Letters to the Editor: 'Government carries the can for mistakes of past regimes'
It is noticeable how critical the media is of the present Government. It contrasts sharply with the media attitude to the government back in 2002 when, to quote an extract from the coverage of public affairs at the time, “every day and in every way things are getting better and better”. Given the consequences of the policies being implemented then, that statement has proven not to be true.
Media indulgence at the level of the 2002 example should, therefore, not be repeated and the present Government has to be held to account for its faults and failings.
But there should be some perspective in relation to where we have come from. In 2002, the government was spending around €30bn in running the country. That was up from less than €20bn in the mid 1990s. Due to further public spending increases and rescuing the banks, however, Ireland in 2010 had to be bailed out by the EU and the IMF because the government spent more than €100bn. That was while taking only about half that, or just over €50bn, in taxes.
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As a result of the collapse, public expenditure was cut, unemployment rose to 15pc, emigration soared, construction contracted and the country had to be bailed out. The deficit in 2010 relative to the size of the economy was something like a world record and three times worse than Greece, which was bailed out at the same time.
Even though unemployment is now down to 5pc and the budget is nearly balanced, we are still living with the consequences in housing, health, etc, of decisions made in the pre-2009 period. So while the present Government has to be reminded of past calamities and warned not to repeat the mistakes of the past, it is not to blame for all of our present problems.
Sutton, Dublin 13
We must be careful to keep the door open over Irish unity
BACK in 2017, Leo Varadkar opined that “I wouldn’t like us to get to the point whereby we are changing the constitutional position here in Northern Ireland on a 50pc plus one basis”. One of the great achievements of the Good Friday Agreement was to secure ‘the right of self-determination’ of the nationalist or Irish community in Northern Ireland on an equal footing with that of the unionist or British community. Change would be ‘subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland’.
The agreement does not provide for a weighted majority. I note from the review of Seamus Mallon’s biography in Saturday’s Irish Independent that now he, too, wants to raise the jumps and rewrite the agreement in the interests of ‘generosity’, as he styles it. The consent of 40pc of the unionist community would be necessary. The suggestion is a logical impossibility since by consenting to Irish unity, the community would cease to be unionist, and those wanting unity would have to win the consent of 40pc of the remaining unionist population, and so on ad infinitum.
Yes, there are real security and financial objections to unity. These should be talked about, honestly. But windy, if well-meant, rhetoric could, if taken seriously, deny one community the right to self-determination enjoyed by the other and secured by an international agreement. Worse, it would, in effect, close off any political or constitutional path towards Irish unity. Do we really want to do that?
Dangan Upper, Galway
How tax breaks for landlords could be a boon for tenants
NOW that we see rents escalating beyond the salaries of most workers, is it not time to incentivise the multitude of small landlords out there to lower asking prices via a tax relief? For example, if a landlord rents a one bed at €1,000 a month instead of the market rate of €1,500 plus, he or she pays no tax on this income. This would help hard-pressed renters on average salaries immensely while we wait for desperately needed supply to come on stream.
Fitting tribute captured the spirit of Dubs legend O’Toole
CAN I compliment Roy Curtis on his lovely tribute article to his deceased friend Anton O’Toole in Saturday’s Irish Independent?
It hit all the good qualities in the man, it was very personal yet witty. It was emotional at times reading it but by the end of the article you would say I would love to have known him as a friend. I saw him playing for the Dubs on many occasions in the 70s and 80s, and his gangly style going around defenders to either set up teammates or score himself, you knew he was a team player.
All the love and affection that has shown up in other tribute articles reflect this as well. Well done, Roy, you did him proud and I am sure he will have a pint ready for you when ye meet again.
Kilmacud, Co Dublin