Friday 24 May 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'May could put Tory Party in wilderness for decades'

Theresa May. Photo: PA
Theresa May. Photo: PA
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Theresa May, in the aftermath of the recent local election, has turned to the Labour Party for support in getting her Brexit solution through the House of Commons.

She should remember the fate of Robert Peel, who at the wish of Queen Victoria crossed the line in seeking support from Lord Grey, leader of the Whig Party, in getting his repeal of the Corn Laws enacted despite opposition from a large section of his Tory Party.

The Famine was raging in Ireland and Scotland and a large section of his party were British landlords who saw the repeal – which prohibited the import of cheap grain – as a threat to their profits.

In despair Peel, together with his evangelical home secretary James Graham and the votes of the Whig Party, repealed the Corn Laws although previously an advocate of its retention.

The same act also included a provision forbidding the export of grain from Ireland to England which had never stopped despite the Famine.

He was forced to resign and the Tories were in disarray and in the wilderness politically for 28 years.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

Doctors must work without certainties of the law courts

Uncertainty is inherent in medical testing and is expressed through the use of statistical significance, confidence intervals, specificity, sensitivity, positive predictive value and other measures.

The legal ruling that the acceptable threshold in cervical screening is “absolute confidence” makes one wish for the simplicity of the courts, where the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases and “on the balance of probabilities” in civil law.

Dr John Doherty

Vienna, Austria

People need to be heard by politicians, not mayors

I am sceptical about the proposal for directly elected mayors for Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Are we being asked to buy a pig-in-a-poke, half-baked gimmick by Fine Gael to distract us from the real crisis of governance in local government, which has resulted in: (a) the outsourcing of various council activities, and (b) powerlessness in the face of outlandish anti-social behaviour?

What we lack is a workable mechanism to hear from members of the public. This would allow individuals to give feedback and feed in suggestions. In other words, meaningful consultation.

I doubt if an elected mayor will be able to fulfil this role, given they will also be combining the ceremonial roles of the existing mayor and many yet-to-be defined functions of the chief executive.

We are likely to end up with failed or failing politicians who are looking for an easy few years prior to retirement. And, of course, it will be very cumbersome to get rid of them if they are ineffective or an embarrassment before their five-year fixed term is up.

Finally, it is unclear if revenues will need to be diverted from existing projects.

Gearóid Duffy

Lee Road, Co Cork

Our housing crisis a ‘success’ for Government policies

Your editorial of May 2 (‘Government ignores housing crisis at it peril’) misses possibly the most important point. In describing what you see as the Government’s failure to react to the crisis, you miss that this is a direct result of sustained policy. The Government has not failed to react. It started this crisis several years ago. This crisis is a success of policy.

And while Fianna Fáil may historically have been the party that cared about affordable housing, that legacy is long gone and both main parties have spent recent decades pushing expensive housing as a core aim.

Higher housing costs equals a happy FF/FG core vote. Fianna Fáil was thrown from office after the last occasion when housing costs fell and FG came into power with promises that it would get house prices to rise again.

Nothing was done to encourage building during the period of low prices, despite how apparent the shortfall (particularly in Dublin) quickly became, and the key narrative has been that there would be a “recovery” in prices.

How was this “recovery” to be achieved? Kill supply. Promise prices would be higher later so no-one wanted to sell or build until later. It’s worked perfectly and the Government is currently doing very well in the polls.

The FG core vote does not care that renters (many of whom are immigrants) are being screwed, or young people can’t afford to buy homes (unless it’s their own kids in question); and would electorally gut any government or minister that announced a policy to make housing generally affordable (since that would reduce the value of their own precious home).

High housing costs are a politically popular and successful policy and the Government will not do anything to make housing generally affordable. And the social and (very real) economic consequences be damned.

Hugh Sheehy

Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Irish Independent

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