2 March 2014 Lists
I go all the way around the park listening to the Navy Lark. Our heroes are in trouble, again. They have to sort out a mole in their midst? Priceless
Cold slightly better but muddle through sort Doctor Who list
Scrabbletoday Mary wins but gets under400, Perhaps I will win tomorrow.
Frank Rushbrook, who has died aged 99, was a world expert in the problems of fire prevention and control in ships, port installations and offshore structures.
It was in the late 1950s, while he was working as chief fire officer at East Ham, the area of London which includes the Royal Docks, that Rushbrook first became interested in ship fires.
In 1959 a report in The Times recorded that, following a fire on board a ship moored in the docks, the listing vessel threatened to turn turtle. However, “Chief Officer Frank Rushbrook, of East Ham Fire Brigade, wearing a self-contained frogman’s outfit, dived to the flooded lower deck. By closing eight portholes he enabled the ship to be pumped out.” The incident led to the founding of Britain’s first underwater rescue service.
Later Rushbrook returned to his home city of Edinburgh, where he became Firemaster of the city’s South Eastern Brigade. Recognising the need to train firemen and sailors in how to deal with ship fires, he built a mock-up of a ship on dry land, which is still used to train firefighters and mariners in how to deal with conflagrations at sea.
He wrote two definitive textbooks: Fire Aboard and Ship Fires and the Law, a practical guide to recent developments in maritime law. He was also in great demand as an expert witness, called to give evidence on multimillion-dollar claims on ship fires all over the world.
In 1970 he persuaded the University of Edinburgh to establish a Department of Fire Safety Engineering, under David Rashbash. Rushbrook became a regular lecturer and generous benefactor to the new department, inspiring students with his vivid memories of dealing with real-life fires. A laboratory was named in his honour, as well as lectures and studentships.
Rushbrook’s great hero was James Braidwood, who founded the world’s first municipal fire service in Edinburgh, and he became the driving force behind the campaign to erect a statue of Braidwood that now stands in the city’s Parliament Square.
The son of a professional photographer and engraver, Frank Rushbrook was born in Edinburgh on December 6 1914. Aged 14 he left George Heriot’s School to join his father as an apprentice, but business was not good and he decided to join the Edinburgh Fire Service as a photographer. This led on to his career as a fireman.
During the Second World War he served in Edinburgh with the National Fire Service and recalled an occasion when he was sent up a ladder to rescue a woman trapped on the upper floor of a tenement in Leith where the front wall had been blown down by a bomb. The woman refused to be rescued, explaining that she could not leave because she had not got her teeth: “What do you think the Jerries are dropping?” Rushbrook inquired. “Sandwiches?”
Rushbrook took part in the first fire prevention course run by the British Fire Service in 1944, and served as third officer in Leicester and deputy firemaster of Lanarkshire before becoming chief officer of East Ham in the 1950s. He returned to Edinburgh in 1960.
Always a keen swimmer, Rushbrook kept himself physically fit and was still going to the gym and playing golf in his 90s. He was a past president of the Institution of Fire Engineers, and in 1998 was presented with an honorary lifetime achievement award by the International Association of Arson Investigators. He was appointed CBE in 1970.
In 1938 Frank Rushbrook married Violet Mack, who died in 2001. His son, Ian, a well-known financier, also predeceased him. He is survived by a daughter.
Frank Rushbrook, born December 6 1914, died February 17 2014
English Heritage has long been of the view that Smithfield market really matters, and has worked hard over the years to protect it. But, as Rowan Moore says, it is a finely balanced judgment about what should be allowed to happen here (“The bloodless battle of Smithfield“, New Review). I’m sorry that Rowan mistakes our thoughtfulness for fluff. The market’s key components are already highly listed, and it stands within a conservation area. Not only is the area protected, but under government guidance its component parts can be regarded as “heritage assets”, too. We are proud to be the curators of the National Heritage List for England, but would never claim that listing is the only path to protection. We look forward to Smithfield finding a new future which respects its undoubted historic importance.
Late benefits cause misery
Iain Duncan Smith apparently wants to cut child poverty(“Coalition to unveil radical plans to cut child poverty“, News). He could start with two steps which surely even the likes of Cameron and Osborne could not regard as lavishing goodies on the undeserving poor. First ensure that all claimants receive their benefits on time. Late benefits are a major cause of families having to rely on foodbanks. Second, insist that they receive their full entitlements. Official figures show that one million people a year do not receive their full housing benefit. In all, mistakes deprive welfare claimants of £5bn.
Do superstores create jobs?
Your piece on the Margate supermarket debate raises issues old and new (“Facebook stirs up political storm in a seaside teacup“, News). The new aspect surrounds social media. The older aspect is the thorny question of whether or not superstore developers really are “bringing jobs” – or are simply stealing them from elsewhere. Would it not considerably enhance the local democratic process if the government were to produce an up-to-date, authoritative and definitive statement on the alleged job creation by our now dominant big four food retail chains?
