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Wilde tomb fund not fiscal priority

Madam -- It appears that the reckless and immoral profligacy of this bankrupt State is set to continue unabated. I refer to your report (Sunday Independent, Oct 28, 2012) (State accused of Wilde 'vandalism',). Indeed, many of us would have remained ignorant of the fact that the Irish Government has funded, to the tune of €50,000, the restoration of Oscar Wilde's memorial in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Despite the fact that the only notes in the state coffers are IOUs to the IMF and ECB, the Irish Government has provided the necessary finance for this work. The request to provide this funding came jointly from the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris and Merlin Holland, Oscar Wilde's grandson. Minister of State for Public Service Reform Brian Hayes travelled to Paris to formalise and oversee the Government's commitment to the funding.

The Pere Lachaise cemetery is among the top 10 tourist attractions in Paris and is a significant monetary contributor to French tourism. In addition to Wilde, other notables interred there include; Doors front-man Jim Morrison, Fredrick Chopin, Georges Bizet, Sarah Bernhardt, Isadora Duncan, Marcel Marceau, Victor Hugo, Edith Piaf, Moliere and Proust. For this bankrupt State to dispatch a minister and his entourage to Paris and agree funding for the renovation of Oscar Wilde's tomb is largesse we cannot afford and are not obligated to. My opposition to this funding is not one of homophobia or cultural philistinism but one of fiscal priorities in these financially challenging times. After all, soup kitchens for the poor are once again a feature in this State.

While in opposition both Fine Gael and Labour promised, if returned to government, to abolish overseas junkets and to vigorously pursue a focused policy of financial constraint and prudent spending of scarce taxpayers money. Both of these commitments have been broken on this issue. As local and regional hospital curtailments and closures are being implemented for lack of finance, and which are inflicting severe hardship on the sick and their families, it is extraordinary and inexplicable that the Government provided money for this project.

Niamh Cooper,

Templeogue, Dublin 6w

Sunday Independent