Do we want to give up our sovereignty to an EU superstate?
As we stand on the threshold of 2016, consider the direction that Ireland may take as it looks to the future. Where do we see ourselves going? What are our ambitions and aspirations for this country? These decisions will shape the future and quality of life for our children, our grandchildren, and for many generations to come.
Do we see ourselves being pushed, as we have been for a number of years by successive Irish governments, towards an increasingly undemocratic, federal, European Union super-state? Why is such an entity necessary? Whose interests does it serve? The Irish people rejected the Lisbon Treaty some years ago by way of referendum, but the Irish government of the time was told in no uncertain terms by the EU to go back to the Irish people and get the 'right' answer.
The debt forced on the Irish people after the economic crash of 2008 means that every citizen of Ireland, man, woman and child, has lost and lost big, more than €18,000 per person between 2009 and 2013. Over the same period The Netherlands and Germany actually gained over €33,000 and €19,000 per capita respectively.
Ireland's debt will remain, again, for generations to come. The government of the day accepted the role of fall guy on our behalf and the current Government seems only too happy to carry the torch. We have, in effect, been providing and continue to provide finance so that the good times may yet roll in certain other EU countries.
Any sign of wavering by the Irish Government, such as its initial support for Greece in its proposal for debt forgiveness, has been swiftly and easily dealt with. A simple telephone call was all it took to get the Irish Government back in line. God forbid Paddy might decide to grow a pair. It could be contagious.
It is ironic that, as the majority of people in the Republic of Ireland prepare to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising, Ireland's sovereignty and fiscal autonomy has been frittered away by successive Irish governments that have been completely unquestioning of their EU masters. Is this the path we really want to take as a nation, and if so, why? Is it not true to say that we had greater autonomy in 1922 than we do at present?
The prospect of a UK referendum on EU membership provides us with some time to take stock of where we are and where we might yet go. It's not too late. A lot depends on the result of the UK referendum.
However, if the UK decides to leave the EU and we decide not to go with them, then there is very little chance of ever turning back.
Newtownshandrum, Co Cork
Citizens' convention cop-out
One can see why Enda Kenny has become so enamoured of 'citizens' conventions'. Throwing hot potatoes such as same-sex marriage and abortion into somebody else's lap must be a temptation for any politician.
If the Taoiseach is going to make a habit of turning to extra-parliamentary bodies to decide these issues, full of random people picked out of the phone book, what is the point of TDs and ministers being paid to attend the Dáil?
Gorey, Co Wexford
How to solve a crimewave
Reading Paul Melia's article 'Corridors of Crime' (Irish Independent, November 28) I was reminded of a bit of wisdom I came across some years ago. With the greatest respect to Paul and his well-written article, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. We have a police force with an efficient union and an inept method of policing.
I would ask Paul to take note of the absence of foot patrols in and around the city centre. As for using motorways as getaway routes, could our criminals be that stupid? All the guards have to do is to block the exits - there are not that many - with the help of Air Corps helicopters and motor cycles. The bad guys would soon learn to use ordinary roads like we do.
Bunclody, Co Wexford
The mystery of RE refusal
I don't believe the church is vanishing. It is that many of its members are not attending - and are demanding religious teaching be removed from schools. I find this strange. I would have thought parents from any denomination would expect their children to learn "To love God and their neighbour," and the rest to follow. It would be interesting to know the philosophy of the antagonists?
Patrickswell, Co Limerick
The politics of Irish water
I was born and reared not too far from the Shannon. For a lot of the time we were up to our you-know-whats in floodwater. If anybody had told us that people in other parts of the country would be prepared to take some of this water from under our feet, we would have thought they were mad.
Certain politicians got a whole career out of promising to drain the Shannon. Will another set of politicians now get a career out of refusing to drain the Shannon?
An unforgettable homecoming
I saw U2 play in Dublin last week. I haven't seen a U2 in concert for a very long time and I was stunned - speechless - and I am struggling to describe it. Was it a concert? Yes, but not in the traditional sense. It was political, historical, universal - a cacophony of audio and visual in the best possible way, a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colour, words, images, sirens, TV news. There was so much going on much of the time, and other times it was just them.
It was global, raw and open. It was a spiritual experience of social justice in a stirring evangelical sense.
In front of all the international fans who had travelled thousands of kilometres to be there in the 3 Arena that night to see a band from the northside of Dublin, U2 made us Irish extremely proud.
Lime Street, D2
Blackening the name of Friday
In honour of Black Friday, haven't I gone and burned the toast.
An imported festival of greed
Over the years we have imported many customs and habits from the US, but Black Friday is one we should leave on the other side of the Atlantic.
It is a sight to behold, people trampling over each other to grab items, many of which are non-essential, discretionary purchases.
I don't see this phenomenon going away any time soon. It seems as though rapacity is alive and well.
Dunleer, Co Louth