Tuesday, 29 August 2017

A Vicious Circle. Save our Health Service!

A few days ago, the 5 regional Health and Social Care Trusts in the north published an overview of their plan to make a collective £70 million of budget cuts in this fiscal year. These plans have been put out by the respective Heath Care Trusts for a six-week consultation period at the end of which cuts will be made accordingly. The Western Trust which covers Derry, Strabane, Omagh, a proportion of the Causeway coast and Glensborough Council area has outlined its proposal to cut the budget by £12.5million.

In June of this year senior members of the British Medical Association accused Theresa May and British Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, of “consciously” creating a crisis within hospitals “to distract the public from an underfunded service under severe and intense strain” this whilst scapegoating doctors and medical staff. This was raised at the union’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth, where a motion to challenge government plans was passed. A selling point of the motion came as it emerged that the Government has plans to sell off an NHS staffing agency which saves the health service £70m a year. Oh the Irony, here we have the sale of an asset which saves the British government £70m whilst at the same time in the north health care budgets are to be cut by the same amount. One can only marvel at the logic of these people and how they come to their decisions!

Ask yourself why would any government want to sell off an asset which saves the health service money when other areas are trying to cut down on the number of non-NHS agency staff. In my view this is about making the system unworkable and speeding up the process of privatisation? But then again these are the same Tories who sold off Plasma Resources UK an NHS publicly owned company to Bain Capital a private equity firm set up by American Politician Mitt Romney for £230 million pounds. The company was then sold on 3 years later to a Chinese company for £820 million pounds.

Locally within the Western Trust’s savings plan there is a proposed reduction to the number of non-NHS locums, nursing agency and agency Social work staff. This is expected to save the Western trust an estimated £1.6m. The problem is, this cut will also mean the loss of approximately 30 beds/care spaces across medical and care of the elderly wards at a time when hospitals are already stretched to capacity.

In addition to this is the proposed cut of £1.16m to domiciliary care totaling 275 packages and the loss of 8-10 nursing home places which will mean: The consolidation of care homes, less respite care and less availability for people requiring healthcare treatment and care packages. As this move will also see ‘bed blocking’ with patients being kept in hospital for longer periods in the absence of a care home place or a heath care package which will lead to increased hospital costs and even longer waiting lists. As I see it he above plans are nonsensical and will not prove beneficial or cost effective in the long term. Privatisation by making the system unworkable?

The above announcement follows on from a not so well publicised plan by the Department of Health entitled ‘Reshaping Stroke Services’. Stroke is the main cause of adult disability in the UK. 'The fourth largest cause of death and two thirds of those who survive stroke have a life changing disability'. This consultation is due to close on September 15, 2017 and whilst packaged under the guise of ‘reshaping stroke services’ this involves cuts to and the relocation of stroke services in the north.

Five of the proposals outlined in the consultation document include the words ‘an appropriate number’ which would seem to be the new term given to the reduction of services. When treating a stroke timing is paramount with regards to assessment for the clot busting treatment known as thrombolysis. Yet proposal 2 suggests providing ‘assessment for clot busting treatment thrombolysis on an appropriate number of sites’.

Staff members and a patient from the Stroke unit in Altnagelvin hospital here in Derry have contacted me concerned that the reduction in stroke services will impact on the service currently available at Altnagelvin. There is a strong suspicion among staff that the ‘thrombolysis’ treatment will be relocated to either Enniskillen or Belfast which will cause difficulties not only for staff but for patients required to travel a huge distance to avail of this treatment, with time of the essence in these cases. Somebody should maybe take time to remind the department of health that the ‘T’ in the F.A.S.T. acronym stands for time and not travel. As with the above, these plans need to be opposed in the strongest possible terms by all right-thinking people.

Now on a related but separate note. With many illnesses when people leave hospital they are required to avail of alternative supported accommodation or floating support. These services are funded through the Supporting People Scheme which is administered through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. This scheme provides funding for a range of support services to assist vulnerable people to live independently in their community.

In Derry alone there are 59 sheltered and supported Housing schemes and 9 floating support services. Figures published by NICVA in 2015 stated that Supporting People saves the public purse £125.05 million pounds per annum. In real terms, this means that for every £1 spent on Supporting People, there is a £1.90 saving. Despite this the core budget of the scheme which has been frozen for the past 10 years is set to be cut by a further £3million which will impact on existing services. How this can be justified given the money saved by the scheme is anyone’s guess, but proof that everything is being slashed irrespective of the benefits to people or ‘government’.

With so much focus on cuts we must be practical about where additional money could be secured to fund health services, outside of saddling our great grandchildren with more Private Finance Initiative debt. And very simply this could have been achieved through not replacing the trident nuclear weapons system which will cost an estimated £205 billion. How any elected representative could justify such an obscene amount of money for such obscene weapons of mass destruction whilst people cannot get adequate health care is beyond rational comprehension. And when we look for answers locally we need look no further than the 5 DUP MP’s and two former UUP MP’s who voted for these nuclear weapons.

This image which was shared yesterday by the Derry Trade Union Council shows the wages paid to
MLA’s from March of this year. A scandalous amount of money when you consider that these elected representatives have not been doing their job . Moreover, these people are now sitting back as plans being made by Civil Servants and plans of old lack common sense, foresight and long-term planning.

Central to this problem is that the 2 main partners in ‘government’ have no joined-up approach and are more focused on representing their individual political positions than doing what is right for people. My question to those MLA's is, with Supporting People Services being cut, care home places set to be reduced and the number of hospital beds being cut, as well as cuts to domiciliary care and stroke services, what are people supposed to do and where are they supposed to go when these plans eventually clash and conflict?  And more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

Sadly, this is more than likely the tip of the iceberg and with a lack of governance here we are forced to look in the direction of Westminster and if you think of the Health Service you have to think about Tory Health Minister Jeremy Hunt who recently crossed swords with Professor Stephen Hawking, when Professor Hawking stated that Hunt was cherry picking evidence to support his policies. Now I think when it comes down to it I’ll stand with Professor Hawking a proud supporter of the NHS, as opposed to Mr Hunt, a member of party decimating the NHS, well that coupled with the fact Hawking is a genius and Hunt is a Tory minister! lol

Late last year the NHS saved my father’s life, the treatment and care he received from every person he came into contact with was second to none. So, if you want to know why I feel so angry about the cuts to services you now do, and if you like me have had a loved one saved by the NHS you will share my despair for what passes for governance here coupled with the Tory led privatisation of the NHS.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

By Their Own Words Shall They Be Judged.

Image result for kangaroo court images

Most people who know me will appreciate that I have no problem putting forward a position, backing it up and where necessary arguing my point. I’m also not backward about coming forward, and will if I can support anyone who is being dealt an unjust hand. So because of that and my blog I do expect people to debate with or challenge me.

Late last year and earlier this year I was forced to defend myself against an online facebook campaign of abuse, this wasn’t your average halfwit type stuff, this was nasty, malicious and came from the venomous minds of some, including people my husband & I had once called friends. I responded to these people through my blog, after all you can’t actually respond and challenge people if they blacken your name to friends in private messages, block you on social media and refuse to meet with you.  

A few months passed with nothing and then just when you think all is quiet on the Western Front up pops the not so intelligent aspect of unaccountable policing. Honestly, if the authorities ever decide to re-open the Castlereagh Interrogation centre then they should look no further than the individuals I will later name in this piece. Individuals who think nothing of concocting stories about people in their closed settings, individuals who make the ideas of the General Brigadier Frank Kitson and Colin Wallace seem amateurish. 

In January of this year, I published a blog referencing a local man Thomas ‘Dixie’Elliot who had for months previously been dragging my name and that of my husband into gutter both publicly but mostly in private. During his campaign of online abuse, this man threatened to ‘expose’ me as a ‘shit-stirrer’ among other things. When he was challenged to meet with me he wouldn’t and when challenged to ‘expose me’, well you guessed it I’m still waiting. Yet despite this, this week he bizarrely claimed to Journalist Ed Maloney that he had ‘exposed me’. I do think I’ll need to drop Ed Moloney a line to ask him if he can shed any light on what I was supposed to have done as ‘Dixie’ has yet to tell me and I doubt he will. And as for 'threatening legal action' for exposing me, the only thing Dixie has exposed is his own nastiness, and from some of the supportive messages I have received, I'm not Dixie's only online target.

Who are the royal "we" Dixie and what is the agenda of this royal "we?"

In the recent barrage of abuse one of the main antagonists repeatedly refused to name me publicly despite doing so privately to numerous individuals. Additionally, her liking a number of comments in particular left me in no doubt that I was the topic of her latest bile, as with the regurgitation of the nonsense from her cohorts the dogs in the street could identify who her latest attack was directed at, but we’ll get to this nasty piece of work in a bit.

Now back to the Whistling Dixie, a few days ago he referred to me as being ‘really dangerous’ after stating when ‘I recognised it was her she was blocked.’  Maybe Thomas Dixie Elliot would care to enlighten me on where he recognised me and what makes me a dangerous individual outside of my supporting a different Stormont Candidate to him in the 2016 Assembly Election? I supported Dr Anne McCloskey, Dixie supported Eamon McCann.

Oops, should I have said that Dixie? After all you claim to be an abstentionist Republican! Outside of this Dixie, who I don’t know that well had no problem with me and was often complimentary of my blogs.  As such it is clear that Dixie’s issue with me dates back to the election when he tried to poison my opinion of my preferred candidate and is quite possibly based on the opinions of a few rough yet not so little diamonds. On the upside of this I take some comfort from the fact that I am not the first victim of Dixie’s online harassment and cyber stalking as he is a known troll on twitter and was caught using multiple identities as the attachment below will show.

Catherine McCartney is the sister of the late Robert McCartney

In a few of his rants Dixie has claimed I was ‘thrown off the Marian Price Campaign’. Now unlike Dixie my involvement went beyond turning up to protests and as emails to me from Marian’s family both before and after her release will show. Dixie can easily verify this fact should he ever grow a set and meet with me to justify his actions, but as before I doubt he will.

In relation to Dixie’s rantings re the Marian Price Campaign I have no doubt he is taking his lead on this from another member of this little online cabal, Belfast based Uber Republican Fionnuala Perry. Fionnuala has hinted at similar in the past and is again  regurgitating her nonsense of the past. Like Dixie, Fionnuala, or as she is also known ‘Nuala’ is an online ‘legend’ who confuses twisted fiction with fact and is happy to make baseless accusations regardless of the consequences for her victims. When Fionnuala is challenged to substantiate her nonsense and meet with you the best you get here is her roaring and screaming down the phone like a banshee at you. This is what Fionnuala had to say about me. 

After reading the above keep in mind this is the same Fionnuala who trusted me enough to read statements I had penned for the Marian Price Campaign on platforms yet now describes me as being very dangerous, much like this next person who trusted me so much she not only read statements I penned for her but gave me access to her email account to read and pen statements and responses in her name on her behalf.

I’ve done a lot of voluntary work for many people and never mention it.  Today I’m making the point that this isn’t about me hating these people or doing anything on them. This is more to do with the fact that I stopped doing for them at different times, something Fionnuala in particular couldn’t handle. This with her and her Belfast based clique of 4 (with everyone else having left at this point) having been exposed as being inept and ineffective when I withdrew from that end of the campaign for personal and medical reasons as Fionnuala was well aware of. My track record of work speaks for itself and my files and emails can easily substantiate this, these include the complete Marian Price Campaign website, every leaflet that was ever printed, every banner that was ever held as well as letters to and from politicians, justice organisations and the clergy. Fionnuala on the other hand would have great difficulty in producing anything.

The lynch pin of this online Kangaroo Court is Kate Nash. From the 2012 ‘March for Justice’ up to the furore around the proposed victim’s legislation I worked closely with Kate. This ‘working relationship’ only soured when I stopped working for her and when I supported Dr Anne McCloskey in the 2016 election, whilst she like her friend Dixie Elliot supported Eamon McCann. 

Kate on her facebook on 14th August said the following:

With Kate being known as a Human Rights and Justice Campaigner I'm sure she would appreciate the need to substantiate any allegations she was prepared to make against someone. But as she hasn't clearly Kate has a scant knowledge of what justice is and how rights work as if she did she would know that Cyber-bullying is a crime. Kate would also be aware that the accused in any case has the right to be made aware of the case against them which I was not and still haven’t been outside of a few rantings. So here it is Kate, I’m now stating as a fact, you have been abusing me online, you have been blackening my name and attempting, but failing to tarnish my reputation. I am now giving you the opportunity to challenge what I am saying publicly and bring forward your evidence of this alleged latest or indeed any attack on you, an opportunity you and your compatriots have denied me.

What must be noted is, this isn’t the first time Kate has gone out of her way to try to tarnish my name. Previous attempts date back to September 16th 2016 when Kate covertly contacted a good friend to advise him to beware of me this despite my having helped Kate in ways that others wouldn’t including the “justice campaigners” closest to her. At this point I asked to meet with Kate to find out why she was involved in such Machiavellian behaviour, she refused this meeting.

In Kate’s latest nonsensical rant, she has accused me of attacking her under a range of fake facebook profiles, this accusation is not only unfounded and unwarranted but it is untrue. If I wanted to say anything to Kate Nash I would not need a fake or false profile. Kate also suggests that I am  hell driven and that both my husband and I have nefarious agendas. Now I'm sure any rational person will acknowledge in the North these are very dangerous accusations to make. And I am now calling for her to publicly retract these immediately.

The next member of this rogues gallery is the whispering Michael Donnelly. Michael too had a problem with my election choice and made every effort to smear the candidate.

In the Closed Kangaroo Court of Kate, Michael makes a range of allegations which even contradict some of those he last made proving that ‘some people can’t even get their black propagandaright’.

But this seems to be all that can be expected from Michael as he previously attempted to add my father-in-law to his mix as the screenshot below will show, this followed the death of the late Martin McGuinness. Needless to say his efforts failed here too.

Following in his Daddy’s footsteps we then have the hysterical rantings of Michael’s son Deaglan O'Dongaile.  Deaglan seems to be slightly obsessed with my blog and spends a lot of time attempting to humour his online buddies with variations of my blog name. Here's what |Degalan had to say on May 29th this year :

Deaglan you may or may not know is actually a Professor of Victorian Literature and whilst obviously academically gifted definitely lacks a certain wit. In the closed Kangaroo Court of Kate Deaglan had the following to say in the company of fellow academic Goretti Horgan, a self-professed Women’s rights campaigner.

With the next three images I have erased the name of the campaign mentioned with these people clearly attempting to drag the name of a local human rights campaign into disrepute. I'm also calling Deaglan to produce evidence that I have supported violence of any sort.

It would seem that this latest attack on me has come from my being named publicly by a person operating under the profile name of James Connolly who when challenged publicly by me said the aforementioned had accused him of being me after he expressed an opinion they did not like. How very convenient!

Opponents of  kangaroo courts participating in one.

