Farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev, a true icon of the 20th century

I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Mikhail Gorbachev in London in 1999 and received personal correspondence from him on several occasions.

he last Soviet leader ended the Cold War, brought about German reunification and defeated the Soviet Union – albeit unwittingly. Gorbachev also authorized the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and abandoned the Romanian tyrant, Nicolae Ceausescu, to his deserved fate later that year.

Although brief, Gorbachev’s three-year-nine-month tenure was astonishing. Russia’s tyrannical Vladimir Putin is no patch on Mikhail Gorbachev, a 20th century icon and powerful historical figure.

Dominic Shelmerdine, London

Gorby’s charisma won him the freedom of our capital

We loved him very much because of what he did to end the Cold War. He taught us the meaning of glasnost and perestroika. He had courage and charisma. We called him Gorby, and in 2001 we even awarded him the Freedom of Dublin.

Russia needs another leader like Mikhail Gorbachev – to end the war in Ukraine and bring openness; rebuild all that was destroyed in the years that followed.

Chris Fitzpatrick, Terenure Road East, Dublin 6

Penalized in twilight years for doing the right thing

As many expected, as budget day approached, there were calls for property tax increases (“Paschal Donohoe said raise diesel duty, remove fuel subsidy agriculture and to increase the local property tax”, Irish IndependentAugust 30).

Our Local Property Tax (LPT) is not a real wealth tax. Such a tax should focus only on disposable luxury goods – but, in the vast majority of cases, our version is nothing more than a tax on people’s homes. Its main effect is to reduce the tax burden on the country’s wealthiest by broadening the so-called tax base.

But the most ruthless aspect of the LPT is that those on very low fixed incomes who have made sacrifices during their working lives to put a modest roof over the heads of their families are caught in the net. .

LPT sees these citizens cruelly penalized in the fall of their lives, simply for doing the right thing in the summer.

Whether or not we agree with the idea behind this tax, one thing is certain: collecting it from those who are struggling to pay it is both petty and cruel.

It is vital that this shameful mistake dating back to the Michael Noonan era be rectified, and any changes to the LPT must include an “ability to pay” protection clause that exempts people living on low fixed incomes from tax.

After all, we see ourselves as a liberal democracy that is supposed to distribute economic and social benefits fairly. Taking taxes from those we know can’t afford to pay flies in the face of it.

Jim O’Sullivan, Rathedmond, Sligo

The “responsible” government has failed

Antoin O’Ceallaigh’s letter in your article (“Building cycle paths instead of taking care of children’s health is shameful”, August 31) stunned me.

What goes through the minds of ministers sitting around the cabinet table?

Since May 2016 – that is to say more than six years – responsible government has been missing in Ireland. What should be the main priorities – health, housing and education (including student accommodation) – have been ignored.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are only interested in holding ministerial seats to satisfy their greed. The so-called unit exposed to Béal na Bláth disbanded once Varadkar and Martin returned home.

It is certainly time to organize general elections. A Sinn Féin-led government could only be an improvement on the current crop of morons who imagine themselves running the country when everything they do seems to be at the behest of their supporters.

Declan Foley, Melbourne, Australia

Public sector unions are playing their cards right in the talks

Public sector unions are a smart bunch for postponing any decision until they look at the budget to see what cost-of-living measures will be included to bolster the wage proposals drawn up at the WRC last Tuesday. That’s what I call an effective pre-budget presentation.

This puts additional pressure on government to deliver – not just for the well-served public sector, but for the rest of the population.

There will be a lot straddling the budget.

Aidan Roddy, Cabinteely, Dublin

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