President Higgins and speech to Siptu

Sir, – President Michael D Higgins has highlighted the lead role he wants trade unions to play in the post-pandemic recovery (News, March 29th). While I have some sympathy with his position, it is an inappropriate politicisation of the office of President to make such comments. It is unlikely the opposite position (ie, that trade unions should be opposed in any post-pandemic recovery) would be received without controversy. We have seen the democratic decay that has arisen in other countries caused by the politicisation of previously non-partisan roles. It would be a terrible shame if this were to happen in Ireland too. Once the precedent is set that the President can comment on policy issues, which President Higgins has been doing for some years now, it will be difficult to reverse course. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – In his speech to Siptu, President Higgins said: “Archaic assumptions persist on the part of some employers about the achievement of often crude metrics based on efficiency and productivity. This fixation is based on an unchallenged set of assumptions grounded in a neoliberal economic paradigm that dates from the early 1980s and had continued for four decades gaining momentum, which has not gone but run into hiding in the thickets of bad capital and destructive economics.”


Efficiency and productivity are not archaic or crude metrics, nor are they a fixation, and they do not deserve to be pejoratively cast as neoliberal or indeed as belonging to any orthodoxy. They lead to sensible goals, clearly understandable by employer and employee, that sustain each and every one of the 1.5 million private-sector jobs in this country. The President has again entered the political arena to promote his own orthodoxy. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 14.