Monday 24 October 2016

Swift, decisive action now needed in the EU

Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30

Leader of the UKIP Nigel Farage prepares himself during a special session of European Parliament in Brussels. AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Leader of the UKIP Nigel Farage prepares himself during a special session of European Parliament in Brussels. AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

Dallying in the middle of the road generally means that you are sure to get hit from both sides. That is why EU leaders must be resolute and swift in framing a forceful response to Brexit.

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A fundamental principle of the European Union has been the free movement of goods and services and Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be pressing the case that there can be no change, despite Britain's decision to walk.

His three priorities must be: to shore up the economy, protect the common travel area and secure the peace process. All are of vital national interest.

Europe has been rocked to its foundations and it will require steely leadership and solidarity to survive the fallout. It has been the lack of both at the heart of the EU that has produced an existential crisis.

This has been exacerbated by the singular lack of any discernible plan or ability to restore a sense of direction.

Chaos doesn't usually come with the luxury of a blueprint, but if the EU is to have a future, it must have contingency plans to absorb even seismic shocks.

The sense of uncertainty and instability must be dispelled if the chaos unleashed by Thursday's vote is to be contained. Yesterday, Ukip leader Nigel Farage was booed and called a liar in the European Parliament.

Mr Farage has brought much of this on himself, but recrimination and further division serve no one.

Boris Johnson and others in the Leave lobby have been equally culpable for not being straight in setting out their stall on the real impact of Brexit on British lives.

We may not have been prepared for it, but now that it is here, when it comes to Brexit, as Macbeth said: "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly."

Extra €55m must benefit tenants, not landlords

The taxpayer is to pay €55m a year more to help tenants. The hope is that it will help bridge the gap between rent supplement limits and the reality of a lopsided market place. Unfortunately, despite Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar's protestations to the contrary, many fear, legitimately, that the money may end up doing more for the landlords than for those paying rent. Yes, there is a two-year freeze, but what happens when rents come up for review?

It is essential that the limits are kept under the spotlight. With the housing shortage still so acute, the only way is up for rents, which will need to be monitored closely.

The fact that the Cabinet has agreed to increase the rent supplement and the Housing Assistance Payment across the board will be welcomed.

In Dublin, where the rental crisis is at its most serious, limits will be increased by up to 29pc.

That said, relief for low-income families is long overdue.

The plight of householders reliant on state aid, who have been left high and dry by their inability to afford the spiralling cost, has been frequently raised by charities.

It has led to debt, hardship and even homelessness for too many people. While the relief is a positive step, more is yet required.

The Government must go a step further in guaranteeing the efficacy of these measures by bringing in the Residential Tenancies Board in a watchdog capacity to ensure that tenants do not eventually end up shelling out for the Government's gesture.

Irish Independent

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