Portsmouth Business School
Sochi’s artistic legacy
Despite the obscene cost and the absence of dissent against Russia’s human rights abuses (“For all the nagging concerns, Sochi’s legacy will be sport“, Sport) the Sochi Olympics may have a legacy unintended by Vladimir Putin. Highlighting the home nation’s unique contribution to classical literature, ballet and music in the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies might inspire young Russians to pursue the civilising effect of the arts rather than the greed of the oligarchs and the narrow nationalism of their president.
Strange to say
“…it’s the worst thing that ever happened to our family, worse than the Nazis” (Andrew Sachs, Q&A, New Review). Really, Andrew?
Chelsea is in safe hands
I was disappointed to read your article, “Celebrities unite in local revolt against Chelsea becoming a ‘ghetto of the rich‘”, News. It seems most of what I told your journalist was ignored in favour of a piece that was clearly already written.
Kensington and Chelsea council wants our borough to be thriving, prosperous and lived-in. Sadly, we do not control who buys property or whether they live here permanently, but we are determined to keep the character of the area by preserving its diverse mix of uses. We have protected local businesses and offices by securing an exemption from a change in planning law to allow offices to be converted into homes, we have a policy to protect local shops and pubs, we are consulting on controlling the scale of basement developments, and we are developing plans to ensure new housing developments contain a mixture of different types of home.
It’s unfortunate for Mr Schumi that he and his freeholder have been in dispute for years, but that is not a matter for the council. The Sutton Estate has already submitted one plan, which was rejected by the council, but some of the housing is inaccessible and incapable of further significant improvement and there is the potential for it to become a really attractive, welcoming place for all its current residents to live in.
Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown
Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Kensington Town Hall
Brainy, but maybe not bright
Ray Kurzweil’s pill-popping, weekly injections of dietary supplements and belief in his immortality suggest that he has severely overestimated the time until computers are more intelligent than humans (“Are the robots about to rise?“, New Review).
Dr C Ian Ragan
John Naughton’s article made some important points, but ignores the real problem, the low salaries paid to professional engineers and scientists. A bright pupil will recognise that the stem subjects are hard. So why bother with these subjects, when it is possible to waltz through arts A-levels, go to university, study the same easy options, and get a better, well-paid job on graduation? Until we wake up to this problem we will not get our young studying engineering, technology or science and we will not have a future, let alone a bright one.
John Owen (CEng)
One way for all our young people to have access to the latest development in science and technology, and to solve the debt problem for graduates, would be to waive fees for all undergraduates willing to spend their second year in state schools, as classroom assistants, while writing a dissertation for their degree before returning to university (“Our young people need to study science and technology for a brighter future“, Comment). This would keep teachers up to date with the latest research and enable talented young people to study for a degree.
This pool of talent would overcome discipline problems by changing the dynamics of the classroom and facilitate the use of computer applications, which would eliminate the attainment gap between public and state schools.
Vale of Glamorgan
You present challenging pieces about empowering human intellect through problem-solving mathematics and practical science and technology. You also do well to expose the mechanistic character of high performance in current international test leagues. Yet you render the entire question academic by confirming what has been predicted for over a decade, namely that certainly by mid-century computers and related robots will have overtaken human intellect (“Will 2029 be the year when robots have the power to outsmart us all?“, News). The key singularity will be philosophical, not technical – when, as in Dr Strangelove, the computers refused to obey their masters.
We need a new concept of society in which serving the public becomes a career justifying a decent living wage paid for by those still paying taxes, but also reducing some of those public service costs as presently financed. We need a fresh respect for caring communities and social discipline.
It’s a result of 20 years of decreasing funding. I’m an electronics graduate and in regular contact with a couple of my lecturers 20 years later. They say that lecturing today is more about how much money you can bring in through research funding or attracting overseas students than education.
Every year, they produce 100 EE (electronic engineering) graduates – on average, 70 of these are from Asia and of the remaining 30, around half take jobs in finance or accountancy, which means that only 15 EE graduates take jobs in the UK electronics industry.
The average starting salary as an electronics engineer is £25,000; the average in finance is £40,000. In Germany, you cannot call yourself an engineer unless you have chartered status and a chartered engineer is paid around the same as a doctor.
I got out of engineering within three years of graduating due to the low salaries. It’s the best decision I ever made. Until the UK values engineers as much as other countries I don’t foresee the situation changing.
Shelagh Delaney was a victim of hype. I’m glad her play [‘A Taste of Honey’] has been revived. Now it can be judged fairly
Your article “Risks of nuclear leak sparks call for flood works” (23 February) highlights the risks of climate change-induced flooding to the nuclear waste dump at Drigg in Cumbria. The risks however go much further.
