After publishing so many posts about the NSUE Conference, there is a need to draw a line in the sand.
These are the political things that happened there that will influence my actions in future …
(1) John Moloney, the minister, from Fianna Fail, was fantastic.
I couldn’t believe how good he was. I’d heard another ‘government’ minister speaking at a Conference in November: he’d bored me silly. I expected the minister to waffle and go through the motions. I find it hard to credit that I stood up and congratulated a Fianna Fail minister of state for speaking from the heart and putting in place an excellent mechanism for holding future ministers to account. Tomorrow there will be a press conference at which the minister will announce
- the government’s re-affirmation of commitment to the Vision for Change and all that involves for the 7 years that are left to run to 2016
- the minister will promise that all proceeds of mental health asset sales will be earmarked for mental health investment (in the past revenue from mental health asset sales have gone into the general coffers of the department of finance - while investment in mental health as a % of total government investment has fallen year on year of Fianna Fail)
- there will be (SMART) objectives to measure progress towards fulfillment of the Vision for Change. These benchmarks or KPIs (or whatever jargon they care to use) will be the drivers of action across the board
- there will be an annual report on progress ("a yearly check & balance") on the Vision for Change and, more importantly I think, a quarterly review conducted, and presumably published, with the representatives of service users fully involved and entitled to critique the pace of change. The minister said this meeting "would not be a talking shop". I thought he meant it.
The minister said he intended to "stitch" the Vision for Change into what I’d call the DNA of the government. He certainly stitched that commitment into my brain. Of course, one of the most important political skills is the skill to wriggle out of apparently irrevocable commitments. I presume Mr Moloney wouldn’t have got where he is without having this skill in spades. Of course, we’ll judge him by actions rather than words. But politicians trade in words and the electorate can tell a spoof from the real things sometimes. I’ll be watching, not only this minister but his successors too. I am writing this today because I want to have something to refer back to.
- He said "the pace of change could have been quicker." He couldn’t have spoken a truer word. But he wants us to judge him on the future not the past. Politicians always say that. They are realists - you can’t change the past.
I wish there were a podcast of the NSUE conference…
- so that we might quote the minister’s words back to doorstep canvassers during the local elections, European elections and the general election which I still hope will come soon.But the main reason I’d like future NSUE conferences to be podcast is for the sake of transparency and inclusivity.
That’s a lot off my mind. If nothing else happened for me at the conference, it would have been worth going to for that. Future NSUE conference won’t be as dramatic I suspect.
To my great surprise, the minister drew attention to the course running at DCU…
@ the School of Nursing, the course which aims to prepare mental health leaders. That’s where I’ll be on Thursday at the Symposium. I’ll be reporting on that too.
"Mad Pride" on the horizon…
The politician in him knew that John McCarthy was in the audience and so must be people who value the Mad Pride Festival… The Minister said he intended to get something similar started in his county. I wondered where his constituency was and who his supporters there were and whether this was another political gimic? I’ll be watching and I think I’ll write to the minister’s constituency Fianna Fail party to find out whether they know about this or whether it was a bit of political inspiration for the sake of a Cork audience. But it does show how successful John McCarthy and Mad Pride have been already. Put Saturday 7 June 2009 in your diary: Mad Pride Day in Cork.
I meant this to be really short. I’ve failed to contain my enthusiasm for pushing the minister along the road he’s so publicly and convincingly signed up to. To those of you who won’t hear of anything good coming out of this Fianna Fail ‘government, I say to you there are sincere politicians and they need feedback to keep their pecker up.
PS: The fact that the minister used to be an undertaker like my great teacher, friend and writer par excellence Thomas Lynch has neither led me to write this piece, nor influenced its content.
If you were there, please chip in with a comment
If you were not, please add your voice