Rent costs are crushing small businesses and destroying towns
As I walk around my home town my gaze falls upon the many empty and derelict buildings which line our Main Street; to which I am both horrified and angry. Those idle buildings once laid foundation to a buzzing and enterprising town.
In making room for larger, more opulent shopping centres, we have laid destruction to the smaller business towns such as Mountrath, Co Laois.
Mountrath was once a booming town with several industries to its name. The town itself provided jobs and income to most of the locality; now only a few offer employment. Where do I lay the blame for its decline?
The blame is not in the lack of entrepreneurs, nor the workforce, not even the increase of competition from multinationals such as Aldi or Lidl; the blame is in the increasing costs of running a business - primarily the cost of renting.
When you consider the many costs that face a small business, more needs to be done to help them flourish in such demanding times. Would common sense not determine it was better to help a business stay open than forcing closure and letting another site go idle?
If the Government was to work more closely with local county council's to help promote small businesses - one by decreasing costs of renting but also through further tax incentives and development funding - only good could emerge.
We need to build up Ireland one small business at a time, or I fear we will have our business growth but without any true heart of community.
Mountrath, Co Laois
Failing to restore pensions is abuse
In reference to your article titled 'TDs to get two salary rises worth more than €3,600 under new deal' (Irish Independent, October 2) and also the statement by the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney a few days later - "Now we're the fastest growing economy in Europe for the third year running so we're now putting money aside" - I note the lack of any mention of the restoration to the public service pensioners of their pensions by any Government minister.
We were loaded with the Pension Levy, the USC, and Property Tax in 2011 to help bring about the great recovery Mr Coveney boasts about. Did we get thanked for our sacrifice? No.
Before the TDs get their €3,600 rise and the Government puts any money aside, the pensions of the public service pensioners must be restored to their pre 2011 levels. Many of these pensioners suffer from a wide range of long-term illnesses and need their pensions to help them through.
Any unnecessary further delay in restoring the pensions to their pre 2011 values is a total vindictive abuse of the elderly and should not be allowed to continue. The public service workers of today will be the pensioners of tomorrow and will suffer the same kind of abuse in their old age if they fail to support the public service pensioners of today.
Annaghdown, Co Galway
Free market has a lot to answer for
I commend Anthony Woods for his letter (Irish Independent, October 12), but would like to broaden his thesis in a global context.
The increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the very few, and consequent impoverishment of the many, I believe is one of the major issues of our time. In my opinion it started in the Thatcher/Reagan era, where the state withdrew from many functions with a view to permitting the loathsome 'free market' to determine optimum outcomes. Indeed, the current housing crisis arose because our government devolved its social housing responsibilities to the same free market.
The free market was epitomised by the WTO and other free trade arrangements; poorer regulatory standards; looser monetary policy; expansion of money supply; privatisation; volatile and sometimes reckless financial markets; and aggressive tax avoidance strategies. The results manifest in enormous national debt; omnipotent multinational organisations; disenfranchised citizens; an impotent political class; radical nationalism; devalued labour rights; skewed wealth distribution; the rise of despotic charlatans as leaders; and a despairing youth.
In fairness to the EU, it has been slower to embrace that dystopian universe of the free market as readily as other jurisdictions and still champions that social democratic model upon which it was first founded. Sure, it makes mistakes, endears itself to no one and, in Ireland's case, has shown it is prepared to be nobody's friend, but on balance it still adheres to its social democratic principles. The free market versus social democratic paradigms is the existential issue of our time. Time for a rethink maybe?
Tullamore, Co Offaly
What to make of our TDs
Members of the Oireachtas ridiculed for their pro-life opinions; 114 TDs rejected the bill to ban hare coursing; and road safety activists had to speak out as TDs opposed the Fixed Penalty-Drink Driving Bill. Is anyone else flabbergasted?
Not bonkers to right a wrong
So, the cost of adjusting the pensions for the wronged men and women workers who have fallen between two stools is driving the Department of Finance "bonkers".
Get housekeeping on to it. Adjust pensions from now and pay any arrears over maybe two years. Two wrongs never made a right so take the bull by the horns and do the honourable thing.
Paschal Donohoe never knows when he may have to doorstep the very people who know they are shortchanged to ask for their support. Put it on the long finger and bonkers won't describe it down the line.
Ennistymon, Co Clare
The arts need help in hard times
The arts are a fundamental part of our culture. However, the arts and music have never been self-sufficient, they need patronage to survive.
While I totally understand economies are under pressure and finances can be tight, times of economic crisis are the very times that artists need to be supported.
The arts can be seen by some, particularly around budget season, as a misallocation and unnecessary division of resources. I ask those people to imagine a world without art, without music, without books.
Do we really want to be the generation that misses out on contributing to Irish culture in this way?
Clontarf, Dublin 3
Che Guevara and the stamp
There is a certain irony in that what many people in this country know about Che Guevara would fit on the back of a postage stamp.
Beaumont, Dublin 9