Nearly all the UK’s nuclear power stations have been built on the coast to access sea water for cooling, leaving at least 11 vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Nuclear power stations at Berkeley, Gloucestershire and Bradwell, Essex are virtually at sea level, and Dungeness nuclear plant, Kent is only 2-5m (6-16ft) above sea level and at high risk from beach erosion.
Indeed, accelerated coastal erosion may, for many sites, provide a far greater worry than sea-level rise alone, with the Sellafield complex in Cumbria and other sites, including Sizewell, Hunterston, Wylfa, and Somerset’s Hinkley Point at long-term risk.
While Hinkley Point, where the proposed Hinkley C reactor is to be built, is protected by sea defences and rock outcrops in front of the power stations, the cliff line and shoreline show evidence of erosion by the strong tides of the Bristol Channel and the wind and wave action to which the point is exposed. Nirex believed that over the next 100 years rising sea levels and strong tidal flows would isolate the headland. It concluded that over the next 300 years the area may well be flooded, leaving the site surrounded by sea on three sides. What logic suggests this is a suitable location to build a nuclear power plant?
Friends of the Earth, Nuclear network co-ordinator, Cambridge
The truth is that we as a species have no idea what to do with nuclear waste, to make it safe for the next 300,000 years, its toxicity period. Given that, it would be the height of irresponsibility to commission more nuclear power plants at this time.
Dr Rupert Read
Green Party lead MEP candidate
I read with sadness your article “Thousands of HIV patients go hungry as benefit cuts hit” (23 February). I run a charity for those with autism and last week we had a carer unable to bring a 16-year-old lad to our half-term scheme because she did not have enough money to put on her oyster card. I have had people wanting employment with us fail to attend interviews because they did not have the fare. Travel costs in London combined with benefit cuts are causing those who are already disadvantaged to become prisoners in their communities.
Director, Resources for Autism
As Pete Butchers notes (Letters, 23 February) there is a herd in the room with regards to population. However, as China is discovering, controlling population by limiting the number of children born exacerbates the situation where rising life expectancy places a larger burden on the state, with an enhanced birth rate being the most palatable alternative. The other option would be state-mandated euthanasia in the style depicted in the film Logan’s Run, something even the most charismatic politician may find a hard sell.
And so the news is out – an independent review of the badger cull has declared that it failed in terms of effectiveness, and humaneness. But we need to look to the future – a future in which farmers need an answer to bovine tuberculosis, which is devastating cattle herds. And a future in which badgers are not scapegoated or slaughtered.
In Wales they chose to vaccinate badgers and bring in tighter farming practices, and in the last year have seen a 33 per cent fall in the number of cattle slaughtered. Their way is the right way. I will be reaching out to the new NFU President to say “let’s work together”, as together, farmers and wildlife supporters can beat this disease, without having to beat on each other.
Chief executive, The Badger Trust, and policy adviser, to Care for the WIld, Horsham
Shelagh Delaney was a victim of hype (“A victim of sexism … ”, 23 February). She had all the journo ingredients for a whizz story, they claimed she’d never been to a play. I’m glad her play’s been revived. Now, it can be judged fairly.
No religious bar to stunning animals before slaughter
THE normal method of the slaughter of a food animal, not only in the EU but everywhere in the civilised world, is to stun it before cutting its throat (“Sorry, animal rights can’t hold a candle to religious faith”, Comment, last week).
However much religious representatives say otherwise, throat-cutting causes pain. My professional bodies — the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association — have called on the UK government to require the pre-slaughter stunning of all animals.
Denmark has invoked the right of all EU member states not to allow the exception to stunning. Muslim ritual slaughter allows for stunning. For example, all sheep killed in New Zealand are halal, but they are all stunned first.
Andrew Wilson, MRCVS, Edinburgh
Dominic Lawson seems to have got himself into an awful muddle over female genital mutilation (FGM) and circumcision. Most people feel FGM is an assault on a minor, as is circumcision. To differentiate between the two on the grounds that one is for the purpose of depriving the victim of sexual pleasure or that one bestows unintended health benefits, or to equate either with baptism, seems an almost wilful disregard for logic.
The Reverend Ian Williams, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire
Annoying Heathrow noise travels long haul
LAST Tuesday I greeted a friend about 20ft away outside my house. She cupped her hand behind her ear and looked skywards as a plane lumbered overhead (“Heathrow noise ‘really annoys 1m’”, News, last week). Another friend once brought her 2½ -year-old daughter to visit. To my surprise the little girl pointed upwards and said, “Noisy aeroplane”. A small child, unaware of the political dimensions of Heathrow expansion, was struck by the loudness of the planes. Yet Putney, where I live, is not included on the terminal’s noise-contour maps.
Even though my windows are double-glazed I hear the planes. Liars and lobbyists may split hairs about decibel levels but the acid test is: if you are woken at 4.30am by aircraft, and if you can’t hear what someone a few yards away is saying, the planes are too loud.
