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Is Brian Geoghegan the real Minister for Health

category national | miscellaneous | other press author Saturday November 24, 2007 16:42author by Aragon Report this post to the editors

Mary Harney has a case to answer

Mary Harney cannot convincingly deny the serious conflict of interest that exists between her role as Minister for Health and the business interests of her husband Brian Geoghegan, Chairman of the consultancy firm MRPA Kinman.

Amid the current outcry about failures in the health service and calls for Mary Harney's resignation, there is an ongoing situation about which the media have been strangely silent.

In June 2003 the Irish Business and Employers Confederation issued the following press release:

IBEC Welcomes Health Service Reform Programme


IBEC Press Centre 18 June 2003

The business and employers organisation, IBEC has today welcomed the publication of the Government’s Health Service Reform Programme.

The Programme is a serious effort to address issues of accountability and value for money in the health service. The two reports on which the Reform Programme is based confirm the need for much greater clarity, accountability and efficiency in the management of this major area of public service delivery, said Brian Geoghegan Director Economic Affairs, IBEC. Managers in the health service and hospitals need to be given the power to manage. It is a positive development that organisational structures are being streamlined and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy stripped away.

Health accounts for a quarter of all public spending. Ireland needs a 21st century health service that is delivered in a cost effective, efficient and accountable manner, said Geoghegan. The Reform Programme is a genuine attempt to achieve this goal and should be implemented in a speedy and determined manner by the appointment of a high level leadership team with responsibility to follow through on these Government decisions. The Government must stand firm in the implementation of this important Reform Programme and withstand the inevitable pressure from many vested interests concluded Geoghegan.
[My emphasis.]

The press release reads like marching orders for the government – a stern admonition that it had better do as it is told or IBEC will not be best pleased. A lot of IBEC’s press releases read like that, in fact, and it makes you wonder whether there isn’t something more to their relationship with our elected representatives, in what is supposed to be a democracy, than there ought to be.

Cleary Mr Geoghegan does not mean to imply that he might have a vested interest in the matter himself. At the time the press release was issued his wife Mary Harney was Minister for Finance with, among other things, responsibility for departmental budgetary allocations – including health. Within approximately 12 months of her husband’s statement, and after a surprise announcement that she was resigning as the Leader of the Progressive Democrats, Mary Harney was appointed Minister for Health - in which role she has since been directly responsible for implementing the controversial and largely unpopular programme for reform of our health service - very much in line with her husband's recommendations as outlined in the press release above. Harney has evidently heeded her husband's call and stood firm both in her tenacity about retaining the health service portfolio and in her determination to push the reforms through.

There has been an unusual degree of overlap in the personal life and professional careers of Mary Harney and Brian Geoghegan. In 2000, it was Mary Harney who appointed Geoghegan Chairman of FAS and in the same year he took up his position as Director of Economic Affairs at IBEC. Their personal relationship began sometime after that and they were married in November 2001. Over the next four years they frequently encountered one another in their professional lives and it must have been difficult to keep work matters appropriately separate.

In January 2006, however, Brian Geoghegan resigned from IBEC and took up a position as Chairman of MRPA Kinman – a private consultancy firm - and it might have been that the potential conflict of interest ended there. But that's is not how it worked out.

MRPA Kinman is a consultancy firm that prides itself in its access to government for lobbying purposes and counts among its government and commercial clients the Health Information and Quality Authority, a body which was set up for - and which is very much involved in - implementing the sort of reforms which Brian Geoghegan was anxious to see - and which his wife is now responsible for carrying out:

This means that the consultancy of which he is now Chairman are retained by a newly created division of the government department for which Mary Harney is responsible. Moreover, Kinman are the point of contact on behalf of HIQA for many of HIQA's reform activities so that interested stakeholders must apply not to HIQA itself for information about what is happening, but to MRPA Kinman.


On its website, HIQA describes itself, among other things, as follows:

The Health Information and Quality Authority was established in May 2007 as part of the government's health reform programme...

We are an independent Authority, with broad ranging functions and powers reporting to the Minister for Health...

We have been set up to drive quality, safety, accountability and the best use of resources in our health and social care services, whether delivered by public, voluntary or private bodies...

We will help deliver value for your money by monitoring that the resources in our health and social services are used in a way which delivers the best outcome for the patient or service user...

But how independent can HIQA be, in the circumstances?

Other clients of MRPA Kinman include pharmaceutical companies and private hospitals – business sectors which have benefited from government investment courtesy of Minister Harney’s Department. In 2003 at a Biolink conference in New York the then Tanaiste announced that the Irish government was investing 2.75 billion dollars of taxpayers money over seven years in the biosciences business sector. Fellow speakers at the conference included representatives from the pharmaceutical giant Wyeth who have a significant operation in Ireland - and who are also clients of MRPA Kinman.



Political Lobbying: ‘Unrivalled Experience’

MRPA Kinman’s relationship to Mary Harney goes further even than all of this. Managing Director, Richard Gordon is a former Press Officer and Spokesperson for the Progressive Democrats.


Director, Stephen O’ Byrnes was National Press Officer and Policy Director for the Progressive Democrats and also PD Government Press Secretary in the coalition government.


What need have these Progressive Democrat supporters to trouble with elections and the democratic process when they can have access to the health service via a commercial back door, to the Minister's husband and directly to the Minister herself via their role at HIQA? How can opposition parties, to say nothing of the majority of the electorate whose wishes are being resolutely disregarded - and who are opposed to the privatisation thrust of reforms which Harney and her husbands firm are pushing through - not be up in arms about this? MRPA Kinsman have more influence on the matter than the elected representatives of far more popular political groupings than the PDs - especially pertinent in the light of the electoral drubbing the PDs suffered at the election. We should be told the full extent to which the consultancy has benefitted commercially and the nature and extent of it's influence on health and other policy. When all of this is considered against a background of massively increased spending on these reforms and on private consultants, private hospitals and others employed to put them into effect, the continuing service failures and their serious impacts on patients call the Minister's priorites into question.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Sat Nov 24, 2007 17:27Report this post to the editors

Good article. It is becoming obvious that there is a serious problem now emerging in the Health Service and it must also now be coming clear that the problem is associated with the priority that is being given by Mary Harney to a policy of privatisation. All else is ignored and regardless of whatever suffering is being caused this policy remains the priority and this greatly restricts capacity to move quickly to address issues such as those that came to light in Portlaoise.
The dilemma now is that Harney cannot back away or be seen to change course because to do so would be an admission that her policy agenda was responsible for creating the loss and suffering in recent times.
People are calling for her to resign, but surly in the interests of democracy, she ought be investigated and arrested if necessary and if it is found that she placed personal interests above the peoples and used her position for self aggandisement then an appropriate action must be taken.
In a motion of no confidence published by YFG, they claim that all Harney may be guilty of is being on an "ideological ego trip". Well sorry, that won't cut it. Try tell that to those that have suffered pain and humiliation while Harney pursued a policy to create profit making opportunities for friends and supporters.
Maybe the fact that we have a lame duck taoiseach will prove to be a greater impediment to sorting out this mess. And this leaves one to wonder; what exactly has Mary Harney got on Bertie that renders him impotent in this matter?

author by Sound Bytepublication date Sat Nov 24, 2007 17:40Report this post to the editors

"I am not leaving the pitch"- its not a game, its not a football league. Its not means based
or high-scoring claptrap. it is simply doing your job, which is to ensure that the population
(the whole population) has access to good quality healthcare. Mc Dowell's wife is on the board
and very highly paid, she is not responding to phonecalls by the press.

author by Aragonpublication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 09:24Report this post to the editors

"Firstly, there has been a massive upsurge in lobbying by corporate bodies in Ireland; this is derived from US experience. PR companies set up a lobbying wing, typically recruited from key figures from the political elite to represent their interests.

The most dramatic example of this was the scrapping of a bill on alcoholism. The Dáil Committee recommended a ban advertisements to youth, as did a national task force, Bertie Ahern even announced that this would be introduced in 2005.

But despite this democratic process the drinks industry hired MRPA Kinman as its lobbying agency.

This is an organisation with PD connections. Ray Gordon, the managing director, was press officer with the PDs. Stephen O’Byrnes was a policy director and the chairman of MRPA, Brian Geoghegan, is the husband of Mary Harney. They lobbied the Minister for Health, Mary Harney and eventually succeed in getting the bill scrapped.

If you were to write a novel you couldn’t get away with such a crude, direct, portrayal of how corporations can undermine government decisions. In fact, Ireland is marketed as a place where lobbyist can pick up a phone get on to ministers and make progress for their client."


author by and againpublication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 09:31Report this post to the editors

Simony. The PD's give health care to white posh women with husband's who approve of civil rights
abuses. Niamh Farren was given thousands to write a report that was never implemented.
I am googling it now.

Ms Harney's husband.
Mr Mc Dowell's wife.

The PD Party have done nothing but abuse process, abuse mandate. increase wealth and
debilitate community.

author by Aragonpublication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 14:51Report this post to the editors

Minister Harney announces opening of a new private clinic in Limerick - all further enquiries to, you guessed it, MRPA Kinman:


This is where it seems to be going? Mary Harney persuades us that the best way to improve the health service is to bring in 'enterprise' and 'innovative ideas' meaning putting it into private hands. Meanwhile private hospitals are being opened ready to receive substantial public funds. Kerching!

author by Aragonpublication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 15:21Report this post to the editors

This article, which says it was 'shamelessly ripped off from the Irish Times' mentions in passing that Harney and Geoghegan had been friends for years - which predates their friendship to before the point at which Geoghegan was appointed as Chairman of FAS (by Harney) and his appointment to IBEC.


author by Scepticpublication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 18:06Report this post to the editors

In fairness to the PDs this is a rather facile analysis. It is already very well known to anyone who is interested the positions of the spouses of Harney and McDowell hold. Any adolescent plonker can shout “EUREKA” I have found it. “A PD secret cabal at the heart of Government!” This is vacuous as the connections are already so well known and even more vacuous and tiresome is the effort once again to go on and on about privatisation as if repeating a canard often enough will make people believe it. The issue of co-located hospitals is being studied by the body responsible for advising on PPPs namely the NTMA which is staffed by objective professionals. It will go ahead if it is demonstrated that it a cheaper method of procuring extra public hospital beds than traditional procurement. That is the right way to secure value for money. It is unknown connections that are corrupting, not known ones that everyone knows about – hence it is corrupting for a politician like Haughey to be secretly on the take not for an open relationship to exist. Besides both people concerned were long established in the their fields before any of this happened. Brennan has been a leading academic and policy analyst for years and won her contract, which was not awarded by her husbands department, through open tender. Her contract was based on her merits as an academic and not on her connection to McDowell.

author by Niamh Brenna, pardon me..publication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 18:22Report this post to the editors

Niamh Brennan's report which FF paid a lot of money for, was never implemented

was it?

It might have put the china on the table but it was money after bad.

It's not what ye know, its who ye know and btw- Niamh is refusing to answer on issues regarding
her role on the board of the HSE- budgetting and suchlike.

author by Aragonpublication date Sun Nov 25, 2007 18:40Report this post to the editors

How many of the women currently waiting to find out the truth about her breast cancer diagnosis were aware of these conflicts of interest? The general public almost certainly are not aware - very few would have the slightest reason to know who MRPA Kinman are much less what they do. It's a fair bet they would be furious, too, to know that while Harney has allowed her own husband to benefit financially from the health service, patients lives were put at risk, recruitment was capped and services were being run down.

When you say 'everyone' knows, it's blindingly obvious that the elite 'everyone' you refer to know all about it and that they don't give a damn.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Mon Nov 26, 2007 09:17Report this post to the editors

Brian Geoghegan is not the Minister for Health nor is Mary Harney. The real Minister is Greed.

author by Bronterre O'Brienpublication date Mon Nov 26, 2007 17:35Report this post to the editors

Humans are social creatures. The neoliberal, Anglo-American economic philosophy to which Harney adheres destroys society. Harney's role model, Thatcher, said that society does not exist. The powerful political, economic pressure to commodify everything destroys society. Privatisation and the 'free market' fetish is unhealthy. Harney has an unhealthy and destructive economic phlosophy.
So the debacle in the health service is not just a question of administration and management. P.D/F.F
have been in control of the health service for 10 years or more. The HSE is an attempt to shift responsiblity and accountability away from the political process. We know where the buck stops even if Beal Bocht Bertie has stuffed all the dollars in his shoebox.
Harney, imbued with a philosophy which devalues the public sphere,-the 'res publica',-is ill equipped to ensure that the peoples resources are used effectively and efficiently. Harney is using state power to commercialize essential public services, to make health a commodity. Hence the current grotesque scene.
Removing Harney will not be helpful if her successor is also a carrier of the same ideological sickness. The 'Americanization' of public health has not worked very well in the U.S: the infant mortality rate in Harlem is higher than in Cuba.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Mon Nov 26, 2007 18:14Report this post to the editors

A recent report , State of the World's Mothers Report, found that

"the United States has the second worst newborn mortality rate in the developed world. American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway, Save the Children researchers found" This is what the privatised health system that Harney is attempting to foist on us actually delivers. But within the report there lies a staggering fact which highlights the murderous outcomes when a two tier system is added. The report states,

" For African-Americans, the mortality rate is nearly double that of the United States as a whole, with 9.3 deaths per 1,000 births."

If Harney succeeds in her objective to privatise, the above observation regarding African-Americans, will apply to those here that cannot afford private health insurance.

author by Scepticpublication date Mon Nov 26, 2007 20:49Report this post to the editors

"They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people . . ."

Mrs Thatcher was right in the sense that all costs and all benefits accrue to individuals. That is clearly what she meant by denying the existence of society. If people claim that society ought to compensate them for some misfortune ("cast their problem on society") then, though the government might arrange this compensation, it cannot provide it. The cost must ultimately fall on individual men and women, usually through taxation. It is not surprising that leftwingers should wish to obscure this simple fact with grandiose talk of society. A sensible case can be made for some redistribution of wealth. Since a pound is worth more to a pauper than to a millionaire, transferring money from the latter to the former increases aggregate wealth. But this argument is not agreeable to leftwing politicians. For, if maximising wealth were the goal, we would need to take seriously the anti-work and anti-investment incentives created by such transfers.

On the health statistics the Cuban ones are not independently attested nor is their methodology or coverage transparent and the information process in its entirety is controlled by the ruling party so we have to be quite sceptical about them especially the making of comparisons. One of the main factors which drives up natal mortality is the age of the mother at birth and this is a lot higher in the US than in less developed places. The standards in American public hospitals are very high and people about to give birth are not turned away. There is large immigrant and transient community and factors affecting the mortality rates include the lifestyle of the mother to be and her participation in a supervised pre natal medical programmes and the like. Not all of these matters can be controlled by public health authorities let alone enforced. It is different in Norway for example where the native population is very settled and is very reachable. Still even there are higher death rates among immigrants from the Middle East despite the world class standards. One has to be wary about reaching sensational conclusions unless all factors are considered. It is not so simple as it seems.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Mon Nov 26, 2007 21:01Report this post to the editors

"One of the main factors which drives up natal mortality is the age of the mother at birth and this is a lot higher in the US than in less developed places. "

Like UK, Ireland, Norway, Japan and a few other "less developed places"
Regarding the neo-con view of society, just a single point, all wealth is generated by society. No one can accumalate wealth in the absence of society.

author by Scepticpublication date Mon Nov 26, 2007 21:16Report this post to the editors

The comparator you gave for the US was Cuba.

Thatcher was not a neocon nor did she deny the value of society in terms of the collective of the people and community. She was countering a tendency to employ the term "society" to deliberately overlook and ignore the cost and disincentive of large-scale socially distributive programmes. Ultimate costs have to be borne by others in society and these are also individuals and there is a maximum that can be afforded without risking undermining the economic base. That was her point. The British economy was in very serious decline when she took over in 1979 partly if not mainly as a result of ignoring such considerations. By almost every index it was in much better shape after her.

author by Scepticpublication date Mon Nov 26, 2007 21:23Report this post to the editors

Sorry it was not you that mentioned Cuba. The US rate is higher than other developed states but the other factors instanced are relevant.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Tue Nov 27, 2007 08:35Report this post to the editors

The reasons that you give for the very high infant mortality rate in the US do not stand up. The figures given are averages and reflect the society from which they come. You attempt to isolate people by ethnicity and suggest that their "life style" is the problem. That is straight from the handbook of Victorian values and indeed may even be racist given the context. The cause is lack of access to quality health care by a large swathe of the US population. It is primarily access to medical care and supervision that drives down infant mortality rates and providing access to this necessary care immediately brings infant mortality rates down regardless of all other circumstances

Your Thatcher quote probably best explains the shallowness of your view. You are clearly stuck in the Victorian value system that was espoused essentially by wealthy people trying to justify their position. It was very convenient to sell the line that riches abounded and all that was required was for the individual to reach out and take them. Thatcher’s quote was simply the extension of that line as poverty in Britain was becoming very visible again and it was necessary to preach that the division of the available wealth which was resulting in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer was a natural state arrived only by the fact that the wealthy were "hard working" and therefore more deserving. Poverty was essentially brought on by the individuals sloth. A very narrow view of things and it must be said if taken to it's logically end, will ensure that the society run on such a basis will eventually end in violence. In a dog eat dog environment, it is the biggest dog that wins.

In any event the quote does not stand up to a literal dissection. The fact is that people do work in groups and a society composed entirely of individuals would never be able to create the infrastructure that is the foundation on which humankind has progressed. Thatcher’s view is nothing more than a crude survivalist's wet dream, filled with the strongest grabbing whatever they wish and everyone else desperately trying to hang on to what they have. Conflict in perpetuity. One of Thatcher’s heroes was Henry Ward Beecher, a sectarian bigot, and the Thatcher comment is a modern verbalising of his basic tenet,

"If men have not enough it is from want of provident care, and foresight, and industry and frugality. No man in this land suffers from poverty unless it be more than his fault - unless it be his sin"

When making this statement Beecher was attempting to excuse the appalling poverty and horrendous treatment that was handed out to the Irish fleeing the famine. It was greed seeking a comfort zone yet Thatcher allowed it to inform vital social policies that brought great hardship on many within Britian during her tenure. Like all aristocrats, she strutted around with a perfumed hanky under her nose to hide the stench.

The belief that success reveals virtue and failure the opposite is a Victorian myth which can be associated with emerging Protestant thinking and, consequentially, with nascent capitalism. One flowed from the other. It is not surprising that it continues to have adherents in modern times simply because greed is a powerful motivator and accordingly it is capable of having a very harmful effect on all it touches. Also like many myths it contains a strong strand of truth: that our merits and abilities help determine our success in life. This is clearly not true yet it seems plausible and is easy to espouse. It also encourages criticism of perceived failure and self-satisfaction on success - not only are the poor poor, they are also bad and deserving of no better. The rich on the other hand are hard working and therefore deserving and have no obligation to their fellows regardless of their plight. As pointed out to you before, slavery was also excused by the same tactic of demeaning the slave to the point where he was obviously responsible for his own condition. This division and apportioning of blame allows the wealthy to behave as they wish with every "sin" they commit being excused by their hardworking ethos. Cold shower in the morning was the order of the day and excused every indiscretion.

A classic example of this, if you wish to look further than Thatcher’s remarks, is Rockerfeller the senior. He was a devout Baptist and was a great espouser of the rich deserve what they have and equally the poor deserve their lot. He was obviously a little more sensitive to the glaring inequity that surrounded him because he added that his wealth was also "a sign of divine favour". For those that are familiar with the story of how he came to his money, this never fails to cause a load chuckle. Standard Oil is a good place to start.

author by Aragonpublication date Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:02Report this post to the editors

FF TDs have been threatened with expulsion if they do not support Mary Harney in the confidence motion tomorrow:


One patient says the fault lies with health service management - not the medics:


author by Scepticpublication date Tue Nov 27, 2007 21:16Report this post to the editors

The wealth to distribute must be created before it is distributed and if the tax burden on the productive sectors of the economy to finance it becomes too large the economic base will shrink and the polity as a whole will go into an economic decline, including those who rely on the welfare net. In Britain the insights of Smith and Hayek were taken up by Keith Joseph and others in the circumstances of the decline of the British economy in the 1970s and championed by the Thatcher administrations from 1979. The result was the UK moving from being the sick man of Europe to an economic leading position while at the same time safeguarding the essentials of the welfare state. The ROI was in a similar position in the 1980s until some of these ideas were tried here championed by the PDs mainly but then by others until the economy turned around. The points I was making about infant morality and outcome have nothing to do with racism. It is well evidenced that other things being equal lifestyle issues such as narcotics abuse, use of alcohol and smoking in pregnancy will adversely affect outcomes in these circumstances. Large migratory patterns from poorer countries also play their part. Many migrants come to the US to give birth in public hospitals there because the treatment is free; the outcomes are better than in their own countries of origin and the authorities will not chase illegal migrants who are patients in hospitals.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:13Report this post to the editors

There is a Chinese proverb that loosely translates," if you allow a person to talk long enough, it only requires that you listen and the true person will eventually emerge". We are near that point with poster Sceptic.

"The wealth to distribute must be created before it is distributed and if the tax burden on the productive sectors of the economy to finance it becomes too large the economic base will shrink and the polity as a whole will go into an economic decline, including those who rely on the welfare net."

