4 July 2013 Tuesday Hospital
Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, A counterfeiter persuades the crew to take him to Norway and Germany, Alterted they arrest Captain Povey by mistake Priceless.
Off out to see Mary with Astrid and Anna, and see Joan whoo is in hospital as well.
Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.
I watch The Invasion its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary
Molly Clutton-Brock, who has died aged 101, was the wife and devoted collaborator of Guy Clutton-Brock, a campaigner for racial justice in white-ruled Rhodesia who became the first and only official white “hero” of Zimbabwe on his death in 1995.
Molly Clutton-Brock (left) and nurses at her clinic for handicapped children
6:00PM BST 03 Jul 2013
The Clutton-Brocks, who described themselves as “practical Christians”, travelled from Britain to what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1949. In Africa, they established a series of non-racial, cooperative farming enterprises — most notably Cold Comfort Farm on the outskirts of Salisbury (now Harare), which they founded in the early 1960s.
While Guy Clutton-Brock worked to teach modern agricultural techniques and encouraged young black nationalists (including the ANC activist Didymus Mutasa) to develop their political ideas, Molly established clinics where physically handicapped black children were treated using the latest “Neumann-Neurode” remedial exercise and physiotherapy techniques.
The Clutton-Brocks became, depending on political viewpoint, either the most celebrated or the most infamous couple in Rhodesia. In 1957 Guy helped to draft the constitution of the African National Congress (ANC), and during the emergency two years later was detained and briefly imprisoned with other ANC members.
Then, in 1971, after Rhodesia declared independence from Britain, he was stripped of his citizenship by the government of Ian Smith and deported as a “threat to public safety”. Cold Comfort Farm was taken over and sold to a white businessman. As the couple boarded a plane for Britain, hundreds of Africans turned up at the airport to say goodbye.
Although they kept in touch with their friends in Rhodesia, the Clutton-Brocks returned only once, in 1980, after the country had won its independence as Zimbabwe. But when Guy died in 1995, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe attended his memorial service at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, then carried his ashes back for burial in Harare’s Heroes’ Acre.
Clutton-Brock always argued that people could not expect Zimbabwe to be perfect after 100 years of colonial capitalism. But it was perhaps fortunate that he did not live to see his protégé Didymus Mutasa morph into Mugabe’s ruthless and hated minister of national security and head of secret police — or see his beloved Cold Comfort Farm (which Mutasa and others had reconstituted after independence) appear on international lists of companies under targeted sanctions as a suspected front for foreign investments by the country’s corrupt ruling elite.
Molly Allen was born in Cheshire on February 3 1912. Her father died when she was two, after which her mother moved the family to Eastbourne.
After leaving school she became a handicrafts teacher, and it was while she was working at a Borstal in the East End of London that she met Guy Clutton-Brock, a Rugby and Cambridge-educated idealist who had scorned his privileged background to work among the poor. They married in 1934.
During the Second World War they moved to Oxford House, an Anglican “settlement” in the East End which Guy developed as a community centre, offering employment to many conscientious objectors. Their daughter was born there, and Molly also undertook training in the Neumann-Neurode system.
After the war they travelled to Berlin, where Guy served briefly as head of the religious affairs section of the British Control Commission, then worked for Christian Reconstruction in Europe. In 1947 they moved to a tiny cottage in Pembrokeshire, where Guy worked as a farm labourer. They went to Africa two years later to work at St Faith’s Mission, an Anglican centre near Rusape.
Molly’s work with handicapped children began on a table on their farmhouse veranda. To begin with she worked with babies, but as word spread older children and patients from further afield began turning up, and, with financial help from supporters overseas, a makeshift clinic was built equipped with an exercise ladder, trapeze and other aids for physically handicapped children. It became known as the Mukuwapasi Clinic.
Molly Clutton-Brock went on to found several more clinics in Rhodesia and Botswana, training local people in physiotherapy techniques.
After they were thrown out of Rhodesia, the Clutton-Brocks bought a small cottage in Denbighshire, where they continued to live simply, with only cold water and no electricity.
Molly Clutton-Brock is survived by her daughter.
Molly Clutton-Brock, born February 3 1912, died April 27 2013
It is extraordinary, when the US has deeply offended France by being found snooping on its communications, that France should apparently accede to an American request to refuse permission for a plane to enter its airspace because that plane might be carrying the very person who revealed the snooping (Bolivian jet diverted on Snowden escape fears, 3 July). It is more remarkable still when that plane was carrying the president of a third country with which France has had good relations – up till now. France was probably within its legal rights, but it will be most interesting to see the American reaction when some country refuses overflying rights to USAF1 and compels it to make an unscheduled landing with President Obama aboard so that it can be searched for the presence of someone suspected of spying, the director of the National Security Agency perhaps.
• Your editorial (3 July) states “Over the weekend, Ecuador aborted the idea that he might find sanctuary in Quito.” This is completely false. Rafael Correa has made a clear distinction between considering Snowden’s asylum request and committing to provide him safe passage to Ecuador, where he must be to make such a request. The thuggish treatment France and Portugal just delivered to Evo Morales reveals how important that distinction is. Correa has always said he would seriously consider Snowden’s asylum request if he arrives on Ecuadorian soil.
The incident with Morales reveals how foolish it would be for any Latin American country to attempt to move Snowden around within Europe. European governments must be pressured to honour Snowden’s right to asylum and international law generally by explicitly allowing him to move. That is the responsibility, primarily, of Europeans. Others can only implore the Europeans to behave in a civilised manner.
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
• Isn’t it rather naive of the Guardian to suggest that Edward Snowden gives himself up to face trial in the US? This is the country that has 166 men locked up illegally in Guantánamo, 86 of whom have been cleared for release; a country that justifies the use of torture and the killing of innocent civilians with its drone attacks; a country that pardons members of its armed forces who have admitted the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And what about the terrorist Orlando Bosch, who walked the streets of Miami freely despite his involvement in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in the 1970s, where all 73 passengers and five crew were killed? I submit that Edward Snowden could expect little justice from the US and I hope he is awarded protection and support from other countries with more humane governments.
• It seems that the US government has already convicted Mr Snowden, by denying him the use of his passport and by obstructing the fundamental human right to seek asylum from prosecution. The absence of any legal due process speaks volumes about how the government views itself – judge, jury and prosecutor – on any and all actions that may reveal the truth about its covert activities and schemes of privacy destruction – especially when they involve billions of dollars in profits for its corporate subcontractors. The pressures and blackmail applied by the US government on other nations’ leaders also seem to confirm American officials’ views of other countries as mere pawns in a global chess game of domination, in which sovereignty means little and can be trampled on whenever circumstances require it.
Professor Luis Suarez-Villa
University of California, Irvine, US
• Mark Weisbrot suggests a number of useful ways in which governments can assist Edward Snowden, instead of allowing him to hang out to dry (We can help Snowden, 2 July). I would like to see the Norwegian Nobel committee convene five months earlier than usual and award Snowden with the Nobel peace prize. Such a bold act of solidarity would offer the American whistleblower great comfort at a critical period in his life, and wrongfoot those who wish to bring him down.
The decision by the European parliament to lift Marine Le Pen’s parliamentary immunity opens the way for her to be prosecuted in France for remarks made in 2010 likening Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation. It may be right that this threatens to upset the Front National leader’s strategy of projecting a “more palatable face of the far right in France” (Report, 2 July). But to judge by a recent Ipsos survey (France 2013: The New Fracture Lines) in which most respondents “no longer feel at home” (62%) in a country where there are “too many foreigners” (70%), many may find Ms Le Pen’s views very palatable indeed.
Professor James Shields
• I hope that the person at RBS who found the extra £20bn “in untapped cash” for lending to small businesses (Report, 3 July) will get a massive bonus, to stop them moving abroad. We can’t afford to lose talented people like this.
Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire
• ”Steinway Musical Instruments, which manufactured the piano on which John Lennon wrote and recorded Imagine” (Report, 2 July). I’m afraid we’re a long way yet from seeing a whole G2 on the Proms (Letters, 2 July).
• £30 each for both of us to attend the degree ceremony for our daughter, Jenni, BA media and cultural studies at UWE Bristol. But it is in the cathedral; where is Nottingham’s, cheap at a mere £20 (Letters, 3 July)? This would make a good league table; Guardian, get to it!
Dave and Rea Walters
• Vandalism is always “mindless” (Letters, 3 July). Since it is also usually anonymous, how do we know? It might have been carefully planned and precisely targeted.
• Just rediscovered David McKie’s definitive Elsewhere piece on cliches (The sexlife of head lines, 22 February 2007). Sample quotes: “Words, like people, have a tendency to snuggle up to each other.” “They have entered into the lexicographical equivalent of a civil partnership.”
Lord Adonis (The cure for jobless youth, 2 July) joins the chorus calling for more and better apprenticeships. In the 50s, when I served a five-year engineering apprenticeship, the nationalised industries and local council direct works departments set the standards the private sector had to match, a paid day off a week to study and fees paid for two evenings at night school. Thatcher brought that to an end and the education ministry in which Lord Adonis served did nothing to recapture the esteem in which apprenticeships were once held even though the need was glaring – at least to those of us with an industrial worker’s background.
Lord Adonis now calls for government training handouts to employers. This is not the way. Instead, bring in a training levy rebated for those with approved schemes; establish modern training workshops on suitable secondary school sites for 16- to -25-year-olds; restart industrial training boards to set standards and inspect. Future profits depend totally on well-educated and fully trained workers. They don’t come cheap.
Labour MP, 1992-2010
• Lord Adonis advocates increasing the number of apprenticeships. Such sentiments carry support across the political spectrum: the challenge lies in making it happen. The solution always seems to be another hortatory campaign or “shout a little louder”. Given the seriousness of the youth employment and training crisis, it is time for Labour to seek more radical solutions. These should include a change in the Companies Act to ensure larger employers meet social as well as business objectives.
Professor Martyn Sloman
Kingston Business School
Professor John Sutherland’s article (What should a chef with dyslexia read?, G2, 27 June) itself made surprising reading, coming from a former university teacher, with its inaccurate, outdated and stigmatising description of a condition that many of his own students will have successfully overcome as “lifelong, life-depriving, and for those who have it, deeply shameful”. While it is true that there is, strictly speaking, no cure for dyslexia, early diagnosis and targeted teaching can enable the development of effective coping strategies, and nowadays talking books, spell-checks and voice recognition software can make reading and writing easier to manage.
Although my own mild dyslexia has often been a nuisance, I would certainly never describe it as a curse; indeed it has probably made me both a more understanding tutor and, given the need to revise even the briefest email, a more meticulous writer. As for the assumption that the publisher of a dyslexic “author” must have “more ghosts roaming its corridors than the Tower of London”, we don’t need the assurance of Penguin’s Tom Weldon that Jamie Oliver “writes every word of his books himself” to realise that someone so articulate, determined and independent-minded is more than capable of getting his own words, rather than those of a ghostwriter, on to the page. After all, Professor Sutherland would hardly suggest that Henry James, whose late great novels were taken down from dictation by an indomitable typist, was the “author” rather than the author of The Golden Bowl.
Dr Judith Woolf
Department of English and related literature, University of York
• Re plans to remove coursework from GCSEs (Report, 12 June), I took exams in 1984 and 1986, including O- and A-level technology and O-level photography. If they hadn’t relied heavily on coursework, I am fairly sure that, like so many with dyslexia, I’d have be consigned to a completely different life to the one I have.
Patients (and taxpayers) should be assured that despite your report (NHS evaluations ‘deter stem cell treatments’, 1 July), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) can and does evaluate and recommend “expensive one-off interventions that are likely to cure patients”.
As we made clear to the House of Lords inquiry into regenerative medicine, Nice has robust methods and processes in place to assess the considerable potential of these technologies on behalf of the NHS through our independent advisory committees. A recent example is our recommendation of the bone cancer drug mifamurtide (Mepact), which is costly but can provide a transformative step change in curing some patients.
These exciting regenerative technologies can benefit both patients and the economy, but as always we have to be sure that we do not displace existing healthcare that is more clinically effective. Our methods continue to evolve so that each new treatment is considered systematically and objectively.
Professor Carole Longson
Director, Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, Nice
Whether or not Unite has used dubious tactics in recruiting members to the Labour party has yet to be established (Editorial, 1 July), but the problem is symptomatic of what has happened to the party under New Labour. Parliament is no longer a truly representative body while working people are not sitting on the green benches. Where are the MPs who are seafarers, printers, shopworkers etc? Working people were represented in parliament until the Blairites determined that they made the party unelectable. That pendulum has swung too far and it’s hardly surprising that the working class feel alienated from parliament and fail to vote. The turnout when working people sat in the Commons was near 70% rather than the dismal turnouts of recent elections. How refreshing it would be to see a nurse condemning the changes to the NHS, a builder condemning the failure to build enough affordable homes or a bank worker condemning the receipt of big bonuses by their employers while they receive peanuts themselves. Let’s have a true representative of the labouring classes as a candidate in Falkirk.
