SIR – ‘Dateline London’ is a weekly programme aired by the BBC on its News channel at 11.30 on Saturday mornings, repeated at the same time on Sundays. Via a group of mainly foreign journalists, based in London, they discuss a variety of topical issues as seen by their home countries, and this can be quite eye-opening for those like us who rely for news, if not opinion, on homespun output.
None of them pull their punches and, this weekend, it was openly said that, with EU member nations closing borders and demonstrating a reluctance to widespread bail-outs, the whole ethos of the EU itself could be very much at risk in the fallout from Covid-19. As I digested this crucial possibility, it was inevitable that I should contemplate the potential effect on Ireland, should it come to pass.
Normally, this would suggest a need to create a ‘Plan B’ to cater for that eventuality, but I was reminded that, after some three months of inaction, we’re currently short of even a ‘Plan A’ and this must be due to the usual reaction of normal citizens who’ll begin any comment with ‘Oh, they……’, thus recognising that, once elected, politicians are effectively unaccountable.
Should they be reminded that it was the voters who put them there? Every cent of their pay, pension and expenses comes from the taxpayer and, caustic though we may have been at the stagnation in Stormont, are we not subject to equal criticism? Maybe none of the three major parties is anxious to assume power and an impotent coalition will provide excuses for not solving what they’re about to be faced with.
It was suggested recently that Ireland should request help from the EU, which ignores the fact that this country is a ‘net contributor,’ paying €542million (2018 figure) more than we were receiving, and completely subsidising the economies of Malta, Cyprus and Spain in the process.
At a population figure of 4.5 million, this equates to around €120 contribution by every man, woman and child in the State at a time when our long-suffering farmers, whose efforts underpin the whole economy and create the rural idyll that is the backbone of the tourist industry, are reduced to begging for a reasonable living. Any ‘help’ will be costly?
In today’s news (May 16th), Germany, the EU’s main financier, went officially into recession so is it not time to begin, as the Americans would say, kicking ass and demanding our politicos get their act together for all our benefits, young or old, native or blow-in?