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Letters: When money talks, democracy has no voice


Irish Water application packs being burned at a protest: are citizens’ interests being torched for financial considerations?

Irish Water application packs being burned at a protest: are citizens’ interests being torched for financial considerations?

Irish Water application packs being burned at a protest: are citizens’ interests being torched for financial considerations?

The Government does not want to borrow additional money to upgrade and operate the water system of the country.

So, a separate entity is established at enormous cost and constructed in such a way that it will be able to borrow money to carry out the essential work required.

Citizens will pay charges to meet the cost of the work required and any interest charges on the borrowings.

It is not clear at this stage if the charges will also be used to ultimately repay the borrowings. If they are, then the percentage of the charges used to service this debt will be higher than if only the interest is to be repaid.

If there is no plan to repay the borrowings then these will constitute a proportion of the charges indefinitely and this proportion will change in line with the changes in interest rates.

As citizens will pay water charges, including the cost of borrowings, these water charges are no more nor less than an additional tax to meet the cost of provision of this essential service. What's next?

The HSE was established as a separate entity, in a different way to Irish Water, to manage the health service in the country. Universal Health Insurance is being touted as a way to improve health services in the country. The HSE was established to improve hospital services which had been run by health boards. It would be hard to get anyone to argue that this objective has been achieved even partially.

Is it beyond the bounds of possibility that with the introduction of Universal Health Insurance that the HSE will be restructured to enable it to borrow money on the financial markets? Or will Universal Health Insurance be described for what it is - an additional tax.

Democratic governments are elected to look after the interests of the citizens of the state. Financial markets are designed to facilitate those in the private sector looking for profitable ways to invest wealth.

Is it heresy to ask - with the benefit of hindsight and experience of recent financial crises - if democracy and financial markets can ever have a relationship that truly serves the needs of the vast majority of people who subscribe to the notion of a democracy?

Fred Meaney, Dalkey, Co Dublin


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Adoption law in Ireland

Colette Browne (Comment, February 3) wrote that the case law on adoption in Ireland to date would suggest that the rights of natural parents exert a disproportionate influence and usually take precedence, even over the rights of the child. That statement is incorrect.

In his judgement of the Baby Ann case, Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman wrote that the Constitution prefers the rights of parents not over the rights of children, but over the rights of third parties.

Furthermore, Article 42.5 of the Constitution, which remains in force pending the Supreme Court's decision on the result of the children referendum, gives the State the power to intervene in cases in which parents fail in their duty to their children.

Ciarán Masterson, Cavan, Co Cavan


Country's young left behind

I write specifically on behalf of my daughter and, I believe, more generally on behalf of a whole raft of young, intelligent, hard-working people who are forced to seek and accept work on repeat short-term contracts or contract terms of various forms with the State and the private sector.

My daughter is highly educated and works for our Republic of Ireland as a teacher on a contract basis, and has done so for some years into her third decade.

When I say she works for our Republic of Ireland, she does so via the Department of Education and whatever school and principle she is lucky enough to find work with for any one year.

I know that my daughter has many young temporary contract accomplices who are equally highly educated, energetic and idealistic. They are working in various equally essential roles in the State and private industry where fixed contract, temporary contract, rolling contract, zero-hours contract and Job Bridge are the "in thing".

The paymaster in my daughter's case is our Republic of Ireland. We are great little Europeans though - look at the growth rate. We can take such a good kicking and bounce right back - Christine Lagarde couldn't resist patronisingly complimenting the Irish people. What stomach-churning eloquence.

My daughter - like so many young people - did everything in her young life in a manner consistent with a model young citizen.

She did her studies, excelled at her exams, worked her summers, kept it going year on year and qualified in her chosen career. Topped it up with a masters as added insurance.

Now she hopes to buy a home. Ah, but the mortgage companies have been to Damascus and seen the error of their ways and learned a new financial rectitude. Universally they either considered and refused or refused to consider at all on the basis of my daughter's terms of employment. Terms of employment in her case operated by the Department of Education of our great country. End of aspiration.

But the State employer is not the only employer playing the contract game. Successive governments of our great little Republic have been asleep at the wheel - or looking the opposite direction for several years - as these contract practices have taken root across the economy.

But, of course, it suits our great little Republic in her supine relationship with Europe and in her efforts to cover up the failed political system that has made us penniless.

Employers have raced to the bottom with a reformist's zeal and contract services companies have sprang up equally energetically to facilitate it by offering suitable surrogate employer services.

Our great Republic is just thriving on it. To hell with our young people and their expectations of a career and settling .

Name and address with editor


The meaning of blasphemy

Now I know what blasphemy is. I sat and listened to Stephen Fry's outburst of criticism and hatred against God ('The Meaning of Life', RTÉ One).

He had uninterrupted time for his claims without ever having to justify what he said about the character and existence of God. He insulted and hurt the majority of Irish people who still believe in God. This is blasphemy of the highest order.

Yes, the belief of an ever-burning Hell must be revisited, and the need to examine the reason why so many bad things are happening - and not just blame all on someone that you don't believe exists.

Did he hope to entertain us? I am sorry to say, many were utterly shocked.

Evelyn Wilson, Stratford-on-Slaney, Co Wicklow


Time for a political change

In his response (Letters, February 3) to my recent letter re gender quotas (Letters, January 27) A Leavy asks if the Dáil which helped to bankrupt the country was elected on the basis of merit and expertise. I believe the answer is self-evident.

I can think of nothing better than what Mr Leavy mentions to make the case for giving first priority to merit and expertise, irrespective of non-merit-related factors such as gender, etc., when candidates for Dáil elections are being selected. And for giving priority to changing the way in which our political system seems to work.

Hugh Gibney, Athboy, Co Meath

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