| 17.3°C Dublin

More needs to be done to close gap between rich and poor

Close

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam, at ‘The Global Agenda 2015’ in Davos on Saturday. Photo:  REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam, at ‘The Global Agenda 2015’ in Davos on Saturday. Photo: REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

REUTERS

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam, at ‘The Global Agenda 2015’ in Davos on Saturday. Photo: REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

A recent report from Oxfam showed the 80 richest individuals have the same wealth as the poorest 50pc (3.5 billion people). In cash terms, their wealth has doubled in the last five years.

They predict that by 2016, the wealth of the richest 1pc will overtake that of the rest of the world's population combined. These revelations are both astonishing and galling. I believe capitalism is the best system to lift people out of poverty but when the gap in wealth has widened to the degree where a handful of individuals control so much, and so many have to survive on so little, then something in the world has surely gone awry.

Figures also show that over recent years the very rich have become increasingly adept at finding ways of paying less tax and when it comes to lobbying politicians, their positions of influence grant them unfettered access to the policy makers.

It seems the avarice of a few, coupled with the obeisance of policy makers, is at the core of the problem. The absurdity of avoiding tax to amass wealth so enormous that it could never possibly be of practical use to the beneficiaries, seems to be lost on them. In its report, Oxfam made several recommendations that would help narrow the wealth gap by means of social and tax reforms. It is up to the world's politicians to take these suggestions on board, but is anyone listening?

John Bellew

Dunleer, Co Louth

Tory mindset in Irish politics

A Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael coalition would bring a Kafkaesque end to our recent nadir.

Surely we are unique in modern Europe by the degree to which right-wing economic orthodoxy is supported by a majority of voters, voters that either don't benefit from the consequences of their actions, or become victims of those electoral decisions.

Willie O'Dea, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection, inadvertently put his finger on the fundamental contradiction at the heart of this Irish political malaise in a recent radio broadcast, when he said with gusto, "I have working class people voting for me", in response to the debate over a potential Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael coalition.

The reality is that a most disorganised conspiracy has operated between the two large right-wing parties for decades, one that operates a simple foundation principle, that being, we are still an occupied people.

The greatest victory the British Empire had over us was that they left a deeply conservative 'Tory' mindset behind them when they left.

Our domestic political class simply picked up where the British occupation left off. Coupled with the reactionary influence of an over-dominant and encouraged Catholic hierarchy, the Irish 'left' was always going to be 'up against it'.

The only function of the Irish Labour Party has been to repeatedly betray the poor of Ireland, through propping up the Irish Tory governments.

The next election will provide a challenge to Irish Tories, a challenge they will most likely overcome. Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael, should indeed merge to become the new 'Irish Tory Party', as they are the same side of the same coin.

But then again, why should they - their spell over the Irish people isn't likely to be dispelled anytime soon.

Declan Doyle

Lisdowney, Kilkenny

Striving for equality

Éanna Johnson (Letters, January 24) is correct in saying that the forthcoming marriage equality referendum is about the child.

By passing the proposal, we shall cease discriminating against some children and their families and attain that ideal expressed in the Easter Proclamation of 1916: that all the children of the nation be cherished equally.

Ciarán Ó Raghalliagh

Co Cavan

As the public debate on the upcoming marriage equality referendum warms up, it strikes me as odd that there is always a voice missing - the devout Irish Catholic who is opposed to homosexuality.

How refreshing it would be to hear an honest Catholic advocating for a No vote based on his church's teaching that homosexuality is a grievous sin and therefore cannot enjoy the same status as heterosexuality. Perhaps then we could have an open and honest debate.

Sean Smith

Navan, Co Meath

A friend of mine recently 'came out' as heterosexual. I knew when we met something was clearly bothering him. I assured him he was still my friend and what he did in his private life was none of my business. It was as if a heavy burden had been lifted from his shoulders.

He said it's just so difficult, nobody comes out as heterosexual. I told him there were many heterosexual people. He left a happier man. We need to be more accepting of people irrespective of their sexual orientation.

Tommy Roddy

Salthill, Galway

Oath of office is discriminatory

Our Constitution currently discriminates against the non-religious community, of approximately a quarter of a million, by insisting on a religious oath for high office, including that of president.

The referendum to reduce the age for eligibility for presidential office from 35 to 21 amounts to an extension of existing discrimination to a new cohort. It is not too late for our Government to eliminate this blatant injustice by adding a few words to allow for an affirmation for those affected. It would be painful to have to vote against the existing wording, but no one could surely support this proposed extension of religious discrimination?

Dick Spicer

Bray, Co Wicklow

Varadkar's hospital pledge

Health Minister Leo Varadkar (Irish Independent, Comment, January 23) says: "One of the most important goals this year will be to secure planning permission for the new children's hospital, at long last." Yet he goes on to say: "We are not going to be able to achieve everything in one year."

Well, my promise to you, Mr Varadkar, is if you achieve the above goal, you and your party will have secured at least one vote in 2016. Please do not let me down.

Brian Mc Devitt

Glenties, Co Donegal

The callous murder capital

Yesterday, I found a gem of a book entitled, 'AE Russell: A Study of a Man and a Nation', in what used to be the Government Publications outlet on Molesworth St, Dublin.

It was written by Darrell Figgis and published in 1916. Here's his description of Dublin: "Today, instead of dignified carelessness, Dubliners must contend with an ever-increasing callous disregard for the life of another person; as evidenced by numerous press reports citing Dublin as the murder capital of Ireland and our dear country itself; as one of the EU's murder blackspots." One can only imagine to what extent Messrs Pearse, Connolly and Co are helplessly turning in their graves.

Ciaran Casey

Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Irish Independent