A Horrible Warning? Lessons for Ireland from Michael Moore’s Film, Sicko

 Review Article

Margaret Burns, Policy Officer, Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice




Michael Moore’s film, Sicko, now on general release, dramatically highlights how the wealthiest country in the world, and one which spends a much larger percentage of its GDP on health than other developed countries, fails to provide an adequate and fair system of care for its citizens. The film carries its message through people’s own accounts of being denied medical care or being required to pay exorbitant amounts of money for services; it does so also through the voices of people who have worked in America’s health insurance industry and who reveal how, for that industry, the imperative of making profit takes precedence over enabling people to obtain care.

Sicko makes a person want to weep at the unnecessary human suffering that results from this system. But alongside the heart-rending stories, Moore employs humour to highlight the absurdity as well as the cruelty of the system. Sometimes the humour is unintended – as when it emerges that a letter we are shown, in which a woman’s  requests for referral for specialist services are turned down, is from ‘The Good Samaritan Medical Practice Association’. Perhaps the Good Samaritan should sue?

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A Policy Paper: The Irish Health System, Vision, Values and Reality

healthservice.jpg"The Irish Health System, Vision, Values and Reality" is a new publication prepared jointly by The Adelaide Hospital Society and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice.

This new publication - uniquely the product of Protestant and Catholic organisations working together challenges the current direction of Irish health service reforms. In a detailed overview of the Irish health system, it challenges the growing privatisation of health care and states that this is contrary to the values which ought to govern the provision of health care.

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Working Notes Issue 54

The cover of this issue of Working Notes features a colour photograph of a scene from Moore Street in Dublin just a few weeks ago. This street, like many other parts of Dublin, is now populated by many nationalities – immigrants who have come to live in this country. Ireland has become more colourful as a result of immigration and many people, both migrants and Irish, are enriched personally, socially and culturally as a result.This issue focuses issues related to immigration...


This issue's articles include: ( click here to download this issue in PDF format)

Issue 54 Editorial

Dublin MarketsIreland’s Asylum System – Still a Shambles?
by Peter O’Mahony

By far the largest categories of immigrants to Ireland in recent years have been migrant workers from other parts of the European Union. However, Ireland’s response to the far smaller numbers of people seeking international protection by coming here asking for asylum – that is, asking to be recognised as refugees – merits close examination.

Asking the Right Questions: Christians, Muslims, Citizens in Ireland
by Gerry O’Hanlon SJ

The 2002 Census of Population recorded that there were 19,147 Muslims in Ireland, of whom 17,979 were ‘normally resident’ in the country. Over 5,000 gave their nationality as Irish.2 When the full results of the 2006 Census become available it is likely they will show the Muslim population of Ireland to be between 25,000 and 30,000.

Trafficking and the Irish Sex Industry
by Cathy Molloy

Trafficking is a virtually non-quantifiable aspect of the migration issue. By its nature it is secretive, exploitative, and thrives on a culture of oppression and fear in which human beings are literally treated as commodities to be moved, bought and sold, used or dumped at the whim of those whose aim is to profit at their expense. Trafficking in human beings includes also the moving of people – men and women and children – for cheap labour and is rightly called the ‘slavery’ of our time.

Integration: A Challenge in Principle, in Policy and in Practice
by Eugene Quinn
The economic boom of the Celtic Tiger years has transformed Ireland from a country of origin into a country of destination. Sustained and stellar economic growth from the early 1990s not only persuaded thousands of Irish nationals to return but attracted non Irish national migrant workers in large numbers. They were responding to the recruitment efforts of Irish employers who, faced with the significant skill and labour shortages that were a consequence of the boom, began to look overseas to fill vacancies.

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