Letters to the Editor: 'Murphy's inaction on housing lets down future generations'
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy ('The market has never fixed a housing crisis - only the Government will', Irish Independent, May 18) sought to reason with the Irish people on his, and the Government's, inaction on public housing. In WB Yeats's poem 'Easter, 1916' is the line: "Polite meaningless words." It describes the minister's epistle.
After the Civil War ended in 1922, the Irish Free State government, though £70m in debt, embarked on a nationwide housebuilding programme, replacing slum dwellings. Continued by Fianna Fáil from 1927, even the intrusion of World War II, when materials were scarce, did not slow them down. Bear in mind very few of the Dáil members and civil servants had a university degree. They had a valuable commitment to public service.
Fast forward to 2019, with rules and red tape, and a Government saying it is "unrestrained by ideology", yet the taxpayer pays billions to middlemen, with daily excuses for inaction.
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No new legislation is required, let alone a constitutional clause making housing a constitutional right. No need to suspend laws, nor Constitution, nor object to people democratically marching in the streets, demanding action by you. If the current Fine Gael Government was 'unrestrained by ideology', the housing problem would have been tackled long ago. There are innumerable 'ghost estates', with essential services connected to the public systems; these were approved by local planning authorities, some of whom now say they are 'unsuitable' for public housing.
The minister has the authority to purchase by compulsory order any long-term vacant property, as have county council CEOs.
Failure to take immediate action on housing has far-reaching consequences for the mental health of innumerable children, stuck in a system not of their making.
Children are the future of the world, not just a nation. A statesman is one who takes the coming generations into consideration in plans and action.
EU should work with Russia on security - not against it
I would like to follow up briefly on the article by Dan O'Brien on the subject of EU defence co-operation ('In unstable times, greater EU defence co-operation is logical - which will give Ireland a decision to make', Irish Independent, May 16).
Since there is quite an emphasis in the article on the "Russian connection" to the issue, here are some relevant facts.
The real number of the Russian armed forces personnel is one million, as opposed to 3.5 million of Nato countries combined. The defence budget is $46bn, while the combined military budget of Nato is $1,395bn. If we add to the picture that all major wars of modern times have been initiated and waged by the US and its allies (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and, of course, the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999), the net result would clearly contravene the concept of "belligerent and aggressive Russia".
Instead of artificially pitting parts of Europe against each other, it would seem like a better idea to join efforts in safeguarding security for all of Europe without dividing lines, and face modern challenges, like terrorism, together - something Russia consistently proposes to do.
HE Yuriy Filatov,
Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ireland, Rathgar, Dublin 14
Make sure you have your say by using your vote on Friday
Local and European Parliament elections on Friday are not seen as important as a general election, but they can have an impact. It is good to vote as we never know when we may need the support of a councillor or MEP.
Examples of candidates I like across Cork constituencies: Cllr Mick Finn, the first Independent Lord Mayor of Cork City in 50 years. He represents Cork City South-Central. He created the Cork Culture Award, recently given to its first recipient, Cork opera singer Cara O'Sullivan, in recognition of her great career and support of many good causes.
Deputy Lord Mayor, Independent Cllr Thomas Moloney, in his first term on the city council. He is not part of an alliance and represents Cork City South-West. He is known for helping people and will, if asked, call to a person's home to discuss an issue to help get a result. His day job is with Foróige, which supports young people.
Sinn Féin Cllr Chris O'Leary is in Cork City South-East. When Lord Mayor in 2015 he accepted a water charge protest petition with some 20,000 signatories and presented it in a dignified manner to the government. He defused a situation of people being ignored.
MEP Deirdre Clune has worked hard in representing the country. A new MEP candidate is Midleton-born Adrienne Wallace, of People Before Profit, running in the five-seat South region. Voting is the one time a government takes notice of people's feelings. This is a time to let them know.