Time for an FF-FG coalition - and a revived Tallaght strategy
As the election campaign heats up, it now looks like Fine Gael and Labour may not have an overall majority. They appear to be approximately 10 seats off the magic number 79.
As this is a centenary election year, what about a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael coalition?
This would be historic for two reasons. First, it would bury Civil War politics for good. With this year being the centenary of 1916, what an occasion this would be for all of us - a peaceful closure of this chapter in our history.
Second, it would avoid instability and the prospect of a repeat general election in 12 months. It would prevent any newly formed government entering into special deals with Independent TDs - like the famous Jackie Healy-Rae and Tony Gregory deals of previous adminstrations.
In advance of all that, let's look at another alternative: Alan Dukes and his 1987 Tallaght strategy [his proposal that Fine Gael, then in opposition, should not oppose the economic policies of Fianna Fáil], which was surely before its time. At the time, a lot of us wondered why Alan Dukes did what he did.
Now let's take a leaf out of his book and give the country what it needs most - more stability and more confidence. Let's cut out the sweet deals.
Brian Kane, Knockloughlin, Longford
Restoring the nation's values
Archbishop Martin's more than reasonable appeal to the mothers and grandmothers of those involved in criminality should be taken up by all mothers in Ireland.
Perhaps a peaceful demonstration in Dublin by mothers who have lost children to violence and drugs might persuade the gang bosses they are not invincible.
Sadly, in recent years, money appears to have taken precedence over life.
Life can be enjoyed so much more when lived simply; and no amount of money in the world can buy love, which is the main requirement for a contented life.
Ireland used to be a Christian social democrat nation, of a reasonable kind. This is what all decent and caring politicians should be interested in creating, rather than just an economy.
Perhaps it might well be time for a national government of a three-year duration, to put the country back on a Christian social democrat path - something the forthcoming General Election might just achieve by default.
Declan Foley, Berwick, Australia
Blowing in the election guff
Recently, as I walked across a very windy Santry flyover, I had to neatly sidestep an election poster as it came hurtling from a pole and scuttled along the path in my direction.
Perhaps I may now get one of those "Sorry I missed you today" cards from the relevant candidate through my letterbox.
Tom Gilsenan, Beaumont, Dublin 9
SF's alarming court proposals
Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and friends tell us that abolishing the Special Criminal Court is a "key objective" for them should they be elected to government.
The people of Ireland must ask themselves as they vote this month, would they be happy to see a loved one act as a juror in the trial of one of the Regency Hotel AK-47 gunmen?
I certainly wouldn't. Remember, the names and addresses of all 12 jurors are made known to the defence and prosecution in any trial.
The Special Criminal Court acts in the exact same way as a normal court only three expert, senior judges make a decision on one's guilt or innocence rather than members of the public.
I cannot see why Sinn Féin argue that the public good is better served by trying such individuals outside the Special Criminal Court.
In fact, I find its campaign to abolish it shocking for a mainstream political party. It reveals a complete lack of empathy for the victims of murder or of violent crime.
Should the people of Ireland vote for that party regardless, I would be concerned for the future of the justice system in our country.
I have never written to a newspaper in the past but feel this issue is too serious to ignore.
Name and address with editor
Water is a basic civil right
In 1916, the British considered water a civil right, even for the Irish. In 2016, with the Irish now governing themselves - thanks to the fight made by those in receipt of this civil right - they are now charging their own people for the right to water.
Some freedom. Shame on them.
It comes as no surprise that the installation of water meters, along with the principle of water charges itself, should be a matter of serious consideration in the 2016 General Election.
Water, which is an absolute necessity to human civilisation, should be supplied by any elected government, paid for out of the taxation already taken from the people - it should not be charged for by the pint, as is the intention of the last Government (and no doubt it will continue to do so if it is re-elected).
Water is absolutely necessary for preparing food, for drinking, for use in toilets and baths, for washing clothes and dishes and for general hygiene purposes - so paying for its use could bring nightmares for those who simply cannot afford such costs added to their bills.
This experience can be understood by parents with teenagers or young adults still living with them, who are trying to curtail the use of electricity or gas because of the expense.
Water could be another cause of ongoing family tension.
Hopefully, the next government will be such that water charges will be abandoned and water costs taken out of general taxation - as it has been up till the last government.
Redmond O'Hanlon, Address with editor
A fine, florid and funny piece
On a cold, wet, miserable, stormy morning, it would lift your heart and give you a good belly laugh to read Billy Keane's floral description of Issey Miyake perfume (Irish Independent, February 8).
As a long-time user of this product, I can say he got it spot on. The manufacturer should include his florid essay on the packaging and remunerate him accordingly.
I can tell you, the apple didn't fall far from the tree there. I always enjoy his column.
Margaret Cahill, Athlumney, Navan