Irish Republican News · December 14, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
26-County public services in disarray

A series of reports in the past week has pointed to increasing levels of incompetence, negligence and dysfunction in the provision of state services in the 26 Counties.


The Health Service Executive has begun a review of home care services supplied to 65,000 older people following a television news report which showed the mistreatment of some vulnerable elderly by their care providers.

A number of private providers were shown to be failing to meet basic standards in the provision of care in an RTE Prime Time documentary.

The disturbing undercover report showed several instances where it appeared that vulnerable elderly people had received inadequate care, and, in at least one case, had been force-fed by a member of staff.

While standards in private nursing homes are regulated, the homecare sector remains unregulated and it has emerged there is no legal obligation on the providers to vet staff.

Minister for Health Mary Harney, who has pushed to privatise health and care services in recent years, came under fire from members of the opposition.

Labour’s Phil Prendergast said the absence of regulation is leading to “untrained and overworked carers mistreating elderly people and unscrupulous employers facilitating this by neglecting their obligations”.

She said this is the result of Minister for Health Mary Harney making the private sector responsible for the welfare of thousands of older people.

Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said the Minister has questions to answer.

“These appalling revelations demand immediate answers and immediate action from the Minister for Health and Children,” he said.

“I will be raising this scandal in the Dail and be calling for a special debate and real assurance to older people that they will not be prey to those whose only motive is greed and profit, a situation brought about by the Government’s policy of privatising health and social services.”


Meanwhile, the Dublin government has apologised to the family of Noel Keegan, who died after being assaulted by a man who should have been in prison at the time of the attack.

Mr Keegan died just minutes after he was assaulted on December 31st, 2009, in Longford, by Martin McDonagh from Edgeworthstown, a dangerous criminal who should have been in prison serving a four-year jail term at the time.

A report has identified a lengthy catalog of failings in the courts, the prison and probation services and the Garda.

McDonagh should have been in Castlerea Prison at the time of the attack, despite the fact that more than 25 gardai knew or should have known he was unlawfully at large.

It found the Courts Service never sent the committal warrant, sentencing him to four years, to Castlerea Prison; the Probation Service failed to supervise McDonagh in the community, even though it said it would when he was given temporary release; Garda computers could not record the fact that a person is unlawfully at large; the prison service did not tell gardai he was to sign on at Longford Garda Station; Garda headquarters failed to alert local gardai that McDonagh was at large; when they were finally told by Castlerea Prison, McDonagh was not arrested -- and 14 days later he attacked Mr Keegan.

Fine Gael justice spokesman Alan Shatter said there had been a “catastrophic failure of State agencies”.

Labour justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte said there had been “another monumental administrative cock-up within the most secretive and hide-bound department of State and with the most serious consequences”.

Sinn Fein justice spokesman Aengus O Snodaigh welcomed the inspector’s report, which showed “progress has been made, but it is a pity it took the appalling death of Mr Noel Keegan for changes to be made”.


Meanwhile, the publication of a report by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has highlighted declining standards in the education system in the 26 Counties.

A three-yearly global league table revealed a sharp decline in the performance of Irish 15-year-olds in reading and maths.

The report showed that Irish teenagers’ literacy dropped from fifth to 17th place between 2006 and 2009, while in maths, it slumped from 16th to 25th among the 34 OECD countries.

Ireland’s performance in maths has always been average or below average, but the findings that we are now only average in the area of literacy has given authorities cause for concern.

While the Department of Education continues to deny any suggestion of grade inflation, analysis shows that examination results over the period of 2000 to 2009 are at odds with the OECD study.

It showed that as Ireland’s OECD world rankings plummeted in English, maths and science, its percentage of A, B and C grades in secondary school exams increased at higher, ordinary and foundation levels.

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2010 Irish Republican News