• Phillip Inman warns that Mark Carney “may just be the marketing man that the worst spivs in the City have been looking for” (Report, 1 July) and follows this with the news that “while workers’ pay increases have failed to rise above 2% on average, senior directors and board members have enjoyed rises of 17.8%” (Bonus bonanza for bosses, 1 July). In the light of which, it is hardly surprising that trade unionists should want to return a worker to represent them in parliament. Lord Meddlesome is doing Labour no favours by using the byelection in Falkirk as an opportunity to try to return the party to the days when it was intensely relaxed about City spivs getting filthy rich (albeit with the rider, “as long as they paid their taxes”).
• Unite succeeded in getting one of their members selected as Labour candidate for directly elected mayor of Bristol. He then lost to an independent, apparently because half the Labour vote stayed at home and the rest of the city united against Unite. So Unite imposing its candidates on Labour constituency parties may be a threat to Labour, but seems unlikely to trouble the country as a whole.
• My union, Unite, has followed the rules in encouraging local workers to join the Labour party in Falkirk. The right in the party is panicking at the success of this strategy. However, if ordinary Unite members are to be treated less favourably than other Labour party members and not to be able to play a full part in the party’s democratic process, then the leadership of Unite must draw the logical conclusion – found a new party for working people, with other trade unions, where workers can play an active role in selecting its parliamentary candidates.
Unite Lewisham local government branch
• Len McCluskey should stand as the Unite candidate in Falkirk West and see what kind of MP the actual electorate wants. Sadly, it would be ordinary union members who paid for his lost deposit.
Jo Clarke got an apology from Sainsbury’s after being refused service at a checkout while on her mobile phone – yet another milestone along the retreat from civility.
It is Ms Clarke who should apologise to the checkout assistant. It is common courtesy to acknowledge the presence of a human being with whom you come into contact in the course of everyday life. It is rude to act as if the other person were a mere cipher and to give the impression that your own business is of far greater import than the pleasantries involved in living in the human zoo.
Derek Watts, Lewes, East Sussex
Lack of courtesy can prevail “in reverse” at supermarket checkouts. More than once recently, at the small “basket only” tills of my local Waitrose, where I invariably pay in cash, the checkout girl has carried on a conversation with her colleague while she took my money and handed back the change, without uttering a word to me, the supposedly valued customer.
Alan Bunting, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
Three cheers for the checkout assistant and three boos for Sainsbury’s management. How dare they side with a rude customer against their perfectly reasonable employee?
I have lost count of the times I have asked the person in front of me in the queue to put down their phone while they are being served.
David Thomas, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria
Phone users become oblivious to the world around them. My worst example was the coffee break at a conference where delegates picked up their phone messages. Three of them were standing side by side at the gents, phones wedged on their left shoulders.
Thanks to The Independent for raising this debate.
Phil Wood, Westhoughton, Greater Manchester
Sainsbury’s apology on behalf of a staff member who refused to serve a customer while she was on her mobile raises some interesting questions about modern checkout etiquette.
Powerful consumer technology is enabling time-poor consumers to manage their lives in infinitely flexible ways. Through mobile banking, m-commerce and 24-hour customer support, consumers are now able to engage in multiple service experiences at the same time.
While it is of course imperative that politeness is promoted between customers and workers, it is also important for service staff to recognise the evolving needs of their customers and to manage their experiences in a consistent way.
Ultimately, organisations need to support employees by giving clear guidance and training on how to handle these situations.
Jo Causon, Chief Executive, The Institute of Customer Service, London SE1
Regarding your article (3 July) about the inappropriate use of mobiles, I hope the irony won’t be lost on you that the only method you offered readers to vote on this issue was to scan the page with their portable telephones. It’s clear whose side of the argument you’re on!
If I may “manually” add a voice, “Yes!” – Jo Clarke was rude and inconsiderate and should never have received an apology from Sainsbury’s.
Stephen Clarke, Brighton
One more step towards a police state
Revelations that GCHQ has been monitoring billions of emails worldwide, up to 600 million communications a day, for 18 months under an operation codenamed Tempora, have been described as a “Hollywood nightmare” by the German Justice Minister. GCHQ may not have the resources to read every email they capture, but by electronic screening they can monitor the correspondence of millions of innocent citizens in this country and abroad.
Now a former undercover police officer has revealed that the Metropolitan Police spied on Stephen Lawrence’s family for evidence to discredit them. Whether sanctioned from the top or not, it is clear that elements of both the police and the security services are involved in unlawful spying on innocent people on the off-chance they will catch them doing something illegal.
This country is not yet a police state. Most “stop and search” powers can only be exercised where the police have grounds for reasonable suspicion. They are not legally allowed to stop anyone speculatively, on the off-chance they may be committing an offence.
Yet this is what the security services are effectively doing by monitoring billions of e-mails. They are using the internet for a massive fishing expedition involving millions of innocent people.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, said GCHQ would have been “in breach of the law if it asked for data about UK citizens without the approval of ministers”. It is now obvious that GCHQ has been monitoring the e-mails of millions of people. I believe ministerial approval has to be for intercepting the communications of specific individuals or groups.
Whether GCHQ has been acting with the approval of British ministers, or unlawfully without it, the damage to Britain’s reputation around the world will far outweigh the damage any terrorist has succeeded in doing. It is also likely to fuel even further terrorism against Britain.
Claims that “anyone who hasn’t done anything wrong has nothing to fear” from this mass surveillance are clearly false. If the police and security services can spy on everyone and decide what they are looking for in those e-mails, that would be the basis of a police state.
Any police or security officer who has ordered unlawful activity must be held to account and disciplined or prosecuted.
Julius Marstrand, Cheltenham
US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once asked whom he should ring to speak to Europe. Europe, were it to ring back, might well now ask – who else would be listening?
Will Fyans, London N5
Why do we have to wait for ever at US immigration control? Surely recent revelations about covert surveillance show that they know everything about everyone anyway.
