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To suggest, as Desmond Fitzgerald does (Letters, November 1), that An Taoiseach Enda Kenny would have led us to the same point as Fianna Fáil did, is so wide of the mark to be ludicrous, as is his suggestion that economic recovery was inevitable.
Fianna Fáil destroyed our international competitiveness and built an economy on an unsustainable property boom. By contrast, Enda Kenny’s Government created a trade and enterprise economy from the ashes of Fianna Fáil’s construction bubble.
The Taoiseach led Ireland out of the troika bailout long before anyone would have thought possible, and utilised the high esteem in which he is held in Europe and on the world stage to repair Ireland’s relationships in the EU and internationally, after Fianna Fáil had left them in tatters. This has been crucial in securing record multinational investment in recent years.
Led by Enda Kenny, two Fine Gael-led governments have maintained and subsequently cut rates of income tax, in order to protect jobs. In contrast, Fianna Fáil made the recession worse by taxing jobs.
The Taoiseach was relentless in his focus on jobs from the beginning, coordinating the Action Plan for Jobs, bringing the unemployment rate brought down to 7.9% from a peak of 15.1% in 2011.
Soon after taking office, Enda Kenny showed real leadership by dealing with a number of social issues which had been abandoned by previous Governments. These include the State apology and compensation for the Magdalene women, strident criticism of the Vatican’s approach to child abuse, the need to legislate for the X case, and the introduction of gender quotas to bring more women into politics.
When the Taoiseach took office, he sought to clean up and trim down the political system: He cut pay for politicians at all levels including his own, he halved the cost of ministerial transport, he made the Dáil work harder and more efficiently, and he introduced legislation banning corporate donations to political parties.
Under Mr Kenny’s watch, employment has increased in all regions of the country, the Government has committed to €5 per week increase in social welfare payments, USC and income tax cuts have been targeted at low and middle income workers, and the minimum wage has been increased.
This is a real and lasting legacy and one which is felt by everyone in the country who has succeeded in securing a job and getting off the live register. A job is the best way out of poverty and helps not just the individual, but the country as a whole.
18 Drawbridge Street
I refer to Catherine Shanahan’s article of November 1 where Dr Adrian Murphy, a consultant in emergency medicine at Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital, called for mandatory sentencing for those who assault frontline hospital staff. Dr Murphy states that hospital workplace violence and aggression “are a regular component of our workplace environment”.
Of course the real “stab in the back” to frontline workers has come from the previous government and not from assailants in the workplace. I refer in particular to the halving of the sick leave entitlement of frontline staff in 2014, backdated three years by then minister for public expenditure and reform Brendan Howlin.
Mr Howlin saw fit to halve the sick leave entitlement of all frontline workers (gardaí, prison officers, paramedics, nurses, doctors, firefighters), despite the fact a large proportion of the sick leave of this group is caused by assaults and injuries at work. At the same time Mr Howlin saw fit to leave the sick leave entitlement of politicians, judiciary, and central bankers intact. The restoration of the sick leave entitlement of all frontline workers would be a far more constructive and helpful development than any mandatory sentencing of any convicted assailants of front line staff.
For frontline workers, the prospect of being off sick and unable to pay the bills is a much more frightening prospect that the actual assault itself.
Psychiatric Nurses’ Association
I am astonished to learn that the IRFU in its wisdom has invented a way for people from the former colonies to become eligible to play for Ireland, following a three-year residency. They are then paid to play for the province to which they have been assigned.
I cannot believe they will play with the same heart as the guy who grew up in his local club and rose through the ranks. Oh for the long lost days of Jackie Kyle, Jim McCarthy, and Brian O’Driscoll, guys who gave their all for the glory of the green jersey!
As we put away the straw hats and jazz hands for another year, we should take a moment to reflect on the unique, joyous celebration that is the Cork Guinness Jazz Festival and acknowledge the legions of people that make it happen.
Thirty-eight years after a small group of musicians decided to start a jazz festival in Cork, it truly is one of the highlights of the year in our great city. The streets were thronged throughout the weekend with people aged from 3 to 83 soaking up the wonderful magical atmosphere. They were awash with colour and music as the line between stage and street blurred. Around every corner there seemed to be another top class act performing; while an eclectic mix of world class performers filled our theatres and bars. This is due to the many hours of work put in by the organisers and sponsors, and their collaboration with traders, publicans, hoteliers and public bodies. It truly is a ‘cymbal’ of what our city can achieve.
Paul Mc Guirk
Cork City Council
Rory O’Donovan argues (Letters, August 31) that an emergency caesarean section in 1979 saved the life of both his daughter and his wife. This is not pertinent to my argument unless his daughter was born at 11 weeks’ gestation — in which case the world needs to know about it.
What is more interesting in Mr O’Donovan’s letter is his reminder that the eighth amendment was passed to deny the Oireachtas the discretion to pass an abortion bill similar to that passed by the British parliament.
How insecure of us to make our laws, even changing our constitution, in reaction to British law.
We are a proud independent nation. We are deep thinkers. We are capable of compassion in our legislation for abortion in Ireland. You never know, as with the marriage referendum, we could end up leading the way.
Crosthwaite Park East
The Sinn Féin reaction to the British vote to leave the EU is so predictable, and shows where their real concerns lie. Forget about teachers or Garda pay disputes, problems with the health service, homelessness, or high mortgage costs. These are only distractions from the real business of the Shinners.
After the democratic UK vote to leave the EU, the Shinners are pushing their real agenda in the form of all-island reviews and all-Ireland discussions.
They remind me of a pack of hyenas circling a wounded beast on the plains of Africa. Every bellow of pain from the injured animal drives the skulking scavengers to fresh paroxysms of glutinous anticipation.
A poll just published shows 60% of Irish people would prefer to retain links to the EU rather than go with the UK (including Northern Ireland).
May the hyenas’ bellies stay empty.
Crucial to the appeal court judgment that Ashers bakery had discriminated against Gareth Lee was the view that the relevant comparison was not between providing a cake with a message supporting gay marriage to a straight person but with providing a message supporting straight marriage to a straight person.
The idea is that since supporting gay marriage can only benefit gay people and supporting straight marriage can only benefit straight people, the fact that the Ashers were not prepared to supply the former to a gay person while they were prepared to supply the latter to a straight person meant they had engaged in discrimination in the first case.
It is important to note that therefore, had the Ashers believed that Mr Lee was straight, they would not have been guilty of discrimination since in that case, the message would not have benefited Mr Lee, and he would not have been treated less favourably than a straight person receiving the straight marriage message.
But the judges declare that the question of whether Ashers believed that Mr Lee was gay is irrelevant. This is surely a contradiction.
Derry, BT48 7NR
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