Election 2016 – voters focus on core messages and competing leaders
Sir, – The Prime Time debate highlighted the unacceptable service level of some parts of our health service. Our four main political parties appear to have a shared vision on timely, equal and fair access to the services, and they also acknowledge that the issues cannot be resolved in the timeframe of one government.
I ask the leaders of each of our main parties if they would be willing to show statesmanship and participate in an all-party approach to achieve the goals of a better service for all of our citizens. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The winner of the final debate was the audible squeak in the floor where the party leaders were standing. It gave a much clearer, consistent and relevant message than most of the answers given by the party leaders. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Climate change was raised towards the end of the final leaders’ debate illustrating how the leaders of our main political parties are all unwilling to face the contradictions between agricultural policy and our emission reduction commitments. However, this most grave challenge for all our societies remained marginal to debates throughout the campaign, something that both surprised and concerned us. It further underlines the importance of our call for a citizens’ convention, to raise public awareness of the issue and to generate political momentum for policies adequate to the immense challenge of reducing Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions on the scale and at the speed necessary to meet our stated aspirations under the Paris Agreement.
We welcome the fact that, at the time of writing, 633 people have signed up to our call and urge more to do so at petition.postcarbonireland.org. – Yours, etc
University College Dublin;
Prof PEADAR KIRBY,
University of Limerick;
Prof BARRY McMULLIN,
Dr EITHNE O’CONNELL,
Dublin City University;
Prof JOHN SWEENEY,
of Ireland, Maynooth.
Sir, – Was Enda correct when he used the word “whingers”?
What would it be like if the media organised a week of positive stories about what people have received, the services that have worked for them and the good bits about the country? It will not happen because we prefer to whinge rather than to praise. What about a week of saying “thank you” to all the public representatives who have worked hard, but who are just criticised for what they have not done. A representative from a small party told me at my door that people are entitled to whatever they want. Where does this attitude take us? It gives space to whinge at what we have not, rather than what we have. We live in one of the nicest countries in the world. Perhaps for one week we might even acknowledge that. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Polling day is almost upon us, so I spent some time this morning reading through the various leaflets that have been delivered to my home. I have received 31 leaflets and three house-calls from 10 of the 14 candidates in this constituency. Most of the leaflets came in bundles of three or four. I have studied them all and have come to the sorry conclusion that there is little or no difference to choose between the various parties. There are four main parties – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Labour – and nine other Independent candidates of one kind or another. So what to do tomorrow? Do I vote for them all, one or two of them or spoil my vote? It is a dilemma. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Should we have a poll to determine the accuracy of the polls we’ve had so far? – Yours, etc,
A chara, – I look forward to the current government being “repaginated”. – Is mise,
Sir, – Some young people were asked on television about the elections, and a few of them said that they would not bother voting, as their votes would not make any difference. Can you imagine the outcry if they were told that they were forbidden to vote, or if the government announced that students or women could not vote tomorrow? Every vote does count. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In my area, I found canvassers from the government parties had no answers for me. Simple enough concerns, such as, “What will you do about funding respite and residential services for adults with disabilities?”, “What is your solution to families left homeless while bank profits are on the rise?”, and “When can we expect real jobs for our generation of well-educated young people, not short-term contracts with no security?” There seemed to be a standard response assuring us that there was now money to be spent, and that we could look forward to great things if we would just give them another chance. Why am I not convinced? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Niall Callan (February 24th) refers to “Lucinda Creighton’s decision to leave her party” but this was not, in fact, the case. She was expelled from Fine Gael because of her opposition to the abortion law enacted by the Government and despite her stance being in accord with a promise made before the election that it would not do so. He also referred to the “majority opinion in the party”. Is he really suggesting that a majority opinion is always correct? After all the matter of abortion is a life-and-death issue and not just one of the many issues that require decisions by any party. I fail to see how anyone could not admire someone who puts their principles ahead of their ambition and, even indeed, their livelihood. What is not to admire about that? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – After five years in which the word “austerity” has dominated our political discourse, I find it almost surreal that the word is now virtually absent from analysis and debate. The only mention of austerity that you hear now is the Anti-Austerity Alliance! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Before the 2011 election there was a move in Fine Gael to replace Enda Kenny as leader of that party.
At the time, I said publicly that though I thought Enda Kenny was an honourable and decent man, he should step aside from the leadership.
Since then, he has led the country through the most difficult time it has ever known, and done so with consistency, effectiveness and dignity.
