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Time we grew up and faced music

Sir --Gene Kerrigan (Sunday Independent, January 2, 2011) maintains that we didn't all party during the boom, but a large proportion of us did.

If a property bubble isn't driven by public demand, what is it driven by? All of us who splurged on investment property during the boom were stakeholders in the entire affair. Credit flowed from 'idiot German bankers' to 'idiot Irish bankers', and thence into the system, in response to powerful market forces, and not as part of some sinister capitalist conspiracy. Investors gorged themselves on Section 23 and cheap, easy money.

Furthermore, the electorate voted for more of the same in 2007, when the whole edifice was starting to crumble. Not to mention the public outrage at spending cuts after the 2002 election. Casting ourselves as victims, after the current fashion, of bankers, developers, the Government, or the IMF, is to evade our own share of responsibility. It's time to grow up and see ourselves as Europe sees us: irresponsible, profligate and unwise.

David Freeley,

Clonard, Co Wexford

If you can't stand the heat...

Sir -- The omens are not great for 2011 and the appearance of Conrad Gallagher (Sunday Independent, January 2, 2011),does nothing to encourage me.

His oft repeated "I've been to the brink and survived so ain't I great guy" routine, is well played out by now.

He'd bring us all down if we took seriously his "God but I've suffered" series of confessions.

Get outta the kitchen, Con, if the heat's too much -- try another line of work.

They're looking for a President up at the Aras. Go for it. . . good man yerself.

Robert Sullivan,

Bantry, Co Cork

Gilmore shows cards too soon

Sir-- Having just listened to Sean O'Rourke's radio interview with the Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore on RTE's News at One today, (Tuesday, January 4, 2011), in which Mr Gilmore categorically ruled out any form of coalition with Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and the Green Party in the formation of the next government, I was surprised at the political naivety of Mr Gilmore.

By ruling out a coalition with all other political parties, the Labour leader is likely to enhance FG's credibility as the only alternative government. Indeed, by exposing his political hand in such a categorical and public manner, Mr Gilmore has seriously undermined Labour's negotiating position with FG in the event of those two parties being able to form a government.

In an astonishing act of political hari-kari, the Labour Party have handed the initiative to Fine Gael by painting themselves into a corner with nowhere to go except into the clutches of FG after the next election. The Labour Party's primary approach to the next election appears to be to put FF into opposition, and not about securing Labour Party policies. This is a most negative policy, is unworthy of Labour, and effectively disenfranchises those who intend voting for the Greens, Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail.

When Sean O'Rourke posed the question to Eamon Gilmore about whether he would rather serve as Tanaiste in an FG-Labour coalition or Taoiseach in a Labour-FF coalition, Mr Gilmore incredibly ruled out the latter. To arbitrarily rule out the possibility of leading the first ever Labour-led government in the history of the State calls into question Mr Gilmore's political astuteness. By playing political poker with his cards on public display, Eamon Gilmore has put himself into a political straitjacket and given Enda Kenny the key.

Tom Cooper,

Knocklyon,

Dublin 16

Thanks for the 'shhhmile'

Sir -- In the article by Andrea Smith on breaking up (Sunday Independent, January 2, 2011) she mentioned Ronan Keating saying "Shhhorrry" after his alleged dalliance. This made me laugh all day as it's just the way he shhhinnngs. Well done, Andrea, for the smile.

Vivian Pembrey

Monkstown,

Co Dublin

Bertie breaks with tradition

Sir -- When Charles J Haughey retired as Taoiseach in 1992 he made a dignified exit from the political stage. During his retirement, despite all the disgrace and contempt he had to endure, he gave few interviews, did not court cheap publicity, and voiced no criticism of his successor. In other words, he behaved as all former taoisigh since the foundation of the State have done.

It's a shame -- but perhaps not surprising -- that Bertie Ahern has seen fit to break with this time-honoured convention.

John O'Byrne

Dublin 6W

History will be unkind to Ahern

Sir-- Because of the volume of documented knowledge on Bertie and the lack of similar knowledge on Daniel O'Connell, history will still be unkind to Bertie Ahern. That said, O'Connell was educated while Bertie was only schooled and while the former was a skilled negotiator the latter was no more than a common "horsetrader". Nevertheless thank you for marvellous reading in last Sunday's edition.

James Reynolds

Purley, Surrey, England

Churchill and Hitler, take note

Sir -- Churchill and Hitler, always so scathing of the voting masses, would still have been astounded at the way so many Irish people are helping Bertie with yet another diversionary tactic.

His most recent disaster, the collapse of Ireland and its economy, is now starting to get hidden by peacemaker Bertie.

Please. He is merely an excellent politician and, like all such parasites, barely worthy of inclusion in the humanity most decent people believe in and strive for.

Richard D Barton

Tinahely, Co Wicklow

Clarifying Senate expenses claim

Sir-- In relation to Daniel McConnell's article in the Sunday Independent in respect of Seanad expenses (January 2, 2011), I wish to make the following clarification.

As correctly mentioned in the article, the €62,000 attributable to me for the period 1/11/2009 to 1/11/2010 included a figure of €28,000 claimed during the period of your FOI but was for expenses in respect of the prior 10 months (Jan to Oct 2009).

However, this amount was also included in your previous year's figure ending 1/12/2009. This arose because of claims made in the month of November 2009 being included in both FOI requests. In addition to the double-counting of the €28,000, your previous year's figure also included €17,000 claimed on 19/01/2009 in respect of expenses incurred during 2008. This would have changed your previous year's figure of €61,000 to €16,000.

I have received queries on this from a regional newspaper as it cast doubt on the credibility of my assertion that €27,000 of the €62,000 was for a prior period and that my expense claims are generally mid-table.

I thank you for the opportunity to clarify this.

Jim Walsh,

Seanad Eireann

Fear fuelling health cover

Sir-- Recently there has been a lot of coverage about private health companies.

A relative aged 74 had a stroke and was taken to hospital. I had to help with his affairs. He has a monthly income of €785. Out of this he pays rent of €300 per month and €69 per month to the VHI. I asked him why he paid into the VHI. He replied that he thought some day he might need it.

My question is: why would he need private medical insurance at that age and on that income and how many more people have we got like this ?

I cannot understand why we have over 500,000 people in private insurance in a country of only four million. The only answer I can come up with: fear.

Tony Talbot

Ballinteer,

Dublin 16

Yates should return to politics

Sir -- Ivan Yates should go back into politics.

He is now very much aware of how the real world works. He was a decent politician and still has great potential.

K Nolan

Carrick-on-Shannon

Co Leitrim

Sunday Independent