Saturday 24 September 2016

The PR voting system has gifted us this electoral mess

Published 14/04/2016 | 02:30

The PR electoral system has produced an uncertain outcome. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The PR electoral system has produced an uncertain outcome. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Regarding the trouble forming a government, the root cause of the problem is our system of proportional representation (PR) in multi-seat constituencies. This system was adopted on independence from the British, who were sagacious enough not to adopt it themselves.

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Our existing PR system in multi-seat constituencies, while ostensibly ensuring that representatives are elected in numbers proportionate to their support among voters, does not really secure this objective because of the vagaries of it - and certainly does not always produce majority-party government.

A much fairer, and strictly more democratically representative system, would be the PR system as used currently in by-elections but - and this is a crucial but - in single-seat constituencies. This arrangement would eliminate the corrosive practice whereby TDs in multi-seat constituencies are not only competing with members of their own party but also with opposition TDs. It thrives on, and gives rise to, localism and parochialism; it distracts TDs from their main functions as legislators, policy formulators, etc. It also duplicates the functions which local councillors should be doing.

In short, what I am proposing would be the best and fairest means of achieving the principle of effective, democratic, majority government and would avoid the damaging, unseemly charade and posturing we have seen since the last election. It would also avoid voting in large numbers of disparate and idiosyncratic Independents.

Would it be too much to hope that the present impasse might prompt a further move "in the national interest" to change the system? I wouldn't wager too much on it.

Brendan O'Donnell

Glenageary, Co Dublin

One party deserves credit

For the purpose of a formation of a government, the question being consistently asked is: "What is the difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil?" Nobody has come up with an answer to this question that would stack up or tend to militate against one party going into government with the other. Fianna Fáil's reluctance, therefore, in this respect is hard to fathom.

Commenting as one with no party political allegiance and a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, and withholding it where it is not, the only discernible difference between these two parties, apparent to me, is that one brought the country to its knees economically, necessitating austerity measures, while the other got it back into the healthy state of being the fastest-growing economy in the EU.

This creditable performance ought to mean something, surely and, from my perspective, I feel obliged to thank them for it. It is immaterial to me what political party presides over good government as my commitment to them will stand.

Passing judgment on the basis of propaganda and little else has nothing to offer anybody except more of the same - a twisted sense of what is moral, ethical and bad government.

Pat Daly

Address with editor

Industrial chaos looms

The number of industrial relations disputes and other possible economic challenges coming down the tracks is building by the day.

There's the Luas, Irish Rail, the teachers and the gardaí, and the possibility of a Brexit. It looks like the opposition benches could be a good place to be after all.

Are you sure you want to get into government, Micheál?

Damien Carroll

Dublin 24

Legacy of heroic little airline

As the families of the original founders of Aer Arann in 1970, we are in total agreement with the people of the Aran Islands who want the Aer Arann service to continue, a tried and tested service that they have relied on for the last 46 years.

The ethos of the company was to be of service to the Aran people and, to link them with the facilities of the mainland, particularly the medical services to which they were entitled.

The main founders were Ralph Langan, a Galway businessman and fruit wholesaler; Jimmy Coen, a Galway entrepreneur and publican; and Colie Hernon, a far-seeing islander and coxswain of the Inismór lifeboat who dreamed of an air service to Aran. The three together were a force to be reckoned with.

In retrospect, it seems like an impossible dream. How do you land an airplane on a rocky island? Undeterred, they set about building a landing strip on Inismór, an island with only three cars and no machinery. This is the stuff that movies are made about and the stories are legend. They put their own money up front - no handouts or subsidies in those days, just plain old blood, sweat and tears!

Fast forward 10 years to Aer Arann's visionary progress. They now had landing facilities on all three islands all with regular flights to the mainland, four aircraft to cater for a burgeoning charter business plus the first-ever scheduled daily flights from Galway to Dublin as well as their core business, which was the Aran Island service. In the mid-70s, they were the proud winners of the much coveted UDT tourism award for Ireland.

In 1980, having brought Aer Arann to its peak, they sold the company to Roscommon-born, UK-based businessman Tim Kilroe. Those great pioneers have now passed on but their families and friends and the people of Aran request the Government to continue the ethos of a heroic little airline founded in 1970 to provide regular and, most importantly, reliable fixed-wing air service to the Aran Islands.

Nancy Coen, David Coen, Michael Langan

Nuns Island, Galway

MMA akin to savagery

For the last few days, I have been looking at the pictures and listening to the radio discussions of the fight between Joao Carvalho and Charlie Ward last Saturday night.

I am at a loss as to how the 'sport' of MMA could be tolerated anywhere in the civilised world.

In this country, there are laws to protect wild animals in both the wild and in captivity - yet MMA permits absolute savagery to be committed in front of huge crowds, who seem to be baying for blood - the likes of which wouldn't be seen at a cock fight.

Maybe I am a bit squeamish and maybe MMA is soon to become an Olympic sport but I am suggesting that it be stopped now - and shame on the National Stadium for enabling such savagery to be committed in such a hallowed venue.

And may Joao Carvalho rest in peace.

RJ Hanly

Screen, Co Wexford

Irish Independent

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