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Sickness and health in Ireland

The ‘Studies’ winter issue by Fergus O’Donoghue.


In Sickness and in Health is the theme of our new issue. Our aim is to examine what, in the first article, John Waters describes as “The Health of Irish Society”. So, we look at specific aspects of our Health System: Hospice Care, Parasuicide, the Anti-Smoking Crusade; all of these are highly relevant.

Dr. Patricia Casey, of UCD, looks at Parasuicide (attempted suicide) and its growth in Ireland, when it is declining elsewhere. Dr. Philippe Brillet, a French scholar, wonders why our anti-smoking crusade has not emphasised the dreadful effects that continued smoking has on women’s health. Eugene Murray, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation, gives us the results of a recent report into hospice care and asks why so little has been done since a previous report, nearly five years ago.

The health of a society is broader than medical care, so we look at the universities, public broadcasting, maladministration and corporate health. In a hard-hitting article, William Kingston of TCD examines the extraordinary amount of money wasted in the public service, especially in cost overruns and the unnecessary employment of very expensive consultants. He finds a lack of accountability in many areas of our civil service and our civic life.

David Limond, also of Trinity College, criticises the commodification of Irish university education, which college administrators are now seeing in purely economic terms. Professor Raymond Kinsella and Rev. John McNerney, both of the Smurfit Graduate School of Business at UCD, look at what happens to large corporations when profit becomes the sole criterion of success and at the moral decay and fraud which results.

We take public broadcasting for granted, even if we moan at the cost of the licence fee, but Bob Collins, former Director General of RTE, looks at the challenges facing public broadcasting and the necessity of supporting it, rather than leaving it at the mercy of market forces, because it is a fundamental part of our culture.

John Waters gives an remarkable summary of our national health, saying that, given our remaining traditional values and our new prosperity, we are now in a state of optimum national well being. He is not so sanguine about the future health of our society.