Wednesday 11 December 2019

See no bubble, hear no bubble, speak no bubble

Michael Noonan needs to face the reality that property is still overpriced in Ireland
Michael Noonan needs to face the reality that property is still overpriced in Ireland
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

* Michael Noonan's statement that fears of a new housing bubble are 'wildly exaggerated' must not go unchallenged.

Where has he been for the last seven years?

His comments indicate people like him, who have been completely unaffected by the mess his political class created, or the cuts they heaped on the rest of society – the bulk of which have been imposed since 2011 – have learned absolutely nothing and are reverting to type.

Mr Noonan is in his 70s, so he'll well remember how much his first house cost and how much he was earning at that time.

Then one of his officials needs to tell him how much the average house now costs and how much the average salary is; then add on childcare and travel costs and Mr Noonan will find that, even with two incomes, the figures do not add up. Price inflation is still unsustainable when it exceeds four, five, six times the available salary.

Of course, the reason Mr Noonan prefers to wallow in denial, like those in the Fianna Fail-led government before him, is because if he has to face the reality that property is still overpriced in Ireland, it means that he'll have to face up to the personal debt timebomb he has been avoiding so carefully since he took office in March 2011.

Ireland is a small country and it is simply astounding that after all this time, there is no agreement between the banking industry and consumer advocate groups on a formula to give debt-laden people a financial review to determine if their debt level is sustainable.

But until then we have Mr Noonan continuing the Ahern, Cowen and Lenihan head-in-the-sand school of economic thought.

A family home should not cost more than three to four times the combined income of those applying for the mortgage and instead of mortgage terms expanding into third and fourth decades, the price of a property in Ireland is still too high.

So what if you aren't getting enough interest on your savings? Aren't you lucky you have spare money to save?

So what if you have negative equity?

There are worse things than a hypothetical financial loss.

The real issue Mr Noonan has failed to address is if a person has a sustainable debt burden.

Two people can have the same amount of debt but if their income is vastly different, someone is carrying a heavier debt burden.

This is the elephant in the room this Government refuses to address, but it is preventing the domestic economy recovering.

And we need it to recover so Ireland can build on credible sustainable economic growth, instead of pinning all our hopes on a few US high-tech firms.




* As an Irishman working happily in England for over 40 years as a Catholic priest I am astonished that the state visit of the President of Ireland does not include any acknowledgement of any current Catholic institution.

I have the greatest admiration that the state visit should include Westminster Abbey and Coventry Cathedral but surely an engagement to Westminster Cathedral could have been included.

Many of our finest Catholic churches were built by Irish navvies and by the pennies of the poor. There is something seriously amiss with the Anglo-Irish diplomatic service or with Aras an Uachtarain. I strongly suspect it is the latter.




* RTE's correspondents covering the visit by President Higgins to the UK seemed to have been very taken by the occasion, their obsequiousness was in abundance. I don't know how many times I heard how the British are the best at pomp and splendour.

I have seen the French, Italians, Germans, Russians and even the Vatican at the pomp and splendour business and they are also very very good and sometimes better. That's republics for you!






* It smacks of bread and circuses. An Irish president visits the queen. Our national lack of confidence kicks in.

He brings a virtual cabinet, a Labour minister rides in a horse and coach and RTE give over the station to the visit. BBC gives the visit 15 seconds. One might have thought we reached Mars such is the drooling and mirror reflecting.

It might shock us to know that the last High King of Ireland, Rory O'Connor, visited London. Long before we championed women at the top table, Achill's Grainne Ui Mhaille visited the court of another Elizabeth and both conversed in Latin.

Between 1957/1965 , my spell in Eachleam national school, Blacksod, Mayo, virtually every child who graduated sixth class took the Mail Boat to Holyhead or the Clyde. Once there, they 'tattie howked' (picked potatoes) or laboured on sites.

In this week of faux congratulations of a state visit to a country 40 minutes away by Government jet, lets not forget the poor emigrant who traversed that journey by boat but never came back.

They did this state a greater service often with cash-filled letters home.




* So Ruairi Quinn thinks that students are finished courses by St Patrick's Day and spend the rest of the year revising. This minister hasn't a clue what happens in the classroom.

How can he make statements like this and be allowed to get away with it. As a maths teacher at all levels, I can assure you that I will be teaching new topics in maths right up to the day the students leave with little or no time for revision. Mr Quinn has been told repeatedly that there is way too much content in the new Project Maths courses and has refused to listen.

I and most other maths teachers have to take our students for extra classes, at lunchtime or outside school hours, just to get through the course. When will this minister listen to the people "at the coal face"?



* Maybe a few tragic facts and figures taken in isolation from Eamon Meehan's and Mike Pflanz's articles re. 'Twenty years on, from Rwanda' (April 7) might bring home the reality of two words 'Never again'.

For example: "Over the course of 100 days in Rwanda, close to one million people, mostly Tutsi, were murdered – on a scale and at a speed not seen since World War II."

Jean de Dieu Burakari, a survivor of the eastern Rwanda Rukara church genocide said: "They came every day in the afternoon and killed people.

"I was there for nine days. Bodies were rotting and bursting all around me. I hid beneath a bench at the back and I survived only by God's grace."

These terrible atrocities were meticulously planned under the watching eyes of the world, which made a decision not to act.

"Since 1945, from Cambodia to Guatemala, from Darfur to Bosnia, genocides and mass killings have claimed the lives of approximately 70 million people."

To make 'never again' really meaningful, the heads of the world's major powers should sign an international agreement guaranteeing the observance of these two words, endorsed with the signature of the leaders of the world churches, with a commitment to continue praying.



Irish Independent

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