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All is changed, changed utterly – time for Irish health to be baled out

11 October 2008

Leaflet distributed on a demonstration in Dublin organised by the Campaign for a Decent Health Service. 

The government tell us they can’t afford a modern publicly funded health service

They say the way out is co-location, where we hand over hospital grounds to a private sector headed by property speculators and US banks.

Now they find that they are able to guarantee the stupendous sum of €400 billion that will protect the banks and, behind them, the speculators and US financial structures whom they intend to present with the gift of the Health service.

By this act the government blow out of the water all the arguments about affordability and lay bare their real motives – the constant transfer of wealth from working people to an insatiable capitalist class. The further privatisation of the health service under these crooks would simply mean that the financial collapse involves the total collapse of the health service.

Our response should be simple.  Any government which can afford this colossal dig out can afford to kick the gombeen men out of the health service.  If they argue that their bailout was prompted by fear that the capitalists would bring the country to a halt then they should begin to fear the considerable power of the Irish workers and we should demonstrate our willingness to close down government and industry if this society proves incapable of defending our rights and protecting our health. 

We must however recognise our greatest weakness – the lack of fighting organisation. There is no political party in the Dail fighting for the working class. All are standing behind the capitalist bailout. We have been urged to organise behind the trade unions, but they too have backed the bankers bail out.  The last major health demonstration did not lead to the union leaders fighting for health. In all the time since last March's national health demonstration, in constant discussion through the social partnership mechanisms, health has been at the bottom of the bureaucracy's agenda.

The details of the deal they have done - a wage cut for working people while agreeing to a €400 million bail out for bankers and the decimation of the Aer Lingus workforce - tells us all we need to know about the level of union bureaucrats opposition to full-scale health privatisation.

We should not be despondent.  The grotesque scale of the Dail dig out acts as a searchlight, exposing the lies of the government and the lies of social partnership. It gives us a powerful weapon to bring to other workers, inside and outside union structures, to patients and to health workers. This weapon sweeps away the government claims of poverty.  It sweeps away union leaders’ claims they did the best they could. It creates the possibility of building a united campaign ready to take whatever steps are necessary to force the establishment of a fully-funded public health service free to all.


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