We've never trusted banks
Sir - Leo Varadkar said "it will take a long time for the public to regain trust in the banks" because of the tracker mortgage scandal. What trust?
No citizen in their right senses has ever had 'trust' in Irish banking, going back to the days before we realised a mortgage from them only meant we were ultimately paying double back to the banks when we wanted to put a roof over our children's heads.
When and where has trusting banks ever been known in Irish life as a given, prior to the Taoiseach's utterance? Not one of those responsible for illegally taking advantage of the customers will see the inside of a jail cell, or even a courtroom.
Please Taoiseach, convince the nation there is more to this than people simply getting their stolen money back, and will next time in court because of bankers see their dignity and rights and property restored.
Can you at least promise us that, Leo?
Bantry, Co Cork
Remembering days of Debbie
Sir — The devastation and three sad deaths caused in Ireland by the recentHurricane Ophelia brought back vividly to me the horror of storms and especially Debbie in September 1961.
I was going to secondary school each day by train to Castlerea at the time, and only went on that Saturday morning as my school were playing a college match. The match was cancelled but with no phone at home or mobile there was no way of getting the message to me.
It was a lovely sunny morning as I was setting out, but little did I know what was to unfold later.
On hearing from my teacher, Miss O’Flanagan, that the match was cancelled, I settled into a bit of study in the school as the next train home was not until 12.30.
It was then that the storm started in earnest. The windows were rattling, slates and galvanise were flying and it was complete pandemonium in Castlerea.
I made my way to the station at 12.15, dodging slates and all kinds of objects driven by the storm, to be told the trains were all cancelled due to trees being down on the lines. With no way of notifying my poor parents who were terrified at home, I decided to set off walking to my home 14 miles away.
I had persuaded the owner of Hunt’s bicycle shop to give me the loan of a bicycle (he gave it only because we shared the same surname), but with all the trees down blocking my path and me cycling against the wind and lifting the bicycle over fallen trees, I decided to walk with my bicycle.
I eventually got home after some hours — cold, wet and sore after being buffeted by the winds and rain — to be met at the door by my parents who were so glad to see me home safe.
It transpired that the roof had been blown off our outhouse, an acre of our stooked barley had been blown away and our large rick of hay had been overturned on to the road through our village. It was all very upsetting and costly to my parents, but I was home safe and that was my parents’ only concern.
My father had to yoke his horse and cart and fork every bit of hay and make a new rick the next day, and the outhouse was duly re-roofed, but the acre of barley was never seen again.
Modern technology, especially mobile phones, would have got the message to my poor mam and dad that their son was safe and sound, and I can now understand their anguish at the time.
Ophelia did lots of damage to certain parts of Ireland, and unfortunately caused fatalities, but at least we had the consolation that we were notified about it days in advance and could make some preparation for its arrival. Hurricane Debbie and so many other storms and hurricanes of old just arrived with little warning.
Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
How quickly bankers reverted to type
Sir — The bankers and politicians who combined to destroy our country and brought about the economic crash were all awarded, in typical Irish style, with massive golden handshakes and huge pensions.
Quickly the bankers reverted to type and again have caused untold misery and hardship by robbing and abusing their own customers.
The current crop of bankers waltzed out of Government Buildings yesterday having been savaged by the combined forces of the dogs of war in the Department of Finance and Central Bank, feeling the full brunt of gentle admonishment and a gentle slap on the wrists.
What a dreadful disappointment that the famous AIB egg-thrower of 2009, who caused the only real discomfort and embarrassment to the bankers at the time, wasn’t on hand yesterday.
One can only hope he is holed up somewhere in the Dublin Mountains, honing his skills to emerge on another day in the near future.
Insurance must be in the frame
Sir — When the investigation into tracker mortgages and banks by the Public Accounts Committee starts, I hope they don’t forget the worst robbers — the insurance companies.
People cannot get cover for small business, young people cannot insure cars or homes, holiday trips are quoted at criminal prices.
It’s time the financial sector in this country was cleaned up.
The Central joke
Sir — Definition of an Irish joke: the Central Bank.
Start putting them in prison cells
Sir — On tracker mortgages: banks are saying sorry for something they knew they were doing for the past 10 years!
Repeatedly now they are saying “it was a mistake”. For that alone, the executives of the banks should be locked up until their contempt for the Irish People has been purged.
Let them be put in cells and allowed to slop-out together. I’m sure the smell will be the same from all of them!
How many marriages have they broken up as a result of their criminal actions?
It’s sad to hear criminals bankers saying “sorry, it was a mistake”. As if that will make it all better.
People’s lives have been ruined and no amount of compensation from the banks — which after all is our own money — will bring back a loved one who committed suicide due to the actions of those who knowingly caused such grievous harm.
To think that we, the Irish, were trampled into the ground to repay €64bn for the upkeep of poison banks. That was not so long ago, and today we are being trampled on again.
Are we to lie down and take it, or stand up and demand proper justice — not just a “sorry”? We really would be better off without banks!
Are we back to the days of Joyce?
Sir — With the banking tracker-mortgage interest scandal, a housing crisis and an imminent rail strike, is Ireland as a state wholly incongruous in 2017?
