999 for Mental Health

You’re walking on a quiet road, you trip and break your arm.  You call 999 immediately, no question.  They help you, no question.

A few months later other events, or mental illness, have left you feeling very, very depressed.  You have suicidal thoughts.  You call 999.  What happens? I’m told that they don’t/can’t help, but I’m not sure about that. Do you know?

I’d like to estimate the cost/benefit of enabling 999 to triage/respond to mental health emergencies, for a government to show how serious this is.  We’d need more operators (let’s say another 500), we’d need counsellors (let’s say 250 of them for 24/7 cover), and we’d need schedulers that could redirect less urgent cases to primary care mental health services in the community (let’s say we need 250 of them too).  Assume they all get paid €45k (it’s skilled shift work), and that the extra IT/Ops infrastructure is €5m/ yr, it adds up to ONLY €50m per year.

There may be better things to spend the €50m on, I’m no expert in the area.  Plus I don’t think we have a spare €50m; the last I heard mental health funding was being cut because…. well my best guess would be because Enda Kenny doesn’t care enough about it.

At this stage, “999 for mental health” is just an idea, I’m going to have to do research to see what the current status is, speak to stakeholders to see if it’s possible and then how it compares to other ideas in the same space.

I know that the Vision for Change developed at the Department of Health by an expert group is not implemented yet, so there’s probably already a long list of excellent ideas in the funding queue.  It’s shocking that we’re so bad at this.

The Citizens Information site has a page about accessing Mental Health services, but the link to “contact the emergency services” leads to a “Page not Found error” – can you believe it?!

Maybe the first step on this journey is to get that webpage working again.

Fake money, and a call to just action.

Since the Dutch East India Company of the 17thC, people have successfully organised trade and commerce globally, with wonderful benefits for society.  Population has taken off like that famous hockey stick graph.

But how do the last 50 years compare with the golden age? Since the banks obtained the power to counterfeit money , we seem to have a problem.

Living standards are dropping for most people, many billions (that didn’t just arrive last week) are now struggling for survival, with their health, life span and other opportunities invested into the disposable and polluting items that we purchase in the West with our digital money. This digital money is disconnecting us from real value.

If it did not exist, if we measured value in the only true sense, then an hours work in one country could be equal to an hour of work in another country. If you agree with this idea, then you can literally start to use it right now. You don’t need me, or a movement, or anything else to start.

All you have to do is to set up a co-op, formally or informally, and start to do business with those in other countries and barter time and services fairly.

When this becomes more popular, and when our impotent and hi-jacked global political system (strong words,  but that’s another blog post) is reclaimed, then we will be able to have plebiscites that literally include everyone.

Everyone with a mobile phone votes, and we have random paper votes in some areas for verification. If there is a proposal to decrease carbon emissions by 50% in the next 5 years to preserve the planet for our grandchildren, then that can be passed by global vote, and become binding on all corporations.

The corporations of today have lost the run of themselves. They no longer respect the needs of global society. They are obligated by law to preserve shareholder value, and that often leads to ruinous conditions for the two billion at the bottom. The same people that only get our sewage and waste trickling down to them.

Act now, act fast, and act for a long time.

At Long Last on the Late Late

Ever been asked for a bribe? How about being in government buildings,  outside the Taoiseach’s office,  being asked for a five million pound bribe into an off-shore account? Given all the legal threats around #pantigate,  we can be sure these days that things said on RTE are likely to be true.

Tom Gilmartin,  RIP Nov 2013,  was born in Sligo and had become a successful businessman in the UK.  He had a knack for putting together large investments for building projects.  Returning to Ireland in the late 80s,  he planned to build a modern mixed use development on the site now occupied by the hideous Liffey Valley.  He was soon mugged by our corrupt officials and their cronies.

Hear part of the story from his son Thomas Gilmartin Jr and author Frank Connolly,  as part of their Late Late Show appearance to promote Frank’s book. Hear about the Gardaí ignoring the complaints of extortion,  the effect of the ordeal on the Gilmartin family and the revelations from the tribunal.

(I was a little late to hit record when I was watching it, but it should be clear enough.  Anyone in Ireland can watch the Late Late on the RTE Player for a week or so)

Poetically enough,  Padraig Flynn (who asked for the €50k blank cheque),  had disparaged Tom Gilmartin and dismissed his allegations on the same TV show 15 years earlier.  At the time,  Tom Gilmartin was watching the show from his home in Luton,  and his anger was one of the things that propelled him to give evidence at the tribunal.

You might like to hear Pee Flynn’s side of the story.  Stay tuned for the end of the video when he explains what a financial struggle it is for him to maintain his 3 homes on his salary of £140,000. (his known salary was approx 6-7 times the average salary at the time,  not counting ‘donations’)

So –  what was happening while these corrupt idiots were in charge?  How were the decisions they were making affecting our lives?

Just to pick one example; I think that the price of property,  and it’s relationship to the average wage,  makes the biggest impact on how much spare money you might have at the end of the month.  During the time that CJ Haughey,  Pee Flynn,  Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern were in charge – this is what happened to property prices compared to average wages.

