Political fallout after presidential election

 

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole wrote that the people who voted for Peter Casey belonged to a section of the community that choose to engage in the “politics of spleen” that is sweeping across the democratic world (“Casey didn’t create an audience – it found him”, October 29th).

That is exactly the type of dismissive and ignorant opinion from sections of the media and political establishments that has fostered the rise of the right-wing politics he rails against.

It is blatantly obvious to see that when members of any society feel that their concerns on any issue are being ignored by their current representatives that they will naturally be attracted to move their allegiance to where they feel their concerns are being listened to and given a voice.

If the Irish establishment wants to curtail the rise of the far right in our country they would be wise to take on board the strikingly clear message emanating from the presidential election which is that a large section of middle Ireland are fed up with what they see as free loaders who have no respect for the hard-working communities who are funding the roofs over their heads. – Yours, etc,

PAUL M MURPHY,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – Peter Casey states “middle Ireland” is hurting because it has to pay for the upkeep of the Irish State.

If middle Ireland is hurting, then it’s because business elites are not paying a proper “proportionate” share of their profits to run services in this country (See “Many of Ireland’s wealthiest taxed at rate below average worker”, September 28th, and “Several of Ireland’s top companies pay as little as 1% in tax”, September 29th 2017) both news articles based on official Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) reports.

The C&AG reports highlight losses to the Exchequer’s purse which supports the running of hospitals, schools, policing and welfare in this country.

These losses are caused by business investment write-offs, tax relief schemes, tax rules which allow companies to carry forward losses to write off against their tax bills and a situation where Irish banks are exempt from paying tax on their profits for another 12 years. In addition to these “cosy” arrangements, 13 of Ireland’s top companies pay an effective tax rate of just 1 per cent, which is a complete and utter joke and is another example of “burden shifting” onto those trapped in the PAYE cycle. Of course, inept management and inefficiencies in government bodies only adds to the increasing hole into which the hurting middle “sink” their taxes.

One of the biggest ironies in Mr Casey’s comments is the fact wealthy business-people (the “invisible others”) always seek to reduce their income taxes though tax avoidance accounting, though, in reality it is the very taxes they avoid paying (albeit legally) that are essential to running the society in which their various businesses operate.

During the past few weeks, when Mr Casey saw the presidential election slipping away from him, he pointed his index finger at Travellers and welfare recipients (the visible other) as the cause of “the hurt” of middle Ireland. To my mind, Mr Casey should put his finger down, take a step back and then have a good, long, hard look in his gold-leaf mirror. – Yours, etc,

WILLIAM O’NEILL,

Galway.

Sir, – It is with great sorrow that I, a 66-year-old pensioner have lived to see the highest office in the land being ridiculed by the attempts of what can only be described as a motley band of attention-seekers trying to become the president of Ireland.

I could, however, forgive them because it seems anyone can apply, unlike the office of mayor, where an individual has to have a track record of social service. It would therefore be prudent for the Government to set in place a similar structure before a citizen can even apply for this high office of presidency.

I would also add that the attack on one of the most marginalised indigenous groups in Irish society, the Travelling community by Peter Casey in his bid for the Áras was an all time low in Irish politics, and the fact that it increased his popularity from 2 per cent to approximately 23 per cent is even more worrying. It will cause even more fear in the Travelling community, whose ancestors go back over 500 years in this country. They have every right to be in this country and every right to be treated with equality, respect and dignity.

Before we can truly become a multinational country we need to learn to accept the Irish Travellers as our own. – Yours, etc,

GLENN GANNON,

Clondalkin, Dublin 22.

Sir, – Your Editorial (October 29th) referred to the recent presidential election as a vacuous contest. Perhaps two changes in the process would go some way towards reducing this vacuity.

First, the presidential term could be reduced to a single seven years. I do not suggest Michael D Higgins will be less than an excellent president in his second term nor that any of his predecessors who served twice did not do some outstandingly good work in their second terms. But a single term would eliminate the embarrassment of an incumbent having to juggle two roles as well as the grounds for any suggestion that he/she enjoyed an unfair advantage over other candidates. It would also ensure that the major political parties would not have any excuse to stand aside from nominating and backing a serious candidate.

Second, each of the four councils nominating a candidate could be required to guarantee to reimburse him/her one quarter of the amount foregone in the event of his/her votes not reaching the cut-off number for recovery of expenses from the State. A similar requirement could be imposed on any group of 20 independent Oireachtas members nominating a candidate.

This would enable independent candidates with limited means to put their names forward without the fear of crushing debt in the event of failure.

