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The first step is to change the politicians
Watching from my exile, the ‘debate’ about the upcoming budget and issues like the Apple case and the housing crisis, is soul crushing because it proves beyond any doubt that nothing has changed in Ireland. No one has learned anything. People vote for the same failed candidates and they in turn use that vote as a justification to follow the same failed mentality that hollowed out every pillar of the State.
Michael Noonan is no longer fit to be a member of the government. His health is clearly an issue and like Brian Lenihan before, I’m sorry but the fact is, whether it’s polite to say it up front or wallow in denial, he is not the person capable of providing any of the solutions the next generation of Irish people are desperate for. Nor is Enda Kenny. Nor Martin nor Howlin nor any of the champagne socialists in the left wing. When we look down the ranks of younger politicians and senior public sectors, the options for the future are very bleak.
There’s no Declan Costello, Garret FitzGerald or James Whitaker for sure and certainly not in the intellectually brazen wasteland of what is the Kenny Fine Gael dust bowl.
As for women, well we can finally dispense with the nonsense that more women in Irish politics would result in change. The women are exactly the same as the men.
Michael Noonan says he’ll cut the USC over five budgets. It seems to have never occurred to him that what he is saying is that the Irish public sector is incapable of providing the level of public services Irish people require. Instead of using the tax generated to provide services he is going to tinker with tax rates and leave it up to the zero hours contract slum private sector to fill the gap. We know how well that works. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil support the Ryanair, SportsDirect and Donald Trump version of capitalism. Is that the type of country Irish people want?
Yet Noonan has the brass neck to mock emigrants about being unable to come home because they can’t get mortgages or afford to. Well, who’s fault is that Mr Noonan.
We have a political expenses slush fund that is so corrupt it would make the OCI or FAI board blush. Not to mention an EU Affairs Department in chaos without any expertise. How many staff in the EU Section have an EU qualification? None. Yet the biggest foreign affairs challenge facing Ireland is Brexit, more so because no one knows when, how or if it will happen.
Whether Kenny and Noonan hang on for a year or a month doesn’t matter now. They have failed. They were elected in 2011 because people voted against the ethos of Fianna Fáil not for the ethos of Fine Gael, but seeing as FG is now the new FF it made no difference. Kenny leaves a political system in place when he goes that would be familiar to Liam Cosgrave his mentor. That’s how bad Kenny has been, he has taken Irish governance back to the low standards of the early 1970s and each step along the way people like Noonan have supported Kenny.
It’s time to get angry.
The only way to change the way things are done in Ireland is to change the people who do things. The first step is to change the politicians are expecting Irish people to act like grownups expecting too much?
Partisan media coverage has a lot to answer for
Your editorial of September 21 blaming ‘the political classes’ indecision, ineptitude, growing detachment, and hubris’ for ‘threatening the stability most of our world has enjoyed since 1945’ is a bit self-righteous.
The role of the media in discussions on the American election, on Brexit, in discussions on the legitimacy of the EU and the resurgence of right-wing nationalism in countries once committed to international solidarity and co-operation, all mentioned in your editorial, leaves a lot to be desired.
The role of the media in the calamity that happened to this country in 2010 when it went bankrupt and had to be bailed out is an example of what happens when the powerful are not challenged.
Indeed many of the powerful people who made the reckless decisions during the pre-2009 Celtic Tiger years that bankrupt this country are still unchallenged now in the media when they are blaming everyone else about the consequences of their own actions.
Those decisions, which for example trebled government spending and trebled bank lending over a few short years in the pre-2009 boom, were supported by most of the media at the time.
The Irish media failed to hold a small number of very powerful people to account during the Celtic Tiger period.
Not alone did the Irish media praise the Celtic Tiger governments when they were bankrupting the country the current agenda of the Irish media is to use issues such as Nama and water charges to return many of the members of the former Celtic Tiger governments to power.
That a similar, what you call ‘remote’ attitude to longer term but important issues is rampant throughout the world is due in large part to failures in the most influential institution in opinion formation in our democracies the mainstream and more recently the internet media.
The powerful among the political, financial etc classes are not blameless but myopic and partisan media coverage has a lot to answer for.
Noonan should heed artful advice
As he ponders his budget Michael Noonan would do well to consider the words of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, King Louis XIV’s minister for finance from from 1665 to 1683.
“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing.”
It is pathetic to refuse tax income
We were told recently that Ireland could recover €13bn in written-off taxes. Now it seems that we could get back €130bn (Irish Examiner, September 8, 2016). That’s ten times what we were originally told. With accrued interest, we would well recoup €190bn. The original €13bn now seems like chickenfeed on the tip of the iceberg.
If the €190bn were allocated equally, then every man, woman and child in this republic would receive €40,000. I would welcome any loose change. We would all welcome negative income tax. It would kick-start the economy again. Instead, the Government fears that the gift horse is a Trojan horse.
The Revenue collected for 2014 totalled €65bn. We could have cut taxation for that year by €23bn. It is pathetic to refuse what is rightfully ours.
Missing the point
Jack Lane misses the point when he refers to Culture Night in a contribution from Colm Scully in On the Banks — Cork City in Poems and Songs.
The character in the poem takes the persona of a “know-all” or a bore pontificating in a pub. I think that this is the obvious meaning.
Both the author and the editor (the excellent Alannah Hopkin ) are well aware I am sure that the Opera House was not burned down by republicans.
Priests should not be allowed marry
The poll on the front page (Irish Examiner September 21) suggests priests should be allowed to get married. This would create a hierarchy from a societal point of view. Priests should stay single, and should certainly not have children.
Readers may have missed out on a challenging conference in Cork on “Narrowing the Disconnect” from
crime and supporting people in the process of desistance. It offered the sharing of lived experience by wounded healers (including Richard Branson) with a newfound understanding of the journey of recovery and restoration.
In his keynote address, President Michael D Higgins focused on the crucial interaction required between the
underlying assumptions about how society functions and the evolving practice in helping people in recovering from alienation and injustice.
Vivian Geiran (Probation Service) and Michael Donnellan (Irish Prison Service) were joined by a service user in dealing with the issues of “Desistance Theory to Practice: How do we measure up?”
The participants were seeking to fine-tune the supports and programmes that foster recovery, desistance and positive involvement in society. This is to strengthen the morale and wisdom of workers in support agencies, state services and in the heroic families dealing with difficult relationships.
This transformative conference was hosted by the Cork Alliance Centre, and co-ordinated by Sheila Connolly.
It is regrettable that these deliberations were not reported more fairly, but were overlooked in a frenzy about medical cards.
Fr Donal Linehan
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