerned, we might as well be twins.

    1. Soundings

      In fairness, when you elect most Irish MEPs, that’s the last you hear about them for five years. Ming is still mightily engaged at a local and national level. He was an election agent for Michael Fitzmaurice in Roscommon South Leitrim last month.

      And…
      8pm tomorrow evening in the Charleville Park Hotel, there’s a free Vin B event on Europe where Ming will be appearing alongside Lucinda, Marian Harkin and Paul Al-Jobstown Murphy.

  2. Richard O'Callaghan

    Excellent piece of prose by Ming … however … he chose to give up his seat in Dail Eireann, where he may have been able to have some effect on these matters that he clearly sees problems with and moved to an entity that has none. If a person who clearly has a significant grasp of the issues chooses to leave Dail Eireann then we have very little chance of fixing any of these.

    And at the risk of being harsh, get a bloody land line if you have kids in the house.

    1. Disasta

      Ye I have to agree with you.

      But I wouldn’t go into politics for love nor money. If you’re helping in one area you p!ss off another. People are never happy. Rich get richer poor get poorer.

      Ye we all know what needs to be done but this country is so corrupt to its core that doing the right thing is wrong while maintaining the status quo is acceptable. Disgusting.

    2. Starina

      Maybe he was sick of the petty arguments and the feeling of a complete inability to achieve anything in the Dail.

      1. cluster

        That is part of democracy, like it or not.

        Anyway, Ming was well able to get into petty arguments in the place of real policy development.

    3. gertrude

      Q: what is the greatest disaster in irish political decision making in the last 50 years?
      A:

      Q: where would Ming have been better able to influence that decision(had he comprehended the implications), as MEP, or as TD?
      A:

      1. Soundings

        Joining EU and ECB might be the response from some, and yes, as an independent MEP he would have had more resources and muscle to influence those decisions.

        1. cluster

          Why do you think that Soundings?

          As a single independent MEP out of 736, he would have had no muscle to stop the Dail the Guarantee.

          1. Soundings

            No, but he would have a foot in both camps, Ireland and Europe, to make the arguments in Europe (and he is an effective orator) and inform the debate back home. As an MEP he also has more resources than an Irish TD.

      1. cluster

        Clearly one shouldn’t gave to pay the charge in an area with crypto in the supply until it has been sorted out.

        Is this not the case?

  3. Kolmo

    Depressing but not incorrect.

    Shameful.

    It’s a great country we have, but a Kakastorcracy of a political class, absolutely useless/complicit, pigs lining themselves up for the big payout and a place on boards of the companies they facilitated when in power at the expense of all the saps.

    1. cluster

      Blaming the politicians is pretty silly really.

      We, as an overall group of people, have clamoured to be allowed build our homes willy bully across the landscape, to pay low income taxes no property tax nor water charges and to have lax regulation in all sorts of areas. We also tolerate those who break those rules enacted – see planning permission, turf etc

      We elect politicians that have been shown to be corrupt (Lowry et al.). We refuse to back a govt when it takes about taking on public service unions.

      Providing effective, efficient public services in those conditions is very difficult indeed.

      Saying that the people are great but let down by the politicians just doesn’t hold up. Great at writing books, great at ‘having the craic’, great at emigrating. Not great at making informed, sensible political choices.

  4. Original Cynic

    Have been to A&E department on a few occasions lately with a relative. Was like a living nightmare and I wasn’t the person who was unwell. I really don’t know how the staff don’t run out the door screaming!!!!

  5. Walter Ego

    Well said Ming. But we got to keep those gambling debts of the elite payed. Edna said, “we need to be at the heart of Europe, and Vote Yes For Jobs, Yes for Stability” and other such rubbish.

  6. peter

    That sounds very like ISIS terrorist talk. We need to nip this in the bud.
    …mumble….mumble…..mumble…..
    Best small country in the world to do business, etc

  7. YourNan

    ah the Irish, wanting all the mod. comforts but wanting to pay nowt for it, doesn’t work that way. same goes for debts.

  8. Selfie Sensation

    Its a deplorable situation but lets look at it carefully

    Ming wants services suitable for large cities to be available in rural Roscommon, he wants the water network to be fixed but doesn’t want anyone to have to pay for it, he wants to the Government to do something about the privately owned Mobile Phone networks, he wants to blame the Banker bogeyman for all the money irish people borrowed even though they knew they couldn’t pay it back. Its the same story from everyone of the independents and the left side of the house, Everything has to be fixed, none of it is my fault and I won’t pay for any of it. People need to get real.

    Guess what if the water system in Roscommon is to be fixed (and it must be) it needs to paid for, that money has to come from somewhere, that somewhere is you and me. If the health system is going to be fixed (and again it must be) that too requires more money, that must come from you and me. If you live in a small town in Roscommon, guess what, its just possible that Vodafone and Three wont be too keen to spend millions to make sure your house has perfect coverage, if you’ve got a problem wit that you should take it up with the service providers rather than ranting about it like its a public service.

    And Who’s Fault is it? Well some of it is the “Bankers” but guess what, they didn’t do it on their own, hundreds of thousands of people in this country entered improvident deals without a second thought or concern because they thought they could make easy money doing so, its their fault too. Everybody has a friend or family member who was delighted with themselves in 2006 for having “conned” the Bank Manager into giving them a Whopping Mortgage they couldn’t afford to pay back. But apparently that was all the Bank’s fault too. No one in this country is prepared to take accountability for their own actions.

    The idea that any party can lower taxes and improve services is a nonsense and if people are really expecting that to happen they can come see me, I have some magic beans they might also be interested in.

    /rant

    1. Roj

      You’re the sort of person who will ensure we continue to be screwed into the next millennium. Keep it up :-/

    2. SOMK

      “Its a deplorable situation but lets look at it carefully”

      Yes let’s

      “it needs to paid for, that money has to come from somewhere, that somewhere is you and me”

      Actually no, unless you and I are central banks then that money doesn’t not in fact come from you and me, it’s just numbers on a computer screen. (see hear for a good outline of where money comes from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7L3ZtCSKKs)

      “And Who’s Fault is it? Well some of it is the “Bankers””

      Yeaaaaahhhh some

      “Everybody has a friend or family member who was delighted with themselves in 2006 for having “conned” the Bank Manager”

      Yeah all these labourers and brickies who ‘conned’ the bank managers, firstly any bank employing managers who can be so easily and repeatedly ‘conned,’ deserves to go down in big bloody red flames. Where did all these people get this idea to ‘con’ the banks from? Did they get it from an advertisement, or maybe a property show on television, or maybe the Taoiseach said it was a great time to get a house and sure what are those doom mongers at anyway, don’t understand why they don’t go kill themselves. The banks just about stopped short of literally throwing money at people in order to entice them into debt, remember when they were giving every student in the country a pony and a CD player just to open an account.

      I don’t expect a brickie to know anything about the history of assets bubbles, I would expect a bank manager to be at least aware of their existence.

      Lastly whilst we’re thinking deeply here, here’s a good rule of thumb for deducting who conned who, the one doing to conning tend to end up with the most and the conned the least. The banks got handed over 65 billion and a debt guarantee, and a further 30 billion in the form of NAMA buying up all their dodgy property holdings, the brickie lost his job, still has the 300,000 in debt only his apartment is now worth about 150,000, the bankrupcy legislation that has been brought in was effectively written by the banks (and even then they’re not engaging with it) and hospitals are closed or their funding is cut to the point where you have scenes like the one described above.

      Who decided to save banks rather than hospitals? It wasn’t f***ing me, that much I do know.

      1. Selfie Sensation

        Yeah the Quantitative Easing strategy, Not that we cab but lets just print 60 billion Euros or New Punts or whatever you’re having, that doesn’t have any adverse consequences at all. Like devaluation, or inflation or stagflation or insanely expensive imports.

        The government gets its money from the people and it does that by taxes, there is no easy alternative.

        People should not be treated like children, just because a person is a bricklayer or has any other occupation is no reason not to expect them to be responsible for their actions. Are you seriously suggesting that where someone paid €500,000 for a two bed shoebox in Inchicore without stopping to wonder if it was a good idea or even something he could afford, purely becuase he saw an ad or a TV show we should blame the ad? Are people not accountable at all? You don’t have to work in high finance or know anything about asset bubbles to at least wonder if a proposition actually makes sense. Hundreds of thousands of people stuck their fingers in their ears out of fear that they would hear awkward answers to questions they should have asked but didn’t.

        Greed got us here, the greed of bankers, developers and of the ordinary plain people of Ireland who thought there was a fast buck to be made. Now though they don’t want any part of it, its all someone else’s fault. it’s pathetic and this country will never be right until everyone holds up their hands and says, actually yeah, I did lose the run of myself, I shouldn’t have bought that buy to let property, or paid that much for a semi D in Kildare or where ever it was.

        Until then we’re all just blaming other people and shouting at others to fix it.

    3. Niallo

      Our politicians are a mirror of our own worst aspects, greedy self serving, blah blah.
      Taxes dont need to be amended, the problem is waste and inept management, the hse is a perfect example of this, if they were a private company they would have been out of business within a month, post audit the directors would find themselves in court.
      The day of the overgrown county councilor and the civil service autocrat fumbling their way through the running of the country needs to be put to bed.
      We need to run this country as a corporation, an administration, as Ireland inc.
      We need to coordinate our greed against the common enemy (debt) and anyone or anything that stands in the way of that must be eliminated (not greased now, but eliminated)
      That would include a lot of change and yes, would require a lot of popcorn.
      But thats the way it needs to be.
      It was true before the last election and it will be true after the next election.
      The players change but the game remains the same.
      Change the game.

  9. Pete Crenshaw

    He is correct, regardless of who he is or what party or non party he is. What he talks about is very true and in a Country that is “bouncing back to recovery” we should not have to deal with these basic problems.
    The water issue is terrible and is such an important item that HAS to be resovled. I live in dublin and take it for granted to drink the water from the tap and brush your teeth etc. I a first world country for people to be on boil the water notice for months or years is a complete failure of a basic service from the Government to provide.
    Anyway – the facts of his statement are unfortunatly true and whoever is supposed to be in control in the Dail should be starting on these basic services for EVERYBODY in the land.

    1. Dubloony

      At least he is acknowledging that there is an actual problem with the water. That’s what Irish Water was set up to do.
      Everyone needs water, everyone should pay so that everyone benefits & is aware of the need to conserve potable water.

      As for the hospitals, still a disgrace.

  10. AliG

    A well put piece. I hope he is willing to fight the unions to get the reforms necessary. We could have more teachers if the ones there already didn’t block every reform to protect their allowances.

  11. I, Diddley

    Kudos Ming. Pity its only half a speech. Please hurry back with the other half where you tell us what can be realistically done to fix things. Please bear a few things in mind though
    Everything costs money, even Roscommon tap water. Unless you want to go all Ruth Coppinger on it and pay us in Ladas and sawdust sausage, somebody is going to have to pay more.
    The scenes you witnessed in A&E had nothing to do with lack of money. You know that. Medical personell get paid well up the International scale. Nearly half the population has a medical card. The problems in the HSE originated in deals struck between Mary Harney and the Unions. Since you’re from the Left why dont you have a word in their ear. Be careful though, they have extended the definition of The Most Vunerable In Society to include 50 grand a year receptionists.

    Hurry back now.

    1. mauriac

      “ladas and sawdaust sausage”classic..
      an irishwater type semistate system is needed to raise the billions( through off c.a. leveraging ) needed to fix the decades of underinvestment because Ireland due to spending too much and taxing too little is still ” broke”

    2. cluster

      Blaming Harney is unfair. The health system has been a shambles for a long time and the Health ministry has long been seen as a poisoned chalice for ambitious politicians.

      HSE was actually a Micheal Martin invention. The idea was in done ways reasonable but their failure to take on the unions has left them with a large bureaucracy which is overstaffed and unaccountable. The health boards were the same.

      1. cluster

        The way that locals everywhere want a top quality hospital in their back garden is a big part of the problem.

        Go to the French equivalent of Roscommon. You won’t find a hospital. Possibly a small clinic and instructions to drive two hits up the road to a regional centre.

        1. Roj

          Top quality hospital or basic A+E unit? His piece didn’t mention anything about unusual or special treatments – if I recall correctly all the services that were required in his case was a nurse and a doctor. And I’m sure the people on trollies were only being kept there to receive treatments that could, eventually, be catered for.

          Whether it’s in Blacksod or Blackrock, having to lie on a trolley for 2 days to get treatment is just unacceptable. It’s a joke.

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