'Send in the Clowns' the perfect Requiem for Brexit ceremony
Any day now Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker will want a suitable Requiem to bury Brexit. If they choose to do it with some ceremony, they could do worse than 'channel' the spirit of Frank Sinatra. In 1973 (the year the UK joined the EEC) the old crooner topped the charts with 'Send in the Clowns'. The theme of the ballad was a very painful and costly divorce between two old lovers.
Forty five years on and this dirge could top the charts again, - if not in London, then most certainly in Brussels! This is because the theme and lyrics are so strangely prescient and prophetic today.
Just listen to a typical verse: "Don't you love farce?/My fault I fear/I thought that you'd want, what I want…/Sorry my dear!/But where are the Clowns?/Quick! Send in the Clowns!/Don't bother! They're here"!
The British taxpayer now has to find €40bn to compensate the EU for UK commitments made during 45 years of membership. And that is only the start of it. The British taxpayer now also has to find another €5bn a year to replace the EU annual payments to UK farmers.
Fresh out of the richest club in the world, the UK will soon find itself in the poorest club imaginable! Alongside North Korea and Zimbabwe, the UK will soon share a most shameful commonality. All three will be among the best known countries on the planet who are unable and unprepared to feed their own people.
The latest annual report (2016) from the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirms this fact. The report also confirms that practically every essential metric confirms that UK farming is in terminal decline for years. The UK trade gap in food and beverages continues to grow inexorably. Last year it widened by 4.2pc.
All the world-class UK agricultural support systems and services that were in place 40 years ago are long gone. And now they are gone forever. UK animal health standards, systems and services are also in a state of perpetual crisis (95pc of veterinary surgeons on UK farms and in UK meat factories are from Eastern Europe and Spain).
The average farm in the UK receives over €20,000 a year in Cap payments - that's 250pc more than what the average Irish farmer gets from the Cap per year (€8,850).
If Britain's agricultural industry was run as a limited company, the liquidators would have moved in years ago. Nobody in Ireland is happy with where a once great country now finds itself. We in Ireland do have some practical solutions for this sorry state of affairs in the UK. But before we can do anything, we have just one question for Theresa May… if the Cap didn't fit, how can the crown?
Brendan Dunleavy, B. Agr. Sc.
Killeshandra, Co Cavan
FSU quiet on mortgage scandal
Back in 2010 as the country found itself in the grip of a recession, we saw many young people in the banking sector either let go or had their salaries reduced. Their union, the IBOA, now the Financial Services Union (FSU), spoke out very strongly on behalf of its members.
Over the past weeks we have heard personal testimony from mortgage holders who were contacted by phone and in writing by bank officials, most of whom were members of the FSU, informing them, inaccurately as it turns out, on the status of their mortgages. This misinformation resulted in marriage breakups, loss of homes and in some cases, suicide.
Those banking personnel will say they were merely doing their job. How come we have not heard from the FSU this past week defending its members' actions in this mortgage scandal.
Kingswood, Dublin 24
IRFU overseas 'ban' not sporting
Alan Quinlan professes empathy for Simon Zebo at the end of his international career through the application of "an unwritten rule that a move abroad effectively puts your international career on hold".
Quinlan's piece could have been written in IRFU headquarters and shows little professional solidarity with a fellow Munster player.
This so-called unwritten rule has been exercised enough in recent years to assume the status of policy or law in Irish rugby and while I'm sure Zebo won't challenge it, it remains possible some enterprising and ambitious player might bring a legal challenge against its trade-restricting effect. Simply, disallowing an Irishman, playing abroad, from playing for his country and thereby denying him any remuneration and commercial income that flows from his international status is a restriction on his ability to trade his talent for income - to be a professional in his field.
The union's ban on players playing abroad from appearing in the Irish jersey is a simple case of the IRFU acting simultaneously as employer and regulator. It might be sport, but it's certainly a business and this ban mentality wouldn't be allowed in business generally. Perhaps an Irish rugby union Bosman is out there yet to give players more clout in negotiations?
North Circular Road, Limerick
Savita's death was a turning point
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Savita Halappanavar. My friends here in India were appalled when her story became known. They couldn't imagine this was possible in a 'developed' country. For my friends in Ireland, news of her tragic death was the moment we finally realised how the Eighth Amendment affects us all. Until then, many of us were under the false impression abortion was for other people, other women, not for us.
Until we have been in a position where a planned pregnancy is no longer viable, or faced an unplanned pregnancy we are not equipped to cope with, none of us can say how we would respond. We certainly have no right to tell others what their response should be. I know we are capable of better. That we can respond with compassion and kindness to all women, whatever their choice. That we can provide them with the healthcare they need in their own country.
It is time to repeal.
Directors... or jobs for the boys?
Where have the 'public interest directors' been for the last 10 years as decisions were being made by the banks on the tracker mortgages?
How come the media has not focussed more on the role they were meant to be fulfilling over the last number of years? These people, ex-politicians, ex-civil servants, were appointed by our political masters at considerable cost to the taxpayer to oversee the banks. It would be interesting to see how the PAC members would have "interrogated" these people on the matter of the tracker mortgage. Were these appointments just simply "jobs for the boys"?
Merginstown, Co Wicklow