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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 28, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

    It really does Mater for Joe

    Harry McGee

    Every Friday without fail, late in the afternoon, an email drops into our mailboxes with a headline that goes something like this.


    One of the people in the Labour Party press office told me that when they fire off that press release every Friday, they know their week’s work is finished and it’s time to go for a pint.

    The Costello in question is Deputy Joe Costello, the Labour TD for Dublin Central. And the protest highlights the conditions at the A&E department at the Mater, which is of course in his constituency.

    We get lots and lots of emails each day. Between 50 and 150 depending on the day that’s in it.

    There are some that are destined for the trash can.

    And I’m sorry to say that I can not recall even one of those Friday emails from Joe ever making print.

    Nearly every Saturday of the year, without fail, Joe, his wife, Lord Mayor Emer Costello, and a few others protest for an hour outside the A&E department.

    Each week, Costello discloses the stats for that week. An example from a few weeks ago:

    This week there was an average of 25 people on trolleys in the Mater. On Wednesday, that figure was as high as 33.

    “This figure is a nothing short of shameful, and for this reason the Labour Party will continue to campaign for decent standards in the hospital.

    And today we learned that tomorrow is the 7th anniversary of the protest. That the small band of people have kept at it for seven full years is an achievement.

    To me, it just sounds thankless. And a saothar in aisce on an almost epic scale, if ever there was one.

    Seven year of Saturdays, walking around a car park in the North Circular Road with placards, is a pretty good working example of martyr for the cause.

    Hats off to him and his band for perseverence and stickability.

    And I suppose, in a small way,  we’re recognising him today. Here’s to the guy who persevered to the end against a sea of indifference. I’ll raise my Diet Coke to you Joe on that one!

    • Oscar Wilde says:

      Men do the stupidest things for the noblest of reasons.

    • Kynos says:

      Thanks for the Irish lesson as well never heard of saothar in aisce before. Fruitless efforts hey? Someone has to do them well done Joe. I think I’ll vote Labour next time. If there is a next time.

    • ruby tuesday says:

      I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that desperate pun…!

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Instead of picketing the Mater why doesn’t he do something useful like picket Harney’s home and follow her around Dublin to her fancy restaurants etc and shame her into doing her job. Jack Lynch has a lot to answer for – for such an honest man he is responsible for saving/creating the careers of some of the most loathsome people ever involved in Irish politics.

    • ruby tuesday says:

      @4 Probably because it would be illegal

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