Election 2016 – out for the count
Sir, – Our dalliance with the troika and our European creditors tells me that although it was important to exercise my democratic duty and cast my vote, I can’t help the feeling that it was about as effectual as my childhood pursuit of sitting behind the wheel of my father’s car and making engine noises, turning the steering wheel furiously, and all the while going nowhere.
The EU’s march of “ever closer union” has ensured that we have long since lost our sovereignty in any meaningful sense. How our neighbours vote in their referendum on June 23rd will have a much more profound impact on our futures than any decision we make at the ballot box. The petty local stirrings that seem to have triggered the Taoiseach’s ill-considered remarks will pale into insignificance when compared to the national whingefest that will ensue should Britain reclaim her own sovereignty. – Yours, etc,
Dr JOHN GIBBONS,
Sir, – I would like thank The Irish Times for the quality of insightful and hilarious reporting that the twin dynamos of Harry McGee and Miriam Lord have provided during the long weeks preceding the election. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Belgium managed without an elected government for 19 months – and no one appeared to notice. Maybe we should give this Belgian idea a go and give ourselves a rest from politicians. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The most disappointing aspect of the election campaign has been the style of reporting in some of the media. Many journalists have strayed a good distance from their responsibility to report on the facts and to ask hard questions – ie to inform the rest of us so that we can make up our own minds.
I’ve been dismayed to watch, listen to and read items where fun is poked at politicians and the political system with a mocking, jeering tone. Such items belong to the realm of comedy and Oliver Callan and Des Bishop (and others) do a brilliant job. Leave it to them.
People in many countries would give anything to have what we have in Ireland. It is not perfect but it’s a lot, lot better than the alternatives. Respecting democracy is an essential part of cherishing it.
The focus on the leaders’ TV debates (and what pundits thought of them) was excessive. Why should we slavishly follow the US model, which promotes personality-lead politics and whose government executive is largely unelected? We voted to elect a government – not just a taoiseach.
Journalists, please keep your opinions (and jokes) to yourselves and stick to responsible reporting. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It is said that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. What happens when they campaign in prose? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Arthur Beesley captures the fundamental problem of the election “debate” (“Governing a broke State will take more than popularity”, Business Opinion, February 26th). The “debate” essentially had no regard for what he calls “the scale of the existential challenge the state faced in 2008 and which hobbles it still”.
The “debate” was little more than a personalised mudslinging match. There was no reference to the fact that, as your editorial records, “€64 billion euro had to be spent to rescue banks and another €100 billion euro had to be raised to keep State services running”.
At one stage during the election campaign, one mainstream media outlet actually spent a large amount of time criticising what participants in a debate did with their hands. If we think that is bad, the internet debate plumbed the depths of personal abuse and promoted totalitarian solutions to all our problems.
Ireland will have to live for a long time with the consequences of the decisions made by its most powerful citizens in government and financial institutions during the boom time 2000-2008 period. These decisions led to the existential challenge the State faced in 2008 referred to by Arthur Beesley and the €164 billion in borrowing mentioned in your editorial.
I would be worried that, under pressure from the “debate”, and, despite all that happened, decision-makers could still revert to the trivial politics and the recklessness of the boom. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I place great emphasis on using my right to vote. However, on this occasion I cannot vote as I am unavoidably absent from home. I will vote next time for the party that promises to introduce internet voting. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Noel Whelan (“Coalition with Fine Gael is a real option for Fianna Fáil”, Opinion & Analysis, February 26th) mentions the theoretical prospect of a rotating taoiseach, indicating that there are no “constitutional or practical reasons” stipulating that such a mid-term swap could not occur.
In fact one notable and fundamental caveat against the notion is that the party holding the role first could later decide to “pull down the scrum”, as it were, at its entire discretion. The taoiseach for the first segment would enjoy significant constitutional powers while retaining the office, while the presumptive successor taoiseach would have absolutely none until taking over. As such, a dissolution could always be sought just before the pre-agreed transition would be due to take place. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – There is no such thing as a “hung Dáil”; only politicians unwilling to form a coalition. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The notion of a rotating taoiseach puts an interesting spin on events. Personally, I believe it would be a turn for the worst and a bit too revolutionary. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Your “Point-by-point guide to the manifestos” (February 25th), had it been published a little earlier, might have curtailed, for some of us, the ongoing trauma of trying to sort out exactly what the various parties alliances promise and stand for. Nevertheless, this clear, well laid-out and very readable two-page spread was of considerable assistance.
It will also serve as an excellent starting point for the “cutting and pasting” function that some parties will have to focus on in the coming weeks. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I suggest that all election result broadcasters have swear boxes in the studio, with fines to be paid by any contributors using the term “health warning” when referring to tallies. – Yours, etc,