Letters to the Editor: 'Fianna Fáil is part of a coalition so must share the blame for the health and housing issues'
The renewal of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - done under the cover of Brexit - ensures a continuation of failed policies in housing and health.
However, if there is one silver lining to be gleaned from such depressing news, it is perhaps that the electorate might finally see the truth of the relationship between the two parties.
Despite them hiding behind the term 'Confidence and Supply Agreement', what we actually have - and have had for the last three years - is a coalition government of which Fianna Fáil is an integral part.
The simple fact of the matter is that Fine Gael would not have been in a position to implement the policies and budgets that it has over the past three years without the support of Fianna Fáil.
On that basis, the so-called 'main Opposition party' is equally culpable for the horrendous hospital waiting lists and A&E overcrowding; for the record number of homeless and the disastrous housing sector; and for every policing scandal we've had over that time.
One can only hope that when the two 'coalition' parties eventually deign to allow an election, that the electorate will not be fooled by the charade which they have acted out over the course of this Dáil term.
All together now - but look where that got us
The last time the establishment, entire media and public opinion were all in agreement was back in the boom when we were all headed for the rocks of economic disaster.
We had Europe egging us on as the greatest little country on earth, an economic miracle. We now know where that brought us.
Today the establishment, entire media and public opinion are all in agreement on Brexit, and Europe is egging us on.
Have we as a society become intellectual sheep?
Dalkey, Co Dublin
Hard on the Border
John Downing writes that any sense of grievance in the United Kingdom over Irish governmental policy on Brexit is "bogus" (Comment, December 12 ).
May I suggest that Mr Downing reads 'Leo Varadkar: A Very Modern Taoiseach' by Philip Ryan and Niall O'Connor?
This biography, written with the co-operation of its subject and many of his associates, notes that in July 2017 Mr Varadkar, then newly elected as Taoiseach, worked out his strategy on Brexit with Simon Coveney. The authors write: "It was agreed that they would adopt the most hardline stance possible in relation to the Border." Is any sense of grievance really so bogus after all?
Donegall Road, Belfast
Open and shut case
We live in a world of complexity, societal interconnectivity and relational adaptability.
How could Theresa May and her hard Brexiteers maintain an openness to the world, solve daunting challenges from terrorism, extremism, radicalism, climate change, environmental degradation, destruction, state building, democratisation and peace promotion while preaching Britain's exit from the European Union?
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
The scales of injustice
Anyone looking at the TV programme '7 Lá' on TG4 last Tuesday will surely have been shocked by the devastation of our once vibrant fishing industry since joining the EC in 1972.
We were told that an industry that once provided a good living to thousands of fishermen and their families and those in the processing co-operatives from Donegal to west Cork and right around our coast is now critically diminished and barely sustainable. Large processing plants now lie idle along the coast due to lack of supply.
Not so long ago, our seas had abundant stocks of sprat, mackerel, cod, whiting, haddock, monkfish, turbot and hake to mention just some.
The once vast shoals of herring, lauded in song and verse, were regarded as the 'grass of the sea', vital cogs in the marine ecosystem.
The critical base of the overall food chain was the copious supply of plankton and micro fauna, now also gravely diminished.
Those at the coalface of the industry told us that the quota system under the auspices of the EU Common Fisheries Policy is grossly unfair to Irish fishermen and part of the great giveaway of the fishing industry to the larger EU nations since 1972.
Irish trawlers are tied up in ports along the coast while larger Spanish, French and Dutch boats with their greater quotas continue to trawl our diminishing stocks in huge quantities. The situation is exacerbated hugely by uncontrolled foreign factory ships gouging our seas unabated.
The unprecedented and irreversible decline of our national fishing industry and our marine ecosystem is a legacy of our membership of the EU coupled with the Irish Government's abject negligence in failing to protect a vital lucrative natural resource.
Well done to TG4 for highlighting yet another appalling scandal.
Wilton Road, Co Cork
Sad festive memory
"Will I ever forget?"
As a child, my least favourite Christmas song (for some strange reason!), was Nat King Cole's 'The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot'.
Finally halting the sprawl
Paul Melia's front page article (Irish Independent, December 8), reporting on the publication of Government guidelines for planning authorities on urban development and building height is very welcome news.
We have to stop this uncontrolled suburban sprawl. If we continue this planning policy by 2050 and present population projections are correct, we will require a land area equivalent of Co Louth to provide housing and schools for this projected population (using present densities that we have in this country as the basis for this calculation).
This publication by the Government could be the beginning of an urban revolution not unlike what happened in Ireland in the 18th century.
In my opinion, there are a number of ingredients to make this a success:
1. These new developments should be built on streets that link onto existing street networks of cities and towns;
2. That the housing included in such developments has a rich and diverse mix of income type;
3. Land values are capped at 5pc of the construction cost of each home sold;
4. Land values drive up the height of buildings. Height is not an urban imperative, possibly capping the site cost as percentage of construction cost would help in this regard;
5. An architectural competition should be organised to show ways for this new direction for urban Ireland.
John P Clancy
Batterstown, Co Meath
The burning question
If the intention of the demonstrators in Paris is to focus attention on fuel and other price increases, they have certainly achieved their aim.
However, if they were hoping to get the sympathy of the French people, they have certainly gone on a wrong road. Burning buildings and motor vehicles will hardly endear them to the owners of such property. If they wish to burn buildings or cars, why don't they start by burning their own?
By their selfish actions they are possibly destroying workplaces and adding to the unemployment of those who wish to work or maybe denying owners of vehicles their means to travel to work. Some of these vehicles may also be the only means of conveying a sick or seriously ill person to hospital. They are also denying tourists from enjoying a visit to the beautiful sights of Paris, which may be a once-in-a-lifetime dream visit for many.
Where do these protesters get the time to destroy Paris or other places? Are they all unemployed or maybe among those who do not want to work? I am all for legitimate protests but I will never agree with those who burn other people's property to make their point.
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford