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Your letters, your views.
We should be grateful that waiting lists, not bombs, are our worry
I write to you in response and support of Eamonn Meehan’s letter (Monday, September 5, 2016) calling for increased relocation of refugees in Europe and Ireland.
While studying abroad last year I had the incredible opportunity to visit a refugee centre in my host city regularly, striking up a wonderful friendship with a family who had come to the Netherlands from Iraq. I cannot thank them enough for what they taught me and showed me. They were the most welcoming, grateful and generous people regardless of the limbo they resided in, and the horrors they had experienced.
I saw the pictures, I heard the stories first hand and witnessed the situation once Europe was reached, while the struggle became less, it was far from over. The stories are harrowing, and seeing the number of children at the centre who have seen such terrors is heart-breaking. However, the outpour of support from my city was uplifting. Volunteers came every day, teaching art and craft or English, playing ping-pong, or just simply to have tea and a chat. Due to the shamefully low number of refugees in Ireland since the crisis, such an experience has not been shared by many.
This low level of engagement by the general public in the situation has led to far-removed, ill-informed and narrow-minded assumptions being made. During a recent discussion on the migrant crisis, I was shocked at attitudes held towards the situation. The shallow argument of Ireland’s problems are greater and ‘we can’t even look after ourselves’ reared its ugly head and I was blown away. This is not a competition of whose life is worth more.
This is about humanity. A grossly unfair thing is occurring in the world and, we should be damn grateful the biggest worry we have is hospital waiting times not hospital bombings, not how far we can get away from home for fear we will be killed if we stay. We are members of a global community, we cannot simply pick and choose who deserves our help.
Stories of trouble in the Middle-East are a near constant in the media, perhaps we think that is how it will always be there hence we are so apathetic.
But people are people whether in Iraq or Illinois and each one deserves the world to show solidarity during a crisis, to do their best to aid the situation. I seriously question whether Ireland can say we are doing just that.
That I even feel the need to write this is farcical, to me the devastation is clear as day, I should not have to ‘justify’ it, I wish I didn’t have to. The people we see on these sinking boats are not wanting a change of scene, they are fleeing in fear of their lives.
And these people are not just figures despite that often being what they are reduced to, they are you and me born by no wish into a land that is being torn apart. They are mothers, fathers, children, teachers, lawyers, business owners, the list is endless. What I find most ridiculous is that we can actively do something, we can take in more families, we can look after refugees and help them begin a safe life in Ireland and each family makes a difference. All of that is possible yet we are doing so little.
I have a real fear Ireland is growing immune to the crisis. Indeed, while I am not expecting everyone to up and go to Calais I would at least hope we do not let a perverted sense of entitlement in this country blind us. If we cannot physically help the situation, even an open-mind will do good.
No consensus on life at conception
I do not wish to get into the pro and anti abortion debate here but Tommy Roddy’s claim (Letters, Monday, September 12) that it is absolute scientific fact that life begins at conception is questionable. One scientist exclaimed: “The more we learn the more complex the question becomes.” Another refused to be quoted lest his quote be used as a tool in pro/anti abortion politics. Wise man.
The answer to the question “Does life begin at conception” may well be: depends on who you ask, scientist, philosopher, lawyer etc and even then not all scientists agree.
Wanting Fianna Fáil back is pathetic
I refer to Michael Clifford’s article of Septembet 8 in which he seems to want a return to power of the people whose decisions bankrupted the country.
The country was bankrupted by the decisions of one group of politicians. These decisions were lauded and were cheered over the period of the Celtic Tiger era by a complicit media.
To see a member of that same media cheer leading the return to power of the same political group is pathetic.
One litter law for me, another for the phone company
This morning I awoke to find someone had left 1kg of junk mail on my doorstep, the fly poster blissfully ignoring my “No Junk Mail” sign.
Not just my doorstep but every doorstep on the street. The unaddressed rubbish was so big it wouldn’t fit through standard letter boxes, hence it was left on every doorstep along the road, like a bottled milk delivery from a long distant era. A quick mental calculation of the 50,000 houses in this city who will likely receive this kilo of paper gives 50 tonnes of unsolicited waste which must be discarded. If I dispersed 50 tonnes of rubbish across this city, I’d be prosecuted for it, but I reckon it’s one law for me, and another for the phone book company.
You only need eyes to see poverty is still the norm
Ask anyone who does not have enough money to pay the bills and you will learn how important money is. To some of us, a sacrifice is not being able to buy a little every day. To others, a sacrifice is not eating a meal so that the kids can eat instead. This is the hidden Ireland of today that reflects like a Charles Dickens Tale Of Two Cities. One rich, one poor. No beginning, no middle, and no happy ending. One only needs a pair of eyes to see poverty is still the norm.
However, Government has myopic eyesight in this regard. As a society, we need to take care of each other. However, this Government cares only about placating banks, corporations, and the EU. Ireland has become like a Dickensian novel. We are the Oliver Twists, as the Government with its hand-outstretched demands: “Please, sir, I want some more.”
Rehashing failed housing policies makes no sense
The Minister for Housing upon taking up office rightly described the housing and homelessness issues as a crisis. His recently published plans to deal with the issues upon examination gives little comfort. His plan is to continue to use the private sector to build social housing. This has been the preferred method of successive governments since the early eighties, the net result of which is well over 100,000 on waiting lists and over 2,000 children living in hotel accommodation. The numbers indicate only one fact — that this policy has been an absolute failure. Local Authorities nationwide built only 75 houses nationwide in 2015.
We in the One Cork group of unions have presented Cork City Council with a proposal to put to Government asking that local authorities be allowed to build housing using the direct labour model. This was the policy of successive governments through the 50s, 60s and 70s. This policy helped do away with slums, created decent jobs and created apprenticeship opportunities for school leavers. It also helped the physical and mental health of working class people and their families.
Fiscal rules mean the monies needed to fund such a project have to be kept off the State’s balance sheet. Using the Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme, the Government accesses funds for approved housing bodies to build social housing. This could also be used by leaving local authorities set up building agencies thus keeping loans off the State balance sheet.
The proposal would be in fact self-financing as the rents collected could be used to service the loans. The benefits to the State’s coffers are also quite obvious with an increased tax take and fewer people in receipt of social welfare payments. Both the local authorities and Nama own vast land banks which could be used to either build on or be sold, to also fund the proposal. With interest rates at an all time low, it would be foolish to miss this opportunity. Local authorities would also only need to cover the cost of the building projects while private development would be obviously profit driven, increasing the cost of building the homes needed.
This proposal is not mentioned in the minister’s report, it simply proposes more of the same failed policies. Politicians should beware of taxpayer funding for private entities with little or no accountability. This has led to the abuse of taxpayers’ monies, the disaster that was Console to name just one in a long line of such problems.
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