Niall Hatch’s article — ‘Ireland’s birds species faring worse than ever’ (Irish Examiner, April 16) reminds me of the poignant but beautiful poem by Francis Ledwidge, Lament for Thomas MacDonagh:
He shall not hear the bittern cry
In the wild sky, where he is lain,
Nor voices of the sweeter birds
Above the wailing of the rain.
If Mr McDonagh were living among us he would surely be heartened by the fact that the ‘dark cow’ has left the moor and is now ‘lifting her horn in pleasant meads’.
But alas he would be unlikely to hear the bittern’s cry as that bird became extinct sometime in the second half of the 19th century, maybe even as the poem was written. While the cow’s lot has improved
it has been at the expense of wildlife, including birds. The ‘dark cow ‘ of the poem could also of course be a reference to Ireland whose circumstances have also improved,
at least in an economic sense.
That 54 species of our wild birds are under threat is a cause for great concern and similar to the bittern, one of the main causes is the destruction of nesting sites.
For years we’ve known that the corncrake, the skylark, and the tern were under stress but now that the snipe, the swift and the kestrel have been added to the list of those birds with a high risk of extinction we surely need to sit up and take notice.
On a more upbeat note, it’s great to see some of our more popular birds, particularly ‘the gardener’s friend, the robin, showing no indication of departing from us any time soon.
Paschal Donohoe is standing idly by while bank after bank leaves Ireland. The KBC exit is another symptom of a dysfunctional banking market. The elephant in the room is its structure. Mario Draghi, when president of the European Central Bank stated that the Irish Banking market is a “quasi-monopoly”. This is not an accident. Fine Gael announced the “two pillar” banking system 10 years ago. In truth, they created an oligopoly and gave massive supplier power to the two largest banks. As a result, these banks have significant control of the market and can do what they want. We have seen in the last few years that they don’t want customers in branch, they have made it harder and harder for customers to do business in their branches and in the end they are shutting bank branches down left right and centre.
Ireland’s lack of competition is also a hangover from the last banking crash. Interest rate pricing in the mortgage market is significantly affected by capital requirements, credit risk, and the level of non-performing loans. But it is also affected by the lack of competition. Unless these issues are fixed by the government then we will see a further concentration of the market. Continuing low interest rates are adding to the pressure on banks that do not have a market advantage.
These problems exist in part because Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have a laissez-faire attitude to markets and they are ideologically inclined and deferential towards the large players. Just look at the crises in insurance, housing, or beef, caused by large players with enormous power and a government sitting on their hands which leaves citizens suffering massively as a result.
The market needs to be restructured to ensure functionality. This means more commercial players both internationally and home-grown. And it means creating diversity within banking. I have written to the finance spokespersons of each Dáil party to coordinate political will and energy towards the creation of a public banking system. I’m delighted that three parties have responded positively and urge the other political parties to treat this crisis with the urgency it requires.
Baile Átha Cliath 2
In Daniel McConnell’s column — ‘Time for the State to let its citizens fly the nest’ (Irish Examiner, April 17) — he writes: “The level of lockdown here is no longer proportionate either with the scale of the virus or the number of deaths because of it in our society.”
How does he know?
I just saw a news item reporting Irish flags lowered to half-mast to mark the occasion of Prince Phillip’s funeral.
I am grateful for this sign of respect from a neighbouring state. It says that there are things that unite us including grief over the passing of a prominent public figure.
I regret the occasions where our respect for each other is forgotten and celebrate the noble gesture.
The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy has reached the pre-draft consultation process and submissions are invited. I would appeal to any individual or group considering being a party to the process to focus on the central issue associated with any proactive national waste management strategy, where taxation is based on waste creation at source.
Without such a concept as the foundation stone upon which this plan is built, no society can hope to have a worthwhile input into the quality and quantity of waste created.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Employment Leo Varadkar recently said in the media about achieving a ‘living wage’ for the lower paid, and that this could be introduced by 2025 under plans to be launched by the Government? What utter nonsense this is on his part; is he trying to placate the lower paid in society or what is he at? While at the top of that society; top broadcasters in RTÉ are already earning near to half a million euro annually.
On a number of occasions, I have aired my views about those top broadcasters in RTÉ, earning those unjustified and over-paid wages. The Government and the RTÉ Board should jointly bring in the ‘time and motion’ experts to arbitrate on those high wages immediately, and reduce those wages by more than half, thus saving to some extent the future of RTÉ?
I am struck by the number of “in phrases” used by certain professions which I certainly do not understand. For example, I read that as a result of a recent inquest “the coroner returned a narrative verdict.” Can you, or any of your readers, tell me what that means?
The World Health Organization has called for an end to wildlife markets due to their role in spreading pathogens such as the coronavirus.
In 2019, RHD2, a new and deadlier strain of rabbit hemorrhagic disease, was confirmed in Ireland. Several rabbits and hares were discovered displaying fatal symptoms.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service stated that the virus is highly contagious. The government responded by suspending coursing.
But then the downside of human nature obtruded; as it often does in any contest between the wellbeing or conservation status of a species. A backlash forced the government to reverse the suspension. The disease continues to kill hares, with further outbreaks confirmed throughout 2020.
RHD2 does not pose a health risk to humans, but it could deprive us of a treasured part of our heritage. For a government including the Green Party to allow coursing while RHD2 is rampant is unconscionable.
Isn’t it strange how some people confuse generosity with usury?
You know the sort, pretending to give with one hand, while fully intending to reap at least a fivefold return from their carefully chosen mark.