Joe O’Toole or not, we will pay for water
Water falls out of the sky for free. Joe O’Toole stated the obvious. But everyone has to pay fairly for treated, safe water. This uncomfortable pill must be swallowed. Goaded by Sinn Fein and the Anti Austerity Alliance, Fianna Fáil would not cooperate with Government on Joe O’Toole’s nomination for the chair of the independent commission on water charges.
Yet, Fianna Fáil’s spokesman, Barry Cowan, has always been definitive on the need to pay for water (eventually).
Before the last election, he said “you bring about a system that is eventually fit-for-purpose and then you can expect people to make a contribution”.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein said they would introduce new taxation measures, including a third rate of tax (48%) for people who earn over €100,000 a year, and raise capital gains tax and capital acquisitions tax to 40% each, to fund, among other things, water services. The Socialist Party will use a financial-transaction tax, says Ruth Coppinger, to pay for such things as water.
Who will pay the tax? We will.
All our political parties are asking us to swallow the pill of paying for water, water-pipes, and sewage-treatment plants. Today’s little tantrum does not change any of that. The Dáil can vote down Irish Water all they like, but don’t be fooled. We will still pay for water.
O’Toole denied by partisanship
The objections of Barry Cowan, Tomás Byrne, Paul Murphy, et al, to Joe O’Toole being chair of the independent commission examining water charges, because he expressed an honest opinion, say more about their own inability to act objectively than anything about Joe O’Toole.
Will they object to chairs of Dail committees because of the politics of the various chairs? In their eyes, can anyone be chair of any Dail committee or commission, or must we go to Ulan Bator to find a chair?
Protect good name of honest charities
These are damaging allegations concerning the charity, Console. The Public Accounts Committee is most welcome, as is the emergency meeting with the Health Service Executive. They are looking for badly needed answers.
There are 4,500 charities in Ireland, providing services that should be provided by the State. Their good name is tarnished by the greed of a few and it needs to be protected, and any claims of abuse will undermine public support.
That is why all allegations must be thoroughly investigated, with proper regulations.
Transparency is essential in any public enterprise, and nowhere more so than in the voluntary sector, which is the pillar of trust and accountability.
Rent allowance should be private
Re ‘Landlords need to change attitudes’ (Irish Examiner, July 5); it is welcome that Housing Minister, Simon Coveney recognises the need to intermingle social and private housing.
However, the Government is the barrier. For example, when passing an anti-discrimination law in January, as an amendment to the Equal Status Act, the Government exempted itself from the non-discrimination provision.
The most effective way of preventing discrimination is to not require social renters to reveal their income source to landlords. Proof of a bank lodgement to a landlord’s account should be sufficient proof of payment of rent, and, if necessary, all landlords should be required to register all rental accounts with the PRTB.
The Government also needs to take its head out of the sand as regards top-ups of rent supplement (without which homelessness would spiral further) and recognise that it cannot control such a diverse market.
The idea that capping social renters, while not capping private renters, can curtail market rents is economic nonsense. Discrimination is the inevitable outcome. Sadly, blaming landlords will likely continue to be the preferred non-solution.
Jail heads of fraudulent charities
There is a great deal of consternation about charity fraud in our country. So much financial travesty, and such a public outcry waiting to be answered.
There has been a major shift in people’s attitude to charities today. They don’t trust them. The perception of fraud in the charity industry appears unresolved. People believe that those who are responsible for taking donations for their own profit have been shielded long enough.
The very thought of all these individuals, who cheated and stole from poor people, doing hard time, is a joy. However, there’s about as much chance of that happening as of me becoming pope.
Our allegiance is with the US and UK
Isn’t is time for us to man up and admit that our economic future lies with our natural trading partners — the US and the UK — rather than with the shambles that the EU is becoming? We were all sold a promise of a trading partnership of free nations. Instead, we have witnessed the steady centralisation of power and administration, which contributes to the EU’s huge inefficiency.
Instead of crawling to Brussels to extract more favours, we should be looking hard at the realities and considering a national debate on withdrawing.The EU seems incapable of reforming itself.
In a week, the word has gone from decrying ‘the suicidal action of the UK’ to panic that they will out-compete us in the markets. Why? Because Britain has disengaged itself from EU regulations designed to keep the outer-fringe members subservient to the big six. Our leaders want us to beg to be allowed to keep our low corporate tax: the UK are just doing it.
Instead of trying to claim that Taoiseach Enda Kenny has some kind of ‘favoured status’ within the EU, let us remember what happened the very weekend after the Brexit vote.
The big six — who are the real masters of the EU — held a private meeting to decide what to do next. Enda protested that all 27 nations ‘have to’ be involved. Are you so sure, Taoiseach? At the meeting of the big six, we weren’t even invited to bring in the tea tray.
Robot hares would sanitise coursing
Modern technology could easily construct realistic, solar-powered, all-terrain, robotic hares for coursing. Advanced programming could make a computerised hare change direction and speed randomly in real time. It would be a true test for greyhounds.
If computers can often beat humans at chess, then cyber-hares could beat the dogs, most of the time. They would revolutionise coursing. The next development would be to design robotic foxes and then robotic stags.
This raises a philosophical question. Could artificial intelligences experience pain?
It’s a dog’s life, and death, in pounds
As one of the largest, Cork-based dog rescues, we, at Cork Dog Action Welfare Group, were appalled and concerned to read about the number of dogs destroyed in the Cork County pounds. These have some of the highest euthanasia rates in the country. These pounds (the main one is in Rafeen), are not open to the public. The dogs in these facilities could be lost family pets, but are not advertised. This greatly minimises, if not eliminates, the chance for many of them to be saved. The modern animal pounds throughout Ireland work closely with local rescues. They allow volunteers from these rescues to go into the pounds to take photos and details of the dogs at risk. Through contacts, social media, and relationships with other rescue organisations and the public, they then work tirelessly to find homes for these dogs.
According to the ‘Dog Control’ statistics publication issued by the Department of the Environment in 2015, the Cork County pounds service costs €641,520 and employs 11 dogs wardens, the highest number for any county. Taking the figure of 529 dogs into account, this equates to an approximate cost of €1,212 per dog. This is a significant amount of taxpayer money, especially as 201 of these dogs were euthanised. Similar to most rescues, Cork DAWG’s efforts to save dogs are continually restricted by lack of funds. Were a rescue organisation to receive such massive funding as the pounds, the money would be utilised to maximise the number of lives saved, not destroyed.
Compare the Cork figures with Leitrim dog pound, which is also a rescue with a hugely successful re-homing and rescue history. Out of 445 dogs taken in, only two were euthanised.
Cork DAWG is committed to saving all breeds. In particular, we focus on unwanted and retired greyhounds, the cast-offs of the racing industry. Every year, thousands of these dogs die because they are no longer fast enough to race. Sadly, 2015 saw 203 of these noble dogs die in our pounds, 23 of them in Cork. Were we given the opportunity, we would have taken these greyhounds into our care. Greyhounds make wonderful pets. The greyhound-racing industry receives €12m in grants of taxpayers’ money, yet very little is spent on encouraging the public to adopt a greyhound.
In 2015, Clr Alan Coleman, during his tenure as Lord Mayor of Cork, gave a commitment to improve the outcome for Cork’s stray dogs. The statistics would indicate that Clr Coleman’s promises did not change the outcome for the far too many Cork dogs who deserved to live. Instead, their deaths were untimely and unnecessary.