The PSEU have asked three questions of each Seanad candidate.
It was a good opportunity to think carefully about my own values and priorities. My background is that I am a medical doctor, trained in child heath, and a public health specialist. I am a political and a social activist. My key values are equity, social justice and transparency. I have worked for many years with communities affected by environmental problems, and with people with autism or intellectual disability. I am a member of FG, but, if elected, I will be an independent, and will not take the party whip,
1) What will you do to restore the cuts to Public Servants’ pay?
Public sector workers salaries (including mine) were sharply reduced as a result of our economic collapse. While the reported recent growth rates may well not be sustained, there is little doubt that our economy is improving. I feel that Ireland could and should begin to restore these cuts. For me, the priority ought to be restoring cuts to those in lower salaries first, as this will have the greatest economic impact for any given investment.
2) What are your priorities for investment in public services?
In order these are :-
Housing. Ireland has a crisis of homelessness. The health, social, educational and economic consequences of this are very well known, and we cannot afford them. We need a rapid program of social housung cobstruction.
Education. We spend too little on education, especially in deprived and marginalised communities. This has life long bad effects. Education is our best investment in the future. We need a focused strategy of investment, and reform, in education all the way from pre-school, to third level or apprenticeship.
Health. We have a very costly health service (public and private). Our health service is not what it could be, nor is it very responsive. I think we need to reorient our services in three ways. First to a patient centred service; second to a GP/primary care focused service; third to an integrated care service for people with chronic disease. This change will require investment, but it will be worth it if we do it right.
Older people. The number of older people in Ireland will rise rapidly over the next decade. This is, of course, cause for celebration. At the same time, it is a challenge which we need to meet. Our goal should be healthy, active and productive aging. There is a lot of knowledge and good practice in Ireland. This needs to be spread and implemented better.
3) Why should members of the PSEU vote for you?
I will be an effective and accessible voice in the Seanad if elected. I know how the Irish political system, civil service and HSE work, and how to work with them. I also understand how to work with community groups.
I feel that Ireland should have more universally accessible services, including education, health care, and social care. These will need to be paid for if that is what we want. I have a record of working and achieving change, both in higher education and in health care. I will bring this experience to the Seanad.
I am a life-long trade union member, and have served as a branch official, and an executive member, at various times. I was one of the leaders of the 1987 doctors strike in Ireland. I strongly support union rights, including a right, where necessary, to industrial action. I know a fair bit about industrial relations, and the importance of maintaining good communication between management and staff.