Tuesday 15 October 2019

Bruton had his shot at politics

• I assumed Enda Kenny was the Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael. But I am beginning to wonder. John Bruton, allegedly retired, seems to have wide-ranging opinions on how this State is run.

Mr Bruton chides the President, who took issue with the curse of austerity that has hung on our shoulders.

Mr Bruton asks that we tighten our belts further to help lift the nation from the mess his class has left us in. Tighten it more and we will choke.

Mr Bruton derides Keynesian policies, stating: "Keynesian economics is completely unreal."

Hmm. I'll tell you what's unreal. The barefaced cheek of a man who has supped generously from the public purse since first elected as a 22-year-old.

Being able to retire on a €140,000 pension in 2004, aged 57, is unreal. Stepping into an ambassadorship of EU emissary to the US is what I call fortuitous.

Mr Bruton had his shot at politics.

We all think we have the answers. Most of us never got the chance to do something about it. Mr Bruton did.

When he divests himself of the state pensions, privileges and perks he enjoys, and tightens his own belt, then he can come and share his wisdom with us about austerity.

John Cuffe

Meath

Stick to the day job

• Quite a lot of inches have been printed since the minister's attempt at a bit of comedy up in Donegal – and if anybody needs to be advised about sticking to the day job, it surely is himself.

A lot of our TDs can get away with bits of repartee, and a lot of them should steer well clear of any kind of ad-lib – particularly James Reilly.

But as he did have a go at a bit of comedy, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and his biggest sin was that he was James Reilly, the reaction to his little bit of inexperience was very much OTT. In fact, he was lucky to get a bit of applause for delivering a bit of good news.

"Stick to the day job" is probably the most hackneyed cliche and, believe it or not, it can be expressed as a term of endearment.

In any event, Dr Reilly should stick to the day job and pay more attention to Michael Noonan and Joe Higgins.

Stand-up comedy is harder than it looks.

RJ Hanly

Screen, Co Wexford

Abortion legislation

• The proposed legislation allows anyone to say: "I am suicidal and I want an abortion." No doctor or psychologist can prove for certain whether this statement is true or not.

Therefore, the proposed legislation is creating a situation of moral hazard undermining the 'equal right to life' provision of the Constitution because if a termination of pregnancy is approved, the professional opinion facilitating it can never be proven wrong. I think that this is placing the professionals concerned in an invidious position, where saying yes to a termination in such instances is the only guaranteed safe option for them.

I believe that the proposed legislation should concentrate instead on providing clarity in the matter of the protection of the life and health of the mother, which would attract the overwhelming support of the people.

Whatever outstanding issues there are could be tackled, as required, by further targeted legislation to give greater practical expression to the constitutional protection for all parties involved.

Laurence Moore

Walkinstown, Dublin 12

Red Devil reverie

• Ian O'Doherty's article on his "rocky love affair with Manchester United" (Weekend Review, May 11) brought back many memories. My love affair with the Red Devils started as a six-year-old in 1969 as I got my hair cut in the local barbers in Meath Street and regular goal flashes on the radio heralded a 4-1 victory at Anfield by Best, Law and Charlton.

Unfortunately, this was the last death throes of a once-great team and, less than five years later, this 10-year-old roared crying as Denis Law consigned us to the ignominy of the second tier of English football.

The year 1969 also marked the start of a ferocious rivalry as a teenage right-half marked a tough, no-nonsense centre-forward in an Old Firm reserve match in Celtic Park. It will probably surprise you to hear that the defender was Kenny Dalglish, who apparently snuffed out the threat of Alex Ferguson on that occasion, despite the gruff Glaswegian's claim to the youth that "you'll need a doctor after this".

Fast forward 30 years from that haircut moment, to a mad dash from the train station at Eyre Square to find a pub with a TV to watch the 1999 European Cup Final.

Already 1-0 down by the time I reach the Skeffington Arms, and as the minutes tick away and a certain Jan Koller is the width of a goalpost away (or was it a crossbar, or was it Mehmut Scholl? – in fact, it was both) from doubling Bayern's lead, I watch as Alex Ferguson plays his last two cards with the introduction of Sheringham and Solskjær.

We move into extra time. Seeing Peter Schmeichel going up for a corner brings home the Last Chance Saloon nature of it all and as the initial efforts are repulsed, my eyes gaze mournfully downwards.

But suddenly, the ball is scuffed back across the box and there is the gunslinger, Terry Sheringham, caressing the ball into the corner of the net. We are still cheering when Ole Gunnar Solskjær directs the winner into the roof of the net.

So, Alex, it's been a wonderful 26 years, but I will never forget when you played your final hand and won the jackpot.

Mark Lawler

Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Sense of entitlement

• Many facets of society have become imbued with a delusional sense of personal entitlement to a standard of living that is neither sustained by underlying economic fundamentals, nor bears any relationship to the value or contribution that they provide in return – and that includes politicians. The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) strike at Bus Eireann is an apt illustration of this.

The business of Bus Eireann is divided almost on a 50:50 basis. It involves the provision of school transport services, which requires the services of slightly more than 500 part-time bus drivers. Over the decade to the end of 2011, the number of journeys on school transport dropped by 8pc and the number of part-time drivers employed by the company dropped by 8pc.

The remainder of the business comprises scheduled services in provincial cities, Expressway and point-to-point. The annual number of passenger journeys on these services has dropped by 27pc, from 50.22 million in 2007 to 36.5 million four years later. But the number of people employed to operate these services only dropped by 5pc to 2,103, while their net average pay increased by 10.8pc in the period since 2007. Does this indicate there are a substantial number of underemployed personnel at Bus Eireann?

The collapse in demand for Bus Eireann services has coincided with the annual state subsidy to Bus Eireann being increased by 99pc in the decade to the end of 2011, to almost €44m. How can the claims of the striking NBRU members to preserve income and the chaos they are inflicting be reconciled with maintaining job numbers at Bus Eireann, while the travelling public are clearly opting for the products and services of alternative suppliers?

Why should the State continue to operate a subsidised bus service for which the demand has fallen away so severely that the viability of the business is unsustainable without extravagant subsidies?

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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