End of stalemate as new health minister calls for cross party unity
IT took our politicians only marginally less time to form a government than it took Willy Fog to travel around the world. After 70 days of deliberations – at times bordering on the absurd after weeks of stalemate over water and other disparate issues – the nation finally has a government. On Friday afternoon, a re-jigged conglomeration of personnel, with a splashing of new and familiar faces, was presented before a fatigued electorate.
But there will be no honeymoon for this marriage of political convenience as this was an election that started in spring, ended in summer and involved much posturing and many dance-offs along the way.
As the ministerial posts were handed out on Friday evening, the Shakespearian phrase, ‘ heavy is the head that wears the crown’ came to mind as 29-year-old Simon Harris was entrusted with the hapless Health portfolio. Yet, positivity is a worthy riposte and Minister Harris was first out of the blocks, calling for a cross-party committee to implement a 10-year health plan, regardless of who is in power.
Some might claim Harris’ move in offering the poison chalice of Health for everyone to take a sip, is something straight out of the Machiavellian school of thought. However, his calls for a unified health strategy make sense when weighed against the nonsensical treatment of Health in the past.
Harris rightly states: “Every time there’s a change we’re starting from scratch…we need a 10-year plan that has cross-party political consensus”. Therefore, the new Health Minister’s first pitch is a positive, bold and sensible one, a call that cuts through the political posturing and grandstanding of the past 70 days.
It also takes the heat off former Health Minister Leo Varadkar who last month had the unenviable task of announcing the ‘ temporary’ transfer of funds from mental health services to other areas.
Health is an essential and core component of any civilisation and it’s time it was given a real solution rather than a political one. A two-tier system where health solutions are contingent on one’s earnings is a shameful indictment of a society’s claim to moral and ethical suitability.
Minister Harris’ call for a united front on health is given greater clarity when the many topics that held up progress over the past 70 days are taken into consideration.
Are water charges really the equal of health, housing and job creation? Should turf cutting be the final obstacle to a government’s formation?
The answers lie within each of us as individuals but, as of now, Simon Harris’ intervention could be considered a return to reason.
We need to understand that when we cast our vote, TDs become more than just the purveyors of disparate issues. They must, invariably, become delegates of the national over the parochial. Simon Harris is the first TD of the 32nd Dáil to do this.
Let’s hope more follow his lead.