Letters: Labour now has a chance to share a new vision
Suddenly, a window of opportunity has opened. Responding to the clear if brutal message sent by the voters to this Government as a whole, but particularly to Labour, Eamon Gilmore has acted with honour and pragmatism.
His resignation makes possible the reconstruction and remodelling of the Labour Party.
What the Labour Parliamentary Party addresses now is an extraordinarily difficult and delicate process of management change, requiring a quantum leap in strategic thinking.
Labour's prime objective is not to 'save this Government', not to 'save the party', not even to save its individual members' 'own' seats – though, if they fail to save as many of those seats as possible – in the long term – the entire operation would be academic and irrelevant!
The goal must be to save and revive the presence in Irish politics of that distinctive Irish constitutional social democracy for which the Labour Party stood traditionally. An Irish version of a remodelled Scandinavian future to be built by Irish political action.
Mention philosophy, ideology, even 'vision' – and the conventional, standard Irish 'political animal' becomes uneasy. Yet one of the lessons to be learnt from the elections is that it was not only 'who will pay the mortgage, provide the basic sustenance, pick up the medical bills'. It was the not knowing 'where we are' and 'where we might be going, if we only knew', which caused the bitter angst and the visceral need to kick an out-of-date Government.
Whoever Labour chooses as the new party leader must be able to articulate and communicate a vision, a vision for our people in a century where everything is changing at an unprecedented pace.
It may well be that Labour has left it late and that we must settle for a two-election strategy, with some parched and hungry years in the wilderness.
But if the prize were to be what drove our ancestors, a truly Irish Republic, which cherished all the children of the nation, it would be more than worth the wait.
TRALEE, CO KERRY
SHAKING UP ELECTIONS
I must agree with your correspondent ('The right to not vote', Letters, May 27) that "when there are no candidates worthy of a vote and when there are no candidates who can possibly influence the course of government policy, then voting becomes a bit of a joke".
The suggestion that "the ballot paper should have a box saying "none of the above" would be more effective if voting were compulsory.
This might be vastly more effective if, should that pseudo-candidate get a larger share of the vote than any of the named ones, the latter would all forfeit their deposits and a new election should take place, which they would be barred from standing in.
Of course, postal voting would have to be available, especially for those who know they will be unable to attend the polling station on the day.
If this were implemented, the electorate's displeasure would be even clearer than merely "a rule that if 75pc of the electorate do not vote, that no one is elected".
MARTIN D STERN
HANOVER GARDENS, SALFORD, ENGLAND
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have now become an historicised monolith in one sense. Their historical origins and character – based on the question of political self-determination – ignore the economic foundations of political health or ailment.
Yet, even within its political rationale, Fianna Fail has reneged on its republican credentials, its very originary principle. Whether the cause of a united Ireland is desirable is a matter of personal political conscience, yet in casting itself as desirous of such, FF has cancelled its historical justification for existence.
FG, in its assent or at least acquiescence in a divided island, maintains a certain political credibility. Yet this is even deceptive: it would further effect the evolutionary advent of a united Ireland through advocacy of greater European integration.
NAME AND ADDRESS WITH EDITOR
HIGHLIGHTING THE GOOD WORK
I wish to respond to the article 'Hogan wants review of rural quangos as €11m in funding goes on pay' (Irish Independent, May 13).
On a general note, it is most curious to hear of the minister's intention to carry out a review of our rural companies in this manner.
We welcome any opportunity that will enable us to present the facts of the matter in terms of our value for money. We are confident that any independent assessment will verify that our companies do represent best value for the taxpayers' money.
In fact, the Smith Everett Value for Money Report shows that for every €1 the State spends on a Local Development Company, that company then generates an additional contribution to the Exchequer of just over €2.70. This in effect means Local Development Companies cost the Exchequer nothing.
In relation to the administration and salary references in the article, a few salient points must be made. Firstly, a number of the salaries as laid out by the department's table were overstated. Despite this, all salary scales and administration caps adhere to the caps that have been set out for these companies by their funder bodies, including the department themselves, as the minister is fully aware. These companies are also regularly audited at national and EU level.
Secondly, the administration costs sanctioned by the department enable these partnership companies to deliver a whole suite of programmes such as the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP), LEADER, Tus, Rural Social Scheme (RSS), Jobs Clubs, Local Employment Service (LES), CE Schemes, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) and many more enterprise, training, activation, educational and community supports.
Thirdly, the administration figure quoted has been quoted disingenuously and does not reflect the actuality of the situation as I am setting out, albeit briefly.
While it is important to correct the record, we must always keep our focus on delivering value for money and the range of supports to the communities that need them as we have done so for the past 25 years, and perhaps the minister might like to highlight some of this good work for a change.
CHAIRPERSON OF THE IRISH LOCAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK, UNIT 4, OAKFIELD INDUSTRIAL PARK, CLONDALKIN
RETURN TO PARTY'S ROOTS
The news that Labour leader Eamon Gilmore is to step down is to be greeted with puzzlement given that Fine Gael's performance was nothing to boast about yet there are no moves plotted against Enda Kenny.
Mr Gilmore said that the Irish people had sent the Government a message via the ballot box and the Labour Party in particular.
The Labour Party needs to return to its roots. It needs to assert itself as a true partner in Government and needs to do so with immediate effect.
This should include wielding clout and providing leadership in areas that are not under their direct control or jurisdiction. For example, the strike by cabin crew in Aer Lingus is looming large this Friday and could result in a loss of €10m to Aer Lingus, not to mention the cost to the tourism sector. The Fine Gael Minister for Transport stands by on the sidelines.
The Labour Party needs to step in and insist on an intervention.
JOHN PATRICK MURPHY
SAMSONS COURT, BALGRIFFIN, CO DUBLIN