By the time you read this, you may be interrupted by a knock on the door from a local TD pitching for your vote. Like suitors in the throes of passion, we are hearing the usual range of wildly ambitious promises from the politicians sweating for their seats and promising the sun, moon and stars.
There are a number of current issues that are a disgrace to our little island — the homelessness crisis is a scandal and should be treated as an emergency. Likewise, property/rent prices are scandalously high. I’m sure the fact that many members of Dáil Eireann are landlords has nothing whatsoever to do with that.
By 2028, people who want to retire and don’t have a private pension will have to wait until age 68 to qualify for a modest income. Sixty-eight! Our ageing population has created a pension time-bomb for Government. Their solution? Keep putting the retirement age up. Instead of looking after older people who have contributed to society their whole lives, the asshats who made this decision are throwing them on the scrapheap. Another disgrace.
And then of course, there’s the health system. As it goes tumbling from one crisis to another, instead of overhauling it and actually looking at inefficiency in health expenditure and top-heavy administration and bureaucracy, the powers-that-be are using the sticking-plaster solution of dumping as much of the burden onto primary care as they can get away with. One must have some sympathy with GPs in this regard. But as a consequence, there is no option but to expand the role of pharmacists to help shore-up a creaking primary care system. Good work has been done to make policy-makers aware of the potential for community pharmacy, but let’s not kid ourselves — if there had been no primary care crisis, the policy-makers may not have been so receptive. On the plus side, that means that pharmacy will at some point have the Department of Health over a barrel. And they wanted to impose further fee cuts — you couldn’t make it up.
It’s not a case of ‘where to begin’, but rather where to end when it comes to the challenges we face as a nation because of the combination of incompetence and arrogance of politicians past and present — trolleys, waiting lists, the outrageous and unregulated cost of childcare, legalised extortion in the insurance market, a dysfunctional and haphazard public transport system. Each of these is worthy of a column or editorial on its own. The latest figures show there are 6,696 adults and 3,752 children currently homeless in Ireland. The founding fathers of our little nation are turning in their graves and really, we should be getting the yellow vests out on the basis of this and all of the above.
I freely admit my cynicism, but it is borne out of experience. Taking the above broad-brush issues into account — and as you know, there are many more — make no mistake, no matter what we are promised, we are destined to spend another four years fire-fighting. Once the votes have been cast, our political representatives will again fade into the background.
Obviously, there are some Irish politicians who actually give a damn, but bitter experience should have demonstrated to us that this selfless minority are voices in the wilderness. The real power lies elsewhere and increasingly, our main political parties seem to blend into each other to the point of becoming indistinguishable, apart from some window-dressing and different logos.
The upcoming election is one of the few times TDs will listen and take us seriously, temporarily at least. Take advantage of that — when the doorbell rings, give ‘em hell.