Elizabeth Balsom, Putney, London
Even 1m people affected by aircraft noise is a huge underestimate. I moved to Blackheath in southeast London — almost 25 miles from Heathrow — in the summer months, not knowing it was under the turning point for the planes, which fly much lower in winter. The noise was unbearable, with several planes a minute from 4.30am onwards. We were forced to relocate.
We now live in Camden, north London, where visitors are often surprised by the aircraft noise, and have spent thousands of pounds installing secondary glazing with acoustic glass. Neither of these areas is anywhere near those supposedly affected by noise.
Alice Adams, London NW3
Ear to the ground
The government and aviation industry are sticking with the community-annoyance threshold of 57 decibels, despite the research being more than 30 years old. The more recent Anase (Attitudes to Noise from Aviation Sources in England) study published in 2007 has been sidelined — the figures are said to be not “robust”.
However, the 1980s research is itself flawed, because rural communities were not included. The government has been accused of directing the outcome of the Airports Commission in determining the need for additional UK runway capacity. It could start to redeem itself by giving the Anase report an unbiased hearing.
Rachael Webb, Dunton, Buckinghamshire
Breach of the peace
The many people “really annoyed” by noise around Gatwick are also much greater than the official estimates. In addition, far more than 1m people visit the areas of outstanding natural beauty within Surrey, East and West Sussex and Kent every year. As aircraft noise is more intrusive in places where there is low background noise, many of those visitors will find their expectation of tranquillity unmet.
Caroline Tayler, Nutley, East Sussex
Lack of scientific thinking on adapting to climate change
I REOPENED Nigel Lawson’s book An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming on reading his letter “The need to change” (Letters, last week) and found I had made 69 criticisms of his scientific arguments in chapters one and two (spanning 38 pages).
His problem is that he does not think like an experienced scientist. As a result of dismissing climate change mitigation his only line of defence against extreme weather is adaptation — hence chapter three of his book.
But accepting his business-as-usual argument, the limits of adaptation will be relentlessly stretched in terms of effectiveness and cost. In this desperate situation future generations will face former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns”.
AH Roberts, Harrogate
Lawson fails to understand that recourse to wind power and solar energy is an adaptation to the depletion of oil, gas, coal and uranium, not a lot of which will be around by the end of the century.
Wind will soon provide 10% of our electricity and with deep-cycle batteries many householders with solar panels and LEDs are able to live comfortably off-grid.
Whether climate change is real is incidental: the future will be grim without alternative energy.
John Busby, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
EU school visits no junket
THE scheme reported on in your article “Eurocrats take the gravy train back to their old schools” (World News, last week) is organised jointly with governments. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has co-signed letters to UK schools and last week called online for more speakers. The aim is to explain what officials do and to get more British people working in EU institutions. Some who attack the EU as an “ivory tower” seem to object to officials speaking to people and answering questions.
Our staff do not get “two days off work”. Legitimate expenses are paid and they go straight back to work, or, if trips are self-financed, they get an extra day’s leave — without expenses. Finally, officials go alone, not with press officers.
Jacqueline Minor, Head, European Commission Office in the UK
Weighing the evidence in Plebgate case
SIR EDWARD CREW, the former chief constable of West Midlands police, attacked “politicians who have no more knowledge of what happened in Downing Street” than he did (“Protect police from unfounded claims”, Letters, last week). I assume he is referring, among others, to me. Let me put him straight. I went to a great deal of trouble to examine every second of the available video evidence of Andrew Mitchell’s interaction with the police on the night of Plebgate, and compare it with police-sourced “accounts” of the events.
In summary the evidence showed there was no group of shocked onlookers. There was only one member of the public present who was taking an interest in what was going on. Two others passed by, but they were much further away than the other policeman who heard nothing.
It also showed that the interaction between Mitchell and PC Toby Rowland fell into three distinct parts: at the main gate, the move from the main gate to the side gate, where Mitchell was pushing his bike away from Rowland and no conversation was possible, and at the side gate.
The interaction at the side gate lasted about five seconds. I cannot see how the reported conversation of about 40 words can be fitted into that time. I try to apply forensic logic to every case I take up, in this case as in every other. That is what justice demands. I hope Crew would agree.
David Davis MP, House of Commons
I DISAGREE with Michael Gove and, by implication, Christopher Pelling and the 133 signatories of “Classical civilisation passes EBacc test” ( Letters, last week) that the principal goal of education is enlightenment. But then perhaps I would as a father of three, and with a grandchild, plus a PhD in education and training. None of which makes me — or them — right. There are perhaps four basic reasons for schooling: personal development, preparation for adulthood, society and social integration. Family life provides most of this. Hopefully schooling will enhance all four.
Dr Ian Clements, Hove
Regarding two articles on Latin in schools and the language in general (“Giving the gift of ancient tongues”, News Review, and “Salve, Papa Francisce, your Latin tweets are super-frigidi :-)”, Speakeasy, both February 9), I would like to add that Latin and to some extent Greek are now learnt by many as living languages. As for lightweight comments about the Pope’s tweets — they go to show that there is no reliable Latin- English translator online . All return garbled sentences, unless indeed something has been lost in translation.
Frances Petty, Carradale East, Argyll
As a solicitor representing one of those who believes he was harmed in utero by the hormone pregnancy-test drug Primodos (“Victims start ‘new thalidomide’ fight”, News, last week) we face a hurdle. The claimant needs to see and evaluate all the clinical trial evidence available at the time to Schering, the drug’s manufacturer. In spite of formal requests Bayer, which took over Schering in 2006, has refused to release it. It is imperative that there is a system in place that requires all clinical trials, even those of more than 40 years ago, to be made available for scrutiny.
Dr Sarah-Jane Richards, Head of Product Liability, Secure Law, Cardiff
Without diminishing the importance of events in Ukraine, your article entitled “Poorest cannot afford to eat, food minister admits” (News, last week) surely reflects a key issue of our times. “Reform” of welfare is just slashing the budget. The government must be called to account for the impact its policies are having on people in this country.
Dr Malcolm Bourne, Child Psychiatrist, Blackburn
I do hope those who like Tim Rice’s work will realise they are now indirectly supporting UKIP (“Don’t cry for me, David Cameron”, News, last week). Of course, Rice is fully within his rights to dispense his money as he sees fit — as are his consumers.
Mark Dines, Redbourn, Hertfordshire
If someone wanted to destroy all recordings of Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary because it had once been attributed to Henry Purcell, or all copies of The Two Noble Kinsmen because it may have been partly by Shakespeare, there would be an outcry. So how can the granddaughters of Marc Chagall have the right to destroy a painting because someone who wasn’t the artist might have painted it (“Chagall art faces trial by his family”, News, last week)?
Elizabeth Bullen, Southampton
In 1948 the late King Farouk of Egypt said: “Soon there will be only five kings left — the king of England, the king of spades, the king of clubs, the king of hearts and the king of diamonds” (“Yell all you like. Britain will be a republic”, News Review, last week).
Amir Shivji, Kingston upon Thames London
Corrections and clarifications
Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission (email@example.com or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)
Alexander Armstrong, comedian, 44; Jon Bon Jovi, singer, 52; Daniel Craig, actor, 46; John Irving, novelist, 72; Elizabeth Jagger, model, 30; Chris Martin, singer, 37; Harry Redknapp, football manager, 67; Andrew Strauss, cricketer, 37; JPR Williams, rugby player, 65; Tom Wolfe, author, 83; Ian Woosnam, golfer, 56
1904 birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss), writer and illustrator of children’s books; 1949 B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II completes first non-stop around-the-world aeroplane flight; 1956 Morocco gains independence from France; 1969 maiden flight of the Concorde airliner; 1970 Rhodesia declares itself a republic
SIR – Parisians, Romans and Athenians leave their capitals en masse in July and August to spend their holidays in the same places as the British. They are willing to pay high prices.
As British holiday companies book rooms for the whole season, they expect to pay a lot less for high-season accommodation. It is supply and demand, as with any industry, and changing term dates will not make any difference.
SIR – Some MPs have suggested that staged school holidays would help. In Calderdale we had “wakes weeks” in June and September, and so avoided high-holiday rates. They were abolished in the Eighties because the local education authority did not like transferring staff for these different holidays, despite a public poll that showed overwhelming support for the arrangement. Bureaucratic convenience will always win.
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
If the status quo is unacceptable to Mr Cameron, where is he to go (if he wins the election in 2015) with no agreement – which certainly looks impossible by 2017?
Such reform exemplifies unconvincing plastic politics. With the EU, it has been going on for more than a generation.
D R Taylor
SIR – After Mrs Merkel’s speech to Parliament, only a No 10 spin-doctor could maintain that a serious renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership is possible. She said: “There will be no fundamental reform of the European architecture.”
It will, then, be interesting to see what powers Mr Cameron tries to get back from Brussels. And when will he reveal this?
The real choice facing Britain is either to stay in an increasingly controlling EU, as new powers are transferred to Brussels, or to leave and then negotiate a trade and co-operation agreement.
We must decide if our future lies primarily with Europe or rather with the emerging world beyond our continent.
Graham Stringer MP (Lab)
SIR – Large organisations are already preparing to move out of Scotland, should its electorate vote to leave the United Kingdom. It follows that, should Britain vote to leave the EU, banks and other institutions will relocate to the EU.
Britain can ill afford to lose tax revenues from the banks, which contribute one sixth of all tax received by the Treasury.
Financial institutions will move head offices, probably to Frankfurt. Europe would never tolerate the centre of European finance being outside its control.
