The painful truth about how we treat some of our citizens


It’s a very cold snowy Sunday morning, and even though I shouldn’t tell you, I don’t always make it to Sunday Mass, but yesterday, despite the treacherous road conditions that were all around us, I got up early (wasn’t out Saturday night) and made the 10 o’clock ceremony in Donamon Castle.

  As usual, there is something magical about the Castle, and with the overnight fall of snow glistening in the winter sunshine, it really was a bit special, but the thing that made the biggest impact on me was the fact that our priest told us that yesterday was the International Day of the Sick, a custom started by Pope John Paul 11 back in 1992, to encourage people to pray for those who suffer from illness (and also for their carers).

  Now, one of the easiest things for us all to do is complain about everything, and I have to say that, in my opinion, we complain about everyday stuff that really should not be worth mentioning at all. But recently I have become aware of the fact that, in this country, we have a large number of people who really seem to be the forgotten suffering. We have thousands upon thousands of our friends and neighbours who are suffering from chronic pain, pain that affects every part of their bodies, so bad that, in many cases the afflicted cannot function in any normal way. Many of them cannot get any sleep at night, or any other time, while others are so badly discommoded that they are permanently bedridden.

  Listening to the Joe Duffy (Liveline) Show during the last couple of weeks, and hearing the number of horror stories from ordinary Irish citizens about the excruciating degree of pain that that they are experiencing daily, would bring tears from a turnip.

  I am almost ashamed to say that I was totally unaware that we have so many of these suffering people. Now, up ‘till before the Christmas, a large number of these people got a huge amount of pain relief from a thing called the Versatis patch, a large patch made with a special gel which seeped into the skin and provided enormous relief, but which was only licensed to treat patients who had shingles, even though it was effective on very many different types of chronic pain-inducing conditions.

  Recently however, there have been changes introduced by the HSE regarding the availability of this life-changing drug, and while it’s not exactly clear as to what’s going on, or why, the upshot is that huge numbers of those who relied on it for some degree of quality of life can no longer get access to the Versatis patch.

  One of the primary reasons for its curtailment is, as usual, the cost of providing the drug, which is totally prohibitive, and which also ties in with the fact that Ireland seems to be paying outrageous prices for all medicines (as anyone who ever gets anything medicinal in mainland Europe can testify), but, whatever the reasons, it’s a decision that needs to be reversed, and let our forgotten suffering live with a little bit of dignity, and with a lot less pain.

  The fact that it is licensed only for treatment of shingles means that people who suffer from other types of pain are now not meant to get it, even though it helps in very many other cases, but today I am calling on all politicians to get involved in getting the Versatis patch back out there, and at least in this instance make a vital difference to those who need your help the most.


Count me in for Young Offenders (but not for Britney or Elton)


On to lighter matters: a while ago I told you about a very funny, Irish-made low-budget film called The Young Offenders. While I don’t think it got widescale nationwide release, it was a great bit of craic and a big hit, and I managed to see it on one of the many channels that everyone nowadays seems to have.

  Mind you, as I’ve said before, it can be amazing how so many channels can show so much rubbish, and oftentimes I go through the whole lot without finding anything worth looking at. However, The Young Offenders was really enjoyable, and made stars out of two young Cork actors, Chris Walley and Alex Murphy, and the great news is that there is now a six-part series going out on both BBC and RTE 2.

  The two main characters, Conor and Jock, are basically a pair of schoolkids – lovable rogues – who manage to get themselves into unbelievable, outrageous scrapes, and whose run-ins with the law, with major criminals, and with their school headmaster (played by PJ Gallagher), make for compulsive viewing.

  I was told that I am too old to be enjoying this level of childish fun, but this time I am ignoring Carol’s advice, and all I can say is give it a chance, have a look, and I will be very surprised if you don’t fall for its innocent charm.

  Sticking with entertainment, and I cannot get over the spiralling cost of concert tickets. I’m told that prices for the upcoming Britney Spears and Elton John shows are bordering on the insane. I’m told that black market entrepreneurs are charging up to and over €1,000 for a pair of tickets to each of those shows, so I suppose anyone that pays that type of money doesn’t either need, or deserve, my sympathy.

  I used to think that €30 to see the likes of the Three Amigos (getting to see them is on my bucket list), Foster & Allen, or Brendan Grace, was saucy enough, but I’ve changed my mind, and it now looks like great value.

And finally…

Finally for this week, and last Sunday’s National League battle in Salthill between Galway and Mayo, in which the referee showed three red cards and eighteen yellows, must have the Connacht Council licking their lips at the prospect of a championship repeat in Castlebar in the merry month of May.

  There is never too much love lost between the neighbouring counties, but at the moment, tensions seem to have really boiled over, and even in league and FBD matches we are seeing a huge numbers of red and yellow cards. In the white heat of a Connacht championship semi-final, God knows what mayhem might break out, so we are guaranteed a totally full house, and I for one, all other things being equal, will definitely be there.

  I am fairly certain that Paddy Power will have odds on the number of players who are on the field of play at the final whistle, and with both sides having a few hotheads in their ranks, I would say somewhere around the early to mid twenties could be worth a few bob!

  Anyway, it’s all guaranteed to give the Rossies a great chance to take home back to back Connacht titles, as either injuries or suspensions will almost certainly be a factor for whoever survives the Battle of Castlebar. Can’t wait.

 Till next week, Bye for now!