Letters: Politicans who opposed USC should explain their flip-flop
The volte-face generally from Opposition figures who previously decried the introduction of the USC, and now wish to retain it in some form, while criticising Fine Gael's pledge to scrap it, is a bewildering contradiction.
Sinn Féin called for the USC to be reversed in their 2011 election manifesto. Stephen Donnelly, in a Dáil debate on a Sinn Féin motion proposing to abolish the USC shortly after being elected in 2011, indicated that the "introduction of USC was a bizarre measure".
In the same debate, he continued: "That is why it is a bizarre and regressive tax that runs contrary to our social values and the stated aims of many members of the House. The universal social charge penalises self-employed persons. It provides that self-employed persons who earn more than €100,000 must pay an additional 3pc by comparison with those who are employed."
The fact that the Social Democrats don't even want to cut USC represents a very significant flip-flop from Donnelly, in my opinion. He now describes the USC as a "necessary tax".
Maybe the Opposition figures who utilised the issue of complete antagonism to USC as part of their sought mandate in 2011 can be called upon to explain the justification for their change of heart?
In seeking to scrap the USC, Fine Gael is seeking to implement essentially the policy used by many anti-austerity candidates as part of their platform to get elected in 2011. It simply makes no sense for Opposition figures to have called for abolition of the USC in 2011, when the fiscal picture was bleak, but to oppose it now when far more fiscal leeway is available.
Goatstown, Dublin 14
How a letter changed my life
I am writing to let you know what a difference having a letter published on your letters page has made to my life.
You published my letter in October 2015. In that letter, I explained how not having a job was affecting my life. I am a young woman with a learning disability and being unemployed was affecting my life in a bad way. I felt low and unhappy. My anxiety levels were very high and I think I was actually suffering from depression.
When you published my letter, someone in Human Resources in Woodie's read it. They asked to meet me. As a result of this meeting, I got a part-time job in Woodie's in Airside.
This has made a huge difference in my life. I now go to work every day, Monday to Friday. I am talking to more people, making friends and learning new things. The biggest thing, though, is that I now feel needed. It almost feels like my disability has gone away.
I am so thankful to your paper for publishing my letter and to Woodie's for giving me a job. There are many more people with a disability who do not have jobs. They too should be given a chance. I hope other employers read this letter and remember that.
Swords, Co Dublin
Robinson Centre plan is folly
Westport House is a major tourist attraction in Westport, Co Mayo.
The Browne family who own Westport House, are struggling with big loans and had to put the house up for sale, and I understand it is on offer to Mayo County Council (MCC) for a cost of €1m. I understand that no move has been made by MCC so far to take up this offer.
Contrast this with the money being spent in Ballina for the proposed Mary Robinson Centre (Museum). The Government sanctioned €2m for this before Christmas and MCC has committed to that body for an initial €1.5m plus further significant funding for running costs, and also appointed a project manager at a cost of €80,000. per annum.
The final budget for this project has been reported as being between €4.5 and €8.5m.
The centre is to be located in the former Robinson family home and MCC are presently buying this property from Mary Robinson's brother.
This project seems a quite outrageous waste of money to me, and I cannot see how Mary Robinson's tenure as an Irish President can warrant this expenditure.
MCC purchased a former bank premises in Ballina some time ago to house the Jackie Clarke papers.
Surely a room could be designated in this building to house some Robinson artefacts if MCC feels the need to recognise her achievements.
Then money saved in the Robinson folly could be used in part to secure the future of Westport House, as a major tourist attraction, something the Robinson folly will never be.
Athy, Co Kildare
Robot drivers on the Luas
We already have robot cars that can drive safely, totally unaided by human controllers, for hundreds of miles on public roads shared with traffic of all descriptions.
Driving a tram on a fixed track shared with little or no other traffic should be child's play by comparison.
If I were a Luas driver, I would be very, very nervous about the future.
In praise of Wexford hospital
I would like to take this opportunity to thank and praise the wonderful staff of Wexford General Hospital.
I was recently admitted and had to stay three days in the care of the hospital.
With all the general negativity at the moment surrounding our health service, and in particular Wexford General, I must express my heartfelt thanks to the care shown, not just to me, but the other patients that I shared a ward with.
In particular I would like to thank the nurses, orderlies and housekeeping staff of St Joseph's Ward 1.
The dignity and respect that they showed to all the patients was remarkable to witness and all the staff are a credit to their profession and to their families.
From check-in at A&E, all the way through to discharge, I was treated quickly, professionally and with the greatest of care.
Thank you again to all the good people of St Joseph's.
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford