Thursday 5 December 2019

An awakening from the slumber of indifference to inequality

Christine Lagarde: new-found awareness of inequality
Christine Lagarde: new-found awareness of inequality
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

So it is goodbye Europe, goodbye Mr Cameron, and hello Boris Johnson. The psychodrama of the rivalry between two school chums has been played out on an international stage with a denouement worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy, triggering the onset of a national nervous breakdown fuelled by constitutional and economic chaos.

What has emerged from a cloud of personal ambition is a wake-up call for political and economic elites who live off the electorate, not for them. We have experienced an awakening from the slumber of indifference to the inequality of wealth and opportunity that defines the lives of so many. Immigration has become a scapegoat for more fundamental ills. The divide between the haves and the have-nots has been steadily widening. It will be an uphill task to bring a fragmented nation together by renegotiating our relationship with those who feel left behind.

Talk of economic growth rings hollow in the ears of those who are not its beneficiaries. Voting in droves to opt out of Europe, their voice has now rung clearly in defiance of the so-called expert advice of big business, banks and some economists.

Here we have democracy at work, revealing the radical disconnect between government and the people. Britain's half-hearted embrace of the European project was destined to end in tears. This contrasts with the Irish enthusiasm for all that is European, including the euro. Though Ireland, particularly the farming community, has fared well from the support from Europe, it too is nurturing a way of life that does not work equally to the advantage of all its people. There is a growing awareness amongst economists and political analysts, including Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that tolerance of inequality of opportunity is not just immoral but debilitating to the economy through the creation of a disillusioned underclass.

The yawning gap in individual fortunes gives the distinct impression that the odds are stacked against a significant proportion of our people.

Philip O'Neill

Oxford,

United Kingdom

 

Lest we forget Europe's past

There has been a natural emotional reaction to the UK referendum result to leave the EU. But all of us should use this critical time to take stock. The EU is made up of nearly 30 democratic countries, each of which signed a treaty to share responsibility for matters of mutual concern. It is the most developed of such democratic efforts in the world.

Whether the EU survives or not depends, therefore, on the democratic decisions of its governments and its individual citizens. Given human nature, the future of the EU will be surrounded with many uncertainties, as the present reaction to the referendum campaign and result is demonstrating. All of us should remember, however, that the present-day problems of the EU, and Europe in general, pale into insignificance in comparison to the problems confronting the people of Europe when two totalitarian dictators reduced much of the continent to ruins in a war over who should dominate Europe. That happened within the lifetime of many and is not so long ago that it should be forgotten. People should remember, therefore, that there is more at stake in the UK referendum result than whether the EU wanted to straighten bananas or whether the UK uses imperial measures.

A. Leavy

Dublin 13

 

Britain's two fingers to bullies

Congratulations to the British people for having the bravery to think for themselves and reassert their sovereignty by leaving the EU. The EU has become a bureaucratic and over-controlling monster, totally at odds with what was envisioned by its founding fathers. It is used as a trough of plenty for has-been politicians to top up their pension pots.

One cannot but compare and contrast the attitude of the Brits with our country. It was great to see them give the two fingers to the bullying tactics of the likes of President Obama and the attention-seeking Bob Geldof. By contrast, our attitude to the German bankers and the IMF was to tug the forelock and grovel at their every demand, rather than assert our independence. 'Sovereign Republic' indeed!

The 1916 celebrations were a hypocritical charade. Whatever one's attitude to 1916, one cannot but admire the bravery of the participants. A sacrifice in vain, alas. Once again, congratulations to Britain. Thank you for showing us how it should be done.

Eric Conway

Navan Co Meath

 

Young were missed in referendum

What have the Brexit referendum and same-sex marriage referendum got in common? The role of young people involved in both, but for completely contrasting reasons.

In last year's same-sex marriage referendum here, young people played a pivotal role in the eventual outcome. Many young people got involved in canvassing, and third-level institutions actively supported same-sex marriage while carrying out voter registration drives. The home-to-vote campaign was very successful in bringing many young people back to cast their ballots.

In a YouGov poll analysing the results of the Brexit referendum, 75pc of young people aged 18 to 24 voted for remain. Yet it's estimated that only 36 per cent of people in this age category actually voted.

Perhaps the Remain campaign in the UK should have taken a leaf out of the Yes Equality campaign here and mobilised more of these young people to get out and vote. Maybe the result would have been different. This illustrates, for totally different reasons, the importance of young people getting involved in the democratic process. Unless you go out and cast your ballot, you have no right to complain afterwards about the result.

Tommy Roddy

Salthill, Galway

 

Mr Martin's finger-pointing

You have to hand it Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. He is a world-champion finger-pointer. Firstly, he points the finger at the British electorate who voted Brexit and calls them anti-foreigner. Then he points the finger at Sinn Féin, calling that party cynical for raising the issue of a border poll so soon after the Brexit result. Of course, the one piece of finger-pointing Mr Martin will never engage in is at his own party for bankrupting this country and putting our economy back 20 years.

Dave Keating

Westport, Co Mayo

 

Coalition is best way forward

Now, more than ever, we need a cohesive and focussed approach by our Government to the decision of the British people. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil must, in the national interest, form a coalition immediately. This will send out the message to all potential investors that for the next five years, we have a stable Government and are well and truly open for business. Otherwise, the current hamstrung administration sends out all the wrong signals.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

Irish Independent

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