Thursday 25 April 2019

Letters to the Editor: Bowing to demands of ECB has brought us needless suffering

President of European Central Bank Mario Draghi.
President of European Central Bank Mario Draghi.
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

A Leavy (Irish Independent Letters, October 17) repeats the myth that we were rescued by the ECB and seems not to understand the difference between sovereign debt and private banking debt.

When the banking system imploded a deliberate choice was made by EU officials - no doubt some Irish people among them, since Irish people hold some of the most senior roles in EU officialdom - that the terms of providing lending to an EU member would include that member state taking on all of its banking sector debt.

No matter what choice was made, Ireland was always going to have a recession but what made it a depression was the ECB. Ireland could easily have afforded to borrow the money required to make up for the loss of tax revenue and increased social welfare costs that the recession would have required. And given the resources of the State at the time, the borrowing requirement may have been minimal. Like other countries, such as Iceland, the Irish recession could have been over in two or three years.

When the president of Iceland was presented with the legislation mandating the people to take on the burden of its entire banking debt, he refused to sign it. And do you know what? The sky didn't fall in. There was a referendum on the legislation and the people rejected it - and they rejected it a second time.

The people of Iceland borrowed the money needed to get through their recession and they borrowed a very modest amount to reset their banking system on a more sustainable level.

It wasn't pain-free, but the banks managed to deal with their debts themselves. Not only did Iceland avoid a depression, it also avoided the social devastation Ireland has experienced and, in fact, social welfare benefits increased in real terms at the expense of the well-off. They rewrote their constitution, they held their banking inquiry and reformed their legal and regulatory systems from top to bottom. They even managed to send a few people to jail but, more importantly, the financial crisis is now part of history in Iceland.

The Irish State was not bankrupt at the start of the financial crisis, it became bankrupt because of deliberate choices made by the ECB and the Irish Government.

The ECB chose to add private sector banking debt as a condition of providing funding; the Irish Government chose to bow to such a threat. At every stage of the crisis there were choices and the tragedy for the Irish people is that their interests were so poorly served.

Desmond FitzGerald, Canary Wharf, London


In a faraway land called IMF

I would love to know where this country called 'The IMF' is and what their tax rate is. Indeed, we could also examine its fish quotas, its population, its property tax, its social housing strategy, its natural resources, its democratic institutions and, of course, its history.

Since so wealthy a state had to come to poor old Ireland's woes, I feel that whatever the IMF is doing as a nation, it should be adopted by the good people of Ireland as the blueprint for our future.

Should we not be grateful that this wonderful country exists and that its taxpayers are so generous to lend us money at only 6pc interest, when the ratings agencies said that we wouldn't be able to pay back our loans.

Funny how wrong the agencies were - or were they ?

I feel bad now for criticising our elite minds that found such a generous nation of souls and I'm now to brush my teeth and wash my mouth out with soap under the trickle from my tap. I doubt the inhabitants of IMF have leaking pipes.

Dermot Ryan, Attymon, Athenry, Co Galway


Rights of the unborn

Colm O'Gorman's article on abortion looks a little lop-sided. Nowhere is the innocent, unborn child acknowledged. Another anomaly: Amnesty International has always admirably opposed the death penalty.

Terminating a pregnancy puts to death a very young victim, voiceless, hence vulnerable.

Without the basic right to life all other rights are rendered redundant.

This seems self-evident.

Human rights come not from the generosity of government but from the hand of God, said President JFK.

T C Barnwell, Dublin 9


Opposition to education reform

To resist changes to the Junior Cycle, ASTI and TUI members have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action, up to and including strike action if necessary.

In addition to the clear opposition of teachers themselves to school-based assessment, a national opinion poll last May showed the majority of the public are opposed to teachers correcting their own students' work for certification purposes.

Our main areas of opposition to Junior Cycle changes relate to the planned removal of national certification and external assessment, both of which provide status and credibility to the assessment process.

Such credibility is linked with the high level of public trust in our education system.

Indeed, a recent OECD survey placed Ireland first among countries measured for public confidence in its education system.

We are also opposed to the imposition of further pressure on the capacity of schools to provide a quality education service in the wake of several years of austerity cuts, none of which were reversed in this year's Budget.

Furthermore, it is clear that proposed changes to subject provision will have detrimental effects on the quality of education for students.

Certain subjects, such as history and geography, will be downgraded to optional status.

Such detrimental changes will hinder the development of students.

Sustainable and real educational reform requires teacher support and public confidence.

We call on the Education Minister to engage with us on this basis.

Philip Irwin, President, ASTI, Thomas McDonagh Hse, Winetavern St, Dublin 8

Gerry Quinn, President, TUI, 3 Orwell Rd, Rathgar, Dublin 6


What's next? Food charges?

Water is essential for life, and access to good quality water should be a human right. Food is essential for life, and access to good quality food should be a human right.

Shame on the Government for maintaining a system which requires us to pay for food. After all, we do pay our taxes.

Edmund Haughey, Muff, Co Donegal


Beginning of the end of history

How can An Post, an organisation that has adopted an Irish language title, allow its mail to be carried in 'Royal Mail' bags? (John Waters, Irish Independent, October 15). Why does management not make it obligatory for post bags to carry identifying Irish postal signage?

The proposal by this Government for the downgrading of history as a core subject at Junior Cert level is a step in the same direction.

With no obligation on schools to teach history to our students, the consequences will be that more and more people will know less about our past, which will greatly lessen historical research in our universities, clearing the way for ignorance, revisionism and myth.

Mary Reynolds, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Irish Independent

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