There is More to Society Than Economy

By Albert Byrne | April 23, 2019

There is More to Society than Economy

6th March 2009

A Chara,

The Irish papers are filled with news on banking scandals & economic decline while the real fundamental issues are being overlooked and remain unaddressed:

1. Our political system is corrupt, compromised and lacks the courage for real change. Opposition politicians can be seen supporting contradictory positions in order to gain political advantage regardless of how it affects the country. Many politicians enter politics simply to further their own interests and are not competent for the positions they hold.

2. A report just issued by Transparency International, based on 3 years comprehensive research, states Ireland suffers from high levels of legal corruption, which is undue political influence that stems from political funding that is unlawful, and could be costing up to 3 billion euro per year in lost revenue and foreign investment. Its recommendations should be implemented as a matter of national urgency.

3. Now is not the time for a change of government. It is the time for a national consensus. A time to roll back the excess, not pass it on. Politicians need to sit down and pool ideas as nobody has all the answers and elections destabilize the country.

4. We need a political stimulus package to stimulate our lethargic political system. We have 4 times more representation than the UK, yet our politicians do less and cost more. We need competition in politics and more effectiveness in the Oireachtas where TD’s complain that good ideas do not get beyond the committee stage. The number of TD’s needs to be cut, salaries & benefits cut and expenses reduced including an end to government jets (a population of 4.5m cannot afford to spend 10k€/hr on private jets), as well as tighter rules on lobbying and standards in public life.

5. Ireland should withdraw from the European Defense Agency (EDA) which requires member states to improve their military capability. We cannot afford to be part of the military industrial complex. It’s a futile and costly exercise. Our neutrality must also remain intact.

6. Our politicians fly to Texas to meet with Dell on a private jet while Washington chides its own business leaders for the same practice. This sends a negative message to business leaders who properly understand the bottom line and is the kind of leadership that has made us so uncompetitive.

7. We are told that politicians are sharing our pain by taking 10% cuts in oversized salaries and expenses while the same politicians continue to run their own businesses as well as draw enormous benefits from being in office. Many are a waste of tax-payers money.

8. Our public sector is too expensive. If a levy is unacceptable then either jobs are cut or a 4 day week introduced. Many in the private sector either cannot find jobs; have lost jobs and/or have had their pensions seriously reduced and, according to the ESRI, are paid less for similar jobs. On the other hand, the €2.5 to €3.0 billion pension subsidies paid to the top 20% in the private sector could also be reduced by placing pension subsidies on a sliding scale. Any tax changes must protect the 300,000 people living in consistent poverty, the equivalent of living on an income of about €11,000 for a single person and being unable to afford essentials such as a proper meal or a winter coat.

9. The number of quangos has soared by more than 200 in the past decade and such agencies often overlap their work while some are no longer needed. It is claimed that €200m could be saved over four years by ending the duplication of things like office costs and separate websites. See Irish Examiner, Apr. 11, 2008.

10. A “costly,” ineffective and socially destructive war on drugs is being waged preventing the dissemination of proper information, regulation and medical help for drug related problems. It gives rise to criminal gangs, gun crime, petty theft, a growing prison population with associated transmission of HIV+ and drug use, criminalization of sick people, and the cheapening of life. In the Netherlands, where in 1972 a harm reduction policy was introduced, the number of young people using cannabis has gone down, and the number of people going on to hard drug use has also gone down. Prohibition hyper-inflates the value of illegal drugs which creates a fertile field of activity for ruthless people. The UK government in 2004 estimated it spent 20 billion pounds on drug prohibition. We need political courage to take this problem on.

11. We are suffering a worldwide addiction epidemic while a cure to interrupt addiction exists (ibogaine) which, unlike every other treatment, removes cravings and returns the addict to a pre-addictive state. Regulatory testing is not funded as there is no commercial advantage for pharmaceutical companies. It remains an underground treatment in unregulated surroundings – see

12. Gun crime is increasing. We need a database with information on all firearms, bullets, cartridge cases and forensic evidence recovered from every new relevant offence. This database should allow us to track a ballistic item from its discovery to its eventual destruction.

13. Our concept of education is emaciated and overlooks the importance to society of personal development. The key to this is experience. We need summer camps and playschools. We have to work to eradicate impoverished mentalities in our society and to sow the seeds of emotional & creative well being in our children. If someone has not been educated by the time they go to college they will not be educated by the time they leave. Primary education is the most important sector of our society and special needs education must be protected to build a caring and enlightened society.

14. Our bankers guaranteed take home pay would make Obama blush while the New York Times describes Ireland as the wild west of banking. Banks are bailed out but they don’t lend to small business. Yet many are guilty of economic treason. We need to establish a People’s Bank which provides mortgages and loans for ordinary people and businesses as our banking system has failed us.

15. Currently there are 2 housing developments in my community. One is run by the Council. Both are staffed and managed by Northern Ireland contractors while local people are walking around unemployed. Why are southern firms so expensive they cannot compete?

16 . With the explosion in housing in our towns and countryside where are the social amenities that builder’s levies supposedly contribute towards?

17. In the not too distant future residents of Beijing will be swimming to work unless climate change is reversed. I believe we should borrow to fund green jobs and facilities such as the Gaelectric Larne 223m euro wind based power generator which will create 200 construction jobs and can generate enough power for 135k-200k homes (some energy input is required). In so doing we will improve our CO2 targets, gain exportable expertise in new future orientated industries and instead of importing nuclear energy via a newly funded European grid from Wales to Ireland, export green energy. Renewable energy sources should be recapitalized with billions, not rogue banks.

18. Our businesses are not exploiting the internet. Now is the time to migrate Irish businesses to the internet. Where is the public campaign?

19. The Tribunals show how lack of political leadership is costing the taxpayer a fortune. “The latest figures show that Healy and Coughlan are the top earning barristers across the three main tribunals. Each of the lawyers has been paid fees of more than €8 million over the past 11 years.” The Post, 15 Feb.

20. Our health system is an international disgrace with consultants vastly overpaid and the public vastly underserved. For example, many Irish hospitals are using artificial means to induce birth under 12 hours. Women are given drugs such as oxytocin or have their waters broken to speed up labour despite the increased risk that a rushed birth will result in an emergency caesarean. On the other hand the Dutch system is ranked number one in Europe compared to Ireland, which is ranked number 15. Holland spends almost exactly the same as Ireland for its health services, though it has over double our population. There are no waiting lists and free access to GPs.

21. Our elderly are our elders. Their presence is a reminder to the young of what we as a nation stand for. They should remain within the heart of the community via a transfer of investment from new nursing home funding to existing homes and changes to planning regulations to ensure a percentage of all new housing within the heart of the community is suitably designed with shared social amenities for the elderly. Advances in technology should be utilized to provide extra security and comfort allowing the elderly to remain in visual contact with loved ones and social services with ease and simplicity.

22. According to a Heritage Council survey, our national monuments are disappearing at an alarming rate. What does that say about modern Ireland?

Ireland is crying out for change. We need a new political landscape. One suited to the 21st century and not one saddled to the politics of the past, which are more suited to the history books and not the needs of modern Ireland. We need to plant new seeds.

I am calling on people of honesty and integrity, decency and common sense, to step forward and answer the call of patriotism and take back power from those unfit to govern and, to let go of allegiances that are inappropriate and not serving the needs of the people. Now is the time for change; a chance to forge a future that we can be proud of rather than passing on a poison chalice for future generations to choke on. Let decency and dignity go hand in hand; not power and corruption.

Without the will to serve honestly and selflessly this country will perish spiritually and materially. Our elders will live without dignity and our citizens will be destined to a life of wage slavery to meet the unjustifiable burdens of government and tax avoiding entrepreneurs. Our young will become disillusioned while crime, divorce, suicide, depression and loneliness will increase. Is this the future we wish to bequeath our children?

There is more to society than economy.

Is mise le meas,

Albert Byrne (,

Candidate Mid-Louth County Council Elections

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