Shame of vacant properties falling into derelict state

Dilapidated buildings are a blight on the areas in which they stand. Photo: Getty Images

Letters to the Editor

For too many years, derelict and vacant houses, business premises and other properties have blighted the cities, towns, villages and countryside of Ireland. These properties are bought and sold by people who want to trade in them for profit or who want to retain them to demonstrate their wealth to the locals. They do this with disregard for the environment of natives and visitors.

Grants of €30,000 and €50,000 can be sought towards renovating, respectively, a vacant property and a derelict building (‘Mini-budget will hike vacant home grants in bid to fix housing crisis’, Irish Independent, April 22).

These grants need to be extended to all properties, turning them into viable accommodation for people and necessary service locations, on a “use it or lose it” basis, ensuring that no property should be left unoccupied for more than a year, guaranteeing the absence of future dereliction. Whatever regard non-resident owners of such properties have for the people, it is shameful that resident owners of such property retain them in a derelict state.

Hugh McDermott Dromahair, Co Leitrim

Yerrah, Cicero couldn’t have put it any better himself

I DON’T believe Billy Keane ever does nothing (‘Sometimes you have to put the foot down when you’re stuck with a bore intent on baring his sole’, Irish Independent, April 22). I always saw Billy as a modern-day Cicero, who once said, “Not even when I have nothing to do will I do nothing.”

I’m delighted that Billy throws in the odd crutch word, which doesn’t have a definition, such as “musha” and “wisha”. I wouldn’t like to see them dying out.

The late great Bryan MacMahon was once asked, “What does ‘yerrah’ mean?”

His reply? “Yerrah, I don’t know.”

Mattie Lennon Blessington, Co Wicklow

Health system would be good use for the €6bn tax surplus

SO, we are looking at a tax surplus of €6bn. One could ask the question how some of the sharpest minds in government and its advisory groups could not have forecast this massive surplus two years running, but let’s leave that aside.

Where else should this cash be put than into our health service? We could have the best health service in Europe if we dedicated this year’s and next year’s tax surplus to this area. I know of no one who would begrudge nurses and interns a raise of 50pc in their salary. This would result in two distinct scenarios. Firstly, the exodus of our finest medical graduates would be halted, and secondly, those who are currently plying their trade in far-flung places would see a genuine opportunity to come home.

More nurses and interns on better pay would see a radical lowering of trolley numbers and a happier workforce.

Without our health we have nothing. Without a proper functioning health service we have next to nothing.

Eamon Kearney Ayrfield Road, Dublin

Uncomfortable truth about the point of protest

I have mixed feelings about the use of direct action to highlight causes, but one can only admire people who put themselves in harm’s way in an effort to tackle climate change, fight the might of the oil industry, or alleviate the heart-rending plight of animals.

The sight of a woman climbing onto a table at the World Snooker Championships bothered me far less than seeing someone throw soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, but that’s only because I have a passing interest in art and none at all in snooker.

But such protests are all about making us feel uneasy and getting our attention.

When I watched activists storm the Aintree Grand National, my thoughts strayed to a protest of another era, one that helped to change the course of history. In 1913, suffragette Emily Davison died after throwing herself in front of the king’s horse during the Epsom Derby. That protest brought the suffragette campaign to new heights, and helped to win people a basic human right.

Sitting on a “whites only” seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 resulted in Rosa Parks being arrested, brought to a police station, and treated as a criminal. But her action highlighted the injustice of racist laws in that part of the USA.

I’m not suggesting that direct-action protest is always the ideal way to go, but often the inconvenience occasioned by the protest pales to nothing beside the enormity of the issue being highlighted. Youthful protesters invading the course at Aintree is less disagreeable, I believe, than the deaths of three horses at the same event. And the odd traffic jam due to a disruptive climate change demo ought to be less worrying than the dangers of climate change.

John Fitzgerald Callan, Co Kilkenny