Steven Calrow, Liverpool
Puritanical urge to ban lads’ mags
Hannah Pool’s piece (27 June) uses emotive and sensationalist terms such as “racist” and “sexist” to criticise both “lads’ mags” and those retailers who sell them. What comes later, the more weighty “research”, may or may not prove that such magazines are harmful to society, but that does not mask the puritanical, almost fascist undertones of the campaign to ban them.
There are an awful lot of things more harmful and more worthy of a ban than lads’ mags, and simply outlawing something we don’t like, even if it might have some negative effects on society, has been proven to drive such activities underground and into the hands of criminals and is counter-productive to the aims of campaigners.
Far better to see lads’ mags for what they really are – a recreational activity that serves as a safe, almost laughably soft-core, outlet for the young men who buy them.
John Moore, Northampton
A new model boarding school
Durand Academy has a track record in successful delivery of innovative education projects that raise standards and deliver lasting results (“Gove censured over plan for inner-city boarders in Sussex”, 1 July). The school has invested more than £8m over the last decade to improve choice and opportunity for parents and children.
Innovation in education is never easy. But if no-one pushes the boundaries, we all end up standing still.
This is a new model, but revenue forecasts, capital costs and savings plans for the boarding school have been examined in depth and approved by the school’s financial advisers. The Department for Education has also concluded that Durand’s innovative cost plan is viable – as reflected in the school’s funding agreement with the Secretary of State.
Sir Greg Martin, Executive Head, Durand Academy, London SW9
Chaos spreads in the Middle East
When Blair and Bush dismantled Iraq society without any idea of what to replace it with, it created a domino affect across North Africa and the Middle East. That has left the world helpless as Egypt sleepwalks into the same type of chaotic civil war that is destroying Syria.
When we all celebrated the millennium, little did we know we were entering an era of the most inept politicians this world has ever known.
Brian Christley, Abergele, Conwy
In E M Forster’s “The Machine Stops” (1909), a planet-spanning machine that nobody really understands provides video chat, music, entertainment and everything else people need. Everybody has become flabby and pale, isolated in their own “cell” and never venturing out, despite now “knowing” thousands of other people. Others, as your correspondents have pointed out, may have predicted the technology of the internet. Forster saw the practical results first.
Neil Stewart Nichols, Glasgow
Vera Lustig (letter, 2 July) claims that “circumcision is not illegal”. Any cut through the full thickness of the skin without medical necessity and without the consent of the individual being cut is a wounding in criminal law (Offences Against the Person Act 1861). The current situation is that society tolerates an illegal practice that clearly damages children and the men they will become.
Richard Duncker, London NW1
Vaughan Thomas is quite right in saying (Letters, 2 July) that Labour’s failure to challenge Coalition policies stems from its ruthless pursuit of power. Worse, though, is that in doing so it has cynically abandoned its responsibility to its members, its supporters and democracy itself by refusing to operate as an effective and principled parliamentary opposition.
Kate Francis, Bristol
If the multi-millionaire Lord Freud believes that it is the existence of food banks for the poor that has led to an upsurge in demand for them, he must, by the same token, blame the famine in Ethiopia during the 1980s on Bob Geldof.
Mark Robertson , East Boldon, Tyne & Wea
We are told that we need to pay for brilliant legislators to run the country, yet MPs have no authority to block Ipsa’s recommendations
Sir, The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was set up to reduce controversy about MPs’ pay. The mechanics of pay reviews are a matter of record and should not be a subject of dispute. It would be unfair and unreasonable to expect MPs to forego a transparent procedure that was created in order to avoid the excitement now surrounding a proposed increase. Neither they nor the public have any right to interfere. If some MPs can afford to donate their pay rise to a charity, then let them do so.
Peter M. G. Hime
Sir, On the one hand we are told that we need to pay for brilliant legislators to run the country; on the other, that MPs have no authority to block Ipsa’s recommendations. If there was a problem getting applicants for the job I might believe that a rise was necessary, but I see no sign of that.
Here are a few savings of the sort that any employer in the private sector might make: abolish second homes (buy a London hotel where MPs can stay free of charge when on business); stop subsidising bars and restaurants in Parliament; stop paying subsistence allowances (MPs have to eat whether they are at home or away). Instead of paying office allowances, offices and staff should be provided. Pay travelling expenses at a mileage rate, or set up a staff travel department to make economical travel arrangements. Tax MPs’ expenses in the same way that everyone else is taxed, and if MPs have other jobs, reduce their pay and expenses proportionately. And replace the final salary pension with a money purchase scheme.
If MPs don’t like this, there are 13.4 million pensioners in this country, many of whom would be delighted to take the job at a fraction of the current salary of £66,396 plus £22,750 office costs and an average of £5,500 in expenses. Plus the final salary pension plus a “winding-up” allowance of £53,350 when they retire or get kicked out. The UK state pension is £5,727.
People would be appalled if our MPs were to accept the proposed 10 per cent increase.
Sir, MPs could always revert to a previous arrangement where their pay was linked to that of a Grade 6 civil servant. There would be no problems with a large pay rise, because the public sector is limited to 1 per cent.
Sir, I do not object to electors choosing an MP who already has another job if they wish to have a part-time representative (who may be very good and serve them well). But I do object to an MP receiving extra remuneration arising from the fact of being an MP.
West Linton, Peeblesshire Sir, While reviewing MPs’ pay, a clause should be put in their contract barring them from appearing on reality TV and comedy quiz shows, thus saving them and us from the embarrassment caused.
Sara Blunt Chislehurst, Kent Sir, The gist of your leader “The Price of Politics” (July 2) seems to be that we must expect the probity of our MPs to be in proportion to the size of their remuneration. I find this infinitely depressing.
Pollington, E Yorks
It would be wiser to spend the money on traditional rail enhancements, given the relatively short distances between UK cities
Sir, I am one of the few people in the UK who have had direct responsibility for running a high-speed railway, with London and Continental Railways and Eurostar, its subsidiary.
The rationale for Eurostar/HS1 was the same as for HS2: time equals money. Faster travel means travellers spend less time between locations and being, according to the theory then prevalent, unproductive. The new infrastructure would also generate business and profitable urban regeneration.
I inherited forecasts based mainly on this rationale. It rapidly became apparent that such forecasts were away with the fairies. I spent two years trying to defend the indefensible and knocking some commercial reality into the business. Volume in the first year or so was little more than 10 per cent of forecast.
There are lessons here for HS2. As Tim Montgomerie said (July 1), for most business users travelling time is not unproductive, so that is a limited economic justification.
