Role of Progressive Democrats


Madam, - Your letters page has recently given prominence to letters criticising the Progressive Democrats as nothing less than the root of all evil in Irish life.

The usual denigrating labels are trotted out, as is the fulminating backhanded compliment that a party with currently eight TDs could be so influential.

The Progressive Democrats are a voluntary, democratic organisation. We come together openly around our beliefs. We seek to implement policies responsibly in government. Our only power is from the votes we get.

It is open to anyone else in our society to do the same to achieve political office. Many have tried, with varying degrees of success. We have been successful, but we take nothing for granted.

Des O'Malley once said, "The prosperity, security, welfare and development, both spiritual and material, of the whole Irish people on a democratic and egalitarian basis, are the purposes for which the Republican ideal exists". These are the purposes for which he and others founded the Progressive Democrats and for which our party continues.

We implement policies for the whole Irish people. And here are some examples of the results: hundreds of thousand of jobs; higher old age pensions; an end to crippling taxation levels; hospital treatment for public patients; leading international investment in Ireland; minimum wages; lower insurance costs; affordable air travel for ordinary people from competition; an end to smog in Dublin; enforcement of company law; new consumer focus in financial regulation; reform of policing; massively increased resources for public services and investment; driving out "compo culture".

This is what we are about: policies and reform that benefit the whole Irish people. We ask only that people judge us on results, not on the sneering of our opponents. - Yours, etc.,

NOEL GREALISH, TD, Chairman, Progressive Democrats Parliamentary Party, Dáil Éireann, Dublin 2.

Madam, - Laura Bambrick's misquotation of Mr Michael McDowell (July 6th) may help to highlight the need for the debate he has tried to initiate. As I understand him, he would have no objection at all to the creation of an "equitable society". Perhaps he should say so somewhat louder.

His objection was, I believe, to the aim of equality, which is quite a different thing.

An equitable society allows for equality of opportunity, and for appropriate support for the less capable, but it does not result in equality of wealth. The Minister argues that this very inequality is actually a motivating force which results in the creation of greater total wealth, to the benefit of society as a whole.

This view is not inconsistent with a desire for an "equitable society" and is worthy of a more serious debate than has so far followed the Minister's speech. - Yours, etc.,

EAMONN SMITH, Stamullen Road, Gormanston, Co Meath.