| 12.4°C Dublin

Country shutting up shop

Madam -- "TDs in line of fire as death knell sounds for rural life" Thus wrote Jerome Reilly and John Drennan (Sunday Independent, Oct 28, 2012). The two pictures accompanying the article illustrated a brilliant summation of the piece, which was informative and chilling. The picture of the deserted village, An Baile Treigthe, was particularly poignant.

A few weeks ago, I spent three days in Co Mayo, one of them travelling around Achill island. What a beautiful place, though still tinged with a sadness generated by the Great Famine. Nowhere was this more evident than at An Baile Treigthe, or 'the deserted village', at the foot of the spectacular Sliabh Mor -- the 'big mountain'.

A very disturbing comparison came to my mind, as the bus tour guide began explaining to an Australian visitor that the Famine was greatly exacerbated by the export of food from the country -- sustenance that was desperately needed to feed the starving indigenous population.

In the 1840s, food was being exported; in 2012, money -- needed to buy food -- is being given to bondholders. As vast amounts of cash are paid to these investors, there have been instances where Irish people -- with hitherto unblemished records -- are forced to steal, so that their children won't go to bed hungry and to school on an empty stomach.

Imagine the effects of such terrible deprivation on a young, growing body? On reflection, we do not need to imagine it -- we see it every day on our TV screens, in the advertisements imploring us to send funds to starving African countries.

The Government is now poised to take another €3.25bn out of an already badly weakened -- if not fatally damaged -- economy. My God, what madness.

Garda stations and bank branches -- as your article points out -- are being closed in many of our towns and villages, generating, in my opinion, the spectre of a host of future deserted villages.

Those who now have little, will, after the Budget, have close to nothing. And, what will those who now have close to nothing, then have? How can any civilised government do such a thing to its own people? How far are we from the disintegration of our society as we know it? And what will we all have then? Anarchy?

Tom Barrett,

Foxrock, Dublin 18

Sunday Independent