Michael Noonan allowed a spark of hope to escape from the Government when he hinted over the weekend that tax breaks may finally be possible.
It is well past the time to dispense with the cant. Mr Noonan, if you and your Government are to have the faintest hope of re-election then tax breaks are mandatory. But looking beyond the normal expediency of protecting your own seats, it is time to do away with the fiction that your economic policies have the interest of ordinary people at their heart.
We have so far seen all the banks that financed the bonfire of the vanities repaid in full. The bill for the financial pyrotechnics was handed to the blameless taxpayer, who always knew the danger of playing with matches.
We have also seen multinationals being given massive tax concessions, even as our brightest and youngest must leave the country because there is no work for them.
But the real truth is that there are two economies. We have the export economy and the real, internal, economy.
Here, people are still afraid to buy or spend as they are scared about where the next pay cheque may come from. There is no prospect of growth unless some stimulus is introduced, and the German Central Bank has put paid to any thought of a rebate for our taking a hit for team Europe.
So Mr Noonan, I put it to you with all due respect: introduce significant and meaningful tax cuts for the working people of Ireland or else turn off the lights, and don't bang the door on the way out.
SANDYCOVE, CO DUBLIN
GAY MARRIAGE ROW
* We must feel pity for any of our public representatives who decide to put forward arguments in defence of marriage, as currently defined by the Constitution, during the forthcoming debate about same-sex marriage.
The amount of abuse and bullying they are likely to receive will be enough to silence them as soon as they voice their views – so most likely they will not voice them.
Should we not find it unfair and extremely damaging if politicians were to be called anti-Semitic because they expressed their views about Palestinians having a right to protect their land, not agreeing with Israeli settlements being built in Gaza?
They do not dislike Jews at all, but understand the politics and social rights of citizens in the Middle East differently from pro-Israelis. The same applies in the current debate about same-sex marriage in Ireland.
MILLTOWN, DUBLIN 6
FORGET POLL, MAKE IT LAW
* I support Rory O'Neill's contention that it is no longer reasonable to debate the question of whether the Irish State should treat gay people differently. The referendum should be abandoned and the legislation tabled tomorrow.
Further debate lends an illusion of respectability to the arguments of those who believe gay people should not be afforded equal rights. I don't think that their disgust at my relationships, however they rationalise it, is a comparable position to my own and my desire to be treated equally in society.
My partner and I formed a civil union which several members of my family in Ireland did not attend.
I was later told they had always disapproved of my homosexuality for moral and, latently, religious reasons.
Any right-thinking person would regard such behaviour as regrettable but there is only one difference between their disgust and that of the homophobe.. One exists in private, and the other in public.
Enda Kenny could table gay marriage legislation tomorrow. It would pass with flying, rainbow colours. If some mean-spirited sort wished to challenge its constitutionality then let them.
Name and address
SCHOOL'S OUT FOR RELIGION
* I refer to David Quinn's article (Irish Independent, February 7) on Ruairi Quinn's "Hostility towards faith schools".
Speaking as a young parent, I believe Ruairi Quinn has the right idea. His view largely represents the view of today's young parents. I want my children to learn good sex education including other sexual orientations, sexual health, spirituality without religion and evolution, rather than conflicting information and creationist stories.
Religious time should be on personal time. We need to pull Ireland into this century.
HUGE COST OF WORK INJURY
* It is heartening to see signs of growth in the Irish economy and the positive assessment of the future by our country's CFOs (Irish Independent, February 5).
But this progress is being achieved despite a ball and chain that continues to drag on Ireland's economic recovery.
The economy is losing €3.2bn and one million working days a year because of workplace injury and ill health – that's the cost of failings by business in the area of health and safety.
If the Government is searching for stimulus to boost this recovery, it would do well to focus on the incredible benefits of good health and safety management to businesses.
We would like to see the Government show businesses how managing health and safety can dramatically cut costs, and encourage improvements in health and safety through strong leadership .
Our new campaign, Lif€ Savings, is supported by a number of Irish businesses who are already showing that good health and safety management saves lives and money.
CHAIR, INSTITUTION OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH (IOSH), IRELAND BRANCH
ANTHEMS ROW SOLUTION
Following numerous comments from writers about our anthem, is it not time for some sanity on this?
I suggest that the governing body of international rugby come out and say that only anthems from each nation should be sung at each match.
This would include the performance of the haka.
NAAS, CO KILDARE
GIRAFFE DEATH SO WRONG
* I found the item in your paper (Irish Independent, February 10) reporting on the killing of a young giraffe in a Copenhagen zoo and then it being fed to a pride of lions (and all of this in front of young children in the name of science) to be very unsettling.
In the name of science?
Really? How far up our own backsides can our species go?
If they really want to teach school children about the anatomy of a giraffe or the feeding habits of lions, Dr David Attenborough and other great scientists have done sterling work and most of it is on film.
This was just an example of humanity displaying and indulging in its own self-importance.
If there is one good thing to come out of this winter it is that we have been awarded some humility by nature which has shown us once again that this planet does not belong to us.
And though we may not realise it sometimes, we are not its most important species.
BLACKGLEN ROAD, DUBLIN 18
SWISS VOTE CONTROVERSY
Why aren't the Swiss being told to vote again? Do they live in a democracy?
DR JOHN DOHERTY
CNOC ON STOLLAIRE,
GAOTH DOBBHAIR, CO DONEGAL.