Dear Madam

I write to express how appalled I am at the perceived attempts by the Dept of Health and the government to silence Prof John Crown, and to urge your readers to make their voices heard in supporting him as a fearless voice in condemning our two-tier health system . . . the root cause of so much misery for the disadvantaged and the marginalised.

We are very familiar with the way pressure is brought to bear on those who work in all of Social, Health and Homeless Services when they speak out. Indeed, twice over the 30 years in my work with TRUST, as our Trustees can testify, I have had to get legal advice in confronting situations where pressure has been brought to bear when we sought to draw public attention to shortcomings in services for people who are homeless. In that context, we are very disappointed that despite alleged reforms, the prevailing culture remains one in which the person who speaks out is always deemed to be the problem rather than the injustice or mismanagement that was brought to public attention.

However, the most disturbing aspect of Prof Crown’s case is what he said in an interview on radio recently about how he perceived as intimidatory the remarks made by the Taoiseach in the Dail, and he would have to consider his position as a public advocate for patients. Do we live in a democracy or some kind of pseudo dictatorship? Are there no limits to which politicians, including the Taoiseach, will go to avoid taking political responsibility for what is going on in the health service?

Alice Leahy, TRUST, Bride Road, Dublin 8.