A question now for Goretti Horgan as a self-professed women’s rights campaigner is why she didn’t challenge Deaglan’s use of the word ‘Drongo’ or the unsubstantiated allegations made about myself by her comrades Deaglan O'Donghaile and Kate Nash? This with Goretti having once challenged a journalist over referring to a young woman as a ‘bird’, but then maybe with Goretti some women are more equal than others. Moreover, Goretti seems to perpetuate the lie that I support punishment attacks. Maybe Goretti can explain how she drew this conclusion with my opinion on the use of violence well documented. I would hate to think as an academic Goretti based her statements of fact on supposition and the rantings of a few individuals. Furthermore, maybe she can explain why she as an alleged opponent of Kangaroo courts is participating in one and against a woman? Goretti however is not alone in her thinking as with a few on rogue’s gallery there seems to be the belief that I support Kangaroo courts, paramilitary justice, armed actions and contradictorily Sinn Fein, all of which is untrue. But hey we wouldn't want the truth getting in the way of this Kangaroo Court and character assassination. And as for secret policing, well that takes many forms as your actions prove.

The interesting thing is this all stems from the election of 2016, before that to the best of my knowledge these people had no problem with me well outside of Fionnuala Perry and Goretti Horgan. 

People who know me will know that If I have something to say I will say it and not behind a door but to your face or on here if needed. I’ll sit down and discuss disagreements, and we may still not agree, but that’s life.  If people want to challenge me or my blogs with a reasoned argument then that is fine, but I will not be pilloried and abused by these twisted individuals who have little to offer outside of innuendo, bile and creating division.

In closing I took no pleasure in writing this blog I would rather highlight the issues that will negatively impact on wider society to help raise awareness, but when it comes to defending myself and my family I will always do what is necessary. The people named in this piece would need to realise that their actions do not reflect badly on me but on themselves with these actions for the best part in direct conflict with the positions they claim to hold. How can you claim to be a republican and support the use of closed justice, spurious and unsubstantiated allegations, kangaroo courts and character assassination? Equally how can you claim to be a justice campaigner when your actions serve to leave people vulnerable and show  you don't understand the concept that with rights come responsibilities.  And finally how can you claim to be a women's rights campaigner when you make spurious allegations, participate in a Kangaroo court against a woman and are selective in your condemnation in the use of abusive language against a woman? 

My advice to you people is to get a life and leave me alone to get on with mine.

I would take this opportunity to extend a massive thanks to the people who have been in touch with me over this and for the support shown publicly also. xx

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A Living Legacy

I recently read the views of the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton on the delay in dealing with the legacy of the past due to the latest political stalemate at Stormont.  And then today concerns were raised by the outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory. In his comments Mr Hamilton referred to the 2014 Stormont House Agreement. This agreement contained several proposed mechanisms to deal with the past including the Historical Investigations Unit which was the proposed investigatory body and unlike the other proposals outlined was actually a requirement under European Law. 

Under the Stormont House Agreement, the Historical Investigations Unit was expected to have a life span of five years to investigate troubles related deaths. Ideally this would have been a mechanism with no time limit, free from state interference and with international oversight where possible. However, the Historical Investigations Unit was set to include those who served in policing and security roles in the North during the troubles. Furthermore, the British Secretary of State was to have the power to veto information disclosure as well as the authority to remove the HIU at his/her discretion.  Additionally, the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers were to hold the power to hire and retire the chosen HIU director. Independent?

The other proposed mechanisms included the Independent Commission for Information Retrieval (ICIR), an Oral History Archive and the Implementation and Reconciliation Group (IRG) which was later removed despite being an integral element of the proposals. The IRG proved quite contentious when it was rumoured to be the mop which would clean up the remaining issues still outstanding after a five-year period through what were to be known as ‘statements of acknowledgement’ although what this meant remains a mystery. Subsequently, the public also learned of plans to limit troubles related inquests to five years and to assist British troops and Security Personnel of a certain age with evading prosecution for their respective crimes. Now if that’s not weighted in the State’s favour I don’t know what is!

There is no disputing the need to deal with the past but unless things change dramatically from the last batch of proposals then we can expect a process which is not independent, is time limited, is one-sided and will only serve the interests of the state. A state which is overly keen to revise and sanitise their role here as one of peacekeepers between sectarian factions rather than an antagonistic and adversarial one.

A contentious element of dealing with the legacy of the troubles is how the respective parties remember their dead. The British would argue that their security forces were upholding law here in line with their ‘peacekeeper’ narrative, yet their legacy in the North speaks for itself, and examination of the facts easily paints a different more accurate picture.  This including their record of collusion with loyalist death squads, the use of internment (then and now), their shoot to kill policy, their indiscriminate brutalisation of communities, their brutalisation of prisoners and the Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday Massacres, war crimes perpetrated by these ‘peacekeepers’. 

A current controversy in my home city is over a display in the Museum of Free Derry (MOFD), more commonly known as the Bloody Sunday Museum. Anyone who knows me will know that I am meticulous when it comes to recording things accurately and for that reason I would generally take a stance that museums present their exhibits as such and in a neutral fashion. In this case it is how the MOFD presents a record of the names of all those killed during the Free Derry period that has caused the problems as the names of British security force personnel are listed alongside civilians and republican volunteers who lost their lives during the Free Derry period.

I spoke yesterday with local woman Marie Gallagher about this display which is now a prominent feature within the recently revamped museum. Marie is the sister of the late Jim Gallagher who was shot on a bus at the junction of the of the Fort George army barracks on the Strand road in Derry six days after his release from prison in 1976. In this case the soldier responsible later served a prison sentence in of 2 ½ years in Layhill open prison after being convicted of manslaughter. Despite having some justice after Jim’s murder Marie’s son Brian Boyle organised a recent protest at the museum in solidarity with victims who have not yet received justice.

I am aware that a museum will strive to tell the whole story of the period they represent. However, there is a fine line between historical accuracy and revisionism. The MOFD may argue that the display in question accurately reflects all those who lost their lives during the period known as Free Derry but can they state categorically that none of the state forces listed were involved in the brutalisation and murder of innocent civilians anywhere in the North? This is a valid question when you consider the many still seeking justice for crimes committed by the state here, including those murdered on Bloody Sunday some of whom were gunned down at what is now the front entrance of the MOFD.

As we consider this we must keep in mind that many issues from the Free Derry period are not just a snapshot of the past resigned to being a museum exhibit, these issues remain current and for some are as raw today as they were four and a half decades ago.
Furthermore, placing state forces in the same display as people from the community who lost their lives during that period would seem to be an attempt to give the impression of a level playing field. There has not, will not and will never be a level playing field when it comes to the British state protecting itself and the actions of its agents.  As such the museum should not directly or indirectly support this fallacy under the guise of historical or factual accuracy. Particularly a museum claiming to be about ‘our future together as much as it is about the past’.

In their justification of this display the MOFD released the following in a statement: We believe that it is important that we list all of those killed in this period, not only because it is historically accurate but also because, unlike others who would align themselves with the DUP, TUV and British government, we do not believe in any sort of hierarchy of victims.
Whether Museum Staff or the Bloody Sunday Trust choose to believe in a hierarchy of victims or not there is a hierarchy and those at the top of the pile are state agents who stand to be protected through legislation, through British Courts and when all else fails you can be sure the age-old cloak of secrecy known as the national security card will be played.

Whilst I do not subscribe to many of the outlandish conspiracy theories I have read on this issue there does seem to be a degree of normalisation at play here. This was also clear from plans discussed in 2013 to include a memorial garden in the museum. A memorial garden which would include British soldiers, something confirmed by the Museum Manager at a meeting held in the Bogside on July 25th, 2015. Despite denials following this disclosure references to this plan were found in documents obtained under Freedom of Information Legislation.

As a ‘museum of the people’ I would urge the Bloody Sunday Trust to find a solution suitable to all. As plans are underway at Whitehall to whitewash the past through a state protected, time-limited and tokenistic process, victims now more than ever need to be united on issues that will not simply require cool heads and compromise, there needs to be an understanding that there should be more that unites victims of state violence than divides them, unless of course revisionism and the rewriting of history are considered acceptable.

*Note to supporters of normalisation, you cannot normalise an abnormal situation.