A deadbeat minister for a deadbeat nation

If James Reilly had been offered the health portfolio anywhere else but Ireland, the course of action available to him would have been clear and simple - either get rid of the interests in private nursing homes and health clinics, or don’t take the job. By Philip O'Connor.

The real problem with James Reilly appearing in Stubbs Gazette is not the fact that he is officially a deadbeat minister in our deadbeat nation.

It is our moral bankruptcy when it comes to his conflict of interest.

Reilly is a man who, as part of the current cabinet, insists that we pay every penny of the debt foisted upon us by his ilk.

Obviously the same doesn’t apply to his private affairs.

He is also charged with slashing spending on the sick, but his bleating, mewling statement to the Dáil about his difficulties with his business dealings and how difficult it was to sell off his assets blithely ignored a simple truth.

It’s very simple, but let’s spell it out – through his investments, Reilly has a vested interest in making private nursing homes work. If he doesn’t he gets even less back on his money.

At the same time and in his role as health minister, he has announced plans to close nursing homes owned by the State because they weren’t economically viable.

Now, what part of “conflict of interest” does he not understand?

Reilly says he came to politics late, but it appears he wasted no time in learning the dark arts as practiced in Ireland.

If he were offered the portfolio anywhere else but our beloved gombeenocracy, the courses of action available to him when he was offered the health ministry would be clear and simple - either get rid of the interests in private nursing homes and health clinics, or don’t take the job as health minister.

But, like the vast majority of people in our gombeenocracy, Reilly chose to ignore that fact and instead tried to ride the two horses at once.

The leader of the gombeenocracy – a man so scared of journalists that he accuses them of assault for asking questions - agreed, calling allegations of a conflict of interest “preposterous”.

But if hide-and-seek champ Enda was to consult with the mythical “woman in Limerick” after mass some morning about Dr Reilly’s actions, she would surely remind him of the Bible’s words on the subject.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon.

—Matthew 6:19-21,24

What we now have is a very Irish form of disaster capitalism – not the kind outlined by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine, although that too is being practiced on our shores.

The Irish kind is that we are a disaster at capitalism.

Our gombeenocracy is the EU equivalent of a rogue state where the banks, the Lowrys, the O’Briens and the Reillys of this world are allowed to do whatever they want, and the Enda Kennys nod their acquiescence, sagely but dumbly.

Even if Reilly is the most honest man in the world, there is still no way he can be both a private investor and in charge of the public purse on the matter. Trying to do so removes all credibility from whatever course of action you take.

After a summer of soccer to divert us, maybe it’s time for Roy Keane to run for office – then we might see the old football truism that the management that got you into a mess are almost never the ones to get you out.

And should Roy take the job, first out the door would be the medical staff, with Reilly leading the way.  {jathumbnailoff}


Image top: Dave Nowak.