When enough is enough
Published 10/04/2016 | 02:30
Sir - We are told that to hide money from the tax man is breaking no laws. Well that's a new one one me. I was under the impression that "you pay your taxes or we'll be down on you like a ton of bricks", or in the case of the super wealthy, "a ton of gold bars".
The Panama Papers are slowly revealing the true extent of some people's greed.
It's a fact that ever since we came down from the trees and formed ourselves into tribes the powerful emerged as leaders and with that position came the rewards. This has evolved into what we now call capitalism - it's a basic instinct to hang on to as much of it as you can so you will be wealthy beyond compare, so too will your kids and their kids after them. So when does enough become enough? When does the urge to keep on accumulating vast wealth start to diminish?
I often wonder do they see the same TV adverts that we see for Goal or Concern? Images of children with swollen bellies, flies crawling in and out of their eyes and, in many cases, little more than hours to go before their sad existence on this planet comes to an end. Or the vast sways of humanity assembled at borders throughout Europe? The look in the children's eyes, "why?"
Estimates put the lost revenue at $2tn. Surly this would go a long way to solving at least some of the world's problems.
Denis Healey once said: "The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison cell wall."
Mike Burke Sixmilebridge, Co Clare
It's time politicians faced up to reality
Sir - It's time for politicians to realise 'the buck stops here' and face reality. If an ordinary citizen, after presenting their credentials for a top public appointment with an excellent salary and expense account, were to obtain the job, would they doodle around for four or five weeks, rather than dig in and prove their abilities and capabilities? Certainly not.
Also, is it fair that party leaders, in whom the decent people of Ireland pledged their trust, continue to hold them to ransom, for personal considerations - over a similar length of time - rather than going ahead and forming a stable and sustainable government?
They are acting like a bunch of unruly schoolchildren.
Which reminds me of a light-hearted story I just heard. The schoolteacher put a sum to little Harry: "If I gave you two bunnies and another two bunnies and another two - how many would you have?" "Seven," was the reply. She put the question to him a second time, again getting the same answer.
"Now Harry, if I gave you two apples and two apples and another two, how many apples would you have?"
"Six," he replied. "Very good! So if I gave you two bunnies and two bunnies and two more bunnies, how many would you have?" "Seven" he replied.
The teacher, trying to hold her cool asked him why he said seven? "I already have a pet bunny at home" he replied.
A little huffed this time, the teacher couldn't resist asking: "Since when did you become so bright, Harry? "My mum puts it down to the bowl of porridge in the mornings, Miss" was the witty reply.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if our mentally and physically lethargic politicians tried the recipe?
Thurles, Co Tipperary
We only have ourselves to blame
Sir - It is now well over a month since the General Election and there is still no sign of a government being formed. Both Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin are in discussions with a variety of independent TDs of all diverse political opinions.
I feel this is all a game being played by both leaders. They are going through the motions of forming a government and no doubt promising ministerial posts to all concerned.
But it is all a sham. What I guarantee will happen is that FF and FG will eventually go into a two-party coalition and the Independent TDs will be once again left out in the cold.
We are facing a government of two conservative right-wing parties and five more years of austerity. Taxes, water charges, USC etc will not be used for the public good but handed over to the European banks and bondholders as per the norm. We will only have ourselves to blame.
Templeogue, Dublin 6W
Labour needs to seize the day
Sir - Eoin O'Malley gives an excellent analysis of where Labour stands after it's disastrous election result ('Labour would drown in sea of opposition noise', April 3). In fact, it is so good I think everyone in the Labour Party should study it carefully.
The arguments made for Labour entering government are worthy of consideration. Despite Labour's small number of seats and proportional size in relation to Fine Gael, it still has the potential to have many of its policies implemented.
This can be seen all the more clearly when you think of the time that Fine Gael is devoting to Independents. It may be small in relation to Fine Gael, but as a single party speaking with one voice, it is seven times as large as an individual Independent.
An Independent is an Independent, irrespective of whether they are in an 'alliance' or 'group' of TDs.
