Tommy McKearney highlights the position of the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum in response to Covid-19.
The Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum, like many groups and individuals, has watched Covid-19 take a heavy toll on the lives of working people around the country. The emergence and global spread of this virus has brought home to many people the volatile nature of the world we live in, and exposed the fragile nature of health services in Ireland. It has also opened up conversations about how we should deal with it and how to learn for future viruses and also a future Ireland should we have.
Decades of underfunding, privatisation and commercialisation of health services have weakened and undermined the public health services that people need and have access to. The creation of a two-tier health system in the two parts of Ireland has contributed to further inequality within society.
We believe that an all-Ireland, universally accessible, free public health system would be in the best interests of the citizens. It would go a long way to ending inequality in health care. We must maximise the use of medical expertise throughout the whole country. We need to remove the profit motive out of health services, from hospitals to care homes for the elderly.
Outmoded thinking in relation to creating a single health service for all our people will endanger the present and future generations. We need to plan for the future, not to be locked in the past.
Covid-19 is not the first virus, nor will it be the last, that will have an impact on our people. The continuing destruction of the global environment is opening up new pathways for such diseases to become more regular challenges, both globally and nationally, to people’s health and the provision of health care.
Working people paid for the last crisis in lost jobs, savage cuts in wages and services, homelessness, and precarious work. During the present health crisis working people have again borne an unequal burden, with many lives lost.
Working people should not pay for this new and emerging economic crisis. We have had enough.