COMMENT

By Ger Colleran

For Leo, sorry seems to be the hardest word

Former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar demonstrated in crystal-clear terms that the State’s strategy when facing legal actions from unfortunate citizens continues to be one of deny and delay.

After all we know about the CAMHS disaster in Kerry, both North and South, Mr Varadkar still has the political cheek to tell Mayor of Kerry Jim Finucane that it would be ‘premature’ to apologise to all victims and their families of the mental health service that was supposed to look after children and young adults.

These people are incorrigible; no matter what the injustice, no matter the level of negligence, no matter the pain and suffering, no matter the violations that have been perpetrated, they still behave in a manner that is wrong on so many levels.

Mr Varadkar knew full well that children have had their lives turned upside down and ruined by over-medication and wrong medication after attending CAMHS, a service in which they entrusted their health, welfare and hopes. These children and young adults and their families have suffered the most terrible torments as a result.

Imagine your children having to endure all that and you, as a parent, looking on helplessly – heartbreak no doubt mixed, undeservedly, with guilt.

And yet, despite all that, Mr Varadkar said, two weeks before he left office, it’s premature to apologise to the victims.

It’s perfectly clear what has occurred here – and that all the blame rests with CAMHS and by extension with the State. In such circumstances, there are no genuine impediments to a meaningful apology for victims.

Varadkar’s political stubbornness emerges this week as the High Court approved a €200,000 settlement for a young girl injured as a result of the CAMHS debacle. This is the largest such settlement so far.

The former Taoiseach needs to get his hands on Elton John’s Blue Moves album of almost 50 years and learn the lesson from that wonderful song entitled ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’. It doesn’t have to be like that Leo. Saying sorry is also good for the soul.