Divide between rich and poor has fuelled crime epidemic
The ritual declaration by politicians that they are intent on eliminating crime and the causes of crime rings hollow in the ears of those who have been victims.
Criminal gangs, fuelled by drug-related crime, have made sections of our towns and cities no-go areas; we are a long way from even beginning to make these places safe.
Fortunately, our judiciary has not bowed to the demand for stiffer sentences as a solution to the crime epidemic, rightly believing that the introduction of draconian measures would have little impact; the solution lies elsewhere.
Economists are gradually beginning to scrutinise the levels of social instability created by the inequality of opportunity that increases year on year. The tolerance of unfettered markets intensifies the increasing gap between rich and poor.
This is not just a moral issue but points to the inefficiency and dehumanisation created by this radical divide within society.
The worship of the market, the new idolatry, has tried to replace traditional religion, focusing the energies of the State on economic growth and submission to market forces; those left on the margins share with all of us the desire to be a cause in the world, to make their mark and establish some form of meaningful association, often leading to the development of deviant subcultures.
What is slowly emerging is the acknowledgement of the need for a genuinely shared destiny, driven by a common commitment to opportunity and fairness with our hearts and minds fixed on the attainment of a peaceful, socially just, crime-free, and economically sustainable way of life that works equally to the advantage of all.
This is how a nation is built - not by clinging to an outdated nationalism.
Philip O'Neill, Oxford
'Entire nation' did not vote Yes
In her euphoria at the passing of the same-sex marriage bill, the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it was a "joyous" day and that "the entire nation was involved".
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The minister conveniently forgot to mention that only 36pc of the total electorate voted Yes in the referendum, and despite a massive and one-sided political and media campaign to have the amendment accepted, almost three-quarters of a million people voted No.
So, minister, that could hardly be described as "the entire nation being involved".
And if the 64pc who didn't support the amendment recall their feelings of anger, betrayal and belittlement and refuse to run now like mindless cattle towards the feeding trough (the Budget) that is now being filled in an appalling and insulting attempt to buy their votes in the forthcoming election, then your "joy" may be short-lived.
Blarney, Co Cork
Let's be thankful for the music
Music has always been an integral part of Irish Culture. So how have we ended up living in a society in which people would pay more for a cup of coffee then they would for a recorded piece of music? This applies to a greater extent to live music performance.
Concerts can at times seem to be too great of a risk for some people to attend, even when admission is free.
Has society passed saturation point? Do people find that they're confronted with too much music each day to merit forking out the price of admission to a concert? It's a sad state when people would pay more for a hot beverage than a unique musical experience.
Clontarf, Dublin 3
Tribute to Maureen
God rest you, Maureen O'Hara. I had the privilege of seeing you and John Wayne at the making of the 'Quiet Man' on Lettergesh Strand in 1952.
We were out on the sea in a boat, watching the horses racing on the sandy beach but, even from afar and without glasses, who could mistake your flaming hair or Wayne's constipated strut? Go dteighidh tu slán.
Address with editor
Budget will not buy votes
Every year, when the Budget is introduced, its merits and drawbacks are brought into focus on how it affects various sections of society.
This Budget gives the impression that people are magically getting something back.
The reality is, it is only a tiny portion of the people's own money that is being given back. In many instances it is merely an insult - as is, for example, the €3 extra for pensioners.
It is to be expected that this Government would claim credit for the re-balancing of the State's finances, but in reality it was merely following the austerity template agreed to by the previous government when, under the supervision of a foreign entity, our sovereignty was scandalously given away.
This re-balancing process was not a major feat, because the Government was prepared to indiscriminately take a hard-nosed attitude in imposing inequitable cuts and stealth taxes that disproportionately affected the less fortunate in society, without regard to the social consequences.
Of course, during that period, there were many who were relatively unscathed as a result of those policies.
But others had to endure the reality of trying to survive on sharply reduced disposable incomes and cuts to benefits and services.
The Government, through its hyped-up language, is hoping that the people will have short memories regarding what their circumstances over the past seven or eight years and re-elect it on the strength of the recent, inequitable budget.
There is no doubt that it is an election Budget, crafted in a superficial way to mainly benefit certain groups who would be the most likely to vote the parties back into power.
Templeglantine, Co Limerick