Budget must reverse the damage done to families by austerity
Budget 2015 presents a crucial opportunity to support a real and sustainable recovery - but only if the right choices are made.
As it's the first post-austerity Budget, there is much clamouring about which area deserves some respite. Business interests have been loud and clear about what they want: tax cuts for higher incomes.
Yet Social Justice Ireland research indicates a decrease in the top tax rate would benefit higher earners only.
What would we be saying about our values as a society if we ignore the plight of those catastrophically neglected during the recession and now left behind by the first green shoots of recovery?
One in 10 children in Ireland live on a low income and without access to basic necessities, according to the latest figures.
Barnardos and the Society of St Vincent de Paul work directly with families who have borne the brunt of the cuts imposed during the recession. They have seen their benefits whittled down, while access to essential services like healthcare and education has been reduced due to funding cutbacks.
This is the real impact of seven years of austerity measures and efforts to reverse this frankly shameful statistic must be at the forefront of any so-called 'recovery Budget'.
Budget 2015 decisions must aim to reverse the damage done to too many families and instead seek to build a long-term, sustainable recovery for the whole of society.
Fergus Finlay, Barnardos, Christchurch Square, Dublin 8. John-Mark McCafferty, Society of St Vincent de Paul, Sean MacDermott Street, Dublin 1
The familiar whiff of cronyism
It seems that the old, familiar whiff of political cronyism has caught up with us again.
The Taoiseach's rather clumsy attempt to fit a 'friendly' into a Seanad seat, with all the sophistication of an ageing, past-it prizefighter, should be seen as a proverbial mine-canary, keeling over at the mouth of Irish democracy. But it won't be. Instead, too many will shrug their shoulders with an "ah sure, aren't they all the same?"
Too often, we view such 'stroking' as a perk of political office. Worse still, I fear, too many political representatives view 'getting one past' onlookers as a show of political machismo, or even through that peculiar Irish lens of 'cute-hoorism'.
However, the stroke the Taoiseach has perpetrated, in pressing a newly appointed cabinet minister into doing his bidding, on the way to placing another patsy into parliament, should be seen as the very kind of behaviour that has tainted Irish public life since the foundation of the State.
The greatest malaise of all doesn't come in the form of dramatic actions, but rather, to coin a phrase, through a thousand crony actions, which will eventually combine and give us our next, predictable, generational economic collapse.
Declan Doyle, Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny
Climate change is a genuine threat
Ian O'Doherty in his piece 'Selling myths and taxes to a frightened world' (Irish Independent, September 26) once again concedes that climate change is a reality but equivocates as to its cause.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2014 report concludes that human activity is extremely likely to have adversely affected our climate on a planetary scale.
The hundreds of geophysicists that compiled this report are not zealots or fundamentalists in the religious sense of the word. They couch their arguments in unemotive, clinical, scientific terms, endeavouring to peer into our meteorological future, not our souls.
These scientists genuinely strive to predict trends and establish facts. They do not peddle 'myths' or casually alarm the global public.
Why should we be so sceptical of the same scientific establishment that has created the wonderful, high-tech civilization we enjoy? An establishment we normally profess such confidence in.
If we ignore its warnings or deny its findings we are conniving in an ecological catastrophe.
We will be complicit in a moral crime against posterity through apathy and the consequent inertia that O'Doherty's cynical attitude entails.
On the issue of climate change and how we must address it, I am unashamedly a zealot, a fanatic, a proselytizer. In the face of an existential threat to humanity, I feel it would be inhuman to be otherwise.
Kieran Rogers, Dundalk, Co Louth
Back in June you ran a headline: 'Half of the emperor penguins could be wiped out by the end of the century due to melting sea ice.'
But nowhere in your paper do you mention that on September 19 this year, the five-day average ice extent in the Antarctic surpassed 20 million square kilometres (7.72 million square miles) for the first time in the 33-year satellite record. No doubt if the sea ice was decreasing, we would hear all about it in doomsday banner headlines.
I'm not for or against either side of the climate change debate but just looking for balanced reporting in an area where wrong decisions could have catastrophic effects on our own and the global economy.
Fintan Ryan, Borris, Co Carlow
Darwinism is just a theory
The increasing debate concerning creation vs evolution has been heating up worldwide. I find this wonderful, as Darwin only presented a "theory" and Intelligent Design is hard to fathom.
When faithfully following Darwin's line of thought, Darwin's modern-day disciples contradict his own theoretical reasonings!
Man has always been one of the most populous 'animals' in the world, and, is said to have migrated out of Africa and around the world. Where, then, is the trail of skeletal/fossil remains of the many "missing links" in all the various stages of transition, from ape to man?
When you consider the vast tracts of land sadly being cleared today, and areas being re-developed, and all the incredible modern detection and analytical technologies available, why haven't all the "missing links" been discovered in great quantities?
The truth is that neither Darwinism nor Intelligent Design can be scientifically proven.
Howard Hutchins, Victoria, Australia
Hyperbole and trouser mishaps
The Taoiseach should know that when you are caught with your pants down the last thing you should do is to hold your hand up.
If you do it too often, people will inevitably notice that your pants are still down.
He should also try to avoid the hyperbole that can arise from using the word "outstanding".
There are thousands of people in the country with similar backgrounds to the unfortunate Mr McNulty.
At best, the word is "appropriate", not "outstanding".
John F Jordan, Killiney, Co Dublin
The taxpayer must pay - again
In response to Simon O'Connor's letter (Irish Independent, September 29) regarding the lack of care for the water infrastructure here over the past many years, I would like to remind everyone that the general public bear no blame for this.
Taxes were paid but the decision to ignore water services and many other urgent needs was made by successive governments, who preferred to spend on items which boosted their own profiles and pockets.
Yet again, the taxpaying public is being made to pay for their folly.
Avril Hedderman, Stillorgan, Co Dublin