House Prices vs. Wages; Ireland 1977-2005
House Prices vs. Wages; Ireland 1977-2005 (source)

And that’s why I care what politicians are doing,  that’s why I pay attention to those that call ‘wolf’  and why I salute Tom Gilmartin,  Thomas Gilmartin  and Frank Connolly for having the tenacity and bravery to drag this corruption into the light.

Do it for many reasons, but mostly for the kids

It’s a false ecomony to cut back the numbers of Special Needs Assistants at schools. It’s very cruel to consider this cut while paying back private bank debts to foreign investors. Join a family friendly protest on Kildare St, on Wednesday 13th, at 3pm.
Cuts have to be made, of that there is no doubt, but there is plenty of waste in civil service bureaucracy, and consultants fees, that should be cut ahead of these crucial jobs. Cutting SNA jobs mean that children may have their learning disrupted,and the kids with special needs may find things a lot harder.

I remember when I was at school, children with special needs were kept in a different class to the rest of us, and as such we never really mixed. Many were even in a different ‘special’ school.

Later, I heard from my Mum (a primary teacher) that all children were going to be taught in the same classroom and that special assistants would be brought in to help the children that needed it.  A good thing, of course.

Bless her cotton socks, as it was happening many years ago, Mum predicted that one day they would try and cut back brutally on the number of special needs assistants to save money, once people were used to having all children in the same class.  I thought she was being alarmist, but once again, Mum was right!

If you care enough – there is something you can do.  Join a protest group – this coming Wednesday July 13th, at the Kildare St entrance to the Dail, at 3pm. It’s a family friendly event, bring your kids (or someone else’s!), bring colourful banners, buy some balloons along the way.

There are a few different groups involved in organising the protest, including the Special Needs Parents Association.  I heard about it through the Stephen Donnelly office.

This is a hard time of the year to get children and parents to a protest.  Please spread the word to all the people you know with time on their hands that care about this.  If the cuts go through, they will affect all children in primary school – let’s fill the streets and stop this cut.

The lion’s share of that money will never be seen again.

Something is rotten in the state of Ireland.  Here is the CEO of Anglo telling us that the money we have put into that bank will never be seen again. Twenty-two billion euro. Gone.

That’s about five thousand euro each for every man, woman and child.  Where has it gone?

It must have gone somewhere, right?  If it’s gone out of our pockets it must have gone into someone else’s pockets.

Never, never put the party of Ahern, Haughey and Cowen in power.  This loss is the effect of their policies.  Their cosy arrangments, non-existent financial regulation, and the fact that they live on a cloud of comfort away from the rest of us.

It angers me that they let this situation develop on their watch, whilst ignoring calls from people to do something about the property bubble.

You can do something about it. Apathy is an illusion. Granted, it’s a comfortable illusion to feel that there’s nothing you can do, but frankly it’s going to be an expensive one if all of us choose it. Choose to do something!

Visit the website of each political party. Read what they say they will do to fix this mess. Then pick a party and get involved.  Turn up to a meeting. Get out and campaign. That means talking to people that aren’t interested in politics and trying to get them interested!  Showing them how this really, really matters.

Let’s get a government that’s working for us, instead of plunging us deeper and deeper into debt trying to save their own skins.

Oooops! I forgot about that construction company I half-own

Clerical error leads to TD forgetting about €1m investment

One of the largest property owners in Dail Eireann, Frank Fahey TD, is blaming a ‘clerical error’ for his failure to mention to the Dáil the 50% stake he owns in Sage Construction Ltd. Furthermore, the company owes his wife over €950,000 according to the most recent accounts filed. Neither were declared in the Register of Members interests in 2008 or 2009 and the Clerk of Dail Eireann, Kieran Coughlan, is considering complaints from members of the public alleging that these omissions are breaches of the 1995 Ethics in Public Office Act.

Deputy Fahey has had a history of controversial stories, such as the compensation scheme his department administered where two of his constituents received 75% of the total amount disbursed and one of his last actions as Minister whereby he granted the controversial foreshore license for Shell in Mayo, following in the footsteps of Ray Burke in accommodating the wishes of the oil company.

In response to this latest allegation, the Mail on Sunday reports that Deputy Fahey rushed to have the Register of Interests amended and issued a statement that the whole affair was due to a clerical error. Time will tell if this mistake will be excused or punished.

What’s most frustrating about this episode for me is that his constituents are unlikely to be overly perturbed by this, in the same way that they have not been bothered by other Fahey scandals.  I suspect that is so because in this nod and wink politics culture to which Fahey belongs, you actually want the guy to be doing favours for you and as such if he’s doing favours for other people, well that’s just part of politics and you have to accept it because you want the same thing done for you.

And there are probably enough people in his constituency grateful to Deputy Fahey to ensure that he is returned time and time again.

If you want to do something about this – you are free to complain to the Clerk of Dail Eireann (Kieran.Coughlan [at]  oireachtas.ie) that Faheys ommission may be a breach of Section 5 of the 1995 Ethics act.

The initial source of the story, for me – http://thestory.ie/

2009 accounts for Sage Construction Ltd – http://www.scribd.com/doc/28788896/Frank-Fahey-Sage-Construction-Accounts

A long webpage with many other details about Deputy Fahey – http://www.soldiersofdestiny.org/tdpropertyportfolio.htm