'Non-existent' fathers need to show some responsibility
* I've got to thinking lately that this little country of ours should scrap the title 'Isle of Saints and Scholars' and instead be known as the 'Island of Immaculate Conceptions'.
For it would appear that an inordinately high number of Irish babies, past and present, have come into this world without any male involvement in the process at all.
As the sickening revelations about the thousands of Irish women and children who were condemned to live and die in religious institutions continue to emerge, I'm struck by the fact that not a single father seems to have existed in this whole sad and deplorable saga.
Even up to this day, it's become impossible to switch on the radio without hearing another lone parent (always a mother) decry the State's inability to provide sufficiently for her children. Again there never seems to be a father in sight.
These children are not of course an issue of some miraculous intervention. Rather they are an issue of spineless, irresponsible men – except in the case where the father is deceased.
I am calling on the current generation of 'non-existent fathers' to come out from behind the bushes and take responsibility for your offspring.
Because, as a hard-pressed taxpayer, I am bloody well sick and tired of paying to raise your children.
NUNS DIDN'T DIE OF MALNUTRITION
* During the period in question regarding the mother-and-baby homes, mid-1920s to mid-1960s, how many nuns died of malnutrition?
D K HENDERSON
* In light of the recent baby-home scandals, which have followed the Magdalene Laundries and industrial homes scandals, can some of your readers explain to this mystified non- Irishman how and why it was the people of those periods ignored the inhumanity that what was going on under their roofs?
With all the media coverage on this subject, nobody has actually broached the angle of how it was there was no protest.
I have asked endless Irish people this particular point and all you ever get is vague answers. Even young Irish people don't ask why their parents' generation turned a blind eye to the mayhem that was being perpetrated across the land. Will it be left to historians in a future Ireland to explain what went on under their ancestors noses?
Surely, if we are going to learn from history, you can't just brush it off by blaming it on to the so-called culture of another period and time.
I await answers.
JOY STREET, RINGSEND, DUBLIN
LET'S NIP APPLE ROW IN THE BUD
* A creative, relevant and agile government response is required for the tax probe launched by the EU into Apple, the concerns of the US Senate, and the widely reported comments of Governor Brown of California if the impact of these is not to inevitably take their toll on the sentiment of foreign direct investors towards Ireland.
Major international corporations will be extremely concerned about unanticipated liabilities and the reputational implications of any EU ruling that is discerned as being adverse to their interests and those of their institutional and personal shareholders.
The consequences for Ireland will be missed investment opportunities and fewer fact-finding visits around the country by prospective investors.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spends in excess of €57m promoting Ireland's economic interests overseas but bears no accountability to deliver the value claimed as a consequence of this expenditure.
The department declares that the rationale for spending this money is exports and services from Ireland worth €182bn and 250,000 jobs in the country attributable to foreign direct investment.
However, over 90pc of the nation's exports are derived from foreign-owned companies, without any intervention whatsoever by any Irish authorities, agencies or the nation's ambassadors.
It would therefore make compelling sense to have IDA Ireland report to the Foreign Affairs and Trade ministers.
A rationalisation of embassies, consulates and the 19 IDA Ireland overseas offices, as a well as the combination of public diplomacy with the skills and know-how to secure foreign direct investment, would surely mean that Ireland's efforts in the foreign direct investment sphere would be more focused, defensible and successful.
GLENAGEARY, CO DUBLIN
US ARMY IS COUNTING THE COST
* When the Cold War ended in stalemate; with both sides winning victory in each of the main battlefields of all wars, the world learned some very important lessons.
With Russia winning the military struggle, by proving it had the capability of annihilating the Americans, we learned that America is the second most powerful military in the world at best.
When America won the field in the economic battlefield, and thus saw the collapse of the Russian economy in both structure and wealth, we learned that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
The problem facing the American military right now, particularly given the recent billion-dollar investment in "Fortress Europe", is that it may soon fall foul to not being able to afford its military prowess.
Recent events in Iraq point to a world police force that is on the point of over extension. History proves this to be a terminal viewpoint for those who have relied on the "might is right" principle to earn their daily crust.
ATHENRY, CO GALWAY
MYTHS OF THE WELFARE STATE
* Your editorial (Irish Independent, June 11) on the ESRI research paper 'Welfare Targeting and Work Incentives' and story on same may have lent the impression that there is a massive problem with welfare traps; that welfare pays more than work in many cases; that many people therefore prefer to stay on welfare; and that the Department of Social Protection is doing little to tackle the problem. None of this is the case.
As the ESRI itself has stated, the paper "confirms that work pays more than welfare for close to six out of seven unemployed people – even when costs like childcare and travel to work are taken into account."
Furthermore, the research shows that in relation to the small numbers of people who would actually receive more on welfare than work in the short term, "more than seven out of 10 choose work rather than welfare" – because they recognise that wages can increase with time and there are significant additional benefits to being in work.
In your editorial, you state that "the problem ... means that when the economy needs workers, they are not available and there is the double blow on the Exchequer of having to make welfare payments and forgo income tax."
In fact, all the available evidence shows that as jobs become available, jobseekers take them – and the fact that unemployment has reduced from over 15pc to 11.8pc under this government's watch demonstrates as much, as does the fact that the Live Register has fallen for 22 months in a row.
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL PROTECTION.