The EU was spitefully swift after the Swiss referendum on mass immigration. Billions in contributions to joint research programmes have been cancelled. The Swiss are not even EU members. If Britain leaves, retribution will be devastating.
SIR – The Royal Gallery was an appropriate venue for Mrs Merkel’s address, for it features the Daniel Maclise mural of Wellington meeting Blucher at the climax of Waterloo, where the Prussian kept his promise by arriving in time to deliver the coup de grace to Napoleon’s forces.
No politician referred to it.
Cdr Alan York RN (retd)
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
SIR – Conservatives who want to reclaim sovereignty from the EU are described as Right-wingers. Scottish Nationalists who want to reclaim sovereignty from the UK are Left-wingers. How is this possible?
SIR – Colonel Tim Collins (Comment, February 27) was spot on with his assessment of the Good Friday agreement as a “peace at any price” deal.
To my mind there never was a “peace process”. What the government of the day did was in fact surrender to the IRA and concede all its demands, including the release of all its prisoners, and the still continuing Bloody Sunday inquiry.
This leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of those of us who served in Northern Ireland as part of the security services who still remember atrocities such as that at Warrenpoint, where the IRA murdered 18 British soldiers. Where is their inquiry?
The British Government always maintains it will never negotiate with terrorists or surrender to their demands. That is exactly what it did with the IRA.
SIR – It was not the hand of history on Tony Blair’s shoulder. It was the hand of Judas.
SIR – As a retired solicitor, I was appalled by your headline “Victims of IRA bomb cheated of justice” (February 26). The victims are indeed cheated, as are all who believe in the rule of law in our country.
No police officer of any rank, nor indeed the Attorney General, nor any other government officer, has the power to absolve a suspect of a crime where there is sufficient evidence to bring the suspect to trial. Mr Justice Sweeney’s ruling in the case reported has offended my “sense of justice and propriety” by the failure to continue the trial before him.
To allow anyone to grant immunity from prosecution without proper process can only lead to anarchy.
Russians in Ukraine
SIR – Adolf Hitler used the German-speaking peoples in Czechoslovakia to excuse his invasion. Hopefully the Russian people will refuse to allow President Vladimir Putin to emulate him in Ukraine.
Signs of spring
SIR – Colin Heaton (Letters, February 28) is adamant that the first day of spring is the equinox. Logically that would make the summer solstice, June 21, the first day of summer. So the first day of summer would also be midsummer’s day?
Today, even this far north, the grass is growing and the mower needs servicing.
SIR – If the beginning of March is the beginning of spring, it is curious that we persist in maintaining the Greenwich Mean Time of winter until March 30.
Why we do not adjust the clocks two months after the winter solstice, as we made the corresponding adjustment about two months before it, on October 27?
Winter is as much a state of mind as the state of the weather. An extra hour of daylight in the evening during March would lift the winter blues.
SIR – I heard the dawn chorus this morning at six o’clock. It preceded, of course, the banging and hammering of the builders in the village constructing all the new homes.
Assad or al-Qaeda
SIR – We Syrians have lived for decades under a brutal dictatorship that has deprived our people of our human rights. This is what we have risen against, demanding our freedom.
The vast majority of fighters are Syrians who want freedom and are fighting Assad and al-Qaeda at the same time, because Syrian people want neither of them. We just want democracy and civilisation.
The choice in Syria is between democracy and dictatorship, between stability and endless violence. The alternatives are not Assad or al-Qaeda (Peter Oborne, Comment, February 27). This is the story that Assad wants people to believe. But it is a false choice: a guarantee that our country will remain prey to terrorist organisations, drawn into the vacuum created by the Assad regime’s violence. It is Assad’s violent and criminal dictatorship that has cynically enabled and encouraged al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorism.
Spokesman for the Syrian Opposition
SIR – Peter Oborne offers a much-needed critique of the Syrian insurrection.
Undoubtedly Saudi Arabia is the most dangerous, destabilising presence in the Middle East. Why were we surprised when the Saudis refused to take up their seat on the UN Security Council when this would have led to the exposure of their hypocrisy as instigators of terrorism and as the least democratic state in the world?
SIR – Don’t be surprised to learn that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is imposing sizeable car parking fees at Wakehurst Place (Letters, February 28).
Kew Gardens possibly holds a record for inflation beating. At the time of sterling decimalisation, in 1971, the entry price was 1p. Now it is £14, which is an increase of 1,400 times. Would that my pension had appreciated by a similar factor.
Itchen Stoke, Hampshire
Wrong kind of beaver
SIR – The beaver to reintroduce (Letters, February 27) is the Eurasian beaver, Castor fiber, not the American species, Castor canadensis. The former’s dam-building is, allegedly, more modest.
Church choral music in peril
SIR – Llandaff Cathedral has had to release five lay clerks from its choir. As we move towards a more secular society, we are in danger of losing access to some of the greatest music ever written, which can currently be heard free, sung by superb choirs across the country.
Cathedral music is the very embodiment of both scholastic and musical endeavour. To be able to hear Tallis, Byrd, Palestrina, Bach, Vaughan Williams, Howells, Stanford or Ireland drift sublimely to the skies in the most beautiful of structures is surely a tradition worth preserving.
I can appreciate the difficult dilemma faced by cathedrals (and churches generally), of either having to finance the repairing of the roof or maintenance of other services. But should we allow such a tradition to decline, we as a society would wither on the vine and we would have no one to blame but ourselves.
SIR – The thought of non-musical liturgy is awful to contemplate. Here at St Mary’s, we have had no regular, paid organist for years. We are fortunate that our incumbent is a talented musician who has revived a flagging choir and finds time in his overloaded schedule to take choir practice.
SIR – When away from home, I check the music list of the nearest cathedral to choose an expertly performed choral evensong, available on almost every day of the week, with free admission.
Christian worship aside, this is a most important pleasure of our country’s heritage, akin to visiting an art gallery or museum. We must take steps to prevent live English church music falling into neglect and disappearing from our cultural scene.
Madam – As another ‘rag week’ comes to an end, or glorified drinking fest would be more appropriate, we hear about the money raised for different charities.
Also in this section
All well and good, but the reality is that the lives of ordinary decent residents are held to ransom during this drunken orgy, where house parties, damage to properties, urinating on the streets, overturning bins, vomiting where the mood takes, unacceptable levels of noise late evening and early morning, are all the norm.
It would appear that residents living in this region are only second-class citizens with no rights. The promotion and low-cost sale of alcohol during rag week by off-licences and other retail outlets that dropped leaflets into properties near UCC only exacerbates an already unacceptable situation.
There is a need for more robust policing as well as landlords taking responsibility for the behaviour of students in their properties, and UCC must also shoulder responsibility for the large number of students who misbehave in residential areas – and adequately deal with them.
Sinead’s distorted tirade
Madam – Re: Sinead O’Connor’s article, ‘We need to rescue God from religion’ (Sunday Independent, February 23, 2014) – to give a platform to this lady is incomprehensible. Personal views are one thing but distorted ones are another.
After all, this is the same lady who was made a priest by someone who is being investigated for marrying a 15-year-old and 14-year-old.
Let’s get real.
The Sunday Independent is taking a cheap shot at religious and the Catholic Church in general by allowing this tirade by an individual who on past evidence really doesn’t know where she stands on anything other than a negative attitude to everything positive.
When she talks of “church”, is it the Catholic Church, or the Church of Ireland, maybe Presbyterian or Methodist?
This is not explained in her article.
Just who is she attempting to align herself to? She is walking on sand and has been doing so for years.
Carrigaline, Co Cork
MERCY ORDER’S CONTRIBUTIONS
Madam – In last Sunday’s edition an article under the headline ‘Church still evades moral accountability’ stated that our congregation had “flatly refused” to make an additional contribution towards the costs incurred by the State in its responses to abuse in industrial schools.
On the contrary, our congregation committed to making an additional contribution which in December 2009 was valued at €117,506,800 composed as follows: to Cara Nua, the independent trust for former residents: the sum of €20,000,000 cash plus properties then worth €11,590,000; to the State: properties then worth €80,856,800; and to the voluntary sector: properties then worth €15,060,000.
This contribution of €117,506,800 was in addition to the sum of €33,091,114 which had already been contributed and the ongoing commitment of the congregation in contributing to the funding of Towards Healing.
Sr Margaret Casey,
Congregation Leader, Sisters of Mercy
Views on North are ‘blinkered’
Madam – The article by Ruth Dudley Edwards (Sunday Independent, February 16, 2014) was typical of many she has written over the years. In her view of the world the conflict in the North was all the fault of republicans. And the legacy of that conflict is ours also.
She claims concern for the health of the citizens of west Belfast and of the levels of poverty and suicide they experience, and maybe she is concerned for them, but I see no similar concern for the people of Foyle which has higher levels of claimants on welfare, suffers from significant poor health outcomes and has higher levels of suicide than west Belfast. But then Foyle has been represented by the SDLP for longer than Sinn Fein has held the west Belfast constituency and she likes the SDLP.
Ms Edwards also ignores the reality of suicide as an issue for citizens across this island. Last September the annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention concluded that 495 people took their own lives in this State in 2010. Eighty per cent of these were men. A second report from the Suicide Support and Information System (SSIS) carried out over four years in Cork, found more than 40 per cent of victims had worked in the construction industry, and 13 per cent in agriculture.
Men accounted for 80 per cent of deaths – and factors pointed to were unemployment (39.3 per cent), drug abuse (29.4 per cent) and a history of self-harm (31.3 per cent).
