A brand new E30 million surgical unit is lying idle in Clonmel hospital because the government won't release E2 million for staffing. A second hospital in Mayo also cannot open a new E10 million operating theatre because the state will not sanction the staff to run it. Yet there is no shortage of money for grants to the Punchestown race course owners.
When the poor cheat the system it is called "fraud". When the rich cheat the system it is called "tax avoidance". When extremely rich bankers cheat the syatem they have "tax issues". Guess which group is most likely to see the inside of a jail cell?
Despite a solemn pledge in 2002 by Fianna Fail that hospital waiting lists would be abolished within two years, they haven't been. In fact there are now an additional 2,000 people waiting for treatment.
Between 1989 and 1999 the rates for all causes of premature deaths were over three times higher among the lower paid than among the ruling class, and the incidence of chronic physical illness has been found to be 2.5 times higher for the poor than for the wealthy. Figures come from research by the Public Health Alliance of Ireland.
According to investment bank Merrill Lynch, there are 15,000 individuals in Ireland who own more than E1 million. This does not include any real esatate they might have and needless to say it also doesn't include all their extra cash salted away in offshore bank accounts and 'single premium' policies.
Between them, this 0.4% of the population are worth E43 billion and effectively control the country. And some people don't believe that we have a ëruling' class!
This edition is No82 published in September 2004