Articles tagged with: Health Policy

Facing up to Mental Illness

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in Issue 34 Facing up to Mental Illness, 1999

Bill Toner, SJ

April 1999


The moral character of a society can best be judged by the way it looks after the weakest and most vulnerable of its members. These include, for instance, the very poor, the homeless, travellers and gypsies, the unborn, children, asylum-seekers, the sick, the elderly, the imprisoned. There is no evidence that Ireland is, in general, significantly worse than many other countries in looking after its most marginalised groups. But neither is it significantly better. Recently it was severely indicted by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child for the lack of policies and the inadequacies of services for vulnerable and at-risk children, as reported in Working Notes (Issue 31).

Unfulfilled Hopes: A Comparison of Two Reports

on Thursday, 31 July 2003. Posted in 1999

Scroll down this page to compare these two reports.


Extracts from

The Psychiatric Services -Planning for the Future(1984)

Psychiatric HospitalsMany of the hospital buildings are old and have poor facilities. Improvements are urgent and necessary in the interests of the patients and staff…. For patients who continue to live in psychiatric hospitals…a wide range of programmes of activation and rehabilitation is needed, whether to prepare them for a more independent life in a community setting or to raise the quality of their lives in hospital.

Extracts from

Report of Inspector of Mental Hospitals (1997)

"The Inspectorate cannot stand over conditions pertaining to St Brendan\'s Hospital and the Board are urged to double its efforts in an attempt to close St Brendan\'s" (p.6) "Conditions in St Loman\'s (Palmerstown) have continued to deteriorate to the point where some relatives have refused to have patients admitted to the hospital and have taken them home instead" (p.8) "The admission facilities in St Senan\'s (Wexford) were unsatisfactory. There was no privacy and severe overcrowding. Bathroom facilities were grossly inadequate, day space was extremely limited, there were no facilities for visitors to meet with their relatives, interview and other offices were non-existent and ECT had to be administered in beds, virtually in full view of other patients" (p.107)"Conditions in Unit 11 of St Joseph\'s, Portrane, had deteriorated since the previous inspection. The condition of the toilets was unacceptable: seats were missing from the toilets, the boards at the back of the toilets were smeared with faeces and a terrible stench emanated from the area. There were no taps or handles on the wash-hand basins, no soap and no towels. Windows which had been broken were boarded up. One exit door (a fire exit) had been boarded up with plywood…No lights were functioning in one of the day-rooms and toilet areas. Patients were groping around in the toilet in the dark" (p.42)"Once again, it was emphasised that the living accommodation in four wards of the main building in St. Loman\'s Hospital (Mullingar) were unacceptable and should be vacated as soon as possible." (p.60). "In the long-stay wards, care was almost exclusively of a custodial nature…the male wards were grim, dark and gloomy". (St. Mary\'s, Castlebar) (p.137).


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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.