All wealth is created by the needs of the collective. Without formal society, wealth is valueless. A producer of anything requires buyers to turn product into wealth. So for wealth to have value depends on the presence of a collective and accordingly must be used for the benefit of the collective and not individuals. Civilisation requires that the economy serves the populous and not the other way around. Individual wealth creation is not the primary objective of humans living in a collective. The initial impetus to co-operate was survival which developed to the stage where individuals became free to practice particular skills to a higher level in the interests of the collective. To sustain this complex relationship, it is essential to ensure that all benefit from the arrangement and as a fundamental principle all are regarded as equal regardless of their different and varying skills and talents. It is important to remember that a surgical operation cannot proceed if any member of the team is absent. The most brilliant brain surgeon cannot function in isolation.
To sustain a stable collective the aim therefore is to create fairness and balance, PD ideology seeks to create the opposite. The greater the imbalance the more dysfunctional society becomes. Violence and crime escalate and essentially large numbers of individuals are indirectly withdrawing there consent to be part of a collective on the basis that they perceive that they are being used to create wealth for others and are not sharing in the collective spoils to any fair extent. A good example that will give an indication of the state of balance achieved is the prison population as compared to their spending priorities.

US has 660 inmates per 100,000 and spends 14% GDP on welfare
Sweden has only 60 inmates per 100,000 with a welfare spend of 31%GDP
Other countries with relatively high welfare spends also indicate low prison populations.

"In Britain the insights of Smith and Hayek were taken up by Keith Joseph and others in the circumstances of the decline of the British economy in the 1970s and championed by the Thatcher administrations from 1979. The result was the UK moving from being the sick man of Europe to an economic leading position while at the same time safeguarding the essentials of the welfare state."

This of course is a contradiction and figures indicate that since the Thatcher era, welfare spending has been static and it is worth noting that Britain has now climbed to 4th in the prison population rankings. Britain is progressively reaping the rewards of allowing the "Greed is Good" ideology taking hold. And this is not surprising. The first controversy created by Joseph was the speech in which he put forward the notion that "poor, single girls" should not be allowed to procreate. He proposed forced contraception. Following the initial outburst, he fine tuned his remarks by stating that he was "only referring to ethnic minorities" This of course is racist and what is particularly interesting about this is that "single mothers" were also the first targets of the PD's. ( And it may be worth revisiting McDowell’s ideas on immigrants) The ideas that Joseph was expounding were also alarmingly close to the Nazi doctrines associated with their "procreation control of undesirables" What could be reasonably concluded from this is that the "Greed is Good" ideology is essentially Nazism without the uniforms.

"The points I was making about infant morality and outcome have nothing to do with racism. It is well evidenced that other things being equal lifestyle issues such as narcotics abuse, use of alcohol and smoking in pregnancy will adversely affect outcomes in these circumstances. Large migratory patterns from poorer countries also play their part. Many migrants come to the US to give birth in public hospitals there because the treatment is free; the outcomes are better than in their own countries of origin and the authorities will not chase illegal migrants who are patients in hospitals."

This statement is racist. You replied to my fact that the minority community has twice the infant mortality rate as the white community. This is because poverty is concentrated in this community and the reason for the high death rates is the discrimination they suffer which includes difficulty of access to proper medical care during pregnancy. Blaming victims is gross, however such tactics are found in the thoughts of Thatcher, Bush, Joseph and Hitler.

author by Scepticpublication date Wed Nov 28, 2007 20:56Report this post to the editors

Nobody is saying that formal society does not exist or should be
abolished. That is absurdity brought in by you. As Adam Smith
described the self-interest of the baker or other producer dictates
that he must produce what other people want. Nor is anyone arguing
that there should not be taxation to distribute wealth from those who
produce it to those who do not. It is to do with the scale of taxation
and what do when things go wrong. The issue which faced the UK in 1979
or ROI in 1987 was this: the weight of taxation was such that it was
undermining production and therefore the wealth transfer mechanism and
the economy in general. That taxation can be a disincentive to
production is not a new insight – it has always been known. But
national indebtedness and economic crises and paralysis signalled that
some adjustment in taxation or spending levels was called for. In the
UK the incoming conservative government in 1979 followed a path of
economic reform to address and turn around a decades long pattern of
economic decline that many thought irreversible. The reforms have very
largely been enduring – each PM since Thatcher has left the basic
labour and capital market reforms in place – Major, Blair and Brown.
The intellectual argument which was notably retailed by Keith Joseph
in the 1970s has become orthodoxy. What is your economic philosophy or
who is your mentor or thinker? You seem to be describing some vague
utopian notion from a short lived 1960s hippy commune or some such. At
any rate it seems to me not to have any real world relevance.

It is interesting the fallacies you introduce – ad hominem on me,
Joseph, Thatcher, Bush. Then there is our early and predictable invocation yet
again, as in almost every topic you address, of the "Reductio ad
Hitlerum" fallacy. Can't you stay on topic without breaching
Goodwin's Law the whole time?