The very high costs of construction and operation of high-speed rail relative to low-frills air travel on longer journeys and against traditional rail or even coach for shorter journeys will limit the growth of leisure travel.
The benefits in urban or regional development are uncertain and long term in reality. It would be wiser to spend the money — or less money — on traditional rail enhancements, given the relatively short distances between UK cities.
I love high-speed trains, and they can provide an excellent service. But in economic terms HS2 is unjustifiable.
As custodians of a national treasure which must be protected for future generations, British Waterways was boosted by charitable status
Sir, Richard Morrison’s comments on the new charitable status proposed for English Heritage (June 28) come as the Canal & River Trust celebrates its first year as a charity, and I would like to offer some encouragement to English Heritage.
When we proposed uncoupling British Waterways from state control and transferring it to a charity we sought advice. Those in the voluntary sector could not have been more helpful or encouraging. One year on I am pleased to say that the experience has been liberating. Our funding is more stable, we are far more inclusive of local communities, volunteering has risen by a third and we’ve raised more than £1 million to care for our historic waterways. For the first time we can plan investment for the long term.
Our canals and rivers are a national treasure which must be protected for future generations. Charitable status has given our work a huge boost.
Chair, Canal & River Trust Milton Keynes
If it wasn’t for the Russian Army under Marshal Kutuzov, Prussia would not have been able to launch its war of liberation in 1812
Sir, Ivor Blight (letter, July 2) quotes Wellington’s so-called Waterloo Dispatch in which he attributed “the successful result of the arduous day” to the Prussian contribution at Waterloo.
But in his next sentence Wellington dismissed any claims to the victory the Prussians may have entertained: “the operation of Gen. Bülow upon the enemy’s flank was a most decisive one; and, even if I had not found myself in a situation to make the attack which produced the final result, it would have forced the enemy to retire if his attacks should have failed, and would have prevented him from taking advantage of them if they should unfortunately have succeeded.”
Wellington was clearly trying to claim the sole responsibility for the victory, and his mentioning Bülow was another ploy in support of his claim. Bülow was the commander of the Prussian thrust at the village of Plancenoit in the French rear but the village was held by two battalions of the Old Imperial Garde until after the French Army collapsed. The inference was that nothing decisive had been achieved by the Prussians until after Wellington’s army had routed Napoleon.
But Wellington omitted to mention the other Prussian thrust, by Zieten’s Corps. It broke through and routed the French right wing at the same moment as the Imperial Garde’s final attack was broken by Sir John Colborne’s 52nd Light Infantry, which with its comrades in the Light Brigade then routed the French left wing by advancing at speed at Napoleon at La Belle Alliance. The victory was essentially a dead heat.
Sir, It was interesting both to read Ben Macintyre’s piece (“Without Prussia we’d all be speaking French”, June 28) and the letters (July 2) in response to it.
Wellington did jealously guard his reputation as sole victor at Waterloo in the years after the battle, but he was not alone in such behaviour. Nelson was a shameless self-publicist, as were many other British commanders.
I should also point out that if it wasn’t for the Russian Army under Marshal Kutuzov, and perhaps more pertinently, the Russian weather in 1812, Prussia would never have been able to launch its war of liberation two years before Waterloo.
Sir, Your correspondents make no reference to Britain’s allies in the Iberian Peninsula. The determination of Sir Arthur Wellesley to prevent the French seizing Lisbon inspired the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras, a victory without bloodshed when the likelihood of French domination was distinctly worrying.
The successful efforts of Britain under Wellington, together with Portugal and Spain, cleared the way that led ultimately to Belgium and should not be overlooked in the imminent Waterloo celebrations.
The Prime Minister needs to make commitments for cycling to become a safe, enjoyable and completely normal way for people to get around
Sir, The latest figures show cycling on Britain’s roads is increasingly dangerous but the £28 billion for road building just announced (June 28), contained not a penny for cycling, nor any funding beyond 2015 for quality cycle training or promotion.
There is now tremendous backing for cycling. Your Cities Fit for Cycling campaign was echoed by the parliamentary Get Britain Cycling report. This advocated annual spending on cycling of at least £10 per person, while noting that the Dutch spend £24. A petition in support of the report has nearly 70,000 signatures. Yet spending on cycling outside London is less than £2 per person.
Cycling provides huge benefits for our health, communities, economy and environment. It cuts congestion, increases property values, creates jobs, boosts productivity and provides enormous NHS cost-savings.
To maximise these benefits now requires the Prime Minister to make the commitments needed for cycling to become a safe, enjoyable and completely normal way for people to get around, as it is for many of our continental neighbours. That would be a truly worthwhile Olympic legacy.
The Bicycle Association
CTC, the national cycling charity
SIR – Cristina Odone (“Wild horses wouldn’t drag me to phoney Glastonbury”, Comment, July 1) misses out some other attributes of Glastonbury that are the reasons why my wife and I visit two or three times a year.
These include the historic abbey and its beautiful grounds; the quiet atmosphere of the Chalice Well gardens (where mobile phones are not allowed); and the Tor with its amazing views, and lots of fine walks through beautiful countryside.
In any case, the music festival – something of a chimera in contrast to Glastonbury itself, which retains an extraordinary inheritance – is rather a misnomer. The festival takes place miles from the town, in Pilton, and shares little more than its name with Glastonbury.
rary to the flow of opinion in the letters page yesterday, that MPs should be paid more.
However, let the overall salary bill remain fixed, and any increase in pay be funded by reducing the number of MPs. Say, a salary of £100,000, paid to 430 MPs.
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
SIR – When the top Salaries Review Board recommended an increase in MPs’ pay during the Callaghan premiership, we were told that the unions would not like it, and therefore we could have an increase in pension provision and allowances as compensation.
Arguably, this started the rot, which led to the abuse of expenses and when exposed, at a later date, a damaging loss of respect for MPs.
There is more to Glastonbury than the festival
03 Jul 2013
Conservative MP for Kidderminster/Wyre Forest, 1974-1987
SIR – The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is expected to recommend a large increase in MPs’ salaries to £75,000. In the private sector, jobs with a salary at this level carry very clear individual accountabilities, and consequences for failure. MPs, by contrast, have no individual accountability nor any quantifiable measures of performance.
