26 February 2004 Edition
Psychiatrists and drug companies
I would like to thank Mike Derrig for his article, The great psychotropic drugs scandal, in last week's paper. There does need to be greater awareness in society of the harm that psychiatric drugs do cause.
There are no medical tests, brain scans or blood tests for example, by which psychiatry can diagnose someone as having a so-called mental illness such as 'schizophrenia'. It is important that people know that the main purpose of these drugs is that they act as chemical straitjackets and moreover can lead to serious neurological disorders such as tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the facial muscles and mouth), which can be very distressing and disfiguring.
The drugs have for many proved to be disabling and debilitating and resistance among psychiatrists to a patient's expressed wish to come off such drugs is quite common.
In my own experience, I have seen the harm psychiatry has done and we need better social support for people who suffer severe mental distress in terms of counselling, therapy and a supportive environment. It is one of the great untold human rights abuses of our time that psychiatry continues to dispense such brain damaging neuroleptic drugs.
We do need an open debate on the influence of the drug companies in psychiatry. One issue, which I suggest, should be taken up as a petition is the fact that the Irish College of Psychiatrists, a division of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, does not disclose how much money is received each year from drug company sponsorship. The College should establish a register of members' interests in drug companies to ensure that psychiatrists declare how much sponsorship they receive as individuals.
Given the increasing accountability expected of those in positions of authority it is only right that this should happen now or have they something to hide?
I refer to last week's letter by Mártan Ó Conghaile regarding Sinn Féin websites.
I couldn't agree more with the writer. The internet is now a powerful communication and information tool that more and more people are using. In particular, younger people are using this method to get information rather than the traditional way of reading newspapers.
Our cumann has put a motion forward for the Ard Fheis asking that local
cumann websites are linked to the Sinn Féin official site, www.sinnfein.ie
Cllr Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin,
Clonakilty Sinn Féin, West Cork.
Any port in a storm?
There has been a lot of controversy about the sale of Waterford's upper port recently, and I'm not so sure if the ordinary people of the city and villages on the river estuary realise what they are about to lose.
The port of Waterford has been in existence for about 1,200 years and is probably the finest natural harbour on the island of Ireland, next to Cork. The smaller harbours on either side of the estuary, such as Passage East, Duncannon and Dunmore East, depend on this upper harbour sanctuary during extreme weather conditions, when local and visiting vessels shelter in the upper port. To take away this facility before an alternative is constructed would devalue the smaller ports in the lower harbour region immensely.
The Port of Waterford Company, experiencing financial difficulties at the moment, has decided to sell off some of its assets, including the upper port, without any thought of the negative affects. No doubt, property developers would jump at the opportunity to buy such a prime inner city site, but would taxpayers have to foot the bill when it dawns on the authorities that another new port has to be built downriver.
Apart from the effect on the lower estuary ports, Waterford as a city owes its existence to the port. In my opinion, the people of Waterford and lower estuary should be given more of a say rather than let a company that is in financial distress close a port that has been in use since the first Vikings came to our shores.
If the port sale goes ahead it would bring to an end a maritime era for Waterford city.
Patrick J Fitzgerald,
Mr McDowell v SF
In his latest tirade against Sinn Féin, Minister Michael McDowell has failed (again) to produce a scintilla of evidence of financial irregularities by SF. On the contrary, if one examines the publications of SF or the obvious lack of wealth of its members, it is clear that its political profile is driven by the work of its members, not by big finance. This is in stark contrast to his own party and his partners, FF, some of whose members have lavish lifestyles and some of whom have been before the various tribunals. Mr McDowell's sole "evidence" comes from secret security briefings, which, conveniently, cannot be challenged. Would these be the same security sources who did such a great job in investigating the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, the killing of Seamus Ludlow, the killing of Cllr Eddie Fullerton, etc? Maybe his "information" comes from the PSNI, who raided the SF offices in Stormont, thus bringing down the Six-County Executive, only to drop all charges related to the much hyped 'Stormont Spy Ring'.
It seems to me that the real reason for Mr McDowell's outbursts, which give comfort to Ian Paisley and anti-Agreement unionists, is the increasing number of Irish people, north and south, who are fed up with empty promises and the corruption of the big business-backed establishment parties. After years of censorship, they are supporting Sinn Féin's vision of real change to a more egalitarian Ireland. The rare appearance in the north of FF, PD, FG and Labour spindoctors failed to halt the increase in the SF vote in the Westminster and Assembly elections. Even spurious scare stories about threatening Brid Rodgers and fraudulent votes proved false and didn't fool the voters of West Tyrone or the rest of the north.
Similarly, voters here are increasingly angry at being conned and ripped off by establishment politicians and those who fund them and will not fall for Mr McDowell's antics.