Historians may well come to regard the 75-year period from 1945-2020 as a golden age for European politics. We’ve had an unprecedented period of peace, growing prosperity and, despite huge pressures, generally high levels of social cohesion.
Technological progress has improved the quality of life for many with the internet providing much-improved connectivity and productivity, and with smartphones, microwaves, affordable cars and air travel enabling greater comfort and convenience for the vast majority.
Educational standards have improved to the point where a third-level qualification has become the norm rather than the exception available only to the wealthier classes. Healthcare has improved, life expectancies have been extended and fewer people are dying of preventable causes.
But is all of this uneven improvement now going to end with a deteriorating climate, rising seas, recurring pandemics, urban congestion, rising immigration pressures and nationalism within Europe and global tensions between the US and China?
Ireland faces a perfect storm of huge challenges. To mention just a few: Managing the end of lockdown without a resurgence of infection; economic recovery after the pandemic; radically revamping the health service to overcome endemic delays in accessing services; overcoming a crisis in the availability of affordable public housing; developing an affordable national childcare model; overcoming the effects of a hard Brexit on our food industry; maintaining peace and social cohesion in the face of demographic changes and a possible break-up of the UK; global and European corporate tax reform resulting in significant loss of tax revenues; a decline in world trade impacting disproportionately on our open economy; and an ambitious and expensive Green New Deal, including an average 7pc annual reduction in carbon emissions.
One cannot but wish the new Government well in addressing these challenges, but we may have to temper our expectations. Some things will never be the same again and to imagine it will soon be “business as usual” may well be wishful thinking.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Quarantine travellers and let them pay for their Covid tests
I would regard the present rush to return to foreign holidays as a great risk to the people travelling and to the citizens of Ireland who are being sensible enough in the worldwide Covid-19 emergency.
It seems that whatever advice is given by the medical experts there is a certain cohort of people who will do their own thing no matter what.
My suggestion would be for the Government to set up testing stations at each point of entry into the State and all incoming passengers – returning holidaymakers included – would have to be tested at their own expense and remain in quarantine until the results become available.
Tullamore, Co Offaly
Who is the masked man I see reflected in the mirror?
When I went to get my hair cut I was confronted by a masked stranger, but it was only myself in the mirror.
Clonmel, Co Tipperary
Cross-border meeting needs to be convened
Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark are advising their citizens against non-essential travel to Ireland. This is due to our open Border with Northern Ireland which is regarded as a Covid-19 risk.
Now that we have a Government, surely it is time for a plenary meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council specifically for the purpose of addressing travel issues on a 32-county basis?
Prosperous, Co Kildare
Calleary’s expertise and experience will be key
Whilst I have some sympathy for Dara Calleary, I would ask people to consider the role he has been given and the importance of that role.
It has taken 132-plus days to form a Government, we need it to stay together – Dara Calleary’s job is vital. The ref has made his decision, let’s get on with the game.
He is very competent and experienced but will need all his skills to keep all TDs in line. Like one of his predecessors, the late Séamus Brennan, he will also have to liaise with some Independents to keep them on board. TDs are going to fall out and resign from parties and the Independents’ votes will be vital.
With all of the above furore we forgot to acknowledge and praise the leaders’ decision to appoint Eileen Flynn to the Seanad.
Donough O Reilly