Give TDs the opportunity to vote for county and country
Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30
May I refer to Brendan O'Donnell's leading letter (Irish Independent, April 14) in which he suggests that multi-seat - three, four and five-seat - constituencies and PR-STV give rise to localism, parochialism, duplication of councillors' work and neglect of national duties. These valid observations have been made many time since 2011 by columnists and commentators but I had yet to read about a practical solution until Ivan Yates's recent column (Irish Independent, March 10), separating the election of 80 local TDs in 30 constituencies from the election of 70 national TDs through a list system from a single national constituency.
Mr O'Donnell recommends single-seat constituencies, for which we would require 158 constituencies to elect 158 TDs. This, unfortunately, doesn't seem viable and could arguably lead to increased localism, cronyism and bad national government.
Currently, we have 40 constituencies - 13 three-seat, 16 four-seat and 11 five-seat. To comply with the Constitution, our Boundary Commission has had to cross local authority boundaries to create constituencies. As a result, 11,000 Tipperary voters have no influence within their own local authority boundary. County Longford has no resident TD. Et cetera.
If we could regard 79 constituencies as viable, it would be possible to align 79 two-seat constituencies within local authority boundaries (what matter if Leitrim had one TD per 16,000 people and Longford one per 19,500). Parties would have the option, if the idea is not too fanciful, to put forward national/local teams within local authority boundaries, rather than rival candidates. Independents could state their cause - local or national.
(Maybe we could have a local Healy-Rae and a national Healy-Rae!)
Many voters (30pc) who now 'float' in frustration and are central to the current impasse, would be given possibly their desired option - to think and vote both national and local. Will tomorrow ever come?
Celbridge, Co. Kildare
Politics is costing us dear
By my reckoning, on Wednesday, April 20, the 158 elected members of Dáil Éireann, An Ceann Comhairle, an (acting) Taoiseach, an (acting) Tánaiste, the 14 acting ministers (including three non-elected), the 15 acting junior ministers (including four non-elected) will have, for the previous 54 days, received a combined salary of €2,389,264.47.
I have not even included their expenses. Not bad, for not doing what you have been elected to do.
Each TD will have received €12,909.40 over those 54 days.
That compares to a single man's jobseeker's allowance of €9,776 per annum, and a single man's pension of €11,975.60 per annum.
Maybe it's the jobseeker's allowance TDs should be paid.
Monkstown, Co Cork
Signal failure in the Dáil
I am sure it would speed things up if the good people of Ireland were to announce that we will no longer be paying the outrageous salaries and expenses of our TDs until they are doing the job that they were paid for. Finding a TD who is working hard for the taxpayers of Ireland at the moment is about as likely as finding an honest burglar.
Tinahely, Co Wicklow
Is ours a singular currency?
Could someone explain why, in Ireland, the plural of euro is euro?
Is this from Gaelic or is it because of a lack of funds?
Muswell Hill, London
The Pope leads by example
Fergus Jordan's letter (Irish Independent, April 18) criticising Pope Francis for taking only 12 refugees to live in the Vatican really demonstrates what a nation of whingers we have become.
By his actions, the Pope has once again demonstrated great love of humanity and by his example to fellow Christians, has taught all of us what we should be doing to bear witness to Christ.
His actions were all the more powerful by the fact that the 12 are all Muslims.
It will be interesting to see if his request of some months ago for each parish in Europe to take in a refugee family ever comes to fruition.
Killarney, Co Kerry
Ireland's Brexit conundrum
Imagine the furore if UK politicians came to the Republic telling voters how they should vote in a referendum? That's what Irish politicians are doing when they can't even form a government at home or run their own country properly. And amidst all their hand-wringing, none has come out publicly and stated the obvious - if the UK decides to leave, then Ireland should go with it.
Charleville, Co Cork
Amnesty's views are fact-based
I respond to Cora Sherlock's letter criticising Amnesty on abortion (Irish Independent, April 13). I believe that an honest, objective, respectful discussion on this issue is vitally important. We are not "selective" about which aspects of Ireland's abortion law we engage on. As a human rights organisation though, we base our work on actual international human rights law, not the imagined version her Pro Life Campaign wishes existed.
Actual international human rights law is clear that women and girls have a right to have access to abortion, at a minimum when they are pregnant as a result of rape, their lives or health are at risk, or there is a diagnosis of a fatal or severe foetal impairment. Nothing Ms Sherlock says can negate that.
Our campaign is not "an attempt to re-write the election results", whatever view Ms Sherlock may have of those results. In fact, the majority of the electorate share our revulsion at Ireland's law and the human rights violations it inflicts. Our recent Red C public poll impartially demonstrates that the vast majority find Ireland's abortion ban "cruel", "inhumane", "hypocritical" and "discriminatory". Only 5pc of the Irish public share the Pro Life Campaign's total opposition to abortion. And even in this group, half would vote Yes in a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
Unlike women, the incoming government has a choice. It can continue to ignore women's human rights, and the Irish public. Or it can legislate to provide a respectful healthcare service that trusts and supports women.
But it must first repeal the Eighth Amendment. And 80pc of people say they would vote Yes to that. That's the real story of our campaign.
Executive director, Amnesty International Ireland