"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
Madam, - Soon the Irish electorate will have a choice between two (or perhaps more) alternatives. As a lifelong Labour supporter I personally baulk at the prospect of voting Enda Kenny et al into Government Buildings, but I have finally been swayed by the joint economic programme for Government published by the two main Opposition parties which at last provides a real alternative to the current tired administration. Fianna Fáil has no intrinsic ideology of its own any more, save the imperative of power at all costs. Its policies have been mostly skewed in favour of the builders, developers and propertied classes who have dug up most of Ireland and "dug out" public representatives in financial difficulties. Fianna Fáil takes its identity and ideology from whoever its coalition partners happen to be. With the PDs it's a Thatcherite agenda, with Labour a vaguely centre-left pose. With Sinn Féin it would be a tad more Republican. With the Greens no doubt it would re-cycle itself accordingly. For the past 10 years this country has been governed by a PD-led government, with monetarism the "meat in the sandwich". That party can take some credit for its clout in government but none for its baleful, toxic influence on our society as implemented by its Ministers for injustice, inequality and ill health. The people of Ireland would never have willingly voted for Thatcherism. This Government has widened the gap between rich and poor, failed the marginalised and vulnerable, emasculated the trade union movement through so-called "partnership" and fostered a culture where those on higher, SSIA-bloated incomes are only the biggest pigs who get the most swill from the trough. In this two-finger culture the devil takes the hindmost. This government has sold off the roofs of State offices to the mobile phone industry, oblivious of the health and safety of public sector workers. It has flogged our oil and gas to Shell, Statoil and Exxon Mobil while Irish consumers pay exorbitant rates in their utility bills. It has sold the Hill of Tara, our equivalent of the Valley of the Kings, to vested interests. It is only short of hawking hats and scarves to its wealthy friends on corporate street corners and erecting a hot dog stand to boot. Do the people of Ireland really want to re-elect such a crowd of chancers as "Del Boy" Ahern and the rest of his Trotters? Only two things have grown consistently in Ireland in the last decade - property prices and suicides. - Yours, etc, DAVID FAY, Leix Road, Dublin 7.