Sunday 26 January 2020

It is our duty to challenge the wrong moves of those in power

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has held talks on the North. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photo Agency
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has held talks on the North. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photo Agency
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Would some kind soul try to answer the conundrum of the Border issue in the minds of the politicians of Ireland, the UK and the EU?

Ireland doesn't want any change.

The UK wants to have its cake and eat it - it wants full trading access to the EU countries, but it does not want to give free access to the UK to Johnny Foreigner and, in addition, insists that it will be able to make trade treaties with countries outside the EU at the same time as having unhindered access to EU markets.

The EU, meanwhile, is playing Donald Trump to the UK's Kim Jong-un. The EU bureaucracy just wants to show that it can flex its muscles because it thinks that it is in the driving seat, hoping that the world is oblivious to the fact that Greece, Spain and Portugal are bankrupt, and quite possibly Italy, and that the former Eastern European countries now in the EU will continue to be net recipients of its largesse for years to come.

The EU grandees have issued a diktat that they will not move to the next stage of negotiations unless Ireland is happy with progress made on the future of the Border. Best to ignore the fact that no progress has been made to date on any issue whatsoever.

Now, you report (Irish Independent, August 22), that the Taoiseach has told the UK government that he will stall talks if a satisfactory deal is not reached on the Six Counties (Northern Ireland, as he puts it).

I still do not understand how anyone can believe anything that any of these comedians have said.

Clearly the majority in the UK has, God help us, accepted that leaving the EU was a disastrous decision, and that economic harmony with the EU countries, and especially Ireland, is in the interests of all.

None of the players in this tragedy has acted in any way responsibly, although the main villain of the piece is the UK, where there is no plan, let alone any idea where it is or where it wants to be, or even how it can alleviate its schizophrenia.

We need to accept that our politicians are second-rate and not up to the tasks that need to be resolved. This is the classic case of power without responsibility.

We need to confront these power structures because it is we, the ordinary folk, who will bear the brunt of their failures - not them, the upper classes of our societies, who always ride on the wave of our suffering and, whatever happens, end up somehow financially sound.

Voice our disgust? Take to the streets? If we do not, we deserve what is coming to us.

We truly have a responsibility. We have the power to confront self-absorbed, self-satisfied users.

This power was not given to us - it was wrenched from our exploiters by the blood of our fathers and grandfathers.

We owe them, and our children, a debt that we cannot deny.

Harry Charalambou

Muswell Hill, London, UK

Courage needed on housing crisis

The daily reports of the crisis in the housing market make grim reading.

Despite various initiatives by the Government, it remains a social emergency affecting not only the homeless, but the hundreds of thousands paying exorbitant rents and those trying to buy a home in a rising market.

The Government's policy response, Rebuilding Ireland, has not only been inadequate, but in some cases has made things worse. The basic failing of this policy is the over-reliance on the private housing market to provide housing supply. Apparently, only 15pc of new social housing outlined in Rebuilding Ireland will be built by local authorities and housing associations.

The recent measures announced by Minister Eoghan Murphy are already meeting with resistance and will come nowhere near to solving the crisis.

The policy of driving people into the private rental sector in recent years has had disastrous consequences, with rent spirals and evictions and the lack of long-term security for tenants. It also obliges State subsidies to chase ever-rising rents, which are pocketed to a large degree by global equity and vulture funds. This means ordinary taxpayers' money is adding to the profits of these funds.

In 1937, US president Franklin D Roosevelt, in his second inaugural address and extremely concerned by the housing crisis in the United States, was moved to say: "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished... The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much - it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

But there was fierce political opposition to low-cost public housing for low-income Americans. Landlords and the real estate industry believed rental and sales markets would be undercut by cheaper public housing. Fiscal conservatives in Congress were afraid of the budgetary impact of a costly public housing programme. Yes, you are right in thinking this has a familiar ring to it.

In spite of all this opposition, Roosevelt signed the Wagner-Steagall Housing Act into law on September 1, 1937. The new law established the United States Housing Authority, which acted as a loan-granting agency to state and local housing authorities for low-cost housing projects across the country. The USHA was empowered to advance loans amounting to 90pc of project costs at low interest and on 60-year terms. By the end of 1940, more than 500 USHA projects were in progress or had been completed.

The Government needs to take radical action to increase the supply of affordable and social housing. The country needs houses built, and it needs them built now. The question is, have we got a political leader with the qualities and courage of Roosevelt?

Tony Walsh

Finglas West, Dublin 11

Cobbles difficult for disabled

Regarding the removal of the cobble stones in Temple Bar: as much as I love to see cobble-stoned roads, as a wheelchair user, I would be delighted to see them removed. It would be much more comfortable for me and easier to move the chair. I avoid Temple Bar for this reason, as the paths are often blocked by artists and others displaying their wares.

Stephanie Byrne

Dublin 15

Leo's communication insights

Wise words and welcome openness from our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Montreal: "True friends, whether countries or individuals, must be able to speak to each other, and they can only do that by speaking to each other, not ignoring each other."

Eve Parnell

Dublin 4

Twilight years not always so hot

By her own admission, Anne Robinson is still enjoying sex at 72, and good luck to her.

Contrast the woman, neglected in "that department", who asked her husband: "Are we going to have sex tonight or what?"

"What," came his reply.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Independent News Service

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss