Election 2016 – forming a government

Sir, – I have noticed quite a few election posters still on poles and billboards. Is it honestly worth taking these down? – Yours, etc,


Bray, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – He topped the poll in Dublin Bay North and remains there, at least on top of the ESB pole near my house in Sutton. Get thee gone, Bruton! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – Let us hope that, in their attempts to form a new government, our politicians don’t paint themselves into corners with red lines. – Yours, etc,


Birr, Co Offaly.

Sir, – The general election has certainly dealt a severe blow to the cause of smoked-salmon socialism. However, these elitist snobs still appear to be living in denial. When will it dawn on them that in order to gain the trust and support of an angry and financially stretched electorate, they need to do a lot more than trot around dressed in items of red clothing, ranting and raving about the removal of the Eighth Amendment? – Yours, etc,


Beaumont, Dublin 9.

A chara, – So the Labour Party is back, according to Willie Penrose. This is a party that has just gone from 37 seats to seven, secured its lowest number of first-preference votes since 1987, its lowest number of Dáil seats since 1932, and the lowest percentage share of Dáil deputies in its history. – Is mise,


Bromsgrove, England.

Sir, – I hear some politicians saying that the electorate voted against Enda Kenny for taoiseach. It should be noted that his party received more first preference votes and won more Dáil seats than any other, which would appear to suggest otherwise. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – What, exactly, would be so terrible about Sinn Féin becoming the main opposition party in the Dáil? And what, precisely, is the problem with the two centrist parties of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil going into coalition? – Yours, etc,



Sir, – Isn’t it time to consider real Dáil reform? The present voting system is undoubtedly fair, but it has many disadvantages: clientelism; parish-pump politics; party infighting; the proliferation of small, single-issue parties; duplication of work among TDs; huge, unwieldy constituencies; and probably worst of all, the necessity for ministers, who have more than enough work to do otherwise, to be seen at every local event.

Instead, what about having half the TDs elected by PR in single-seat constituencies and the other half under the list system? The list system means that each party provides a list of candidates, voters choose one party and, depending on what percentage each party wins, successful candidates are taken from the top of the list.

This half-and-half approach would avoid many of the disadvantages of our present system, would result in representation from each constituency, and allow potential ministers to get on with ministerial work.

However, judging by the glacial pace of reform here, I do not expect more than timid, minimal steps. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 16.

Sir, – Despite Stephen Collins's insistence that great differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael exist, I came away still thinking that the principal difference between the two is down to good old tribalism ("There's a world of difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael", Analysis, March 1st).

I am still left wondering if the difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is akin to the difference between the fiddle and the violin. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – So it appears that the focus in forming a government will be on building bridges across political divides, some narrower than others.

Here in Donegal, we benefitted from the support of a minority government in the past by building bridges, but unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint, our one was a substantial structure across a little-known piece of water in Fanad and is fondly nicknamed locally as the “Bridge over the River Why”. Most Donegal people have never seen this bridge given its remote location, hence the name. No matter that we actually could do with one in Letterkenny, the “Blaney Bridge” stands as reminder of the lengths taken to support the formation of a government. – Yours, etc,


Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Sir, – If Ireland beat Italy 50-44 next Saturday, will Italy claim victory? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 5.

Sir, – Fianna Fáil’s election manifesto runs to 128 pages. Less than half a page is devoted to reform of the Oireachtas, and within that a few lines address the Dáil and changes to standing orders and allocation of chairpersons to committees. Hardly radical change!

Nowhere in this manifesto is there any suggestion, as outlined in the last few days by Micheál Martin, that Fianna Fáil wishes to impose limits on the ability of the government to control all Dáil business, to end the practice of guillotines, and other major changes.

On the basis of Fianna Fail’s manifesto, the people who voted for Fianna Fáil have not given this party the mandate to effect such changes. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – Is it too much to ask the TDs to put the bickering behind them and get on with the small business of forming a government? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.