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Letters to the Editor: 'Election agendas must focus on learning from the crash'

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'Total Irish government expenditure in 1997 was €19bn. By 2010, with a more than tripling of money spent running the country and a bailout of the banks, Irish government expenditure was €103bn' (stock photo)

'Total Irish government expenditure in 1997 was €19bn. By 2010, with a more than tripling of money spent running the country and a bailout of the banks, Irish government expenditure was €103bn' (stock photo)

'Total Irish government expenditure in 1997 was €19bn. By 2010, with a more than tripling of money spent running the country and a bailout of the banks, Irish government expenditure was €103bn' (stock photo)

Apart from fairly personal party leaders' debates, the election policy narrative seems to have been essentially reduced to complaints about the funding of health and housing.

That ignores the fact that we have one of the highest expenditures per capita on health services in the developed world and also we have one of the highest home ownership, plus assisted renting rates in the developed world.

The election narrative is also ignoring the fact that less than a decade ago this country suffered its biggest calamity since independence when it went bust.

It had to be bailed out by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The details of that collapse and its relevance to our present General Election narrative are interesting.

Total Irish government expenditure in 1997 was €19bn.

By 2010, with a more than tripling of money spent running the country and a bailout of the banks, Irish government expenditure was €103bn.

That was €50bn more than it was getting in taxation in that year.

Hence we had to have the EU/IMF bailout in 2010.

In addition, unemployment went up to 15pc and there was a fairly high level of emigration.

At present, in contrast, government expenditure is around €70bn, which is fully funded by taxation, and unemployment is below 5pc.

Of course, a collapse of the magnitude that happened in 2010 has left problems.

High borrowing and difficulties in health, housing etc are the most obvious.

But the level of the recovery since 2010 is such that to ignore it does not do justice to either the Government, which had to make difficult and unpopular decisions, or to the ordinary people of this country whose sacrifices in this time have contributed to that recovery.

Ignoring the danger of a return to the historically high spending policies pre-2010 is also part of the election agenda.

The conclusion seems to be that our General Election agenda needs to be widened to take in consequences of policies being advocated.

Ignoring that approach cost us dearly in the pre-2010 period and should not be repeated again.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Festive voting makes more sense amid all the promises

In view of the multiplicity of promises being made by all the parties during this election campaign, would it not be more opportune to hold future elections before Christmas?

Then children and adults alike could look forward to the arrival of Santa Claus.

Steve McGarry

Bishopstown, Co Cork

Both leaders face historic outcome, whatever the result

It seems that we’re set for a historic result in the forthcoming General Election next month.

If Leo Varadkar is re-elected as Taoiseach, then this would be the first time since the founding of the State that two different successive Fine Gael Taoisigh will have been re-elected in successive terms.

Enda Kenny did it in 2016 and now possibly Mr Varadkar in 2020.

In the case of Fianna Fáil, Seán Lemass was re-elected as Taoiseach in 1961 and 1965 and Jack Lynch was re-elected in 1969 having succeeded Mr Lemass in 1966.

If Mr Varadkar is re-elected as Taoiseach, could this be the first time that a Fianna Fáil leader would not be elected as Taoiseach during their leadership?

Micheál Martin would then have to lead his party into a fourth general election to possibly ensure that he does not enter the history books for this reason.

If Mr Martin is elected as Taoiseach, then this would mean that all the Fianna Fáil leaders to date would have served as Taoiseach.

In this case, could Mr Varadkar join two previous Taoisigh, John Bruton and Brian Cowen, who were not elected Taoiseach at a general election?

Seamus Bellew

Blackrock, Co Louth

Prodigal one should beware cold reality of shunning EU

This Friday night, with lights flashing and bells ringing the prodigal one is shunning the EU family home to sow its wild oats across the globe.

But beware, it can be hungry and cold out there when you have squandered all your goodwill.

This time the fatted calf may not be slain to celebrate if you decide to return to the home you left behind.

Joseph Mackey

Glasson, Co Westmeath

Irish Independent