A round-up of medical news and oddities from left field by Dr Doug Witherspoon
What do our elites have in common?
It can sometimes seem like our witless elites are incapable of consensus.
So it was heartening to see that doctors and the Health Minister have, for many years, agreed on something: that bank shares were worthy of investment.
Alas, they were all wrong.
The list of shareholders (published in the Irish Independent) who lost their shirts when AIB and Bank of Ireland shares plummeted is as frightening as it is revealing.
Mary Harney is more than €40,000 poorer thanks to AIB, while the economicially-savvy Richard Bruton lost €17,000. Then there was something called the Irish Medical Association, which saw €73,000 wiped off the value of its shares from peak to trough.
Anyone remember the IMA? They haven’t gone away you know.
If you're old enough to have been a member you'll recall what a health service looks like after spending has been cut to the bone.
It merged with the Irish Medical Union to form the IMO in 1984. But it seems the IMA lives on at 10 Fitzwilliam Place – or IMO House, as it is also known.
Anyway, back to bank shares.
The list of losers reads like a who's who of Ireland's wealthy individuals and organisations, including a disproportionate number of religious organisations.
So the doctors' union may have lost a packet but let's not feel too bad: Bruton has an MPhil in economics from Oxford and didn't see this coming.
Harney gets cabinet-level briefings and she didn't cash in her chips.
The former CEO and former chairman of AIB had a bucketload of shares and access to the loan book – they sat tight.
Even those with a direct line to divinity clung faithfully to the belief that investing in bank shares is as safe as ... houses.
So, for those griping about how the elite knew what was going on but just weren’t telling us, rest assured: they weren't dishonest, just incompetent.
Feel better now?
I'm off, you'll be fine
As the doom gets ever gloomier it can be too much to take sometimes.
Morgan Kelly, David McWilliams, and all those ‘experts’ on the IrishEconomy.ie website had almost convinced me of their anti-patriotic tales of woe when there appeared some audacious hope from an unlikely source.
Ireland, said an article in the Wall Street Journal, has a lot going for it: seemingly we’re not totally screwed after all.
Demographics, an educated workforce, and a knack for innovation are on our side.
So keep the chin up; good times are around the corner.
The author was one Oliver O’Connor, “a business consultant based in London”. Just when I was celebrating the news that London thinks the doom is overdone, I read on.
“Mr O’Connor is a former special advisor to the Irish government.”
Ah yes, now I remember. Ollie O’Connor, key counsellor to Mary Harney for the bones of a decade until September 2010 when – with Harney’s days finally numbered – he advised himself to call it quits and head to London.
Because things are looking up in Ireland. See?
With college fees back on the agenda, there have been plenty of ideas flying around about how to pay for third-level education.
One option floated from the opposition benches is a graduate tax which would see dentists pay up to €1,333 per month for four years or €1,067 per month for five years.
Presumably, new doctors too would face this mortgagesized millstone if they survive the intern year.
Thankfully there has been no suggestion (yet) of applying this retrospectively to those who graduated during the heady days of free education.
The new system would, at least, provide Leaving Cert students with a handy guide to likely income.
Arts graduates would pay between €190 and €238 a month.
One wonders how much one would have to pay after studying politics.
Put that in your pipe
Thanks to the medicines industry insider whose attention was caught by this headline for a report on the future of drug development for digestive system ailments: “Pipeline insights: Inflammatory bowel disease.”
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