It’s time to throw out rotten apples

United family: Amelia, Darragh, Vicky and Jim Phelan

Comment and Opinion – By Jimmy Rhatigan

THE HUGE gap that exists between the top and bottom tiers of society in our country is once more highlighted by the tragedy that is the Cervical Cancer Scandal.

We do not say this with any sort of flippancy.

It is bad enough that families should be left to mourn mothers and sisters but as uproar prevails and worried women wait to hear about their cancer diagnoses we are humiliated by debate that is, to say the least, disappointing, even disingenuous.

The latter is disgusting, cruel, rotten too.

That there was an attempt to cover up any possible scandal through a confidentiality clause in a bid to silence court claimant Vicky Phelan adds insult to injury and highlights the mockery of how we ill-treat the females of Ireland.

Today we try to put into perspective the whole sorry spectacle that involves graves that should still be vacant.

Women are hurting, husbands and partners are in pain, mothers and fathers are in agony and siblings fear the worst.

Part of the problem may be that cancer tests for women were farmed out to the US because the cheapest quotation came from that side of the Atlantic. Only time will tell if the cheapest wasn’t the best, or worse still, good enough.

We simply don’t know that and do not want to recklessly wave any brush of tarnish

That we admire and respect the mother of a South Kilkenny family whose courage helped to spill the means is little consolation today as Vicky Phelan, her husband, son and daughter hope and pray for a future together.

There is little point in us offering sympathy to the Phelan family. Mealy mouthed politicians have done that and will continue to indulge in the cynical practice even though they know full well that a terminally ill Vicky was publically crucified by our State.

She was punished through long hours of court hearings and heavy questioning as she fought for her rights in a horrible atmosphere of legal wrangling..

It would appear that there is not even a smidgen of shame and genuine remorse in our political system, even at a time of needless deaths and the possibility of more of the same.

Our public representatives have no problem shoveling out condolences, a horrible exercise that costs them nothing although our State had already spent God only knows how many thousands of Euros in legal and other fees.

There was no problem in splashing the cash, taxpayers’ money, as they fought a good woman in court, belittling her and her family and showing total disrespect for victims of hurt, something that didn’t begin yesterday or the day before.

But to return to our two-tier society.

If a drunk were to fall in our High Street, if a beggar man or woman were to ask for alms, if a mother were to steal a sliced pan or if a reveller were to be nabbed in a pub five minutes after closing time, he or she would feel the full rigors of the law.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, in Dáil Éireann, a house of ill repute when it comes to fair play, we have politicians humming and hawing, talking through the sides of their mouths and through other orifices too, waffling as usual, but, surprise, surprise, saying feck all of real content.

We know that they may be sorry for what happened, we accept that they may have sympathy for families hit by what is possibly the biggest scandal in the history in our country.

But we have to ponder on what part of sorry rankles most with them, is it that so many have been hurt or is it that they were sorry that a horrible bid for a cover up was uncovered.

Those who stole sliced pans or cycled their bikes without lights will more than likely have already been through the courts and fined, heavily enough in some cases.

Yet we find politicians pussyfooting as they make a rather ramshackle attempt to deal with a scandal which some, possibly many, must have known about before Vicky Phelan struck a real blow for the women of Ireland in particular, but also for society in general.

Will heads roll, without bulging wallets and fat pensions, will those who were negligent or simply didn’t do their job feel the full rigors of the law?

We doubt it.

Or will they be protected by what we have to call the wicked golden circle that for generations has ruled the roost at the expense of working class families who simply want to do their best for their children.

Retribution should not be top of the agenda but fair play must also be part of any parcel of plans to ensure that a disgraceful tragedy of this sort will never happen again.

The chances of the latter, sadly, under regime after regime where governments do what they want and not what the electorate wants them to do, is akin to a snowball’s chances of surviving in Hell.

As local public representative, Patrick McKee says in an opinion piece on Page 10 of today’s Reporter, the heart of our establishment is rotten.

We have to agree with him. It is not simply about playing with party politics or indeed about changing personnel, it is about gutting the entire system to put our people first, second and third on any priority list and to ensure that our senior politicians do exactly what they are well paid to do, serve our people.

Following Church, Garda and a string of health scandals, how many more must break before we decide that enough is enough.

We would never encourage our people to take the route of rioting, looting, burning and worse, but we have to say that fat political arses need to be reddened.

The higher echelons of  State bodies like the HSE need to be seriously rehabilitated and held accountable, or even disbanded, not as part of any revenge mission but as an attempt to protect the Irish family of the future.

That the men and woman and Ireland have not already marched on the Dáil to give vent to their feelings, to remind politicians of how we feel, is a real puzzler.

We marched on water rates and won a battle. Can we not do the same now for the sake of our sanity and self-esteem and in solidarity with the women of Ireland?

While the bottoms of politicians may need scolding perhaps our own apathetic backsides could also do with a good kicking.

It has to be time to rid ourselves of rotten apples and to hand over the reins of ruling to those we can trust.