I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Mikhail Gorbachev in London in 1999 and have had personal correspondence from him on several occasions.
he last Soviet head of state ended the Cold War, allowed German reunification, and dissolved the Soviet Union – albeit unintentionally. Gorbachev also authorized the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, leaving Romania’s tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu to his deserved fate later that year.
Though short, Gorbachev’s tenure of three years and nine months was astounding. Russia’s tyrannical Vladimir Putin is no slouch of Mikhail Gorbachev, a 20th-century icon and powerful historical figure.
Dominic Shelmerdine, London
Gorby’s charisma has won him the freedom of our capital
We really liked him for what he did to end the cold war. He taught us the importance of glasnost and perestroika. He had courage and charisma. We named him Gorby and even gave him freedom from Dublin in 2001.
Russia needs another leader like Mikhail Gorbachev – to end the war in Ukraine and restore openness; to reconstruct everything that has been destroyed in the years since.
Chris Fitzpatrick, Terenure Road East, Dublin 6
Punished in twilight years for doing the right thing
As expected by many, with Fiscal Day approaching, calls for increases in property taxes are being made (‘Paschal Donohoe orders increase in tax on diesel, scrapping agricultural fuel subsidies and raising local property tax’, Irish IndependentAugust 30).
Our local wealth tax (LPT) is not a true wealth tax. Such a tax should only focus on available luxury property – but in the vast majority of cases, our version is nothing more than a home ownership tax. Its main effect is to reduce the tax burden on the country’s wealthiest by broadening what is known as the tax base.
But the most callous aspect of LPT is that those with very low fixed incomes who have made sacrifices throughout their working lives to provide a modest home for their families are caught in the net.
LPT sees such citizens cruelly punished in the fall of their lives just for doing the right thing over the summer.
Whether you agree with the thinking behind this tax or not, one thing is certain: levying it on those struggling to pay it is both petty and cruel.
It is vital that this shameful misconception of the Michael Noonan era is corrected, and any amendment to the LPT must include a ‘ability to pay’ safeguard exempting the tax for those living on low fixed incomes.
After all, we see ourselves as a liberal democracy that should distribute economic and social benefits fairly. Taking taxes from those we know cannot afford to pay for flies in the face of it.
Jim O’Sullivan, Rathedmond, Sligo
A “responsible” government in action has been lacking
I was stunned by the letter in your newspaper from Antoin O’Ceallaigh (‘Building cycle lanes instead of looking after children’s health is shameful’, 31 August).
What are the ministers thinking at the cabinet table?
Since May 2016 – that’s more than six years – Ireland has lacked responsible government. What should be the main priorities – health, housing and education (including student housing) – has been ignored.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are only interested in filling ministerial positions to sate their greed. The so-called unit exhibited at Béal na Bláth disbanded when Varadkar and Martin made their way home.
Surely it’s time for a general election. A Sinn Féin-led government could only be an improvement over the current crowd of fools who fancy themselves running the country while everything they do appears to be at the behest of their supporters.
Declan Foley, Melbourne, Australia
Public sector unions play their cards well in talks
Public sector unions are a smart bunch as they have deferred any decision until they have looked at the budget to see what cost-of-living measures will be included to match the wage proposals drawn up at last Tuesday’s WRC to substantiate. That’s what I call an effective pre-budget submission.
This increases the pressure on the government to do something – not just for the well-served public sector, but for the rest of the population.
A lot will weigh on the budget.
Aidan Roddy, Cabinteely, Dublin
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/farewell-to-mikhail-gorbachev-a-true-20th-century-icon-41952257.html Farewell to Mikhail Gorbachev, a true icon of the 20th century