Our EU project needs a road map for where we want it to go
Published 08/07/2015 | 02:30
All structures are only as strong as the foundations they are built on. The European Union began life back in the 1950s as a loose alliance of coal and steel countries in a continent torn apart by war.
Along the way other countries joined, leading to today's edifice, built in stages like a house with numerous extensions. Every project has an end date, but the EU seems to be a never-ending work in progress. Have the leaders ever sat down and asked the simple question: where are we going with this? What is the finished article going to look like? Instead, we get woolly, vague concepts like "closer integration" and "pooled sovereignty". How much sovereignty can you trade without being left a mere puppet, can it be measured?
The UK has been having concerns about Europe for several years now. In their wisdom, they stayed out of the Euro project.
What the UK are saying is that close relations and trade agreements are fine between European countries, but there are areas such as writing your own budget, the courts and human rights laws which are sacrosanct to nation statehood.
Many EU treaties passed in Ireland came in under the radar. Now we are paying the price. Easy money and credit which had its origins in Europe fuelled a bubble which has left a crippling national debt.
Europe is now at a crossroads. It's time that a European summit be called of all interested parties and a road map be laid out as to where Europe is going, what is the end date to the project, or is the structure going to be added to into infinity, creaking under original foundations which were never designed for such burden.
Donegal Town, Co Donegal
An extended stay in Greece?
Is there any chance that the Anti-Austerity politicians and the representative of Sinn Féin would stay in Greece for a year, and live their dream? I doubt it.
Ancient Greece has greatly contributed to modern Western societies. Greece invented the Olympics games, where rivals brush aside their political and legal disputes; colour, social, religious and economic stratification; and compete in a spirit of true cooperation, inspiring peaceful coexistence and equality. Ethical philosophy, inquisitiveness, storytelling and intellectual reasoning are other Greek inventions. Democracy remains arguably their greatest contribution to civilisation where people have their say in things that affect them, and become true stakeholders in shaping and charting their own destiny.
The recent referendum over the Greek bailout programme is a vivid democratic experiment where people exercised their inalienable human rights and rejected humiliating creditors' proposals with unswerving gallantry. The international community should not miss the opportunity to learn and listen from the Greek wisdom.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
The Greek situation reminds me of Paddy and Mick. Paddy gives Mick a loan of a fiver. A month goes by and Paddy asks for his fiver back. "I can't give it back to you yet," says Mick. "Why?" queries Paddy. "Because I'm not finished with it yet," says Mick.
Beaumont, Dublin 9
Architects of disaster get bonus
I am just stunned that some of those responsible for causing the biggest financial crisis in Ireland are to be be rewarded. To see such individuals may get increases under the Lansdowne Road pact, amounting to an extra €2,000 annually for the next three years, thus inflating their already massive pensions really is too much.
Some attended inquiries saying sorry for the mess which, led to huge increases in mental health problems, homelessness, marriage break-ups, poverty and isolation. But to think such failures warrant a bonus is unbelievable.
The mind boggles really. Certainly austerity has never touched them.
Tralee, Co Kerry
Looking back at Irish holidays
I am writing to say how much I enjoyed the memories of holidays in the 60s and 70s in the Irish Independent magazine on Saturday.
It brought back endless memories of the annual two-week holiday in Rosslare for myself and my three brothers, in either a caravan or house, depending on the finances at the time.
The sound of crickets was the first thing you heard every morning. The kids who got to stay in Kelly's were the envy of everybody and there was a security guard at the back entrance from the beach to stop people trespassing.
You could just see the superb adventure golf course and, worse again, the huge 'all you can eat' feast that was produced at lunchtime which made our sandwiches pale in comparison.
My oldest brother received his Leaving Cert results from the phone in the foyer of Cedars Hotel. The hotel held a fantastic weekly disco for kids, and the café at the top of the town served fantastic pink cones.
Our treats before we went home were a swim in the leisure centre in Kelly's, and horse riding beside the harbour.
I don't remember it ever raining or being cold - just endless days on the beach.
My mother has very different memories, with my late father coming down for the weekends, and she minding the four of us Monday to Friday.
We must all keep in mind that holidays in Ireland, cold or not, provide endless great memories for young kids.
Dun Laoghaire, Dublin
Cycling on footpaths
Some years ago I mentioned to a retired garda the growing problem for pedestrians of cyclists using footpaths.
He told me that when he was serving, his sergeant would not have been too pleased if he tried to bring such an offender to court.
I hope the new measures announced by Minister Paschal Donohoe will have some deterrent effect on law-breaking cyclists.
On two occasions when I've stood in front of cyclists on the footpath I've been assaulted.
One deterrent that seems to be having some effect is when I use my phone to photograph the offenders.
It's unfortunate I can't email the photos to my local garda station which surely would be helpful to them to enforce the law.
Harold's Cross, Dublin