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Is it democracy when the programme for government is decided by a tiny minority?

Letters to the Editor


Negotiations: Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan arrive at Government Buildings to finalise formal agreement on a draft programme for government. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Negotiations: Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan arrive at Government Buildings to finalise formal agreement on a draft programme for government. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire


Negotiations: Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan arrive at Government Buildings to finalise formal agreement on a draft programme for government. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Three parties negotiated a programme for government in an effort to form a coalition.

They have agreed to a programme which does not reflect any of the policies put forward by these parties in their election manifestos that the electorate voted for 133 days ago.

Agreement was reached while excluding input from the other elected TDs or the electorate, and they will now try to sell the new programme for government to their respective parliamentary parties, which consist of 84 TDs out of 160 elected TDs.

Assuming the parliamentary parties support the programme for government, it will be put to the respective three party memberships, representing 0.9pc of the population, for approval. This to the exclusion of the other parties or groupings. Now the programme for government is created to ensure the stability of a new government, secure the positions in that government and to continue the dominance of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

The government formed in this manner will fail to create a just society and keep the majority of the population dependent. Is this democracy?

Hugh McDermott

Dromahair, Co, Leitrim

Fitness is not a matter of fanaticism, but of health

Yet again I read an article in the Irish Independent describing people who take exercise on a regular basis as "fitness fanatics". ('Exercise classes take to the great outdoors as fitness fanatics can finally work out again' - June 15).

A fanatic is described in the dictionary as a person obsessively devoted to a belief or activity.

It is about time that this term was consigned to the wastepaper basket. The benefits of regular exercise for physical and mental wellbeing are well documented, even more so during the Covid-19 crisis.

Anyone taking regular exercise, in whatever form, is not a fanatic and should not be described as such.

TJ Beatty

Loughrea, Co Galway

Foreign affairs role can use Varadkar's standing

As speculation mounts regarding the new Cabinet composition, a question arises over the possible portfolio to be held by incumbent Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

There would be a significant diplomatic advantage for Ireland in having a recent prime minister fulfil the role of minister for foreign affairs.

There are precedents of other former prime ministers making this step (consequently resulting in a palpably stronger diplomatic presence outcome) in other countries including Carl Bildt (Sweden), Shimon Peres (Israel) and Alec Douglas-Home (UK).

The context of the inevitable return of Mr Varadkar to his current role in 2022 under the programme for government would further serve to enhance Ireland's international goals and objectives while he was serving as foreign minister, representing without question the best possible utilisation of his global standing to the country's benefit.

The leadership shown by the Taoiseach in seeking to form the programme for government with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party is reflected in the record polling levels for Fine Gael as the Irish people want reliability and stable government at this time.

If the hurdle of the Green Party's two-thirds membership approval threshold cannot be overcome - despite the robustly 'green' flavour of the programme - then they can expect a backlash, particularly from middle-class voters, who would not take kindly to a small party holding up the country in forming a government as the Covid-19 fallout crisis is set to be combined with the British pursuit of Brexit in more real terms from January 2021.

Cllr John Kennedy

c/o Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

We must act on expert warnings to save planet

John Downing's precise explanation of Irish party politics ('Green members have most say of any party', Irish Independent, June 19) should not only be an eye-opener for the electorate, but a swift kick in the pants for TDs and senators.

I recently read a two-page piece in a local Irish newspaper about a retired TD who was lauding and praising himself to the heavens for his Trojan work as a TD.

If any political party wants to survive in this constantly changing world, then all legislation must be discussed in the party room.

After all, this is what the Oireachtas is for.

Since 1922, far too many Oireachtas members have spent their time annoying public service staff on matters of minutiae that the citizenry could have done on their own, rather than studying legislation.

Legislation affects the entire nation.

The Greens may be seen as a threat by some, but they are not as great a threat to democracy per se, as is a rubber-stamp TD or senator.

Leading scientists have regularly issued warnings of the dangers which humanity is currently facing.

Selfish people will ignore such warnings.

A democratic people would ask: "What can we do to avert this?'

As with the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire globe is in environmental danger together. Gaia may have just about had too much selfishness.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

Hard-won vote silenced future generations

The showing on RTÉ One of 'Hawks and Doves' with Michael Portillo brought to mind what many Irish people lived through in the early 1900s.

It wasn't pleasant.

At a price, this small nation was the first such nation to achieve independence from a still mighty British Empire.

A later constitution asserted that the people, not the Government, were the bosses.

It is something of an irony then, that, at a later stage, the descendants of largely the same (1920s) people, should have handed control over marriage, and the deliberate taking of unborn human life, to politicians of the day.

Thus, the same hard-earned vote has been used to ensure that our legacy to future generations is that they will have no choice in a vital matter.

The third episode of the film will be on Wednesday.

Donal O'Driscoll

Blackrock, Co Dublin

Don't fear FF, we will see prosperity again soon

I am just responding to Seamus O Mathuna's letter in which he states that Fianna Fáil misogynists are back in power to cause ruin.

He could only reference the era of Éamon de Valera - and De Valera died in 1975.

He states Fianna Fáil has only five female TDs despite talk of equality.

In the last general election, Fine Gael lost five female TDs, leaving it with six women TDs.

Leo Varadkar only had two senior female ministers and three junior ministers in the last Cabinet.

Michéal Martin supported the equality referendum and, along with five other Fianna Fáil TDs, supported Repeal the Eighth, swinging hundreds of thousands of moderates to its victory.

Fianna Fáil delivered our first economic boom of the 1960s and free education. It created 800,000 jobs between 1997 and 2008. Ireland would become home to 500,000 migrant workers in this time.

Yes, the Celtic Tiger ended in tears in a global crash with banks and people's greed to blame.

The good thing about coalition is that the prudent Fine Gael will keep Fianna Fáil in check. Seamus has nothing to fear - we will witness prosperity in the near future.

Thomas Glancy

Carrick-on Shannon, Co Leitrim


Irish Independent