Grey brigade bearing the brunt of austerity
* As head of our local community watch, I find the cut to the phone allowance a regressive step. It will surprise no one that this Government is going the extra mile in making life difficult for the most vulnerable, and you will not get more vulnerable than elderly people living alone, with the constant fear and threat of assault and robbery.
The problem lies in the lack of garda manpower and closure of rural garda stations that gives ruthless thugs a free rein to intimidate and frighten old people to an early grave. The elderly have been allotted an unfair share of these austerity measures. From short-changing on pensions to taxing savings. All the stops have been pulled out, making it more difficult to become eligible for a carer or home help. The abolition of the bereavement grant is a real low blow. The law was changed recently to allow burial wrapped in a sheet or blanket – was this done in anticipation of cutting the burial grant or is it just another attempt to get the last cent from our dead relatives?
Shiny new barriers have appeared outside the Dail, is this another sign that protesters with walking sticks and wheelchairs will be kept well back if protests by the grey brigade gather momentum after this Budget?
To sum it all up, I know of a very wealthy homeowner who recently spent €15k on repairing a window in a listed building. This is the type of person who should be asked to shoulder more of the burden. Not John or Anne who don't have electronic gates and SUVs the size of my house.
All this backslapping about an exit from the bailout programme, but at what cost? We are only now suffering the effects of the last Budget which does not bode well for our ageing citizens.
Gort an Choirce, Dun na nGall
WE DIDN'T ELECT ADVISERS
* The Budget should not be decided by six people alone in a government; or should I say six advisers behind them. There needs to be urgent Dail reform. I would suggest that every elected representative should act for the people, rich or poor, and frame an inclusive Budget.
We don't elect an 'opposition' when we go to the polling station, we elect a public representative. The candidate we elect will represent us at all levels, while in the Dail, it should never be about the 'power' of one side as there will never be a balance for the people.
Michael Noonan stated we are getting our purse back from the troika, but no one party should hold the purse strings.
Why do we need a Taoiseach when it's clear the advisers decide on most things the Government do?
The current system does not serve the voter. Why not just elect advisers? It makes one wonder, do we need so many TDs in Dail, maybe the referendum should have been about Dail reform: get rid of 60 TDs. It will be interesting to now hear the opinions about the Budget from the 60 senators we saved from abolition.
CUT SEANAD ALLOWANCE
* Given recent government concern about the (alleged) annual cost of running the Seanad, I expected to see action in the Budget. Surely it was the ideal time to cut the senators' tax-free 'turning up' money (officially their travel and accommodation allowance)?
But no. In its wisdom, the Government decides instead to save money by abolishing the telephone allowance paid to the elderly.
Well I suppose they thought if the senators lost their 'turning up money' then TDs would have to lose theirs.
It's a lot to lose. For example TDs in Band I (they live 25km to 59km from the Dail) get €25,295 pa tax-free to cover their 'travel' expenses to work and within their constituency on top of their €87,258 salary.
Ranelagh, Dublin 6
BEDOUIN SUCCESS STORY
* I was very surprised to read Eoin Murray's reporting of Israel's policy towards the Bedouin community in Negev, Israel (October 11). Being a Bedouin myself, and an Israeli diplomat, my perspective is different and, I believe, more informed.
Descendants of nomadic tribes who migrated to the region in the 19th and 20th centuries, we, the Bedouin community in Israel, are part of the Israeli success story. There are close to 190,000 Bedouins in Israel: some in Galilee, in northern Israel, while the majority (160,000) live in Negev. The Galilee community is generally more organised, educated and integrated into modern Israel, while 40,000 Bedouins in Negev still live in unregulated villages.
Since Israel was established 65 years ago, various Israeli governments have attempted to help the Bedouins adopt a modern lifestyle, providing free education, infrastructure, medical care and more. This takes time, and requires the full participation of community leaders. What is needed is a united community leadership, which sadly does not exist at present.
A shepherd cannot be transformed into a hi-tech engineer, and the government must retain a realistic understanding of the population. The Bedouin are a nomadic people who are not by nature landowners. Yet the government suggests, for example, free land to build houses. It would be more successful, instead, to allow the building of agricultural farms, similar to the Jewish kibbutzim.
Until I was eight years old, the Bedouins in my Galilee community lived in tents. Now, most Bedouins are living in concrete homes, attending college, holding positions in government, and more.
Counsellor for Civil Society Affairs
Embassy of Israel, London
SMUG LEADERS' PUNT
* After watching the Budget, I was thinking what are those two leaders trying to do to ordinary people?
Enda and Eamon were looking very smug and celebratory as Noonan was telling of the hardship their two political parties were going to inflict on the citizens of the 26 counties. What have they got against the elderly, the sick, the parents of young children, and the under-25s – while the rich stay rich?
Maybe Enda and Eamon have bet on London to win the Connacht, or God forbid, the All-Ireland championship next year as the youth of Ireland cannot afford to stay here.
Castlerea, Co Roscommon
* This Government has frequently encouraged citizens (particularly young people) to establish private pension savings. This seemed reasonable enough; after all it is wise to provide for an uncertain future. They then brought in the 0.6pc pension levy in 2011, which was to run for four years. This was a plunder of capital sums, equivalent to taking money from private savings.
We were told that this money would be used to fund the jobs initiative (where did it all go?). We were also assured that this was a once-off. Naively, I felt comforted to hear this. Alas, in this Budget, they have increased the levy by 0.15pc and extended it by a further year. Now, why on earth would any young person sign up to a private pension scheme when the Government can dip their avaricious hands into it?
Dunleer, Co Louth
DEMOCRATS ALSO WRONG
* Ed Toal's excellent letter, on the global effects of American political pig-headedness (October 16), was correct on all counts, bar one.
While the Republicans are indeed "flexing their muscles", so too are the Democrats, who are just as unflinching in their defence of their 'Obamacare' bill, as the Republicans are in their opposition to it – the nub of the current trouble.
It seems to me that national healthcare is never a bad thing – but the present impasse is far from being a purely Republican hang-up.