SIR – If MPs feel they deserve more money, perhaps they should be more transparent over what their job involves. While my local MP does a reasonably good job, I’d still like to know the following:
1. Number of hours spent in the House of Commons chamber; number of questions asked
2. Government/opposition positions held; achievements in those roles
3. Committees of which they are members; hours spent in each committee and useful outputs
4. Total amount of correspondence received from constituents per year; how concerns were addressed
5. Number of hours spent talking with constituents; problems raised; outcomes.
SIR – Never mind an increase in MPs’ pay, George Osborne, the Chancellor, should announce a 5 per cent drop in their salary to show that we are all in it together during this time of austerity and cuts.
SIR – Hardly a day passes without an MP expressing concern that the state cannot afford the pensioners’ winter fuel allowance and bus passes. Yet these same MPs, who enjoy pension benefits unattainable for the vast majority of taxpayers, think it’s right that they receive an excessive pay rise.
SIR – With regard to your report “EU referendum law hits trouble” (July 1), there is nothing exceptional in principle about the current European Union (Referendum) Bill, to distinguish it from any other of the referendum Bills over the past decades. These include the European Referendum of 1975, the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Devolution and the AV referendums. Each of these required a Bill to authorise the referendum.
While, in theory, no Parliament can bind its successors, those referendums have all been carried through in practice. Of course, it is open to any future Parliament to repeal an Act of Parliament or a parliamentary order to disregard a referendum, but the same could be said of AV or indeed the European Communities Act 1972 itself.
Bill Cash MP (Con)
Summer holiday fun
SIR – Has everyone forgotten the joy of the last day of summer term, with the glorious prospect of no school for six weeks (“Six-week school holidays under threat as heads get new powers”, report, July 2)?
Education still continues during holidays when social skills and adventure can take place. Teachers never do anything in the last two weeks of summer term, so let’s not moan about not enough school time.
SIR – Parents of young families rely on the present school holiday system – which has worked well since its inception. Imagine the situation that parents who have children at different schools will face if term dates vary. Not to worry, there is still time for the customary U-turn.
SIR – I doubt that teachers will give up their summer holidays.
SIR – Your report (“For a marriage that endures, bite your tongue”, July 2) reminded me that at our son’s wedding, my husband read a poem by Ogden Nash, with the lines: To keep your marriage brimming/ With love from the loving cup/ Whenever you’re wrong admit it;/ Whenever you’re right, shut up.
We have been married for over 40 years.
SIR – I know the answer to Steve Hale’s question about the whereabouts of wasps (Letters, July 2): they are in my garden shed. In a dark, quiet corner of the roof there is the most beautiful nest being tended by many of the creatures.
It has been suggested that I should destroy the nest, but it is far too exquisite a work, and the wasps, so far, are doing me no harm. However, I still don’t know what wasps are for.
SIR – I usually have several wasps’ nests; I found the first yesterday in a bird’s nesting box. I also have a bumble bees’ nest in the eaves of the house.
Rippondon, West Yorkshire
SIR – Around here, the wasps don’t arrive until late summer, once the plums are ripe.
Warnham, West Sussex
SIR – We are proud employers of reservists. We all benefit from the experience, skills and training that our reservist staff bring to their civilian places of work.
We welcome the Government’s proposals to encourage reserve service, and we look forward to supporting measures that are designed to recognise better the employers of reservists. This includes improving communication between the Ministry of Defence and employers of reservists, and providing much greater predictability of reservist training and mobilisation; these will support the vital role businesses play.
We also welcome the training and experience that reservists gain from their service, which will be of real value to them and employers alike. These are all moves that will encourage companies to take a more positive approach to employing reservists.
Sir Mike Rake
CEO, EU Sector
Group MD, UK BAES
Senior Partner and Chief Executive, Deloitte
Managing Director, Manpower Group UK and Ireland
Health, Safety and Employment Issues Director, Oil and Gas UK
CEO Capita Plc
SIR – Julia Hanmer (Letters, July 1) is being rather disingenuous when she says the majority of churches live happily with their bats.
At Holy Trinity Church, Tattershall, we are “lucky” to have between 600 and 1,000 bats roosting in the church, and this involves a great deal of effort in trying to keep the church clean. The bats’ urine has damaged the choir stalls and the memorial brasses have to be kept under cover to prevent it causing further harm to them.
It costs us approximately £1,000 a year for plastic sheeting and cleaning materials. To be in the church late on a summer evening is like being in a nature programme.
Churchwarden, Holy Trinity Church
SIR – I can sympathise with Les Hardy’s problem with gardening tools (Letters, July 1). I still use the fork and hoe that my grandfather used throughout his life as a gardener.
As he was born in 1864, I would estimate that these are both over 130 years old. Will the tools of today still be in use in 2143?
Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire
Workers skilled in the art of classical whistling
SIR – Like Viv Payne (Letters, July 1), who struggles to whistle, I too am failing in the art of sustaining wordless mouth music, but his letter brought back memories.
At the printing shop where I served my apprenticeship, personal tastes in the culture contributed much to enliven a day’s work. My speciality was Bach’s third Brandenburg, while our assistant rendered Rodgers and Hammerstein while washing ink off the presses.
Once, when I launched into the waltz from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, my attention was drawn to a couple of friends in their boiler suits, further up the workshop, performing a respectable pas de deux. The works manager was not amused.
Bernard J Seward
Wellington Hill, West Yorkshire
SIR – Perhaps Viv Payne should take a lead from the Royal Navy. Whistling is prohibited on Her Majesty’s ships on the grounds that “it is seldom tuneful except in the ears of the perpetrator and is apt to be confused with the piping of orders”.
Bere Alston, Devon
SIR – My grandma always said: “A whistling woman and a crowing hen bring the devil out of his den.”
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
SIR – I found a similar problem in my seventies. While whistling softly was all right, I now find that I have mastered the loud whistle by sucking instead of blowing.
SIR – I was brought up to understand that it was “a little bit of fat and a little bit of gristle, that gave the English policeman the strength to blow his whistle”.
Sir, – At this stage of the voting for legislation on the forthcoming abortion Bill, the behaviour of the Government parties is as close to political bullying as one would wish to see. All I can hope is that common sense, not to mention scientific evidence, will prevail. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – There was not one woman among the 24 TDs who voted against the Bill on Tuesday evening, yet they all seem to know best what women should do with their ovaries, wombs, bodies, health and lives. – Yours, etc,
St James’s Place,
Fermoy, Co Cork.
Sir, – If Lucinda Creighton and others were to leave the Fine Gael party, perhaps they might consider calling their new party “Suicidal Fine Gael”? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – If TDs truly represent their constituents, their own religious convictions should not come into it. They are being selfish and forgetful of those who put them where they are. – Yours, etc,
Dr VIVIAN VIAL,
Sir, – I write to comment on Patsy McGarry’s article on abortion (“Church teaching on abortion dates from 1869”, Opinion & Analysis, July 2nd). Mr McGarry twice refers to the early embryo as “a collection of biochemical elements”. But this is a true description of the embryo only in the sense that Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto is a collection of air-vibrations or that da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a collection of specks of paint pigments.
Biology shows us that an individual human life begins at conception when a sperm cell fuses with an egg cell to form a new cell, the zygote (the earliest embryonic stage). This zygote divides into two daughter cells, each daughter divides in two, and so the process proceeds until eventually, nine months later, a baby is born, who goes on to grow and develop into adulthood and old age and who eventually dies.
The zygote is the start of a continuum of human development that ends only in death. The early embryo, far from being a mere “collection of biochemical elements”, is a marvel of sophisticated molecular orchestration. Many details of this orchestration are still not understood by science.
The early embryo works extremely hard at translating and expressing the biological instructions programmed into it, in harmony with cues it receives from its environment. Even at the two-cell embryonic stage a degree of developmental polarisation can already be discerned.
Mr McGarry also wonders why those who accord full human status to the early embryo do not extend this status to the sperm or the egg or to a surgically excised human limb. Again, Mr McGarry is guilty of a scientific misunderstanding. The zygote which begins the human continuum is entirely qualitatively different from the sperm and egg that precede the continuum and from the corpse (or excised limb) that succeeds it. Neither the sperm, the egg nor the excised limb have the power on their own to initiate a biological continuum. – Yours, etc,
Emeritus Professor of
Sir, – The Anglo tapes remind us of one salient point. If only it had been possible for Willie O’Dea to take corporeal form on the night of the bank guarantee, Ireland could have been saved. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Gerry Adams, commenting on the Anglo-Irish tapes, wonders if there is one law for the well-connected, a different law for citizens, and no law for some (Home News, July 3rd).
Perhaps there is one law for well-connected republicans, a different law for citizens, and no justice at all for the victims “disappeared” by the IRA. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I presume that when the man from Anglo told the Department of Finance and/or the then financial regulator that Anglo Irish needed €7 billion, that they then asked him how it had been calculated and how they could be sure that his calculation was reasonable? I presume they would have wanted to double-check his estimate and the basis for it and that their experts would have been able to do that, rather than just take his word for it.
Do I rightly recall a debacle a few years ago where the Department of Finance kept miscalculating a figure (by over a billion) even though there was a paper trail indicating that their miscalculation was repeatedly drawn to their attention and they did nothing about it?
So who have we watching out to protect us and who guards the guards? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I see Edward Snowden has asked Ireland for asylum (World News, July 3rd). Well, that’s one way to ensure we won’t have to entertain the Obamas again. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – How convenient for those countries, Ireland and Finland among them, that application for asylum can only be made if the applicant is already in the country concerned. It now appears that an aircraft suspected of carrying Mr Snowden to any such country would be denied entry into their airspace. Thus such states reward the person who brought to their attention the fact that they and their citizens were being spied upon.
Given that Ireland was even considered indicates the desperateness of his position. Was he not aware that a proposed chewing gum tax was dropped when concern was expressed by US interests at the level of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland?
If we are not prepared to upset such a body, what were the chances that the Irish Government would incur the displeasure of the United States of America?
The disclosures and the reaction of those “sovereign states” to this affair have given credence to the assertions of those who suggest the existence of the “American empire”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – European leaders, including François Hollande, have expressed concern at recent revelations that the United States has carried out surveillance operations in EU offices across Europe. But is this surveillance such a bad thing?
Germany, because of its financial clout, continues to influence EU policy to an unhealthy degree and there are ominous signs that Mr Hollande has hitched his wagon to the German juggernaut. Britain remains weak and directionless, while the rest simply make up the numbers.
To what other power can we turn in order to establish the true nature of EU policies that may have been hatched in Bonn and brought to fruition in Brussels? How much more power will be ceded to Berlin in the future as Germany struggles to balance its books?
The United States, for all its faults, still holds the mantle of global policeman. It is the only democratic country with the resources to keep a sharp eye on the ambitions of autocratic leaders, whether they be Christian, Muslim or agnostic. We should be thankful that we still have access to that priceless resource. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I think it is bad that no country wants to step up to the plate and offer Edward Snowden a refuge.
This young man has done the world a favour by risking losing everything to let us know just what goes on behind the closed doors of those with the most power in today’s world.
Countries, especially in Europe, should be falling over themselves to let him in.
He should be let into Ireland and accommodated in the same luxury suite Michelle Obama was accommodated in and let him tell the rest of us what he knows. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Since, at some considerable risk to his liberty if not to his life, Edward Snowden has performed a service for the European Union, surely the EU has a moral obligation to offer him shelter from prosecution in the United States?
What do we stand for as a European Union, if we cannot stand and defy Goliath at least once in a while? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Has Mr Snowden tried the Vatican? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Among Conor Brady’s 10 suggestions for “reform” of the Oireachtas (Opinion, June 29th), I was disturbed to read his final suggestion that the constitutional protection for TDs and senators travelling to and from either House of the Oireachtas should be abolished.
This “privilege” (although it shouldn’t really be described as such, as it is more of a safety mechanism for democracy) which Mr Brady takes aim at, enshrined in Article 15.13 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, is in place so that, for example, no taoiseach or minister for justice could order the gardaí to prevent a member of the Oireachtas (an opposition member, for example) from attending a vote in the Oireachtas. If it were possible for the government to act in such a way, we would be on a short road to an autocratic state. Mr Brady asserts that “there has never been an instance in the history of the State in which the gardaí have sought to detain an elected representative in order to prevent them exercising their duty”. But perhaps it is because this crucial constitutional provision has been in place that there has been no such incidence of the gardaí being deployed (or taking it upon themselves) to prevent a member carrying out his duty.
In the interests of democracy, I believe that it must remain this way. As one of the leaders of the Easter Rising was fond of repeating to the men under his command in 1916: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. – Yours, etc,
JOHN B REID,
Sir, – So, figures released by the Central Statistics Office (Home News, June 28th) show the Irish economy has fallen back into official recession, with the second largest quarterly economic contraction on record occurring in the January-March period. Shock, or should it be mock, horror!
Nobody should be the least surprised at this “revelation” yet, incredibly it gets front-page headlines. Considering that the elements of the so-called troika (who, as recent reports showed, can’t even agree among themselves) have steadfastly continued on their kamikaze austerity experiment and that our puppet Government announced the introduction of its property tax grab during that period, it’s logical that a cash-strapped public would rein in their spending even further.
So, the economy stagnates and the problem self-perpetuates as every independent, impartial economic commentator has pointed out since about 2008 to deaf ears. The past five years have been like living through some terminally depressing “groundhog day” and with our geniuses set to roll out water charges (nothing I can do m’lud, it’s the EU, you see) in about 18 months, and God alone knows whatever other levy occurs to their febrile minds in between, we can expect only further contractions of this nature. – Yours, etc,
* While the Irish economy was faltering through the machinations of Anglo Irish Bank, contrary to popular belief Brian Cowen saw it all coming but felt helpless to stop it. It was revealed to him in a dream – a dream that was deeply symbolic.
Also in this section
No winners if austerity continues
Sneering at Germans has been deeply hurtful
Fishermen first to know
One night he dreamt he was captain of The Titanic. He stood proudly on the bridge waving to thousands of admirers who lined the quayside.
Once on the high seas he became so absorbed in the execution of what he saw as his exceptional seamanship that he began to notice less and less. For instance, he did not notice the extreme crunching noise or the iceberg that had caused it. Neither did he notice the water that was up to his knees as he stood alone on the bridge.
Suddenly Bertie the bosun arrived on the scene. Is everything in order? enquired Captain Cowen. “There are rumours that we have hit a very large lettuce, nothing to bother us,” said Bertie.
“Rearrange the deckchairs,” commanded the captain. “Aye aye captain” said the appropriately subservient bosun.
“Why is the deck sloping towards the stern,” queried Captain Cowen. “Because we are sailing uphill for the first part of the journey, then it’s downhill all the way to New York,” replied the jovial deckhand.
Soon they were joined by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet seeking permission to look vaguely into the distance whilst holding hands on the bow of the ship, followed by a bit of familiarity on the lower deck. “Would you like to join us?” asked Kate mischievously.
Brian, with an adolescent giggle, replied “No thanks, but I think my bosun might.”
Having sought help from Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, he believed that his dream was not indicative of a secure future in politics, and so became convinced that he would be ill-advised to communicate it to the Dail, all the members being professional dreamers. Besides, he did not want to fuel unfounded gossip about Kate Winslet and his pal Bertie.
More significantly, he believed that the dream indicated that there was a financial disaster coming our way and he did not feel qualified to notice it.
33 Edith Road, Oxford, OX1 4QB
A NOVEL IDEA IN THE DAIL
* Stop the presses! Some TDs are going to vote for what they believe in. This is clearly damaging to Irish democracy, where you vote for what the leader votes for.
How dare they!
* The Fine Gael TDs who are making a stand in defying the party whip in voting against the inaccurately termed ‘The Protection of Life Bill’ can take some comfort from the words of Martin Luther King when he said:
“Cowardice asks . . . ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks . . . ‘Is it politic?’
Vanity asks . . . ‘Is it popular?’”
Lucinda Creighton, Peter Mathews, Brian Walsh, Billy Timmons and others yet to declare their voting intentions have restored my faith in democracy in forsaking political security and standing bravely against leadership bullying in standing up for what they believe to be right.
Terenure, Co Dublin
* The furore and righteous indignation on foot of the private rantings of a group of our banking buffoons and how all this might play with our German friends, is a little hard to swallow, even to someone long accustomed to the delusion and hypocrisy that we seem to do so well here in Ireland.
God help us but didn’t even our President feel compelled to leap to the nation’s defence and assure Europe that this was all “in the past”?
It may be hard to credit but these eejits were considered by the media and political class as the elite. The cream of Irish society.
As for the German angle, it’s worth reminding ourselves that it was the German banking system that provided the fuel for the feeding frenzy indulged in by Anglo and others which finally landed us all in the smelly stuff. Collective architects of a collective demise, methinks.
Stillorgan, Co Dublin
WHEN CONSCIENCE CALLS
* To deprive others of the civil and free use of their conscience for upholding what they consider a correct course of action in a matter as grave as the termination of the life of a human being, is unacceptable. Such deprivation is an unjustified sanction and an attack on their personal moral identity.
Without the effective recognition that every one has a free conscience to guide their decisions and actions, there is no decent democracy and, ultimately, no morals or religion. Conscience is the moral guide and governor in the individual upon which ethics is founded; through conscience we recognise and assent to what is morally true.
So obedience to conscience is our primary moral duty, not obedience to those who force their own judgment on us.
Of course, it is possible for all of us to ignore and disregard our conscience. We may follow our interests and desires, but not the truth of what is right and good, which is what conscience is all about. Yet nature sends us warnings for good reason, the sting and pangs of remorse and guilt that emerge and re-emerge within. That is why we say “I have to live with my conscience”, that is, in harmony with it, not at odds with it.
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy,
UCD School of Philosophy
* Thank you for your coverage of the recent launch (June 26) of the Irish Hospice Foundation report on access to specialist palliative care.
I would welcome an opportunity to clarify one point. It has been reported that there is no hospice service in three regions of the country – the north east, the midlands and the south east. These areas do have a hospice home care service. But they do not have a hospice inpatient unit.
The health service has also acknowledged the need for hospice inpatient units in Wicklow, Mayo and Kerry.
In fact, every part of Ireland has access to a hospice service – the invaluable hospice home-care service. But not every county has access to a hospice inpatient unit. National policy dating to 2001 acknowledges the role of a hospice inpatient unit as a “hub” for the entire hospice service in an area.
If a person lives in a county with no access to a hospice inpatient unit, he/she will be able to use the hospice home-care team and if their symptoms cannot be controlled at home, they will be transferred to their local hospital for care.
If a hospice inpatient unit was in place, they would have the choice of using it rather than dying in hospital.
Chief executive officer,
The Irish Hospice Foundation
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
* The language in the recently-exposed Anglo Tapes brought back sad memories of an otherwise happy holiday in Ireland.
When my wife and I visited Ireland in 2006 we were astonished and upset that the ‘f word’ seemed to be an integral part of discussion in most segments of Irish life.
No matter where we were the ‘f word’ was a regular and, seemingly, necessary component of discussions.
A sad reflection indeed.
Dennis J Fisher
555 Letitia Crt, Burlington, Ontario, Canada