Letters: 'So-called progress is causing the death of our rural communities – but they can still be saved;
I read with great interest your report ‘Stopping the rot: Small-town Ireland must fight to thrive’ (Irish Independent, November 30).
I come from one of those small towns. Mountrath is a small town situated on the main Limerick road; it was once a booming industrial town with several different industries to its name but with progression came decline.
Now it is a shadow of its once-glorious self, with several buildings lying idle.
Decentralisation has never been more important if we are to revive small towns. More businesses should be encouraged through increased incentives to take up business in rural areas.
Only by boosting employment can small towns thrive again. Who is there to buy lunch in a town if there are no workers? Decentralisation would not only benefit the local economy but also transform the quality of life for so many.
More than 20,000 commute from Laois each day to Dublin. Imagine if they had the possibility to work closer to home?
There would be less traffic on the roads, less pollution from cars, and people would have more time for local community activities.
If we are to continue to offer low corporation tax to foreign investment, perhaps it could be better targeted at those who opt for sites in less centralised areas.
How many passed through Mountrath before the motorway to Limerick or Templemore? In our effort to improve and progress, we have visited a slow lingering death on small rural communities. What were once our greatest asset could become our greatest shame if we let them die.
Local county councils should be given more power and funding; rural Ireland needs to be given priority or I fear for the future of rural life.
Mountrath, Co Laois
Time to stop the clock on play-acting footballers
I love football but while watching the Champions League this week it occurred to me that a lot of my time was spent watching some of the finest players in the world writhing in agony following a savage assault by a puff of wind. So I got to thinking: Why not play matches over two halves of 30 minutes and stop the watch when the ball is not in play?
Gorey, Co Wexford
I believe homeless figures are a political fairytale
Is it possible that some of your readers still believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Eoghan Murphy’s departmental figures for those unfortunates in emergency accommodation?
North Circular Road, Limerick
Sinn Féin’s position on Westminster is illogical
Mary Lou McDonald criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for suggesting Sinn Féin MPs in the North should resign their seats because they don’t attend Westminster, and further criticised the Irish Independent for describing Varadkar’s logic as “flawless”.
Ms McDonald’s response is that it will not happen, but it would not work anyway. However, she does not explain exactly how it would not work, other than to say Irish Republicans could not “swear allegiance to a foreign monarch”.
However, this logic debases the SDLP which took its seats in Westminster when it had MPs in the North. Or does Sinn Féin have a monopoly on nationalistic thinking in the North?
Furthermore, as much as Sinn Féin purports to support the Good Friday Agreement, its bizarre position is in conflict with this. The Good Friday Agreement accepts that the six counties of the North remain part of the UK as long as a majority of people there wish to keep the status quo. Therefore Westminster is the national government there. Sinn Féin’s refusal to take its seats won’t change the constitutional position of Northern Ireland one iota.
Sinn Féin’s actions are illogical and only serve to harden divisions between nationalists and unionists. As nationalist leaders in the North who should be trying to unite Protestant, Catholic and dissenter, this is unforgivable.
Ironic that public sector workers seen as well-off
I see Dan O’Brien has begun the ramping-up of anti-public sector rhetoric in anticipation of a possible economic downturn (‘If the economy turns down next year, austerity will return and private sector workers will pay the price’, Comment, November 29).
He claims that public sector pay is now higher than in advance of the last wave of austerity in early 2008. As a public sector pensioner, I do not see how this can be so, given that the massive cuts made at that time have not been reversed. Whereas the process of restoration has begun, it has hardly scratched the surface, while the better-off in society (many in the private sector) talk of economic recovery and block-book fashionable restaurants on Saturday nights.
However, even if we assume that Mr O’Brien is correct that public sector salaries outstrip the private sector by some 40pc, I believe the anti-public sector rhetoric is based on good old-fashioned snobbery. Recruitment to the public sector is scrupulously fair and transparent, whereas, in the private sector, certainly after I did my Leaving Certificate in 1971, recruitment was on the basis of one’s background and even nepotism. The banks, insurance companies etc hired from the fee-paying schools, whereas recruitment to the civil service was mainly from the non-fee paying sector, eg Christian Brothers’ schools.
I joined a rugby club in 1972 and, as a civil servant, I stood out like a sore thumb among business and professional people. I experienced a distinct sense of otherness even though I had grown up in the same south Dublin suburbs as my teammates and fellow members. I was not generally ostracised but I did feel different. My work experience was totally different to my peers. It simply would not have occurred to any of them to sit the Civil Service Executive Officer exam held in conjunction with the Leaving Certificate. If anything, they looked on me with a sense of pity at how little I had made of myself.
It is ironic that today it is such people who would now accuse me of robbing the national till. I am amazed that there is little public analysis of this element in the antipathy towards the public service.
If public service workers are so much better off, why did the private sector workers not join it? If they did not do so because they felt it was socially beneath their status, have they really got a moral right to complain when times are hard?
Monkstown, Co Dublin
Remembering a slice of red-hot cinema magic
Reading Paul Whitington’s article (‘Salty, subversive and still a family favourite’, Irish Independent, November 24) on the classic comedy ‘Some Like it Hot’ brought back some lovely memories from my many visits to the cinema in Dublin back in the 1960s.
The cinema brought me to a different world and helped me to survive the many demons of my young life. This particular magic comedy I shall never forget. I saw it first as a very young lad with my parents, and came out of the cinema as a gangster with a machine gun shooting everyone around me.
When I saw it again, many years later, my reaction was a little different, a little hotter! I just loved Monroe and laughed myself sick at the wonderful comedy performances of Curtis and Lemmon.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Cost of oil has fallen but prices at pumps have not
I am writing about the curious nature of oil markets. The price of Brent Crude has fallen from a high of $87 per barrel in early October to $58. As of yesterday the prices at the pumps had not budged.
That’s a 33pc decrease and while, yes, I appreciate about 65pc of the retail price is composed of various duties and Vat, surely should we not have seen an immediate and commensurate decrease in the remaining 35pc, which I calculate to be roughly 16c or 17c per litre? There have been no other offsetting tax rises that I am aware of, so the gravity-defying nature of consumer oil-based products confounds logic. Brent Crude may not be the appropriate benchmark for diesel and kerosene but it still represents a good proxy.
Put it another way, if the global oil prices had gone up 35pc in the same timespan we would have witnessed immediate price hikes. What is going on?
Tullamore, Co Offaly