What does AIB sale say about Ireland?

 

Sir, – There are two ways for “bad Europeans” to deal with that monolithic beast, the EU, according to Fintan O’Toole’s latest article ( “AIB sale shows a servile attitude to the EU”, Opinion & Analysis, May 30th). You can meekly appeal to the technocrats’ better nature, the default setting of Ireland’s supine political class. Or you can decide to loutishly denigrate the entire project, as our nearest neighbours are in the process of doing.

While we are experts at the former, when it comes to the latter, “we don’t want to go there”, according to Fintan O’Toole. Why? Given that he paints a completely accurate picture of the EU as a merciless, bullying oligarchy that openly despises the democratic values it is supposed to embody, why would we not want to even consider our unerring loyalty to this failing entity?

And can we have less of the royal “we”, please, from your columnist? It’s as if O’Toole subconsciously presumes to answer for the entirety of the Irish people – a significant and growing minority of whom are questioning the blinkered, unquestioning fealty to an EU that, as he eloquently outlines, couldn’t give two hoots about us. – Yours, etc,

SIMON O’NEILL,

Clontarf, Dublin 3.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s article “AIB sale shows a servile attitude to the EU” is yet again another example of bogeyman politics. We should not be concerned with what Brussels is saying on this issue, it is our decision as to what we do with the proceeds of the sale of AIB.

We must not forget that €16 billion or 80 per cent of the €20.7 billion that the State injected into AIB came from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF). That money should be returned. It was originally intended to be piggy-bank money that would support the State pension system whenever the State came under pressure to meet pension obligations. The funds that were used to recapitalise AIB were not EU funds.

There is a pension time-bomb that we need to face up to. We currently have one pensioner for every four workers; by 2060 there will be one pensioner for every two workers, according to CSO projections. We need to start preparing for the huge impact pension provision will have on the State’s long-term financing needs. Putting money aside now makes sense.

Fintan O’Toole’s article is just another manifestation of populist rhetoric. Targeting the EU misses the point here. Instead, let’s have a proper debate about how the proceeds from the AIB sale can be best used for the long-term benefit of our country. The fundamental question is whether we spend or save the proceeds. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN HAYES MEP,

Fine Gael,

Dublin Constituency.