PAT'S PATCH: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Pat McArt speaks his mind on the big topics

Pat McArt


Pat McArt



PAT'S PATCH: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Every week I say to myself I’m not going to have a bash at the government – I’m nearly boring myself at this stage – but then I see something so outrageous that I can’t resist.
Here’s a couple of figures for you that led to me getting royally pissed off on Friday morning after listening to the RTE News: 707,000 people on waiting lists for hospital procedures; 30,000 ‘phantom homes’ that were allegedly built by this government but don’t actually exist; and €200m. needed for back pay for hospital consultants.
What can I say?
Actually, I was going to start by saying our health services are Third World but then I considered that a bit unfair to the Third World. 707,000 people waiting for treatment in 2018 is ridiculous.
The system really is a total shambles.
And the now de rigueur claim by every health minister including this one, Simon Harris, coming into the job that s/he is going to sort it all out once and for all really is wearing thin.
If you are Joe or Josephine Bloggs and don’t have private health insurance you can wait for years to see about your hip replacement or whatever.
You can be in agony, but you’ll have to wait your turn. But if you, Joe or Josephine, have private health insurance — Eureka! You skip right to the top of the queue.
No months or years on waiting lists for you. In this iniquitous system, priority is not necessarily based on need but on the ability to pay. So much for a Christian approach.

And what’s even more corrupt is that these private patients often go to a publicly funded hospital, get seen by a publicly paid consultant and get their procedure done in a building and with equipment bought and paid for by the tax payer.
The knock-on effect, of course, is obvious – the more private patients get treated the fewer public patients get seen. It’s scandalous.
I had to laugh when Sean O’Rourke introduced his RTE radio programme on Friday last by remarking that the government had been including halting sites, mobile homes, retirement homes, holiday villages even farm buildings as proof they were addressing the housing crisis.

Sean O'Rourke, RTE

Now it’s been discovered that the statistics are totally flawed, that 30,000 homes that were said to have been built to address our soaring homelessness problem don’t actually exist.
Seemingly, the method used to compile the figures was based on electricity installations by the ESB, and no one thought to ask if a byre could be counted as a home. How incompetent is that?
And now to jump to another topic — our little country has to find €200 million in back pay for our consultants.
Hard to believe, isn’t it? Hardly the most hard-done-by group in the country in terms of remuneration, are they?
I’m not knocking them but have you been to a consultant lately? Bet you came out €150 or so lighter after your visit. By way of contrast, young teachers and nurses who got totally screwed during the economic crisis are way down the list, seemingly, in terms of pay restoration.

In recent times the narrative from the government has been to play the card that none of this is their fault, that it is sorting out the mess inherited from the last administration. That’s clearly ridiculous.
The party has been in power long enough now that pointing the finger at Fianna Fail or Sinn Fein – a party that has never been in power in the Republic – doesn’t wash.

What makes all this so interesting is that the chances of an election coming real soon are increasing at a rapid rate. Fianna Fail is having massive rumbling amongst the rank and file, people totally pissed off with seeing Leo and the lads soar in the polls while they, who are keeping the current coalition in power, are falling behind. It’s only a matter of time before they decide to pull the plug. Indeed if they decide to support a proposed Sinn Fein motion – it might not happen - in regard to a vote of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, we could be at the polls real soon.
And Sinn Féin are more than happy with how things are going. Why wouldn’t they be? In Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill they have a brand new image which is increasingly attractive to middle Ireland in a way Adams and McGuinness never were.
Bring it on!


Remember before the economic crisis when the newspapers used to have big pull-out property supplements. Someone back in the day called it ‘property porn’, which I thought pretty apt.
Well, they are at it again. I got the Irish Independent one day last week and there it was, a glossy 24-page full colour presentation of houses around Dublin that no one will be able to afford. I’m not a housing expert but it seems to be we have learned little from the last crash.


I have come to the conclusion the more educated we get the less we know. Just recently I watched President Trump’s press secretary host a conference where she gave fake news a whole new meaning. And if you ever watch any of the Israeli press people after they have shot dead any God’s number of unarmed Palestinians you’ll only feel sympathy for the poor IDF soldiers who had to shoot women and children; they were only defending themselves and their country.
Over the years I have ‘shared’ news items that were later found to be either inaccurate or misleading or, even worse, downright untrue.
These days I am a lot more selective, though I’ll still believe anything anyone tells me about Trump on the basis that even if it is a lie it’ll soon prove true.