Tuesday, December 14, 2010

John McCallister and an all-Ireland health service

The Shinners at Queen's recently held a debate on ‘Government of Ireland Act’ at which Alex Maskey of their own party and the UUP's Deputy Leader, John McCallister spoke.

I've no argument whatsoever at John taking part in the event, but two of his opinions expressed (presuming that the Ogs are reporting them accurately) were out of the ordinary even for a Unionist on the more liberal end of the scale:
When the UUP’s John was asked whether he would support a United Ireland if there was a majority consensus for it, he amusingly replied,

 “Yes, I suppose I would have to if it was fair and equal to all.... but I probably wouldn’t like it very much."
If such a "United" Ireland was voted for by the majority within Northern Ireland, then as a democrat I'd accept the will of the majority; I'm sure however, I would not only "not like it very much" but also would never support it!

That one was perhaps more a case of me playing the "pedantry" card, this point was much more surprising for me:
John agreed that he would like to see an all Ireland health service and wanted a fair and just system for all sections of society; however he was adamant that he did not want to lose the North’s place within the ‘UK’.

 I've no idea if informal cooperative health arrangements already exist in the border counties of  NI and ROI-  if they do, then I can see the local advantage but on the wider scale? Pooling research also makes sense but I'm sure that takes place anyway.

But considering the problems that the Devolution Experiment has caused cross-border (but still intra-national) medical care in England/Wales and England/Scotland, it's clear just the administrative side of operating one medical system across two EU states would be a bureaucratic nightmare. And more importantly, would patients in Ballymena (or Cork) get a higher level of treatment at the same or cheaper cost to the respective taxpayers merely because we were in an-island system? I suspect not.


Seymour Major said...

John McAllister has not done much thinking on that subject, has he?

How would he deal with the huge differences in the control, structures and funding of the two health services. I dont suppose he has thought much about the euro or the huge differences in salary of the staff in the two services?

This is a politician who has decided to give answers to questions without doing his political homework. Given McAllister's seniority within the UUP, that is rather a bad sign.

O'Neill said...

I am tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt given that it is reported by junior SF. However, given that it is now online and so available to the wider public perusal he needs to *clarify* his views on the subject.