Election 2016 – policies and choices


Sir, – Multiple reports on the latest election opinion polls have failed to mention the polls’ margins of error, despite headline changes in parties’ support falling near or within those margins. This Sunday’s national newspapers made similar omissions. It is misleading to overemphasise movement within the minor range of variation inherent to the process of opinion polling. As the recent British general election showed, the reporting of polls can affect the publicly perceived “narrative” of an election campaign, so it is incumbent on the media to report polling shifts with caution rather than overselling them to create a story. – Yours, etc,



London School

of Economics

and Political Science,

Houghton Street, London.

Sir, – A couple of months ago our Taoiseach was among the largest number of world leaders ever to assemble. At the Paris gathering, these leaders made major commitments to reduce carbon emissions in order to slow down the rate at which climate change is causing ever-increasing floods, hurricanes in some parts of the world and disastrous droughts in many other areas.

Yet, when the leaders of seven political parties came to debate the future on television, none of them bothered to even mention the urgent issue of care for the environment. The opposition speakers failed to challenge the government leaders on the yawning gap between the rhetoric of the Taoiseach’s promise to reduce our emissions of damaging gases and the reality of a government policy which involves our coal-burning and turf-burning power stations to continue to spew out carbon, and an increasing amount of even more damaging methane produced by an expanding number of belching cattle.

Surely we must challenge our politicians who come looking for our votes to wake up to the urgent need for our country to address the issue of climate change. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – I’m pretty sure that I haven’t forgiven Fianna Fáil yet, but I must say that Micheál Martin is playing a one heck of a match. He struck me as the only leader in the recent debates who was able to think on his feet. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.

Sir, – Dr Shane Bergin (February 17th) mentions how the Labour Party traditionally valued “workers”. The phrase “social justice” was also invoked. Indeed, I have heard media commentators refer to the Labour Party as “former” champions of the marginalised, and so on.

Prior to the collapse of the Irish economy, and right through the boom, I associated Labour with public-sector employees in the main – not the marginalised.

The public service and their unions were and are entitled to defend their workers’ pay and conditions, but they were never marginalised.

Labour and Fine Gael justifiably implemented the USC and the pension levy – and my opinion now is that Labour has lost the votes of many semi-State and public-sector workers and pensioners.

Labour is now suffering for having brought about a little bit more of income distribution – that is, distribution of our public money. Labour took a portion of public money away from the relatively privileged in our society, and attempted to spread it around more fairly. The cheek!

And for that, it will pay dearly at the hands of the “sophisticated” Irish voter. – Yours, etc,


Kilcoole, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Given the centenary year that’s in it, does it not behove Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to honour the memories of those that came before them, by finally burying the hatchet and coalescing?

Apart from finally establishing a clear and long-overdue left-right divide in Irish politics, it might force the alphabet soup mess that is the left in Irish politics into some sort of coherence. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.

Sir, – Is the fiscal space anywhere near the “wriggle room”? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.

Sir, – Cllr Sarah Holland makes great play (February 17th) of Sinn Féin’s vote to reduce the local property tax.

However, every action has a reaction – though Sinn Féin and the far left seldom acknowledge that and are even more rarely questioned on it. In doing so on Dublin City Council, Sinn Féin voted against allocating an additional €4 million for homeless services, €1 million for parks and recreation facilities, and €1 million for cleansing and related services.

Yes, politics is about choices, but when Sinn Féin and the far left vote to reduce the local property tax on my constituents on Shrewsbury Road by thousands at the cost of providing services for the homeless, that too should be reported. – Yours, etc,


Leader, Labour Group,

Dublin City Council,

Dublin 4.

A chara, – Fiach Kelly thinks that Fine Gael needs a “boomerang, not a rebound” (February 17th). The common understanding of the metaphorical use of “boomerang“ is an action or statement that recoils on its originator. The most recent Red C poll shows that Fine Gael, as a consequence of an ill-conceived, cynical, expensively produced election strategy, has already experienced a boomerang. A second boomerang might prove fatal! – Is mise,


Baile Átha Cliath 5.

A chara, – Anthea McTeirnan (“Should we vote for women because they are women?”, Opinion & Analysis, February 16th) provides ample evidence for “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines”. If a headline ends in a question mark, the answer is always “No”. At the last election, 15 per cent of the candidates were female and 15 per cent of those elected were female. Clearly, the female electorate did not share the opinion of those who feel gender trumps policies. If 50 per cent of the electorate were biased towards 15 per cent of the candidates, it would have had a greatly amplified effect on their success rate.

Women don’t vote on gender lines, any more than men, because they are not stupid and know that policies and competence come first. An obvious consequence of gender quotas is that the competence of female candidates will become suspect. While the number of female candidates will rise to 30 per cent, the bookmakers (who are far more to be trusted that pollsters) are betting that they will form only 20 per cent of those elected. Female candidates will have gone from being regarded as equal to their male counterparts to being hugely less attractive in the eyes of both male and female voters. – Is mise,


Kilkea, Co Kildare.

A chara, – I have yet to hear any discussion or debate about foreign policy issues during the ongoing election campaign.

This is bizarre, considering the fact that our economy has become so dependent on decisions and policies implemented in other countries. Also, as an independent and supposedly neutral country, one would expect at least some discussion about such issues as the current Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, our relationship with Nato, our relationship with Britain in the event of a Brexit, our support for the ongoing sanctions against Russia, etc.

Furthermore, couching the neoliberal economic policies implemented by successive governments in an international context could make clear to the voters the deepening inequality they should expect if they continue in the same vein. – Is mise,




Sir, – I’m sick and tired of all the allegations of “broken promises”. If one wants a political party to fully implement its manifesto then vote it in as a single-party government. Otherwise expect compromises. – Yours, etc,


Ballinlough Road,


Sir, – I refer to Una Mullally’s article “Politicians cannot deflect abortion issue any longer” (Opinion & Analysis, February 22nd). Unfortunately, Una, they can – and they will!

For over 30 years women have had to listen to the politicians pussy-footing around that subject, and reading what the party leaders have to say on the subject 16 years into the 21st century does not make one hopeful.

What is it the politicians are afraid of? Is it fear of losing their power to make decisions regarding all women’s reproductive rights? Or is it fear of losing their seats and salaries?

Having a choice means just that. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.