We need only look back a few years to see how much influence a very small party can have in government. The Progressive Democrats arrived with a blast in 1987 with 14 seats and entered government straight away. In 1989, despite losing eight seats, they were back in government again with Fianna Fail. They weren't in government after the 1992 election because Fianna Fail had lost nine seats and needed Labour.
However, they were in government after the 1997 and 2002 elections with four and eight seats respectively and even got back into government after the 2007 election with only two.
If Labour were to enter government, they would stand a real chance of re-asserting their identity, especially on social issues on which they are strong. With an improving economy, they would stand a better chance of having more of their policies implemented.
After all, wasn't the state of the nation's financial affairs the reason it often gave for not being able to implement much of its pre-election manifesto in the last government?
If I can quote Mary Harney, who was leader of the aforementioned Progressive Democrats for 14 years, she said: "The worst day in government is better than the best day in opposition."
Tommy Roddy, Salthill, Co Galway
The President and the 1916 centenary
Sir - Eilis O'Hanlon's attack on our President was disingenuous (Sunday Independent, April 3). Michael D, like the rest of us, had to listen to endless debates on radio and television on whether we would have been better off waiting for the fruition of the Irish Parliamentary Party's efforts under the great 'pacifist' John Redmond. We listened to contributors stressing their opinion that the "advanced thinkers, selfless men and women who died so that the children of the future would live in prosperity" were in fact stupid egomaniacs, seeking adulation for their blood sacrifice.
I would respectfully suggest that Eilis read the prologue (all 14 pages of it) written by John Redmond for the recruitment book The Irish at the Front, published in 1915, which brings 'blood sacrifice' to new heights.
On the question of British imperialism, she should read Stuart Laycock's recent book All the Countries We Ever Invaded.
British historians are fully capable of recognising that the UK in modern history invaded 90 different countries but are evidently incapable of recognising that militarism had been a prominent feature of Irish life.
Finally, she talks about what does not happen on Bastille Day in France or on the Fourth of July in the USA.
I suggest that no president of France would ever suggest that the French Revolution should not have happened or that France should bring back the monarchy. Similarly, a US president would never say that the American revolution should not have taken place or that Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were acting without a mandate when declaring both independence and war on the greatest military force of its time - Great Britain.
Cleggan, Co Galway
Words that express everything I feel
Sir - I wish to congratulate Eilis O'Hanlon on her superb article.
I couldn't even begin to explain the situation in the higher office of our Presidency as clearly as she did, from her chronological explanation of events to her final paraphrasing statement the President quoted from Bertrand Russell: "If a crowd has gathered, particularly if music is playing, you can get them to believe in anything."
Thank goodness there are still journalists who see life from the perspective of the average person.
It was a terrific piece of writing, woven with care into a piece of exquisite silk and totally encapsulated everything I feel.
Gorey, Co Wexford
The problem with parking at hospital
Sir - I always enjoy Dr Maurice Gueret's column in Life magazine and I am sure the contents of last week's article would have been familiar to hospital outpatients and visitors alike.
The last time we visited a local hospital it took 40 minutes to find a space to park and then, as my husband has difficulty breathing, it was a slow stop-go
walk to the relevant department. We were then obviously late for the appointment. There are spaces provided for disabled badge holders but none were available at that time.
We now have a plan for our next visit: we intend to park for free at the nearby shopping centre and get a taxi to the hospital door. It will be a bit more expensive but will be time-saving and a lot less stressful.
Norah Brown Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary
Michaella knew the consequences
Sir - Hardline drugs are devoid of sympathy, clemency or mercy; the ramifications for those who become dependent on using them are dysfunctional and ruined lives. Families are more often then not torn apart by the knock-on effects and in many desperate cases death is the last and final fix for the user.
The people who gain from the misery of addiction can only be described as people with little conscience, with little or no moral fibre or decency.
Michaella McCollum, and her cocaine smuggling cohort Melissa Reid, were shown leniency and compassion by the Peruvian legal system by not having to complete the full prison term they were rightly sentenced too.
What normal law-abiding society doesn't require is to give publicity and media coverage to the likes of McCollum and Reid, who knew full well the consequences of their actions but were still content to profit if their trafficking venture was successful.
McCollum's crocodile tears admissions would have been no antidote to the heartache, wretchedness and carnage her actions, with Reid, would have ultimately caused.
New Ross, Co Wexford
Misery music for the masses
Sir - The Irish country and western music scene used to be the preserve of gaunt middle-aged men with ponytails, playing to backing tracks in grim smoke-filled pubs. Those lads were the absolute antithesis to flashy blouse-wearing tycoon Michael Flatley - at a time when Flatley was practically president. But now it's all greased-up young lads who look like Flatley's children peddling the country music. It's come fully into the mainstream - like Sinn Fein.
Is it a coincidence that when we had loads of money, we were into opulent spectacles like Michael Flatley, but when the money and Mercs were rapidly replaced by ghost estates and banking scandals, we turned to the misery of country and western?
Is it a sort of strange Irish coping mechanism? Consoling ourselves that there's always someone worse off out there?
K Nilic, Mohill, Co Leitrim
Democracy at the whim of the powerful
Sir - Your correspondent Eoghan Harris rightly condemns the atrocities committed by Germany during the invasion of Belgium during WWI ('President fails to deal with Pearse's lack of mandate', April 3). However, he then goes on to infer that the British were the better imperialists. He should be aware that little over a decade before WWI and the Easter Rising, the British engaged in a bloody invasion of the small independent states of Transvaal and Orange Free State. Driven by unbridled greed for gold, they adopted a scorched earth policy under Kitchener, burning Boer homes en masse and incarcerating Boer families in concentration camps in which over 26,000 Boer women and children died. Not to mention the unrecorded thousands of native Africans who also died in British concentration camps during the conflict.
Incidentally "little" Belgium during that period was the brutal coloniser of the Congo, whose native peoples were suffering even worse atrocities at that time. Obviously "democracy" in the early 20th century only existed at the whim of the imperialist powers. The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that all European imperialists at that time without exception were very bad indeed.
Politicians' fine way with words
Sir - It is amazing that some Fianna Fail deputies consistently mispronounce the name of the political party that they have been crossing swords with for the past 80 years. The first word in the title of Fine Gael is routinely pronounced in an anglicised fashion as if they are referring to 'fine weather'or 'fine dining' or, indeed, singing along with the Clancy Brothers song, Fine Girl You Are.
Anne Rabbitte, the newly elected TD for East Galway, got it wrong on numerous occasions during a radio interview last weekend and, despite a gentle reminder from a fellow panelist, she carried on regardless.
That old party war-horse from Limerick, Willie O'Dea, is another culprit in this regard. It should be said, of course, that this distortion of language is not exclusive to Fianna Fail. Deputies Michael Healy-Rae and John Halligan, please take note!
Perhaps the Soldiers of Destiny could go back to basics and brush up on the Irish language, the restoration of which is, after all, one of the party's aims. Regular oral Irish sessions with repeated emphasis on rhyming words such as 'tine' and 'rinne' might just do the trick!
Ballon, Co Carlow
They gave their lives for freedom
Sir - In light of State 1916 Centenary ceremonies honouring "all who died" and the unveiling of a memorial wall for all in Glasnevin, we wish to state for the record and in the interest of historical accuracy: The O'Rahilly was wounded in a charge up Moore Street upon evacuation of the GPO and was left to die on the street overnight without medical assistance.
Fourteen leaders, including a wounded James Connolly, were executed by firing squad in the Stonebreakers Yard in Kilmainham Gaol.
All gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom and should be remembered and honoured for that reason and no other.
Proinsias O'Rathaile, James Connolly Heron,
Ranelagh, Dublin 6.
The past is a good way away
Well, my anti-ageing cream obviously isn't working. My granddaughter asked me if I was alive during the Easter Rising!