I have no hesitation in saying now, in 2016, that I was wrong. – Yours, etc,
Sir, –I fear that whichever parties form the next government, the weight of all their election promises will overbear their ability to implement them. Plus ça change. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It took three terms for Fianna Fáil to complete its destruction of the Irish economy, which led to extreme hardship for literally millions of our people. Fine Gael and Labour, while not perfect, made great inroads into repairing this damage. The base is now there for Ireland to prosper again. Is it too much to ask the people of Ireland to give them a second term and a chance to finish the job? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I am in favour of additional expenditure on health, education, social welfare, justice, and so on. I am in favour of a reduction in income tax, USC, property tax,water charges,etc. I am also in favour of motherhood and apple pie. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Big-party politicians (and many commentators) decry the draining of their traditional support base to the advantage of smaller, breakaway units like Renua or the Social Democrats and the Independents. Yet, the people, demonstrating the wisdom of crowds, may be on the right side of politics and history. It is possible that they have rumbled the real story of the Dáil, that party TDs are simply lobby-fodder for an overpowerful executive? Jim Kemmy, for instance, once accused Willie O’Dea of being Mighty Mouse in Limerick and Minnie Mouse in the chamber.
Irish people are increasingly electing, and considering electing, men and women who’ll give the status quo peddlers a good “goosing” and do so more regularly than their whipped, party counterparts. If this trend continues, it is possible that the demand for an executive presidency, elected separate to the Dáil, might appear attractive to the parties and the people.
Were this to occur, we might be able to break the stranglehold that the executive currently exercises over the Dáil and its business, and a true relationship of creative tension between the executive and Dáil may be established. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The article summarising the different polices of political parties seriously understated the exemplary record and policy commitments of People Before Profit in relation to environmental issues and climate change (“With climate change a hot topic again, who plans to expend most energy on it?”, February 24th).
People Before Profit’s manifesto has four separate sections dealing with environment, natural resources, public transport and sustainable land use, all explicitly directed towards taking urgent action to deal with climate change.
Our policies include a total ban on fracking; a major public native afforestation programme; using unused Coillte lands for community energy and afforestation projects; increased subsidies to public transport to deliver more buses and cheaper fares to reduce car use; a national retrofit and insulation scheme; supports for small farmers engaged in local food production; taking all natural resources into public ownership, with a moratorium on all hydrocarbon licensing until a new model of State management is established; major public investment to diversify energy production towards sustainable energy resources; protection of Ireland’s physical heritage; and complete opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Furthermore, over the last five years as a People Before Profit TD, I have played a leading role in the successful national campaign to stop the government plan to sell-off Coillte’s harvesting rights, introduced the only private member’s motion on Coillte and forestry, submitted dozens of amendments to both the Climate Change and Forestry Bill aimed at establishing binding targets, led a successful campaign to prevent an oil rig being located in Dublin Bay, introduced a Bill to ban fracking, played a central role in establishing the Right2Water campaign to ensure water resources remain in public ownership, and campaigned inside and outside the Dáil against the cutting and privatisation of public service bus routes.
If any party has a better record over the last five years on environmental matters, I’d be surprised. – Yours, etc,
Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.
Sir, – As this most uneventful election campaign comes to a close, I think my three-year-old daughter captured the mood when she asked me when they were ever going to take down all these pictures as she’s so tired of looking at them. My six-year-old son is still keen, though, and declared that he will vote for Billy Timmins or another candidate who he’s calling “Egghead”. A swing voter of the future, I guess. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Miriam Lord and Martyn Turner have provided me with everything I need to know about this election campaign. – Yours, etc,
Bray, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – Is it too late for Enda to adopt a winning hairstyle like that sported by Donald or Boris? Desperate times require desperate measures! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I fondly recall a fundraising “race night” in which my horse was 10 lengths ahead of the field, with only one fence to jump! The horse passed the post, but unfortunately, had unseated its rider at the fence.
Party leaders, beware of the final fence! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Let’s have more Michael Noonan interviews on TV and radio, especially late at night. His sotto voce delivery is a guaranteed cure for insomnia. – Yours, etc,
Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.
Sir, – The election campaign has been most invigorating with important debates on education, taxation and the direction of the Republic’s economy. Such a campaign should be cherished by all voters who have the right to form a coalition of their choosing. But please spare a thought for those in Northern Ireland who are not afforded the same right and have to be contented with the same dismal coalition, election after election. Therefore the right of the electorate to a voluntary coalition and opposition is something it should not take for granted. – Yours, etc,
SAMUEL TG JACKSON,
Sir, – My doorbell is broken. I think I’ll fix it on Saturday. – Yours, etc,