As for red herrings you grossly and deliberately misrepresent Joseph
who was not only not a Nazi but fought them in person in Italy during
his wartime service. In that he did infinitely more than the likes of
you will ever do to counter Nazism and put his own life at risk. So I
am not sure how fitting it is that you should defame him so. Your idea
of personal sacrifice is probably to take a bus to Mayo and throw
stones at the guards down there. Moreover it is a hideous libel to
attach to a very humane man who was also an observant Jew. Joseph
himself was the first to realize that he had made a very unwise choice
of words at Edgbaston and that it could be construed in the wrong way.
He was concerned about young lone parents with no prospects and that
social policy was driving their choices in this direction with a risk
of a second lost generation coming into being unless policy was
modified. He ought not to have gone on to talk about social capital
but in any event this was one speech out of thousands and you are
merely picking on it to slur Joseph's overall message with the ad
Hiterlum fallacy. Joseph did bravely take his message about reform to
numerous hostile audiences because he felt so strongly about the need
for reform and the direction the UK was going. In this he was much
respected by his opponents like Tony Crosland and the New Statesman
for instance and Jim Callaghan was prepared to run with some of his
ideas. Joseph was also a moral philosopher as well as an economic
thinker. In this he was similar to Adam Smith was a moral philosopher
before he was an economist.
The other stuff about prisons is just more red herrings and the false
conflations of your own amateur sociology which need not detain us

Related Link: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/archive/displaydocument...01830
author by Aragonpublication date Thu Nov 29, 2007 09:22Report this post to the editors

You speak of the conclusions drawn by Thatcher in the late seventies as if they were self-evident truths. Well they may be to you but not to most other people and certainly not to the majority who are adversely affected by them. What the late seventies proved, if they proved anything, is that top down government is a total failure and allways will be. Everything Thatcher and her Blairite disciples have done subsequently has emphasised this. We are on the brink of WW3 and the planet is heading for enviornmental catastrophe. The notion of the 'wealth creators' as you put it is a total myth and a pernicious one too. There are finite resources on this planet - enough for everybody to live safely and healthily if things are managed equitably. The 'wealth creators' are a bunch of violent and ruthless parasites whose primary objective is to prevent as many people as possible from having any control over the resources they need in order to survive. Grassroots democracy is what is needed and this realisation is dawning on more and more people the world over. Disgusted by the greed and bloodshed caused by the tiny political class as exemplified by the Progressive Democrats, the poor and dispossessed of the world are sooner or later going to tell the likes of you to fuck off.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Thu Nov 29, 2007 09:35Report this post to the editors

As usual Sceptic lacks the guts to support your rightwing ideas when challenged. Like Harney is now trying to do as she pulls out all the stops to try to save her neck, the ploy of claiming that you are being misunderstood is played.

This is the direct quote from the Joseph speech,

" The balance of our population, our human stock is threatened. A recent article in Poverty, published by the Child Poverty Action Group, showed that a high and rising proportion of children are being born to mothers least fitted to bring children into the world and bring them up. They are born to mothers who were first pregnant in adolescence in social classes 4 and 5. Many of these girls are unmarried, many are deserted or divorced or soon will be. Some are of low intelligence, most of low educational attainment. They are unlikely to be able to give children the stable emotional background, the consistent combination of love and firmness which are more important than riches. They are producing problem children, the future unmarried mothers, delinquents, denizens of our borstals, sub-normal educational establishments, prisons, hostels for drifters."

This is appalling stuff and filled with the disdain for certain people that can be found all over Nazi publications and pamphlets. Image the impact on the self confidence of a young mother having being described and pigeonholed by this brute. And this stuff gave cause to the boneheaded thugs that attach themselves to extreme right wing elements and following this outburst there were many complaints of young mothers being confronted and abused on the streets. Echoes of Berlin 1936. This stuff stems directly from the moneyed as they baulk against any attempts at re-distribution. It is the process of demonising the recipients of welfare and has nothing to do with the objective of creating a fair and just society. The logic of this and what Thatcher advocated led directly to the point where she had to deny that society existed at all. It would be a profound nonsense on the one hand to acknowledge that if we pool our resources and skills we would be the better for it while at the same time advocating that individuals can retain all they can grab.
Regarding adherence to the Nazi ideology, it is a well known fact that many of the wealthy within Britain were very sympathetic to Hitler’s ideology.
The fact remains that the success of society relies totally on willing participation. When that breaks down so too will society itself. It is worth noting that this downfall will not occur overnight but will be a drawn out process. Take for example New York city. Such is the disaffection that they require a police force with the capacity to invade small countries to try to control anti-social behaviour. People with wealth do not engage in habitual anti-social behaviour that is why it is valid to conclude that the vast majority of such behaviour is in fact individuals opting out, refusing to abide by the necessary rules that render society workable. It is an undeniable fact that those states that deliberately seek to redistribute the collective wealth as fairly as possible, usually by the provision of vital services free at the point of delivery, have less crime and angst. The comparison of welfare spending to prison population is a legitimate way of establishing the success or otherwise of states in the creation of justice and equity.

And another quote from Joseph spells out his outrage at efforts to have access to universities open to all,

“We know that some universities have been constrained to lower their standards for entrants from comprehensives, discriminating against the more talented [sic] because they come from grammar or independent schools. We see how the demand for absolute equality turns into the new inequality”

It is clear from this that like Hitler, Joseph hated the notion that all are created equal and therefore equally deserving. Maintaining control by the moneyed was done by monopolising education. Knowledge used to control others rather than to create a better place for all. What must be borne in mind is that Harney and friends are greatly influenced by this fruit and nut case.

Enough said.

author by Scepticpublication date Thu Nov 29, 2007 19:20Report this post to the editors

I don’t. There are very few self evident truths in economics if any but the reform programme adopted in the UK in 1979 had the virtues of having been approved by the electorate, having worked as effectively as was promised by its promoters and have fundamentally endured. They are the marks of success and there is little point in the reflexive demonization of Thatcher personally over them. One could wish for a revolution or an alternative economic and political system but this is the divide between fringe politics which has nothing to do with the practical politics of having a programme for Government adopted in a democracy and Thatcher was a practical real world politician. Various SWP types and bed-sit anarchists of various hues are anything but.