Surely at present Ireland can best be described as a place little changed from the Ireland of Joyce’s Ulysses, in which the incongruous ruling and banking classes continue to play out their incongruent incongruence and incongruity daily, with scant disregard for all members of society — cementing the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same
School of Nursing & Midwifery,
Stamp of approval
Sir — I’m writing to say well done to An Post for the beautiful stamp issued to commemorate the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917.
Paltry pension rise
Sir — Considering that in the recent Budget the extra €5 a week granted to pensioners isn’t due to come into effect until the end of March, when spread over 12 months the increase in fact amounts to a paltry €3.75 a week in 2018.
The minister’s generosity should never be forgotten.
Truth comes out
Sir — It’s hard to understand why so many of these pretty young women didn’t speak out long ago about the sleazy behaviour of soulless creep Harvey Weinstein. But the big downpour is gushing now! Truth comes out in the end anyway.
Lots of cases have been coming to light lately; of wrongdoing in different ways and forms, and it’s good to see many of the culprits taking it on the chin — even when they are well-known chins that appear in the papers.
What next?? No wonder we get earthquakes, wars and storms. Dear God!
O’Leary criticism excessively harsh
Sir — I note last week’s ‘letter of the week’ (Sunday Independent, October 29) and its thinly veiled slap on the wrist to Michael O’Leary.
I have to say the negative media commentary thrown at O’Leary has been excessively harsh since the pilot roster issue came to a head.
We have a very unsavoury habit in our country of taking an opportunity to do down our own, especially those who have achieved or succeeded.
It is worth mentioning that Ryanair, with Michael O’Leary leading, has revolutionised air travel in Europe. One mess up and suddenly he’s subject to the tut-tutters of Irish society.
We should remember that fine Irish business people like O’Leary, Desmond, Smurfit, O’Reilly, Murtagh and Heffernan, to name but a few, have shown the world what this country can achieve in business.
Some took on international cartels and won. All provided jobs, investment and income in this country. We should not forget how far we as a nation have come, and what the aforementioned people (along with many others, too) did to get us here.
Balance is glaringly lacking in the present-day media. Please allow for some in the debate.
I have read the Sunday Independent editorial on occasion and it rightly points to the important role impartial journalism plays in any open, democratic society.
Give O’Leary a break or the benefit of some balance. And try to remember who changed the status quo when you fly to Warsaw for a Christmas market trip for 50 quid!
Sir — Regarding Tommy Tiernan’s column (LIFE, Sunday Independent, October 15). It was only a matter of time before he would truly introduce us to his Vicar Street type of humour. And so it has come to pass. Could you please spare us his ruminations?
What is wrong with giving equal rights?
Sir — It is very welcome to see Eilis O’Hanlon’s article (Sunday Independent, October 22) acknowledge the democratic shortcomings of the Oireachtas committee on abortion, but it does raise serious questions as to why the media, in general, turns a blind eye to this as long as it is in line with abortion groupthink.
We deserve better and I am glad the Sunday Independent is willing to lend some balance to the debate on abortion.
As Ms O’Hanlon points out, “practically nowhere was Boylan’s (Dr Peter) claim (that the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, below, was due to the Eighth Amendment) subjected to scrutiny in the Irish media last week”. Why was this not queried?
It is surprising that we have read of no evidence from the many gynaecologists who value the Eighth Amendment and do everything possible to save the lives of both mothers and babies.
Surely it is not that these voices were deliberately silenced, as were those women who were hurt by abortion and refused a hearing at the Citizens’ Assembly?
I’m afraid that Ms O’Hanlon is right when she says that “the battle for fairness may already be lost” with 25 witnesses being pro-choice and four pro-life. Do we value democracy so little that we will allow propaganda to dictate the conversation over whether we should remove the protection for the baby in the womb from our Constitution?
As Ms O’Hanlon points out, “more women die during pregnancy in the UK, where abortion has been legal since 1967 and where sepsis is the leading cause of death in pregnancy in 71pc of cases because of substandard care, mainly a delay in diagnosis, same as Savita”. Our maternal death rate being much lower than that in Britain, why are we coming under such pressure to introduce abortion here?
Mary Stewart (Mrs),
We need access to all the facts
Sir — Eilis O’Hanlon in her excellent article (‘Being a cartoon villain doesn’t make Ronan Mullen wrong about everything’, Sunday Independent, October 22) highlighted the bias that many seem to accept in relation to the abortion debate, and ignore the facts — Savita Halappanavar’s life was lost due to a delay in treating sepsis; the Oireachtas committee has heard more evidence from witnesses supporting repeal; and Amnesty International and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission are one-sided.
While arguably there was bias against pro-choice voices in 1983 when the amendment change to our Constitution was made, surely we must learn that it is in the interest of everyone to be able to have access to all the facts on this emotional issue and to respectfully listen to all voices.
Pointing the blame for Brexit decision
Sir — Ed Brophy (Sunday Independent, October 22) tells us that “a hard Brexit forced on the UK would lead to ruin for Ireland”. The UK voted to leave the EU. Its politicians negotiating on its behalf define that as leaving both the customs union and the single market. No member of the EU 27 forced them to do that.
That is a hard Brexit, but that is the decision of the UK alone.
The consequences of that decision for Ireland and indeed for all concerned will, therefore, be the responsibility of the UK.
Blaming anyone else is ignoring the facts and missing the point.