A chara, - Without question, street crime and public safety are major issues in this election, but is it not possible to debate these without recourse to hyperbole and hysteria? Alan Shatter's assertions that "95 per cent of Dublin is not safe at night" and that Dublin resembles "Dodge City in the Wild West" are gross over-statements and serve only to encourage law-abiding citizens to abandon the streets to thugs and gurriers.

While I may live in the relative tranquillity of Dublin 4, I regularly socialise in Dublin's city centre, often late at night, and I do not recognise the picture of my city painted by Mr Shatter and others for political advantage.

Yes, I would like to see increased Garda visibility late at night. Yes, I would like to see public order offences tackled more effectively. Yes, I have been a victim of crime within the past 18 months. Nonetheless, I do not feel intimidated or threatened. I certainly do not feel that I am living in the "Wild West".

I realise that not everywhere is as safe as my own area and that many communities endure hell at the hands of a small number of wanton criminals, but we must maintain a sense of proportion and not let the fear of crime pose a greater threat than the crimes themselves. - Yours, etc.,


Eglinton Wood,


Dublin 4.

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Sir, - I beg to differ with Michael Dolan's insinuation (May 1st) that as an Irish citizen currently living abroad I do not have the right to vote in the general election.

I have the legal right to vote; I am on the electoral register in my home town. Unfortunately, I do not have the money or the time at my disposal to return to Ireland solely to cast my vote.

Thanks to the internet, the advent of cheap telephone calls and the foreign media coverage of international (including Irish) politics, I am by no means ignorant of the policies of the parties nor divorced from the "realities of Irish life", whatever they may be.

Among the reasons I choose to live abroad are: Lack of opportunities in my chosen field, lack of decent public transport and affordable housing and degradation of the environment in urban areas, lack of infrastructure and employment everywhere else, political corruption and lack of long-term vision of the future of our island. I enjoy living abroad but I also miss family and friends. I would cherish the opportunity to have my say in the choice of a representative who was committed to solving some (or all) of the problems which make living in Ireland unattractive to me now and for the foreseeable future. To this extent I have quite a sizeable stake in the outcome.

I might point out that, by Mr Dolan's logic, those unemployed, on welfare,in education or working in the home should be denied the right to vote as they make up part of a vast assortment of Irish citizens not paying tax in Ireland.

And while we are rolling out the founding fathers quotes, I believe Padraig Pearse once said: "He knows not Ireland, who only Ireland knows." - Yours, etc.,




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Sir, - In a dull election campaign there are important questions not being addressed, such as:

1. How can a politician with "no ego" spend as much money on make-up as Madonna, Naomi Campbell or probably Kylie Minogue; and what has he got to hide?

2. Will politicians return to the classrooms in order to reduce class sizes or will they continue to double-job and create a new class of citizen?

3. Should the expanding sleaze/tribunal industry be decentralised and are there start-up grants available? - Yours, etc.,



Co Kerry.

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Sir, - Suicide is one of the most devastating things to happen, in terms both of the loss of the life taken and of the bereft families who truly know the meaning of suffering and heartache.

Dr Jim McDaid has been a medical doctor for 25 years and his recent comments worry me greatly. He has so very little understanding and empathy for the state of mind of those who, for whatever reason, see no way out. His "selfish bastard" remark can only hinder young people and make them more fearful of going to their local GPS. I despair. - Yours, etc.,


Beresford Avenue,


Dublin 9.

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Sir, - In our rush to cut corners at high speed, we should remember the golden rule of the road: Keep the law, by all means, but learn to bend it like Bertie.- Yours, etc.,


Patrick Street,


Co Laois.