It is not clear what this assertion relates to. Thatcher’s government was no more top down than Atlee’s. Democratic government is representative and accountable and hence is bottom up. The Government can be put out by the people if the people are unhappy with it. This is one of the essentials of democracy, if not the main one.

WEALTH CREATION is not my term and it could easily be called something else. However it is wealth or whatever you wish to call it that you need to pay for social services and all the other desirable things the State provides and it is raised from a number of sources, economic transformation being one of them. A farmer, humble artisan, a guest house keeper and a factory worker – these are all agents of wealth creation. If say the factory worker faces a marginal tax rate of an average income of over 50% as was the case in Ireland in 1986 he will work less overtime and less wealth will be produced as also happened back then. Hence an economic decline that threatened national solvency. That is the case for adjusting the tax/spending mix in the event of national insolvency looming as it did in the UK in the late 1970s and in Ireland in the mid 1980s. It is the same as budgeting for a household which is the origin of the term economics.

Mr. O’Sullivan has not said yet what economic model he does favour. Enlighten us!

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2007 08:06Report this post to the editors

"Mr. O’Sullivan has not said yet what economic model he does favour. Enlighten us! "

Whichever one produces a fair and just society. Your emphasis is wrong and explains your blind attachment to reagonomics.

author by Brendanpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2007 09:52Report this post to the editors

The 'better the devil ya know' routine is the fall back rhetoric employed by all FF apologists.

'If not Harney, then who?' They ask. As if Harney is some of medical messiah sent from up on high. The answer is simple. Anyone who does not employ Harney’s ideologically driven privatisation initiatives is better in the role of Health Minister than Harney.

Trying to give the impression that Harney is valiant in her efforts in the face of a monumental task is another bullshit line to drum up the innate love of the underdog amongst the Irish. Harney has done nothing and achieved less. Even with billions at her disposal that none of her predecessors had.

Harney is no underdog. Her plans are unfolding as she wishes them to. Which is the destruction of the health Service to expedite the introduction of Private hospitals, for-profit medical institutions and for-profit private health insurance companies and hail them as the saviour of the Health Service through their efficiency and provision of more professional heath care.

That of course is on the proviso that you can afford to pay.

If you can’t, tough shit.

Welcome to Harney Health.

author by Aragonpublication date Fri Nov 30, 2007 17:58Report this post to the editors

Explore it.

author by Scepticpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:31Report this post to the editors


That is nonsense - Harney has done nothing to reduce eligibility or entitlement to public health services. This is unfair criticism. Besides that has nothing to do with the recent cancer stores. What happened in those instances were medical errors – some small percentage of false negatives are inevitable in a mass screening programme. The real problems are a lack of supply of high quality locum doctors to fill posts in dispersed and fragmented regional locations. Harney’s initiatives in the cancer area are designed to address these problems. The other problem is to do with administrative cock-ups at various levels in the HSE which Harney cannot reasonably be blamed for. The likelihood is that things would be worse if the old health board structure were still in place.

Related Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/0412200022...4.htm
author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:40Report this post to the editors

"HSE which Harney cannot reasonably be blamed for."

Who created this monster? And why?

author by Scepticpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 16:04Report this post to the editors

The HSE was a conscious emulation of the British NHS centralized structure. It was legislated for by the Oireachtas on the initiative of Minister Martin following his Health Strategy and the Brennan and Prospectus reports. It is a statutorily independent body. The Minister sets the policy only. Administrative failings are the responsibility if its management.

author by Aragonpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 16:30Report this post to the editors

...which administrative failings should we blame for the fact that HIQA is being advised extensively by the company which the Minister's husband is chairman of? How much Department of Health/public money is being spent in farming out work to his company that is supposed to be the democratic work of government , its agencies and its civil service? To what extent are commercial health industry clients of Geoghegan's MRPA Kinman benefitting from projects awarded to them by the Deparment of Health? Given Minister Harney's role, Brian Geoghegan should have nothing to do with this - it is a massive conflict of interest, as is the fact that so many of the Minister's former PD colleagues are employed at that firm. A marriage of infinite convenience, indeed.

This situaiton is a scandal and there should be a tribunal of inquiry into this matter - as a matter of urgency.

The PDs are revealed to have been a complete fraud about standards in public life. McDowell made it obvious before the election when he backed Ahern but Mary Harney has laid it completely bare.

author by Jim O'Sullivanpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 17:23Report this post to the editors

No wonder we have chaos. Sceptic reveals all,

"The Minister sets the policy only. Administrative failings are the responsibility if its management."

So the highest paid Minister for Health in the world has no responsibility when the people she hires to do a job screw up. Nice work if you can get.

author by Scepticpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 17:37Report this post to the editors

That is the reality of the system. Otherwise you might as well blame the Minister for Transport for a bus crash or the Minister for Energy for a power blackout.

author by Aragonpublication date Sat Dec 01, 2007 18:16Report this post to the editors

Endemic and sytemic failures are a matter for the Minister for Health. We are not talking about one off incidents such as can happen through normal human error - mass misdiagnoses are happening because of an incompetent system in which such a thing is possible. She has capped recruitment in the health service with a direct effect on the level and quality of service. Policy is not separate from administration. Administration is the policy in action.

Harney has been reducing standards of care while claiming to do the opposite. She's throwing millions at 'reform' - if not billions. That is why she needs all those managers - to see her project through - to weight the service in favour of those who are employed to privatise. If it is proven that she she is working to a script written for her by her husband and the vested interests he represents, there should be hell to pay. AT the very least, in the meantime, they should both resign their current positions.

author by JCpublication date Sun Dec 02, 2007 15:36Report this post to the editors

The reality is that Mary Harney has done more than any other Minister for Health in tackling vested interests in the health system, some examples being:

Medical Consultants


Harney is attempting to get a better deal for public patients by proposing a new contract for consultants. Naturally, the consultants, all 2000 of whom are among the best-paid people in the country, are up in arms threatening industrial action. So much for democracy.

Pharmacists & Drug Wholesalers


The pharmacists & drug wholesalers, who have done very well out of the HSE, thank you very much, are now up in arms because the margins being paid to them are to be reduced from 17% to 8%, the European average, following years of private individuals & the HSE overpaying for prescription medications. Instead of planning for more efficiency and cost-reductions in their operations from this inevitable change, they've targeted one of the most vulnerable groups in society, heroin addicts, by refusing to dispense methadone. How humane of them to put their profits before peoples lives.

Local-Interest groups


The very people who are now blaming Mary Harney for misdiagnoses in Port Laoise and elsewhere are the same people who can be seen marching with their banners when their local hospital is threatened under the Centres Of Excellence model. We can't have it both ways. It's simply not feasible to provide CAT scanners, Mammography and consultative expertise in every small town in Ireland. Local vested-interests, including health workers, consultants and TDs, must surely now put peoples lives before their own interests and that of their locality. Let's all unite behind a rapid and efficient rollout of the recommended COE model and reap the benefit of a better standard of public health for all.

I think the debate has been too focused on idealogical battles on public vs. private, socialist vs. capitalist. No ideology is correct where it is not tempered with common sense and pragmatism. If you're of a socialist bent, you should be pushing for reform of the public health service in order for it to offer private alternatives a run for their money. If you're of the capitalist persuasion, then you should look at the shambles of the US healthcare system to see the pitfalls of the private approach before pushing for privatisation.

Mary Harney has done a good job so far and I hope her plans come to fruition so that we can have a public health system which is free at the point of access and in which people of all socio-economic backgrounds can have trust.

author by Aragonpublication date Sun Dec 02, 2007 18:11Report this post to the editors

Mary Harney has done nothing but service the commercial vested interests circling our health service like jackals. A number of them are her husbands clients and her husband's own company is the benficiary of substantial contracts from his wife's ministry. That is a colosssal vested interest and a conflict of interest.

Patients and local communities are NOT vested interests - the patients and their support groups are the people the Minister and her Department are there to serve. They are entitled to express their views about plans for cuts in services dressed up as 'reforms'. They are the ones who are paying for it (and the ministers huge salary too, may I remind you).

The medical staff who provide the services are NOT vested interests - they are the people tasked with saving lives and restoring people to health. The minister has slashed recruitment of frontline medical staff while massively increasing spending on managers and administrators to srip out any concept of equality of service for every patient.

Politicians and any commercial interests they represent or favour ARE vested interests - the only people who stand to gain personally out of all of this - in political and/or commercial favours. Harney and her husband are certainly doing well out of it all.

Authorities established at the recommendation of, and ostensibly run by, private commercial consultants ARE vested interests. The Health Information and Quality Authority is such a body - and it reports to Harney.

Your post is a fairy tale - spin and jargon aimed at disguising the truth of what Harney is doing - deliberately creating an unequal health system - while US companies are subsidised with our money to leave Irish people at a huge disadvantage. It's ruthless, ideological madness.

Harney should resign immediately - her position is a scandal.

author by Micvhelle Clarke - Social Jusice Ethicspublication date Fri Nov 28, 2008 14:39Report this post to the editors

Fas antics, the Hair/Nails whatever other than pure vanity, monetary and power driven.

I scrolled around and found this prediction article by Aragon on the 24th November 07. Title Is Brian Geoghegan the real Minister for Health?

It looks as if the footsoldiers and writers on Indymedia and other sources were reading the signs but no one wanted to listen. They had become to self indulged in their own power, that to answer emails was a nonsense because basically they regarded people with a view as a hindrance to their reign.

We have conflict of interests all over. In England in Corporate dealings in the banks,. you have Chinese Walls and penalties for breach. Not here - oue competition authority is like Swiss Cheese - all holes and no morality or honour.

Has anyone asked certain people, do they feel they are in a Conflict of Interest situation? Did or Does Mary Harney feel she might be in a conflict of interest situation with her Husband Brian Geoghegan at the time he was in IBEC, in the private company MRPA , in his position as Chairman or in the recent appointment to HIQA.......)

I then ask about Ministers married to members of the Judiciary, and in particular the ministerial roles they hold. Is there a conflict here? If not, why not qualify in the interests of what is accountable ethical and Transparent.

Then the antics of a certain solicitor, who had done his time in property related cases, so much so that he built up a confidence that enabled him to persuade the lenders to the ordinary pundits to overlook certain signatures.........this has given rise to massive debt problems permeating the financial system and the legal system for the next number of decades.......Greed and breech of confidence and the people gave in their honour to allow him proceed. So very sad...... We need honour, we need a code of Conduct, we need Auditors to stand for their ethics and not be browbeaten by clients (excellent article in the Financial Times yesterday. It is get real time. We have been bullied by bullies that has a little power and ran riot.

Thomas Hobbes
The representation of power is power

Related Link: http://www.followthemoney.ie
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