No winners if austerity continues
* The fact that the economy is now officially back in recession vindicates those of us once referred to as economic illiterates.
We were labelled as ignorant of the genuine seriousness of the crisis in this country, or simply as some kind of hipster contrarians who were highlighting the demerits of austerity to get noticed or to just be difficult for political or ideological gain.
Trust me, there are no winners in the economic philosophy pursued by this and the previous government. I, for one, take no happiness in being vindicated for letters I had written and arguments I had engaged in.
You can imagine my shock at, three days after this economic failure hit the news, hearing Michael Noonan promising another "tough" austerity Budget.
British journalists often talk about the 'Westminster Bubble', but can our leaders be so wrapped up in their own world in Leinster House that they cannot hear the same chant from the protesters outside their gates, from the airwaves, from the International Monetary Fund, from the US Treasury Secretary? The truth that they all have come to realise universally: austerity is not working.
There is a lot to be admired in the stubbornness of our Taoiseach. It is a breath of fresh air compared with the hopeless passivity of Brian Cowen and the sycophantic diplomatic pandering of Bertie Ahern.
But this trait could prove his undoing as much as it has served him well.
Facing down and wearing down the opposition leaders is one thing. With enough determination, the Iron Frau can be for turning. However, Enda Kenny cannot defeat economic reality with his stubbornness. He can only own up to it.
To commit to and preside over austerity was foolish. But to continue with it, regardless of what it has clearly done to growth and recovery, would be truly stupid.
Blame falling exports all you like. A less-deluded Taoiseach would own up to and remedy smothering domestic demand in the crib.
Alan J McKenna
FIANNA FAIL'S RISE
* I am of the firm belief that if I happened to be strolling around any reasonably sized town in Nigeria, Poland or the Punjab and lifted a newspaper, there'd be a Fianna Fail press release in it about potholes, footpaths or a denial about knowing one iota about the Anglo goings-on leading up to the bailout.
Ever since polls have shown an increase in support, they're so bolstered up that the Fianna Fail logo has increased from embryo size to adult size on posters and merchandising literature.
The soldiers of fortune are learning to march again.
The understanding I have about this rising (no, not 1916) is that the electorate are so mired in the troubles of the present that they are willing to forgive and forget those who brought the world down around them.
Gort an Choirce, Dun na nGall
THE 'BUTT' OF JOKES
* All of us have been shocked by the appalling attitude and despicable accounting procedures of the Anglo bankers. Is it any wonder Anglo is the "butt" of financial jokes, if this was where they picked their figures from?
There is a clamour for an inquiry. However, I am convinced they should all be given a medical check to see if there is another €7bn up there!
Tramore, Co Waterford
RED ARMY'S WAR ROLE
* I refer to the ongoing debate in your newspaper regarding the contribution of the Red Army to the Allies' victory in World War II.
While the impact of a conflict cannot be measured solely by comparing human losses, such statistics do merit consideration.
While there is no universally agreed total figure for war-related deaths for World War II, a minimum of 60-70 million is generally accepted.
In 'All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945', the historian Max Hastings postulates that it was the Western Allies' extreme good fortune that the Russians paid almost the entire "butcher's bill" for the war, accepting 95pc of the military casualties of the three major powers of the Grand Alliance and 65pc of all Allied military deaths.
Rather depressingly, Mr Hastings declares that "there is a powerful argument that only a warlord as bereft of scruple or compassion as Stalin, presiding over a society in which ruthlessness was even more institutionalised than in Germany, could have destroyed Nazism".
It is an uncomfortable thought that the Wehrmacht might not have been defeated if Stalin's Russia were a western-style democracy, but this cannot take away from the dominant contribution made by the Red Army.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
HELP FOR HOMELESS
* There were many concerns expressed in the Irish Independent last week about the impact of the new Central Bank Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. Focus Ireland fears this new code could lead to a deepening homeless crisis if owner-occupiers are evicted from repossessed family homes.
Focus Ireland has warned that if more families become homeless due to increased repossessions on the back of this new code, homeless services in Dublin will not cope.
We are calling for a meeting with the Finance Minister to express these concerns and to call for key prevention measures and supports to prevent families from becoming homeless due to this code.
Focus Ireland can help to prevent households from becoming homeless if we have the opportunity to work with these families before their homes are repossessed. However, the crucial thing is to restrict repossessions in the first place.
Details for Focus Ireland's advice and information services can be found at www.focusireland.ie.
Focus Ireland, 9-12 High St, Dublin
* Last weekend boasted a bumper fixture list of both provincial and qualifier contests, but what unfolded was the death of good, competitive sport within the GAA.
On Saturday, I had to suffer as my own county welcomed Tyrone to Tullamore, and they tore us to shreds by 22 points. Sunday seemed to offer a better spectacle with Dublin facing Kildare. It was another mauling. We need not mention what happened between Armagh and Wicklow.
The whole Champions League-style championship has more appeal with every non-competitive year, and with a non-seeded draw creating groups of four or five, weaker counties like my own may advance to a serious stage of the Championship.
How is Offaly football meant to improve when we are thrown to the wolves in a Leinster quarter-final, and then whipped out, only to be thrown to the lions in the qualifiers a few weeks later?
Edenderry, Co Offaly
RACE TO THE BOTTOM
* I recently came across this quote from the late American philosopher Henry Louis Mencken.
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule. Both parties normally succeed."
Pretty well sums up the situation here, I think. Time to vote a lot more Independents in.
Tinahely, Co Wicklow