People power and personal responsibility needed to resolve our woes

Not before time we are finally starting to think outside the box. This week a bunch of business people have come together and committed to generate work for people, by pledging jobs online. The initiative, entitled Hireland, is not designed to provide an alternative state employment agency for all and sundry, but rather is directly targeting Ireland’s skilled unemployed with a view to returning them to quality jobs.

The entrepreneurs behind this movement — a sister initiative of the American UhireUS initiative, deserve credit, not only for recognising that we must desist from demanding State intervention to solve all our problems, but also for identifying skilled workers as particular victims of the ongoing recession. Through the project, the joint partners have cited as their goal the ‘securing of 1,000,000 new jobs in America and 5,000 in Ireland’ — no small ambition. Business people and skilled workers looking to get involved need simply log on to hireland.ie — and take it from there. Here’s wishing this new movement every success.

As it so happens, the State backed Western Development Authority (WDA ) also opportunely announced this week that it too has set up a new job-themed network, this time in the form of an international business network. The RE:CONNECT Western Regional Business Network was launched by Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the Irish Embassy in London last week, with the main objective of promoting and developing links between businesses in the western region and businesses in the UK that are owned or managed by people from the region.

In other words, even the State has at last acknowledged that it is ‘people power’ — and specifically the power of the Irish people, both at home or abroad — that must be harnessed to return this country to prosperity - and not merely Exchequer funding.

The one area where thinking outside the box is not only recommended but utterly essential right now, is in regard to the health of the Irish nation. As the crisis in the health service that has fully manifested this week has shown, not only with the announcement of the drastic service plan cuts, but also the news that 2011 was the worst year on record for patients on trolleys, it is clear once again that the solution here, or at least part of the solution, rests in the hands of the people.

Health in Ireland must not only be about health services but should also refer to the lifestyles people are choosing to lead. Anyone who has endured the inevitable delays occurring at emergency departments in our hospitals couldn’t help but notice that many of those presenting for treatment, are there as a result of self-inflicted injury, whether through accident or design, or overindulgence in food, drink and alcohol.

The new series of Operation Transformation now broadcasting on our TV screens is recording dramatic changes not only in the decreasing waistbands of participants, but also in the increasing levels of wellbeing among the so-called ‘leaders’, who enthuse each week about how their lives and health have improved.

Most interesting is the news that thousands of ordinary people around Ireland who signed up to follow the show’s health programme, are also enjoying unanticipated health benefits as a result of losing weight and doing regular exercise.

In light of the above example, it would not be facile to suggest that responsibility for Ireland’s current health crisis cannot solely be blamed on management and the State, but also lies with the individual. Just as our businesspeople and entrepreneurs are doing, we must all work on our personal responsibility in order to help resolve many unavoidable woes currently blighting Irish society.

Joan Geraghty

Acting Editor [email protected]

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