Tuesday 25 October 2016

We must live on less, but can our TDs?

Published 13/08/2011 | 05:00

Ireland must cut wages
but we can’t compete
with rates in China. Photo: REUTERS
Ireland must cut wages but we can’t compete with rates in China. Photo: REUTERS

I agree with John Bruton's conclusion to his article (Irish Independent, August 9) that we "have all got to start thinking as Europeans, and devise a plan that is based on realism and modesty in what we ask of our neighbours, and strict honestly in what we ask of ourselves. None of us can solve our problems on the back of someone else's sacrifice."

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Eaten bread is soon forgotten, as we do seem to quickly forget the immense funding we did receive from the EEC and then the EU over 30 years, culminating in almost IR£1bn in the late 1990s, under Albert Reynolds's time as Taoiseach. And it was this money we invested in our economy, people, education and supports for business, agriculture and the environment.

In Mr Bruton's article, he outlined how we need to become competitive and pay ourselves less. We can't, though, compete with China, the new economic powerhouse that the United States owes trillions to.

The idea of paying ourselves less is the ideal to attract multinationals, as we did so successfully in the 1990s, but the cost of living is so high that it must come down for people to accept a lower wage. Bord Gais is putting up its prices yet again, just as winter approaches.

Fine Gael's Michael Ring reminded his own party and Labour recently that people were under severe pressure from the recession.

He described people coming to his constituency clinic that he had never seen before, listing gardai, nurses, teachers, and the middle-section of society, who told him of the pressures of trying to pay mortgages with the interest rates being raised regularly, while they had cutbacks to their salaries.

When Mr Bruton says we have to learn to live on a smaller wage, the cost of living needs to come down, too.

I don't know, whether with the best of intentions, he can put himself in the shoes of working people trying to keep on the treadmill financially.

He was Taoiseach for four years, then the first-ever EU ambassador to Washington DC, and is currently head of the IFSC in Dublin. All very prestigious positions and also very well paid, along with any pensions he may be getting.

There is a lot of disillusionment out there about our political system. TDs used to be poorly paid, but it has gone to the other extreme. They are paid an average of €100,000 a year, receive generous travel allowances and expenses.

As a young politician, Mr Bruton spoke of the need for Dail reform. But that was a long time ago and very little has changed.

The last general election was a warning as to how people will leave the main political parties and go for Independents on a large scale, which creates a further instability to our need for sound national governance.

Mary Sullivan
College Road, Cork

Irish Independent

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