14 May 2009 Edition
Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected] No attachments please
Cowen upside down
A FRIEND was recently offered a job as polling agent on election day, 5 June. She doesn’t feel she should take it as she has a full-time job and can’t understand why such jobs are not offered to some of the growing army of the unemployed. I agree – and the same should apply to the election count and to the Lisbon Treaty re-run in the autumn.
This may be a trivial example but it is indicative of the upside-down thinking of the Government.
We had tax breaks and ‘light’ regulation which inflated the property and credit bubble. We’ve had the establishment of yet another bad bank when we need an uncontaminated good bank to get the economy off its knees.
But the worst example of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time is the Government’s attempt to deflate its way out of the economic mess it has created. One doesn’t have to be an expert to see that this is economic madness. Cutting investment and increasing taxes on the low-paid to bail out failed banks and developers is bound to increase unemployment, which will worsen the fiscal deficit.
At a cost of €20k in payments and lost tax per person, the 500,000 unemployment rate that the Government is rapidly accelerating us towards will cost €10billion per year – more than five times the ‘savings’ made by this year’s cuts.
To any sensible person it is obvious that we need to invest in future IT and sustainable projects like broadband, biofuels, wind, hydro, tidal, wave, geothermal and solar energy and a smart grid to efficiently integrate them and enable intelligent energy management for when fuel prices rise again.
You may ask: where are the funds to come from? Well, the Government has already wasted over €7billion in attempts to bail out the failed banks. It plans to hand over about €50billion more. Both ICTU and IBEC have called for a modest €1billion stimulus to slow the rapid slide towards 20 per cent unemployment. This is less than 2 per cent of the taxpayers’ money that the Government plans to throw at the bad banks.
Surely it is common sense that investment in jobs is the only way of turning round the worst slump in the EU and preparing us for world recovery. In 2007, the Government was advised not to over-inflate the bubble by promising more tax cuts. But it arrogantly dismissed those of us who tried to point out the bleedin’ obvious as “economic illiterates” and “loolas”. Please don’t make the same mistake again.
Freedom of information
FEW areas of Government have been under such sharp focus in recent years as the health service, and rightly so. The decisions made by senior officials at the Department of Health, the Health Minister, top Health Board officials and hospital executives affect us all, often deeply. Matters of life and death are at issue.
Recently, documents secured under the Freedom of Information Act involving the two ministers (for Health and Finance) exposed how much money was spent last year on improving the comforts for ministers at the Department of Health (extensive refurbishment of their offices, new carpets, more PR staff), all at a time of enforced cutbacks in the health service.
In particular, the news comes at a time when medical staff at Beaumont Hospital have warned about the risks for dialysis patients because of a possible cutback in night dialysis treatments. All this at a time when over €500,000 was spent on more comfort and PR for Health Ministers. This kind of information will not be released if proposed changes to the FoI Act are implemented.
The FoI Act has exposed the truth about the relationship and battles between the Departments of Health and Finance. Last year, it helped reveal a bitter row between the Finance Minister and the Health Minister and plans by the former to axe the heart-lung transplant programme at the Mater Hospital, use less expensive and less reliable blood products and on moves to cut back health funding for Irish citizens – despite a Government election commitment to provide a “world class” health service.
Ireland has endured much scandal over the past decade, in particular in the blood infection area, much of it due to secrecy. We would not need expensive tribunals of inquiry if people were more open and honest, particularly politicians.
Tamil appeal to Ireland
I AM a second-generation Tamil Canadian who had the opportunity to read your coverage (An Phoblacht, 30 April) of the slaughter of Tamil civilians happening in Sri Lanka.
As I was reading this, we received reports that a further 2,000 to 3,000 Tamil civilians have been massacred by the Sri Lankan military in one night alone.
The Sri Lankan Government usually keeps its worst attacks for the weekends to ensure there is less criticism from foreign countries.
The UN and other agencies that have followed this genocide closely are simply waiting for the massacre to be over so that they can go in and claim to have liberated the people (when thousands would have perished). The UN under Ban Ki Moon is acting in a shameful manner and will never do anything about this massacre.
I sincerely hope that the Irish Government and the Irish press would take some concrete measures to stop this massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka. One way would be to suspend all relations with such a terrorist state.
Please continue to bring this genocide to the notice of anyone who may be in a capacity to do something to stop it. We are helpless.