DON’T FORGET THE HOSPITAL!

13 April 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Although no longer the focus of high visibility intensity of campaigning or high volume public concern, the issue of Monaghan General Hospital is still one of great importance to our county.
As can be interpreted from our coverage of local authority proceedings, the hospital issue still figures regularly for discussion in the chambers of Monaghan Co and Town Councils.
The failure for significant service improvements there to manifest despite an expectation cultivated in some quarters that this would be so following a change of government is still a sore point for local politicians.
Fine Gael representatives are tasting some of the bite of the scourge they themselves wielded against Fianna Fáil for the hospital’s woes – and while some reciprocation of the invective was to be expected, and is understandable, political points scoring remains, as it has always been, an impotent instrument with which to effect any meaningful change in the facility’s fortunes.
Much more potentially effective, if advanced forcefully and consistently with cross-party and community support, is the proposal articulated by FF’s Robbie Gallagher in the columns of this newspaper last week, and backed by his Co Council colleagues on the Regional Health Forum Brian McKenna of Sinn Féin and David Maxwell of FG, for the hospital to be given serious consideration by the Health Service Executive as the location for a primary care unit.
The location of such a unit here was one of the promises made by the HSE at the time of significant service denudation at the Monaghan Hospital site – and in fairness it does seem that substantial efforts have been made to find a suitable location in the area for it.
These have not, however, borne much fruit, and it now appears the process has been hauled back to somewhere near the starting blocks.
The proposal that the hospital itself should serve as the location for such a unit is therefore not only timely but also possessed of patent good sense, not least from the point of view of economics, which now appears the governing principle of HSE decision-making.
Something of a gauntlet was thrown down by FG member Hugh McElvaney at the last meeting of Monaghan Co Council to the body’s three HSE representatives when he told them, “It’s up to you lads to continue to fight for these services in Monaghan.”
Their successful advocacy of a primary care unit located at our hospital would go a long way to meeting this challenge – but Colr McElvaney will not need telling that the Forum trio will not accomplish this objectives by the sweat of their own brows alone.
It will take a strong and sustained surge of friendly persuasion to push the HSE decision-makers in this direction for, despite the many positives attaching to the proposal, it would represent an elevation in the status of the Monaghan hospital site that has heretofore seemed inimical to the executive of that body.
Higher level political activity in the interest of the idea seems necessary – and the proposal opens up a fresh opportunity for Minister for Health Dr James Reilly to be persuaded of the merits of once again directly engaging with local public representatives and campaigners on the hospital issue.
The primary care unit proposal for the hospital is one that should be brought directly to the Minister’s door by TDs Sean Conlan and Heather Humphreys – and the door left ajar for a Monaghan delegation to lend their voice to the argument.

REMEMBERING THE TITANIC
The multiplicity of publications and events attendant to the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic reach their zenith in the next week as the anniversary date of April 15 comes upon us.
There is no shortage of reasons to explain the fascination that this historical event continues to exercise for us.
The human scale of the tragedy, in which 1,522 people lost their lives, is sufficient for it to merit dignified and solemn commemoration even at a point in time when virtually all the living links with it have passed away.
There is much in the modern world to make the story of the Titanic seem in one sense a remote tale of a vanished time – the instantaneous nature of information transmission we enjoy brings the immediacy of the human suffering wrought by natural disasters and large-scale accidents very powerfully home to us in a way that was beyond the imagination of those who waited anxiously in 1912 for word of the liner’s fate.
But the modern news media has also made us so familiar with the realities of such tragedies as they unfold that it is a comparatively easy imaginative exercise to conjure up the anguish and confusion of the events that attended the great ship’s demise, even if we have to sweep away a romantic patina created by the conventions of popular culture to do so with emotional accuracy.
The Titanic’s narrative runs deeper than the adventure story terms in which it has usually been dramatised, with its clear-cut lines of heroism and cowardice, salvation and sacrifice.
It at once embodies its age – one emboldened by technological advance and rigid in its class strata – and offers much relevant food for thought for current times, when the proper balance between science, commerce and human well-being seems equally precarious to achieve.
In the seeds of the Titanic’s doom were contained a vainglorious confidence in the belief that human accomplishment had reached a stage where it could conquer all the natural limits of the world – there is an abiding lesson in such a folly.
But the ship was also a magnificent feat of engineering, an undoubted wonder of the world and a poignant symbol for the hopes invested in a 20th century that were to be ground underfoot on the battlefields of two world wars.
There are of course very deep Irish connections with the Titanic story, stretching from the Belfast shipyards where it was constructed to the dockside at Cobh from which it embarked to meet its destiny, and taking in many communities – such as our own Clones – which have connections with those who perished or those who were saved.
It is appropriate then that we in this county, and country, enter into the worldwide remembrance taking place at this time of one of the defining events of the modern epoch.

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