herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Can we probe our way out of this chaos?

> IN FURTHER news: an unknown number of children, probably more than 20, but maybe 200, have died in the care of the Health Service Executive, and they're looking for the files. It's been all over the radio every day, and at this stage we're nodding, 'Oh, right, they can't find the files, okay'. They what?

If a child dies in your care, surely you immediately make a major investigation? Surely you've got that file, you're certain of every fact. But multiple children? What kind of an organisation is this? What kind of country?

On Drivetime on Wednesday, Mary Wilson talked to former social worker, now child-welfare consultant, Kieran McGrath, asking why we consistently fail to deliver a decent service to vulnerable children.

"The work itself is extremely difficult, it's very complex, and at the best of times, it's hard," said McGrath. "There are no easy solutions to any of the issues that are presented." And he pointed a finger at the senior management of the HSE and the lack of centralised information.

"There's no proper electronic system in place," he said. Back in 1996, McGrath asked for a central system to monitor "fatal child-abuse situations", but: "It was just never a priority."

He described the board's method of using 32 separate sections as "quite chaotic". Somewhere in this chaos there's a lost child, a scared 15-year-old sitting in a Garda station because there's nowhere for him to sleep at night. Who's looking after this frightened kid? The HSE and the courts are full of decent people, any one of whom would say, "Come on in, love, stay the night in my place if you're stuck".

Why are they unable to find a loving, secure place for that troubled little one -- in Ireland or, if the worst comes to the worst, abroad -- when he needs it?

> "NAMA is the taxpayer in another guise," Pat Rabbitte told Cathal Mac Coille on yesterday's Morning Ireland. A goosebump thought. The witty Rabbitte had parked his usual smart remarks as he talked about the row over the Dublin Docklands Authority -- apart from a reference to "the biggest claim jump since the Yukon". He was all statesman, asking for probes into cross-directorships. Oh, yes, please -- and not just in this case; let's look at all those cross-connections, in legal and financial firms, in government, in the senior civil service, in banks.

But back to the serious questions: Aine Lawlor probed the new Sex and the City movie with Aoife Kelly of the Star.

"It's fun and frivolous and two-and-a-half hours of fashion porn," said Kelly, describing Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and sexy Samantha, the girls ripping in bling and high heels in the sands of Abu Dhabi (actually, Morocco, where it was filmed).

Then came a devastating put-down from Lawlor on the four actresses: "You say girls, but in fairness, these are middle-aged women." Oof.

> The folks on DSFM (93.9FM) certainly have class. Feile Bar comedian Brian Moss and ace cub reporter Naomi Pedlow were doing a 'what happened on this date' thingy on Wednesday's Live Lunch, and Pedlow listed Manic Street Preachers' refusal to play for Queen Elizabeth II.

The Manics turned down an invite to play before the Welsh Assembly on May 26, 1999 because E Regina was attending.

Moss could top that. "I once refused to play a comedy gig when nobody was present," he mentioned.

Drivetime, RTE Radio 1, weekdays Morning Ireland, RTE Radio 1, weekdays Live Lunch, DSMF, weekdays

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