Monday, January 23, 2012

Save money! Close the countryside!

Scoil an Tuairín ar an Aoine! (Pic: Irish Times)
Last December we spoke about the devastating decisions being made by the Irish Department of Education on the Gaeltacht Schools in 90% of Gaeltacht Schools to close! Gradually the message is sinking into the rural districts throughout the country that this decision is going to effect their schools too. Huge (in rural terms) meetings have been held or are been held, demonstrations and letters are been written, politicians are been button-holed about this and other matters.

Ruairí Quinn! Éist linn!
An article in last weekend's Sunday Independent, For the sake of our future we must swim upstream, gives a vivid picture of the unease which is now been felt throughout rural Ireland and indeed now it is becoming apparent that other details of these grants are going to effect urban educational services especially where the education of the most challenging kind, to those who have difficulties in using the more regularly available services - those who ahve particular or "special" needs. It gives a horribly hollow sound to the promise contained in our Declaration of Independnce:

" pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past."

Little by little rural, Irish or English speaking areas are been alienated by the Irish government. People who pay taxes, who have contributed to the effluent treatment services are being singled out to pay themselves for inspection of their own treatment facilities. and perhaps to pay entirely from their own resources for any adjustments deemed to be required. If there is something found wanting in the effluent treatment facilities of a local authority plant the tax payer - all tax payers, rural and urban, will pay until it is put right.

Gaeltacht areas have the additional problem of the lack of services in their own language. If a person is ill he cannot have a guarantee of service in his own language. If a child has speech problems he has to change his home language to English in order to have the services of a speech therapist!  We have discussed some of thes in our blog, "Open letter to Senators."

Police stations, post offices, health services, (The HSE dental services have been withdrawn from Ceathrú Rua in the past week), even local authority offices are being withdrawn. Planning permissions are becoming more and more restricted to protect special areas of conversations either real are imagined. They are even being forbidden from harvesting the fuel that for generations they have used to heat their homes. All these decisions are been made by people who haven't a clue about the areas in which they are being considered.

Look at the map guys!
Two instances we have heard which display this ludicrous lack of knowledge:

The telephone box in Cill Rónáin was being withdrawn and prior to it withdrawal a notice appeared advising that fact and stating the the nearest telephone box after its withdrawal would be available in Roundstone! Look at the map guys!

The Department of Education has suggested - unofficially? - that the schools in Leitir Móir, Leitir Chaladh, Tír an Fhia, Leitir Mealáin, An Tuairín and maybe others be amalgamated as follows, Infants in Leitir Chaladh, Ages 7 to 10 in Leitir Móir and final years primary school in Tír an Fhia. This sort of solution in a Munster area is mentioned in the Independent article too. Look at the map guys!

And we've just been informed of more idiotic decisions notified to the people by the health authority. As is their wont, they did not have the good manners to communicate their decision in the language of the people.

"HSE announces reorganisation of dental services in Connemara
23 January 2012

From next month, the dental services provided in Connemara will be reorganised. Alternative arrangements are being made to replace the one day a week service currently provided from the Health Centre in Carna.

Dr Joe O’Connor, Principal Dental Surgeon for Galway explained the reasons for the reorganisation, “We are short staffed and unable to replace staff who leave the service due to the public sector moratorium on recruitment.

“Also, in order to continue to meet the national standards on infection control within the resources available, we need to relocate the Carna dental service. The clinic in Carraroe was recently upgraded and works are currently underway at the clinic in Clifden to meet the national standards on infection control.

“At the moment there is a limited service provided by a dental hygienist in Carraroe and from February, a dental team will be in Carraroe for one day a week to provide an elective and emergency service to the area.

“By moving the one day dental service from Carna to Carraroe we are able to reorganise our staffing and equipment to maximise the limited resources available.”

Patients who currently attend the one day a week clinic in Carna will be asked to attend clinics in Clifden or Carraroe. The dental team will contact patients to re-arrange appointments in Clifden or Carraroe; nine National Schools are served by the clinic in Carna.

Patients with questions should contact the Dental Clinic in the Clifden Health Centre on 095 21102.

Those who know the area will understand the lack of understanding of the area, never mind the cutting back of the services that permits treatment for the whole area to one day in the week, but their bland requirement for people, especially children to travel long journeys on narrow not to say dangerous roads is breathtaking. Local Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh expresses the worry of parents and patients when he says "The children of the area are being unfairly targeted due to the harsh cutbacks and the moratorium on recruitment in the HSE. This is inequitable, unfair and unacceptable. It is also very unfair to expect people to bear the extra travel costs pertaining to attending the basic services as outlined below which could have a detrimental long term effect on their health." Or as we say above: Look at the map guys!

Éamon de Valera spoke in his much laughed at address in 1943 about a countryside dotted with "cozy homesteads." It is clear that the government, Brussels and our planning authorities have these neighbourhoods in their sights.  Will they succeed where the famine and the might of imperial power all but failed? 

• See also "A second class education for second class pupils!" (23/1/2012) agus Lorna Siggans san Irish Times: "Gaeltacht parents oppose teacher ratio changes in smaller primary schools" (23/1/2012)

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