Election 2016 – reaching out to the undecided voters

Sir, – No one doubts or questions the extent to which the years of cutbacks and austerity dismantled the social infrastructure of our society, and hollowed out our community and social services. While a great many people may have been dismayed by some of the choices made and their impact on vulnerable individuals and families, the citizens demonstrated a remarkable moral stance in tolerating the actions taken by government to address the crisis in the public finances.

Surely we should now have the right to expect from our politicians a matching moral stance – a commitment to invest over the next five years and beyond in rebuilding the social fabric of our society, reinvesting in a strategic way, year on year, as resources allow, in order to reconstruct quality social services and systematically fill the chasms that were the inevitable outcome of austerity.

I believe that the same sense of civic responsibility, social solidarity and shared citizenship on the part of the public, and which brought us through the really bad times without major civil unrest, would give support to a structured programme of social rebuilding. Instead, we are being offered random propositions for tax cuts and spending with little coherence or longer-term social vision, and aimed at competing interest groups. It is not too late to make a plea to some party to engage in the run-up to polling day in the politics of the common good, and to set out a strategy and vision for solidarity, social cohesion and civic renewal to which all our available resources would be directed for the next five years. That would be a worthwhile choice to offer the citizens, – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – Come back Frank Flannery. All is forgiven! – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.

Sir, – After the last election, we all looked to the new government to bring about the promised seismic change in the political landscape and that Fine Gael and Labour would separate themselves from the old school of politics. Not only have they failed to deliver on this promise but I am sad to say that over the last few weeks all I have seen is party leaders allowing themselves to be brought down to the lowest level of rhetoric and slagging. I am in despair as to who to vote for, as I see little change coming about no matter what party or parties form the next government. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – I seek but cannot find our economic recovery. Searching high and low, I put my ear to the ground, my nose to the grindstone and my elbow to the wheel but I can’t see, can’t feel, can’t smell or taste any recovery. I cannot locate it, track it, follow it or even will it into being. So how can I help to keep it going? – Yours, etc,



Co Sligo.

Sir, – As the four main parties try to differentiate their policies and continue to struggle for votes, there is one handicap they share, namely their leaders.

How much more popular would Fine Gael be if it ditched Enda Kenny – who has spent the majority of his 40 years in the Dáil sitting on his hands and then blaming others for the state the country is in – in favour of Leo Varadkar or Simon Coveney?  Likewise what if Gerry Adams, whose IRA legacy continues to offend the squeamish, made way for the younger generation, namely Mary Lou McDonald or Pearse Doherty? Whilst Micheál Martin may have done a reasonable job in opposition, he is nevertheless still tainted by association with the Cowen and Ahern governments and should clear the decks for a sparkling, fresh Fianna Fáil led by Darragh O’Brien or Michael McGrath. And as for Joan Burton, who seems to have gone out of her way to offend core Labour voters, she should pass the baton to any Labour candidate fortunate enough to be elected to the Dáil. The real fun will start after the election. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – I would like to give a little advice to anyone canvassing. Don’t assume that every young man or woman who answers the front door is under age. Last week I opened my door to two members of Fianna Fáil, who immediately asked if my “Mammy or daddy were home?” I didn’t have the heart to explain to them that I am 24 years of age. This is not the first time this has happened. I simply told them: “You have lost my vote but you can, by all means, talk to my mother!” – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Enda Kenny has been in Dáil Éireann since 1975. For 40 years, he has not taught in a school. He is not registered with the Teaching Council and could not, therefore, be employed by any school in the country. To those who use “teacher” as a term of abuse for politicians, Enda Kenny is not a teacher! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.

Sir, – A basic income is a payment from the state to every individual resident, without any means-test or work requirement, which would be sufficient to live a frugal but decent lifestyle. For the first time, three major Irish political parties have included some commitment to basic income in their manifestos. Fianna Fáil proposes to establish a commission on basic income as part of a fairer welfare system. This proposal is very much in line with the state-sponsored pilot schemes planned in Finland and the Netherlands. The Green Party proposes to introduce a refundable tax credit as the first step towards adopting a full basic income system. This policy has been advocated by basic-income supporters in Ireland for many years. Finally, Renua promises a basic income of €3,600 per adult in place of existing credits and tax reliefs. This can also be seen as a first step towards a full basic income scheme, although the party’s proposals to withdraw basic income from households with high incomes and to require people receiving social welfare to do 20 hours per week of community employment or to begin an apprenticeship are inconsistent with how basic income is understood worldwide.

We urge you and your readers to take notice of the growing support for basic income across the political spectrum, both in Ireland and abroad. – Is mise,



Basic Income Ireland,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – Given that the slogan “Let’s keep the recovery working” doesn’t seem to have benefited the government parties in the way they expected, they might wish to use my more accurate slogan: “We’ve taken our boot off your neck. Are you happy now?” – Yours, etc,



Co Tipperary.

Sir, – That rare bird, a US socialist, is terrorising the American right with his proposal for a 52 per cent marginal income tax rate on annual income in excess of $10 million. Ireland, which is not, of course, a socialist state, has been applying that marginal income tax rate to single people earning about €50,000 a year. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – The touched-up photographs of smiling candidates these days, appealing to me from every lamppost, tell me politicians believe in eternal youth. This tempts me to believe they have little regard for eternal truth. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – If we all take Michael Joy's advice (February 20th) and gave our first and second preference votes to candidates who have no hope of being elected, we would have a Dáil of no-hopers. Would that be a change? – Yours, etc,