Friday 30 September 2016

Don't blame last government for Fianna Fáil's mistakes

Published 13/05/2016 | 02:30

'Bertie Ahern's governments made decisions that bankrupted the country'
'Bertie Ahern's governments made decisions that bankrupted the country'

Reading your letters page of May 9 reminded me of the fact that we all tend to have very short memories.

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John Fitzgerald tells us about the "cutting of €12m from the State's mental health budget for 2016". Concetto La Malfa tells us about curing the HSE's "unsustainable deficiencies". Fred Molloy tells us about "Irish Water drowning in a sea of its own mistakes". All of that and much more was framed in terms of what Mr Molloy called putting right all that was wrong with the "last five years of governance".

That ignores the fact that the problems listed, and indeed many more of our present-day problems, have causes which go back much further than the last five years.

From 1997, the same political grouping - Fianna Fáil - was elected to government at all elections right up to 2007.

Being in continuous power for all of that time, they became complacent and made decisions which eventually bankrupted the country.

In 2010, therefore, we had the biggest collapse in the history of this country, with a shortfall of 30pc in government expenditure, financial institutions bankrupted and an €85bn bailout funded by the taxpayers of this and other, sometimes poorer, countries.

As a result, a different government was elected in 2011. That government helped to bring the country back from the abyss.

Blaming the "last five years of governance" for our problems and not the governance of the previous decade or more is, therefore, very short-sighted.

It could contribute to a repeat of the mistakes which had such a devastating effect on all citizens of this 94-year-old democracy.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Eighth Amendment saves lives

Jacinta Fay of the Abortion Rights Campaign says that every day the Eighth Amendment remains in place 10 women have to travel for an abortion (Irish Independent, May 12).

Were it not in place, we would soon have the same rates of abortion as in the UK and there would be 30 abortions taking place here daily. That equates to over 10,000 lives saved by the amendment every year, and around 200,000 since it was put in place. That, to me, sounds like a lot of reasons for keeping it in place.

Revd Patrick G Burke

Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny

Sabina Higgins's abortion remarks

The comments suggesting Sabina Higgins should stay silent smack a little too closely of 'keeping women in their place', which is another issue entirely.

Eve Parnell

Dublin 8

When I saw the headline 'Abortion law "an outrage" says wife of President' on the front page of your paper (Irish Independent, May 9) I thought it was referring to the outrageous law allowing abortion in certain circumstances which was brought in by Enda Kenny.

Then, as I read the article, I realised that Ms Higgins was claiming that the law on abortion was an "outrage against women" being made to carry a pregnancy to full term in the case of fatal foetal abnormality.

I believe Ms Higgins has taken advantage of her status as wife of the President. I believe she is wrong. In my opinion, she is also irresponsible in promoting further abortion.

Research suggests that a woman who has had an abortion suffers a mental and emotional struggle in knowing she played a role in her unborn child's death. This suggests that she might have been happier to have allowed her child to be born.

Peadar O'Maolain

Tullamore, Co Offaly

With the greatest of respect to Tracy Harkin and her daughter, I cannot help but feel that Ms Harkin's article 'Why doesn't Sabina Higgins respect the right to life of my nine-year-old daughter?' (Irish Independent, May 11) misses the point.

No one is questioning or threatening the life of her nine-year old.

I am delighted that Ms Harkin's daughter is loved and happy. But just because carrying her pregnancy to term was the right thing for Ms Harkin, doesn't make it the right thing for others. And it certainly doesn't give her a right to force her choice on others.

For many women faced with a pregnancy where the foetus has been diagnosed with a "fatal foetal abnormality" it is an "outrage" that they are forced to carry their pregnancy to term.

Those who call for the legalisation of abortion are not calling for abortion to be enforced on people like Ms Harkin, or on anyone at all. They are not calling for abortion, they are calling for the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

The ability to choose to end one's pregnancy is fundamental to the bodily integrity, health and basic human dignity of women and does nothing to threaten people like Ms Harkin's nine-year old.

April Duff

Portobello Harbour, Dublin 8

Shatter has been wronged

Now, I may be among many others who are not fans of Alan Shatter.

However, fair play is called for and the O'Higgins Report clearly vindicates the former Justice Minister.

The man has been wronged and continues to be wronged by his own, in that whilst the Fine Gael Government accepts its findings, it will not offer an apology to Mr Shatter or alter Dáil records.

This is unjust and wrong.

One way to ensure he gets justice is for Mr Shatter to resign the Government whip and thus erode the Government's 'majority'.

The very threat of this might be enough to inject some humility into the new Government and remind it that the good old days are officially over.

Killian Brennan

Malahide Road, Dublin 17

Scrapping history

The recent discovery of the Dublin Metropolitan Police files for the 1913 Lockout is not surprising.

Back in the 1940 and '50s, when I was a schoolboy visiting Dublin, a friend of my uncle's, a Garda Sergeant, told me of his early duties while stationed in Rathmines to service the part-time station in Terenure. One day, in the late 1930s, to pass time, he opened a large metal cabinet and found old duty books going back to the 1800s.

In one, he found details of the arrest of his grandfather, a blacksmith, for being drunk and disorderly. It took six constables to restrain him. Those books were later scrapped as waste paper.

Decades later, when I was living in the UK in the 1960s, I contacted Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) looking for some Irish record books, which should have been returned to London after the Treaty. I received the response, "Oh, we offered our stock to the Irish Stationary Office during the war, to avoid the Blitz, but were told to dump them".

Since then, I have often, quietly, thanked them, as the scarcity value of such records has been quite rewarding.

Cal Hyland

Clasheen, Co Cork

Irish Independent

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