It would also sharpen the selection process so as to ensure that only serious candidates with a realistic prospect got through the nominating process to go before the electorate. – Yours, etc,

PN CORISH,

Rathgar, Dublin 6.

Sir, – Not a single letter writer has asked the obvious question. What must change in our society so the 23 per cent do not vote that way again? And more importantly, the 77 per cent need to listen carefully to the answer. – Yours, etc,

JOHN DOYLE,

Co Cork.

Sir, – I want to remind Michael O’Connell (Letters, October 30th) that far from being arrested and sent to jail, Peter Casey finished second in a national election and has been conducting a national media tour. His rights to freedom of expression, therefore, remain utterly unadulterated.

Racists and bigots all over the Western world have been crying about “free speech” in recent years, not because they are being persecuted by their governments for thought crimes, but because the rest of us are sick of listening to them, and have no hesitation in telling them so.

If evidence of their arguments so obviously losing the popular debate has the effect of shaming them into silence, that is no loss for freedom of expression, but a triumph for it.

Let us also remember that on the same day as the election, Ireland voted to remove the constitutional mandate for the criminalisation of blasphemy. This was widely recognised as a victory for freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, Mr Casey remains at liberty to be just as bigoted as, thankfully, the rest of the candidates and wider society condemned him for being. – Yours, etc,

ALAN EUSTACE,

St Cross College,

Oxford, UK.

A chara, – It seems for Fintan O’Toole (Opinion, October 29th), the 342,727 people who voted for Peter Casey have cast a “shadow” on our democracy.

Surely the point of a democracy is that the electorate gets to vote for the person or ideology it believes in. It is ironic that on the day a sizeable majority of Irish people voted to affirm their commitment to freedom of expression, Fintan O’Toole attempts to diminish the voices of people who have not espoused his own liberal values and to portray these people as a deviant demimonde who are a danger to our State.

In recent years Ireland has shown itself to be liberal, inclusive and ready to embrace change, but in order to be truly inclusive we have to make a place in our society for people who are conservative or who hold beliefs that are opposite to our own.

In his presidential election campaign, Peter Casey expressed an opinion on Travellers (which Fintan O’Toole describes as an “attack”). Under considerable pressure from various quarters Peter Casey held firm on his position. This opinion seemed to strike a chord particularly with people outside Dublin where his vote was considerably higher than in the capital, suggesting an urban-rural dichotomy on the issue.

The rural vote suggests a different experience that is far too simplistic to describe as either racist or populist. What seems equally obvious is that a person who has the courage to publicly state what others are afraid to, will be supported at the ballot box. – Is mise,

JOHN KELLY,

Co Carlow.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s piece on Peter Casey neatly sums him up as “incoherent, unfocused, a golf club bore”. I wholeheartedly agree with the first two parts of this summary but must take exception to him being described as a golf club bore.

As a proud member of Delgany Golf Club, of which your former editor RM Smyllie was once a distinguished captain, I believe that most golf club bores are inherently decent people who generally show tolerance to those around them. They can’t help being optionated.

However, to suggest that Peter Casey, an egotistical man with dangerous views and opinions is anything like this really insults your average golf club bore.

I hope Fintan O’Toole doesn’t get a nocturnal visit from Bertie’s ghost in this Halloween season! – Yours, etc,

JIMMY DOYLE,

Stepaside, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Those of us who were in UCD in the 1960s and who studied English under Prof Hogan would be familiar with the speeches of Edmund Burke: “On Conciliation with America” and “Reflections on the Revolution in France”. I suggest Michael D Higgins’s acceptance speech in Dublin Castle on Saturday ranks with this standard of oratory – delivered with passion, appealing to both reason and emotion, and ending on a vision for our country. – Yours, etc,

NOREEN WHELAN,

Carlow.

Sir, – With hindsight I wonder how the presidential candidates would have fared if the President had chosen to speak in our first language? – Yours, etc,

BRIAN LOUGHEED,

Killarney, Co Kerry.

Sir, – Regarding the election: wake up Ireland (and don’t go back to sleep). – Yours, etc,

PAMELA McDONALD,

Cork.

Sir, – Presidential election result: Establishment 25 per cent. Trump 10 per cent. Deluded 9 per cent. Don’t Care 56 per cent. – Is mise,

LOMAN O LOINGSIGH,

Dublin 24.

Sir, – The people have spoken and chosen wisely. I think we’ve all had enough democracy now for a while. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN McDEVITT,

Glenties, Co Donegal.