Recall illustrates impotence of the Seanad
* The spurious recall of the Seanad was advocated on the general principle that EU directives should not be simply transposed into national legislation "without prior knowledge". If the absence of prior knowledge about EU directives is a real and enduring concern, this begs the question what function are our MEPs serving and how effective are they, in practice, in that role?
The recall episode clearly illustrates how impotent the closed-shop Seanad is in realpolitik. Only 44 of 60 senators showed up, demonstrating vividly how casually even the membership take the institution. The lead spokesman on the Fianna Fail side, Marc MacSharry, who lobbied for the recall, was sufficiently exercised to go on his foreign holiday and was not even present to claim the Pyrrhic victory that was possible had he bothered to turn up.
Realpolitik is the power that actually shapes, maintains or alters our nation and governs our affairs, just as the law of gravity governs the physical world. The Seanad has been shown as a chamber of empty rhetoric, devoid of gravity, decisiveness and impact, but a theatre of political pantomime whose drawing-room productions make no difference whatsoever to our welfare and wellbeing.
No decisions or insights came out of the debate on Tuesday that could not have been provided in a well-structured parliamentary question submitted at any time.
The compelling grounds for permanently shutting Seanad Eireann have therefore been made most eloquently by its own members.
Glenageary, Co Dublin
HSE NUMBERS GAME
* "The number of administrators in the HSE earning more than €100,000 has risen in the past year, new figures show."
I rest my case!
Caldragh, Co Leitrim
CREDIT PRIESTS AND NUNS
* At the risk of being considered moronic by the new Irish intelligentsia, dare I mention the amazing contribution made by Irish priests and nuns to the world at large?
Religion aside, this now dying generation of pioneering Christians spread Ireland's name across the world in an extraordinary exodus to the remotest areas of the planet.
The rapid descent of the country to a secularist state together with the antagonistic attitude towards Rome has prevented the proper recognition of the unprecedented achievements of these selfless Christians who often met with the most volatile of environments.
These pioneers built schools and churches and brought humanity to countries where deprivation was rife. Basic lifestyles were transformed by education.
Instead of berating Rome from the steps of Leinster House, perhaps our Taoiseach, as a practising Catholic, could ensure that these genuine pioneers get the credit they deserve.
Pinner, Middlesex, UK
JOY OF GETTING OLDER
* As a 74-year-old man I wish to congratulate you on printing the letter from Ronan Scully on Saturday last. He was so right on everything he wrote about and maybe young people who read it will adopt a different attitude to older people. Did I say that twice before?
Just remember young people, hopefully you will all live to a good age and by then young people may have learned that a lot of things slow down when you get older. Have I said that twice too? Thanks, Ronan.
Sutton, Co Dublin
* So, as far as Hawk-Eye is concerned, "all that sliotars is not goaled".
Beaumont, Dublin 9
* Instead of depending on that 'Quare' Hawk, perhaps the GAA should try something else – like painting the goalposts black.
Name and address with editor
NO GLORY IN KILLING
* I first learned about the glories of killing aged about five. Poppy Day in London with brass bands and flags and speeches about all the English soldiers who had been killed and all the horrid Germans they had hopefully killed first.
Then I learned about how it was okay to kill Indians, Chinese and Africans for the glory of the Empire. We had geography and history lessons and the occasional sermon to make sure we fully appreciated the glory of murder. All the parents seemed happy with it all.
In 20 years in the Netherlands I learned about all the Indonesians and South Americans they had murdered and all the Dutch who had died and the nasty Germans they had killed. More bands and flags.
From many educated people in Ireland, I learned about all the countless millions of native Americans, Australian Aboriginals, Irish, British, Japanese, Iraqis, Afghans, Tutsi, Hutu, Serbs, Croats, Russians, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Arabs and Poles murdered for the glory of various political groups. More parades with flags and medals on the main news at regular intervals.
So why is anybody surprised when some of our friends in the North want the occasional parade? They also learned about the glory somewhere.
Tinahely, Co Wicklow
* Former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald in his 'Reflections on the Irish State' (2003) pointed to "deep-seated partitionism in the South". Witness Ian O'Doherty's shameful sentiments (August 19) on a "separate" Northern identity and culture etc. So much for Wolfe Tone's inclusive ideal of "the common name of Irishman".
UNFAIR GRANT SYSTEM
* It would be enlightening to have access to lists of those who have enjoyed the benefits of third-level education grants over generations, to compare them with a database of those refused over the same period – to see the many from lifestyles of plenty who were granted state aid and those of modest means who were refused.
Means-testing systems in this country are, for the most part, ineffective. There has never been a will to make changes in the past because of the political clout of some. How many bright academics and future innovators with an abundance of intellectual talents and ability were turned away? There is no calculating the loss to society of those young people who were the victims of a parish-pump system of grant aid.
TAX ON SELF-EMPLOYED
* Charlie Weston (August 20) states that a self-employed person declaring income of €15,500 pays almost six times more tax than an employed person on the same income. However, he fails to mention the high level of undeclared and untaxed income that historically has existed in self-employed professions, and is the key reason many people choose to become self-employed in the first place.
Recent Revenue clampdowns have significantly reduced undeclared earnings and negatively affected the net income of many self-employed people who had previously lived comfortably in the 'grey' economy.
Increased Revenue detection and enforcement is the real impetus behind lobbying by this group for lower taxes at the present time.
Phibsboro, Dublin 7