Don’t ignore the crisis looming far beyond the campaign trail
Published 15/02/2016 | 02:30
This General Election is in a bubble. It should be absolutely plain that circumstances outside Ireland fundamentally affect how our State can continue to borrow at reasonable rates to fund public services and to preserve, let alone grow, employment.
Yet again in an election, we are sleepwalking through a very unstable world with a meltdown looming in the global economy - both finance and trade, the EU in turmoil and the biggest refugee tragedy affecting Europe since the Second World War.
We are not even looking at the existential crisis facing our closest neighbour - that kingdom being unsure whether it should remain within the EU, or even whether it should itself be united. (With opinion polls showing an increasing likelihood of 'Brexit', the consequences for us could be very turbulent - not least in the context of Northern Ireland).
It is not good enough to tacitly 'note' these threats to our stability and move on as if that is sufficient. That is what we did in the 2007 General Election and we all know, to our cost, the way that worked out.
There is a storm coming. That we cannot measure its precise gale force and impact does not make it go away or allow us to ignore it. The issue at this General Election is not to be found in parsing numbers and fine points of policy. It is to be found in answering one question: 'Who do you trust to have the character and the ability to steer us through a hurricane.'
Rural Ireland's raw deal
I wish to respond to John Thompson (Irish Independent Letters, February 13). We who live in a rural area pay our taxes but never get any of the benefits, such as free water and sewerage. Over the past 60 years we have had to supply our own water through local initiative and private investment in water schemes and wells.
I can tell you as Chairperson of the Michael Davitt Museum in Straide, which is a rural area, we had to pay for connection to the water scheme. A few years ago we paid ¤1,200 for an upgrade with a meter, and in 2000 we paid ¤10,000 for upgrade of sewerage. We also pay a yearly maintenance fee, as other locals do.
It costs to drill a well, then there is the cost of an electric pump for pumping, and the purifying machine and purifying salt, which costs about ¤10 a fortnight.
Yet city people expect our taxes to pay for their water and sewerage, as has been the case for the past 60 years. How irrelevant 1916 is to the people of rural areas - we don't count, according to some politicians.
There is no broadband reception on the West Coast.
Should rural areas - rather than Dublin - have an interesting event and seek RTÉ TV coverage, they are told "it's not relevant" or there's no reply at all - even though we pay our TV licence and taxes towards the funding of the national broadcasting service.
When house rates, or as they are now called, property tax, were removed in 1977, there was no roads, bridges or drainage investment in the rural area. Yet Dublin got the new Dart and Luas, motorways, dual carriageways, etc.
We do not request an industry in every estate - just industry for the general area.
Dublin Airport was provided for you, we had to provide our own at Knock in the 1980s by weekly door-to-door donations and the American dollars thanks to Canon Horan's fundraising.
Please, Mr Thompson, perplexed as you are, do not lecture rural areas on always looking for government funding - Dublin takes that prize.
Ballinderreen, Co Galway.
Moving home to housing crisis
Emigrants like me who aspire to return to Ireland have an unfair dilemma. Moving back now could make someone else homeless by increasing the demand for housing. Under current government policy, we will continue to face this moral dilemma for many years.
The Coalition ensured that as few houses as possible were built, by enthusiastically decimating social housing construction and doing nothing to encourage supply.
The system that previously served banks and builders now serves landlords.
Then, one minister added insult to injury in an astonishing act of self-pity and victim-blaming. Michael Noonan exonerated the Government as "victims of their own success" and insisted the housing crisis - the crippling rents and children living in B&Bs - is caused by "younger people moving into bigger cities to take advantage of all the jobs". What are they supposed to do? Emigrate?
And what am I supposed to do? The idea of someone else being tossed out onto the street to make space for me is something I find utterly repulsive.
But that's what will happen if I return to Ireland.
The signs aren't so good
If our next self-serving government is as solid and firm and well planned as the posters that I now see hanging off lampposts and blowing all over the roads and footpaths, I would estimate the following elections will take place about 12 months from now.
Tinahely, Co Wicklow
Labour's rank and file
People must remember that it is not the Labour Party cabinet that will decide whether Labour will take part in government. The party rank and file must vote to allow them to sit in the seats of power. Members know they have done badly in the last five years. It's not only opinion polls that tell them this, but election results, such as Labour's 4pc showing in Meath East, where it was supposed to be strong
If Labour again becomes the tail wagged by a larger dog, it will disappear, as did the PDs. The party will vote against Labour entering the next government. They must not tell the electorate this, however, lest the voters look elsewhere to make their vote count at the government table of influence.
Pádraig Ó Laimhín
Address with editor
The bidding has begun
Fine Gael will offer the Social Democrats a cabinet seat in return for the party's support if a government cannot be formed. As the auction builds, you can bet that Fianna Fáil will offer two cabinet seats, and will probably throw in a flatscreen TV to get into power.
Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim