Election 2020 – ‘transformative and divisive’

 

Sir, – Your editorial is right: “For many voters, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were seen as being out of touch” (“Irish Times view on Election 2020: transformative and divisive”, February 10th).

Nowhere is this more true than in the essential area of housing.

For example, Leo Varadkar showed astonishing political ineptitude when he said in the Dáil that people finding it hard to raise a home deposit should “get money from their parents”.

The price of housing is an avoidable scandal. But the disconnect between traditional politics and the people is most stark in the political establishment’s failure to effectively tackle the grotesque state of the rental market.

For instance, it simply wasn’t good enough for Micheál Martin to insist during the election campaign: “No, we are not promising a rent freeze because it is unconstitutional.”

Rents are now often double what they were at the height of the Celtic Tiger.

The numbers of young people that can afford to leave the parental home is rapidly diminishing.

In the circumstances, who can blame over half of the under-35s for voting for left-wing parties?

Sinn Féin must avoid any coalition that gives it seats in government, including even the top job of taoiseach, but stops it from immediately tackling the iniquitous rental market. – Yours, etc,

JOE McCARTHY,

Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Given that Sinn Féin now has sufficient numbers to have meaningful talks about forming a new government, the only question is how long will it take them to do so? Judging by their recent efforts, it might take three years. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN CULLEN,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Now that the Shinners could have a say in running the country, will they let everyone get up late? – Yours, etc,

JOHN K ROGERS,

Rathowen,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – What a shower. First one, then another. All weekend long and now into this week too. Erratic squalls, frosty moments and icy periods; sudden surges and rogue waves; slithery paths; potential drifts. The odd glimpse of sunshine. Wintry vistas, a changed landscape and unsettled days ahead. And that’s just the unfolding of the election results. Goodness knows what the weather will bring! – Yours, etc,

PATRICIA MULKEEN,

Ballinfull,

Sligo.

A chara, – It surprises me when political parties take a stance saying they won’t work with this party or that party in government. Surely it is incumbent upon all parties to strive to work together to bring consensus and ensure that the electorate is respected and a government is formed which reflects broadly the views of the electorate and not just one specific viewpoint.

In Denmark, coalitions are the norm and it works well.

It would be an affront to democracy to have two brawling sides shouting at each other both believing they alone can best govern.

It’s when the interests of the party and not the electorate are prioritisied that we are on the slippery slope.

It would therefore be a great shame if Fine Gael did not share their expertise in government with the new Dáil members from Sinn Féin. – Is mise,

NIALL O’REILLY,

Saint-Gouéno,

Bretagne,

France.

Sir, – Like Japanese soldiers holding out after the end of the second World War, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael instrumentalised the Civil War to justify their existence.

As John Lennon and Yoko Ono observed half a century ago, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. – Yours, etc,

Dr JOHN DOHERTY,

Cnoc an Stollaire,

Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – It’s very easy for prospective politicians to rhyme off what is wrong with our country. It’s a whole other thing to try and correct it. Welcome and good luck to our new leaders. – Yours, etc,

BRIGID MURTAGH,

Bray,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – By focusing so strongly on Brexit and the economy in its election campaign, Fine Gael showed how out of touch it is with the daily reality of many voters’ lives.

Brexit remains a concept rather than a tangible reality. Rather than having been neatly sorted out, it is nowhere near its tortuous conclusion and could easily backfire.

While the Irish economy may be performing well, many people are not feeling it.

Sinn Féin’s extraordinary success is largely due to the party’s grasp of how deeply people are hurting. The three H’s – housing, homelessness and hospitals – featured as the most pressing concerns of the Irish electorate in all the recent exit polls. Sinn Féin knew this instinctively well in advance of the election.

When newly qualified teachers, nurses or guards cannot afford to live on their starting salary, when young workers have no hope of finding a place to either rent or buy, when parents struggle to pay huge childcare and commuting costs on top of their rent or mortgage, then whether the economy is booming or not is effectively meaningless.

That is why, for the first time, the so-called middle classes have given Sinn Féin such a strong mandate.

Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil will be on very shaky democratic ground if they both continue to rule out Sinn Féin as a coalition partner – whether they, or we, like it or not. – Yours, etc,

EMER HUGHES,

Moate,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Various political commentators have been asking what Sinn Féin did since their poor showing in the local elections last year to improve so massively its vote in the general election.

The answer is not a lot. It didn’t have to. Instead Fine Gael and their “coalition/not a coalition” partners Fianna Fáil did most of it for Sinn Féin.

By not putting the housing needs of ordinary citizens ahead of large multinational funds and real-estate investment trusts.

By not increasing beds, doctors and nurses in the health system to cater for the increasing population.

By being reckless with the people’s taxes, ie the new children’s hospital, the broadband scheme, and so on.

By not building or planning to build enough State-owned public housing, instead leaving it to the private sector, whose first priority is, naturally and reasonably, profit not social inclusion.

By not making more positive steps to deal with homelessness.

The vote for Sinn Féin was not a vote for Sinn Féin, for republicanism or a united Ireland, it was not a vote for punishment beatings or murders or rebel songs.

It was a vote against the social policies of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil which have completely ignored the wishes and desires and simple needs of ordinary people. – Yours, etc,

DAVID DORAN,

Bagenalstown,

Co Carlow.

Sir, – Sinn Féin has done well in the election. In the main, it is because voters want social issues addressed. The party would need to be mindful that its united Ireland agenda was not why it increased its vote. Singing Come Out Ye Black and Tans in the RDS count centre was offensive to many. – Yours, etc,

MARY BARRETT,

Raheny,

Dublin 5.

Sir, – Wouldn’t it be ironic if the hundreds of thousands of people who voted Sinn Féin for better housing and health were to find they were getting a costly united Ireland into the bargain, with the result that we couldn’t afford to provide the improved housing and health? –

Yours, etc,

ANDY POLLAK,

Rathmines,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – Why not try at least a modicum of generous accommodation for the new political order which has been obviously brewing for some time now?

Sinn Féin does indeed have “history”, but the whole point of its developing “transformation” is to adopt the democratic path, and surely that should be at least acknowledged, if not supported, by all.

Just because it has a socialist and republican ethos should not mean that it is permanently vilified and frozen out of favour by the well-heeled commentariat.

On the contrary, it should be afforded the democratic chance to participate in government which the electorate has bestowed on it. If Sinn Féin does not deliver, it can be and will be ousted as appropriate next time out.

Let’s embrace the transformation, not damn it before the off. – Yours, etc,

JIM COSGROVE,

Lismore,

Co Waterford.