Bet that headline surprised you.

It’s from the Belfast Telegraph and it sure as hell surprised me. It puts the Daily Mail to shame for xenophobia. Of course it is perfectly in tune with the Independent Groups traditional partitionism but I know how much it has angered many friends and it appears that it is retreating to a purely pro union viewpoint again. It’s readership is now going the way of the Newsletter as previously blogged here and I couldn’t wish it a better future.Bel Tel Journalism

In fairness, the headline is not the fault of the journalist, Colin Breen. I actually know Colin personally and, although he is a unionist politically, I know him to be a fair bloke. There is nothing personal, as he will understand, if I dismantle his argument.

Ok, Here are his key points. Points in brackets are mine:

1.8M population in NI

80K higher number of medical cards ( that’s about 4%) Scary stuff and fair enough. So I’ll quote from the article

“But it is understood the number of medical cards registered to addresses here is up to 80,000 higher than this figure. And 20,000 of these are believed to be in the Londonderry area alone.”

Eh, hang on, Understood? by whom? Any actual figures on this? No?  Lets move onto the next paragraph…

“While there may be some discrepancy in numbers because of deaths, students from Northern Ireland living elsewhere and people moving away”

Ok, so the figures don’t account for the dead, emigration or, although not mentioned, immigration.

“it is feared the number is largely inflated by people who live in the Republic – where healthcare is not free – but who have managed to secure a medical card through an address in the north” 

Feared? By whom exactly? Does anyone see a pattern forming here? Next revelation………

“While the Department of Health did not have official figures on how many medical cards are currently registered, a well-placed source confirmed the figure is as high as 80,000 over the population. “

OK. Now this is becoming hilarious. Who the hell is the well placed source? Nelson McCausland?

And finally.

“Insiders are privately pointing the finger towards the Republic for the ongoing upsurge in numbers registering here illegally”

Do I need to say anything else?

As I see it, here is an outstanding argument for reintegrating our health services on both sides of the border. Colin has inadvertantly emphasised exactly why we should never have split them up in the first place

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