Wednesday 26 October 2016

The last thing we need is more TDs costing us money

Published 21/07/2016 | 02:30

Constituency review: Simon Coveney Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Constituency review: Simon Coveney Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

I was horrified and very angry to read a report (Irish Independent, July 15) that we don't have enough TDs to run the country.

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Local Planning Minister Simon Coveney has commissioned a group to look into the matter with a view to changing the constituencies to increase the number of TDs. Absolute nonsense. He should commission the group to organise a referendum to alter the Constitution to facilitate a move to vastly reduce the number of TDs.

Ireland has a population of 4.7 million people and we have 158 TDs to cover that. Most of them are incompetent, self-serving individuals who rarely contribute to any issue of national importance.

It wouldn't surprise me to hear that the salary bill for the Dáil is tens of millions of euro per annum. Think what could be saved by reducing both Dáil and Senate by two-thirds.

This country owes several billion euro, so what contribution does Mr Coveney's move make to reducing that debt?

Cut out the nonsense, Mr Coveney, and face up to economic reality. The very last thing this country needs is more politicians, who were jointly responsible for the mess we are in,

Ciaran McDevitt, Dublin 5

Bureaucracy, EU-style

According to the latest census figures, the population of Donegal has fallen by almost 7,000. So what is new?

Years ago when this country didn't have its 'freedom', entire families were banished from the land - for example, the 1861 Derryveagh evictions - by unscrupulous landlords.

Today, the various Irish governments have been doing the work of those landlords, all at the behest of their masters in Brussels.

Rural counties like Donegal have been hit at every turn, with the closure of post offices, garda stations and the mountains of red tape heaped upon the farmers and small businesses which in effect puts them out of business.

The EU looks on Ireland as an outpost. Dublin views Donegal in the same manner. Then people have to leave to seek out a living.

The landlord of today may not use a battering-ram, but why should he, when he's got bureaucracy EU-style?

Colm Shovlin, Dunkineely, Co Donegal

The burqa ban

Mary Kenny is right (Irish Independent, July 18), nothing excuses, or even remotely mitigates the savagery of Nice or Brussels or Paris.

But firstly a point of fact. The ban on the burqa in Belgium has been in effect since it was introduced in 2011. In the past two months, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Latvia have also introduced a ban on the burqa and niqab. The Netherlands introduced a partial ban in 2015.

Rather than the burqa ban alienating Muslims in Europe, is it not far more relevant that the act of wearing a burqa alienates the wearer from wider society and any hope of integration? This seems to be the recent opinion of the European Court of Human Rights, which has recently upheld the burqa ban in France in the interests of "social cohesion".

It is also suggested France's commitment to secularism discriminates against the values of Islam. Would these be the values enshrined in Sharia law? Once again, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2001 that "Sharia law was a system of law that was in marked contrast to the values embedded in (the European Convention of Human Rights)".

Are we to allow the regression of European values in order to appease one particular religious ideology?

It is pointed out that some of France's Muslim population are alienated and suffer from higher unemployment and live in ghettos.

But that does make one wonder how on earth the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees to Europe and Canada in the early 80s managed to get jobs and avoid living in ghettos?

And why aren't we hearing about the marginalisation of the millions of people from other minorities in Europe, such as the Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish Shintoist, Jain and Yazidi communities?

Paul Corcoran, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14

Doomsday for housing investors

The new Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is disappointing. Yet again we have a load of hot air presented to satisfy the critics. It does nothing to protect the existing supply of private rental accommodation.

The Government and Housing Minister Simon Coveney need to stop the exodus of property owners from the sector. More than 41,000 property owners left the private-rental sector in the three years from 2012 to 2015, with many more lining up to exit as soon as the market improves.

To be told by this report that you must sell your property with tenants in situ is, to say the least, the death knell for the investor, small or large.

The punitive tax treatment of the sector was not addressed and costs will increase with increased standards. Providing rental accommodation needs to be valued by the State and treated as a business, like every other business. Supply is the issue and this report discourages investment in the private rental sector.

As with the previous report by Minister Alan Kelly in November 2014, this is doomsday for investors.

Stephen Faughnan, Irish Property Owners' Association, Dublin 15

The Rapid Build Programme, the use of empty units and a first-time buyers' package approved on Tuesday by Cabinet to help tackle the housing crisis is to be very much welcomed.

However, we must be cautious that we do not inflate a housing bubble, as happened in the recent past.

We must also be careful that best practice in terms of planning is adhered to. Spatial and proximity restrictions, fire safety measures, adequate natural light in dwellings, visual amenity, dual aspect and adequate infrastructure in terms of traffic are all concepts which need to be at the forefront of our minds when considering planning applications.

The road to hell is often paved with good intentions. Planning authorities need to ensure that we avoid legacy issues for future generations while also meeting the needs of those requiring housing.

Killian Brennan, Dublin 17

Pilloried by poetry

'Our Killer City' by Galway's Rita Ann Higgins is a very bad attempt at poetry. It consists of a series of gripes made against a city that has always preserved Irish culture. These gripes may well be accurate and as such, call out for correction and improvement.

But did it ever occur to poet Higgins that her beloved city does not have these resources? That a prize of €1.5m could be of significant help?

With time, Galway will pull itself together. But for how long will we have to put up with such bad poetry?

Fr Maurice Foley, Dalgan Park, Co Meath

Irish Independent

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