August 2012        

Attacking the sick and the elderly

The recent scandal surrounding the minister for health, Dr James Reilly, brings to mind the corruption surrounding Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Labour Party.
     During the recent general election all the parties accused each other of large-scale corruption. Each party was worse than the other. Fine Gael claimed to be cleaner than clean.
     Reilly is known to be loaded. His official residence is Loughton House in Moneygall, Co. Offaly. This is a thirteen-bedroom house on 150 acres. It cost him €2 million in 2002; his wife is officially the owner of the house, while he claims to be owner only of the land. He also owns several extremely valuable properties, including a complex in Lusk, sites at Stamullen and Balrothery, and a holiday home at Doonbeg golf-course in Co. Clare.
     Reilly has an attitude typical of the middle classes. His class position decides his actions towards the poor; and he is surrounded by highly paid sycophants who advise him in the management of the health service.
     As minister for health he proposes cutting nine hundred community beds for elderly patients this year. And now it has been revealed that he himself is a stakeholder in a private residential home.
     With several others, Reilly became a stakeholder in the Greenhills Nursing Home in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary. Last February he and four others were ordered by the High Court to buy the home for €1.9 million. They never paid the debt.
     As Reilly clings to his nursing-home, his properties, and his wealth, he continues to take decisions that enrich the providers of private health services. As a nursing-home owner he enriches himself and his mates by his own official decisions. We now have a situation where the care of our elderly people is seen as a commercial opportunity for profit-making through speculative investments by bankers and speculators.
     That a minister should be involved in developing a commercial nursing-home, particularly at a time when the Government of which he is a member is savagely cutting down the health service as part of the general policy dictated by the “Troika,” is a disgrace. This is a consequence of the decision to bail out bankers and speculators and to place the burden on the backs of the Irish people. This has resulted in growing pressure for the privatisation of care for the elderly.
     This move to austerity and privatisation means more wealth for the rich and increasing poverty for the poor. It is the class war in classic form, where the rich wage war on the poor.
     We need to deepen our resistance to the Reillys of this world and their austerity policies. This can only be done by strengthening the communist challenge.

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