© Sarah O’Regan
You Up Yet Leo?
In these times of elitist politics and feigned democracy, I often find myself wondering what would the heroes of 1916 think of the Ireland in which we live in today?
Did they truly fight and die for this? Yes, the class rule of British oppression has been abolished, however those seats seemed to be have been filled instead by the self righteous politician. The politician who is out wholly for their own agenda and views the ordinary citizen as insignificant, savage, slow witted and lazy.
Now, perhaps few, except Joan Burton, are so willing to vocalise their true feeling towards the people they're supposed to serve, however, actions speak louder than words.
Let's take, in my opinion, the most scandalous and underhanded political event in recent times, the last general election. Literally, not one single vote that we cast as a nation counted. Let me reiterate that, YOUR VOTE DIDN'T MATTER. Despite the fact that Fine Gael DID NOT gain a majority vote, astoundingly, they retained power and Enda hung on in there. I'm baffled, I was under the impression that Collins, Connolly, De Valera, Clarke, MacDonagh, Pearse, Markievicz, had all fought for a democratic Ireland. I believed that they had fought for equality, for a free Ireland, their aim was to dismantle the class divide, not to merely pass it onto the sanctimonious and out-of-touch politician.
So now, regardless of the fact that the majority of the country DID NOT want FG to lead us, we have come to a point, where two pompous shysters within the party have the audacity to consider themselves for the role as our Taoiseach. Neither of them deserve to lead the Irish, not just based on the fact that their party lost the last election but based on their own personal merits and moral values. Neither has the capacity to understand the needs, goals and fears of the ordinary Irish citizen and neither wants to be named Taoiseach for the sake of the welfare of the Irish people but rather, merely for the superficial title and, more importantly, the expansive pay packet and pension which comes with it.
Two in the same, Giant Douche or Turd Sandwich, who will it be? On one hand, we have Varadkar and on the other, Coveney and sometimes, I can't tell them apart; Each resonate with a stagnant stench of arrogance and both fail to recognise the rights, priorities and requirements of the man who isn't raking in €100K + a year.
However, Varadkar is the more dangerous of the two. With Coveney, you pretty much get what you see. His lack of empathy and evasive nature is evident throughout any debate, Varadkar, however has a certain charm and eloquence about him, which profusely masks a hardened, inflexible, underhanded and hallow demeanour underneath.
I distinctly remember when squeaky clean, cherubesque Leo first razzle dazzled his way onto the political scene. He came out, guns a blazing, bearing as much bravado, smugness and swagger as Yosemite Sam on cocaine; He would triumph where Reilly had failed and bring the HSE up to scratch. It would be a complete overhaul and a defining rung along his climb to Taoiseach.
Predictably, the flashy charmer was full of more talk and self indulgence than a room's worth of Kanye Wests and falling waiting lists began to rise detrimentally high, the trolly crisis escalated, insurance cover soared and many low income earners were still left without medical or GP cards. However, credit where credit's due, he did manage to save the department a tidy €12 million. I know right, it makes you wonder what Reilly was doing the whole time, how could he have not unearthed these savings?! Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be a fan of Reilly but I'll tell you what he didn't do, he didn't cut €12 million from the already measly €35 million budget designated to mental health. Reilly may have been a misguided scapegoat, at the best of times but at least he had some grasp of the importance of mental health, as apposed to butter-wouldn't-melt Leo, who had no qualms in slashing the funding, claiming that it was "necessary as the funding could be better used elsewhere."
We have a serious epidemic of suicide and mental illness plaguing our nation, we are ranked to have the second highest suicide rate in Europe with over 600 deaths a year, admittance to A&E per year for mental illness is around 9,500 people, there are believed to be a further 60,000 people who have gone unreported and most worryingly over half of our youth will experience mental illness by the age of 24... The problem is getting worse... I wonder if it was anything to do with the 30% budget cut?
So the man of the people deems it fitting to cut funding for a preventable, treatable and infesting illness. The man who "represents those who get up early," would rather commandeer sorely needed funds from a sorely needed service, rather than, say, going after the likes of apple?
I take that back, looking at it from the calculating polotician's perspective, he was the best damn Minister for Health that this country has ever known.
After gleaming Leo demolished health care, he moved onto his next campaign as Minister for Social Protection, "Welfare cheats, cheat us all." Essentially he's coming out against social fraud and coming out hard. He's adopting a zero tolerance, no nonsense stance on fraudsters and is requesting the help if the good Irish people to fulfill his campaign. insinuating, that the department of social welfare has recovered a whopping €500m, thanks the ordinary decent citizen, the reality of the figures show that in fact, €92m was lost in overpayment, which counted for .44% of its total expenditure, and that fraudulent claims added up a mere .2%
Leo seems to be inventing some sort of dire and fictional problem. For one, Leo, the majority of people frauding welfare aren't criminal masterminds or lazing do-nothings who are claiming for thousands, or hundreds even, as you seem to be implying. The majority of people who are involved with welfare fraud are in fact, lone parents, young couples trying to support their families, middle aged labourers who don't know when their next job will be, pensioners who struggle to support themselves. Do you really think a retired pensioner wants to work a part-time job in their twilight years? They are left with no choice.
Leo simply just doesn't get it, I mean how could he? There's a whole generation of us young adults, who work our arses off, grind 60, 70, 80 hours a week and we can't afford a mortgage. Leo, never had to worry about his rent, food, medicine, he never panicked when he was a few cent short of the bus fare. privileged and ignorant, through and through.
So Leo, you want to represent those of us who get up early? Then make getting up early worth our while.
© Sarah O’Regan