There was no conflict in this State to account for the high level of suicide or the numbers of men taking their lives.
Perhaps if Ms Edwards took the time to look at the history of deprivation and ill-health in the North she might discover the very real connection that exists between the legacy of structured political and religious discrimination experienced by the nationalist community under decades of first unionist and then British rule. That’s where the real problem lies and that is one more reason why we need to end the link with Britain and build a new Ireland that can realistically and effectively tackle these issues.
Gerry Adams TD,
Leinster House, Dublin
FROM RUSSIA… WITH HATE
Madam – In the Business section of the Sunday Independent (February 23, 2014), Conor Lenihan in the article, ‘We need to talk about Russia’, maintains we can learn lessons from Russia. “He says that Russia is now experiencing tensions between traditionalists and modernisers over social issues – such as gay rights – which mirror what happened in Ireland in the Eighties over issues like abortion and divorce.”
Anyone who saw the recent Dispatches programme on Channel 4, Hunted, which detailed Russia as a country which exhibits disturbing violence against its openly gay community would find it difficult to stomach such a comparison. The programme showed young gay men being baited and lured into being beaten up and humiliated simply for being gay. An interview was carried out with one young man who had lost the sight in one eye during one of these beatings.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland in 1993, but even before that, Irish people never stooped as low as carrying out similar gruesome acts as depicted in that programme against its fellow citizens on a regular basis.
I suggest that Russia can learn a lot from us regarding respect for its fellow citizens and we needn’t look for inspiration to oligarchs. We all know what the greed and selfishness of a minority in this country resulted in.
NOISE DROWNS OUT ‘SIVE’ DIALOGUE
Madam – Reading Emer O’Kelly’s review of Sive at the Abbey, I wondered if I had seen the same production. I was very disappointed with the interpretation.
I found the shouting so loud that the often incisive and perceptive dialogue was lost.
Sive was believable, Mena, the wicked aunt, did show her humanity – but everyone else seemed determined to make the most noise.
But, the most unrealistic performance came from Sean Dota, an aged bachelor farmer, who looked more like a retired civil servant, or a remnant of Celtic Tiger Ireland.
I’ve seen far better amateur productions.
Kilmallock, Co Limerick
SOMETHING ROTTEN IN STATE OF IRELAND
Madam – So Colm McCarthy thinks the Irish people are over-reacting by believing that corruption is widespread in Ireland. He is using a very narrow definition of corruption. The dictionary says that corruption is “dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain”.
I would ask if a person holds a job in the public sector and does not do their job properly is that not corruption? A whole list of people had jobs paid for out of the public purse with responsibility to the taxpayers. Instead their loyalties lay with the politicians who gifted them their jobs. Is this not corruption?
Public cynicism about the way the country is being run is justified because bad decisions are being taken. There are no votes in doing the right thing. That is certainly morally corrupt.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
HORAN’S BOND MISSION ‘A FARCE’
Niamh Horan’s article on doorstepping Timothy Dalton (Sunday Independent, February 23, 2014). I found the premise of the article — tenuously linking Dalton to the GSOC offices via a role he played in the late Eighties — to be a farcical justification for bothering a private citizen to get herself a few lines of print. I suggest she finds better uses of her time.
PATHOLOGIST OFFICE LACKS FUNDING
Madam – I would like to comment on the item, ‘Expert staff shortage puts pathologist’s office under pressure’ (Sunday Independent, February 23, 2014). This office is not fit for purpose. Successive governments have ignored the many pleas over the years to bring this office up to acceptable standards in the area of forensic medicine and suspicious death investigation.
The review of the coroners’ service in Ireland in 1999, included a submission from Dr John Harbison outlining the lack of mortuary and X-ray facilities needed to carry out a forensic autopsy. In 1997, Dr Harbison appealed for funding to address this very issue.
A defendant is entitled to a complete forensic autopsy report to assist him or her in their defence against a charge of murder. It appears, that even defence teams are not interested in seeking out evidence that can be of benefit to clients.
This begs the question: why was the bog body Clonycavan man, exhibited in the National Museum, afforded a gold-standard forensic autopsy? This was remarkable, as the information was never going to be served in a book of evidence.
Kieran Doyle, Cork
FIANNA FAIL CHIEF IS NO COSGRAVE
Madam – I was rather amused to read in the Sunday Independent (February 23, 2014) Eoghan Harris (Labour looked after Shatter, and their pensions) comparing Micheal Martin going to the Taoiseach with a garda dossier as akin to Liam Cosgrave in 1970 on the importation of arms.
To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle, Martin is no Cosgrave. In fact Martin admired Haughey of 1970 fame, a man who subverted the State as Mr Harris alluded to when Haughey passed away in 2006.
DAIL COMEDY JUST A DISTRACTION
Madam – Sometimes the uproar in the Dail is amusing. Who’d want to be a Ceann Comhairle? His hands, in the air, lips moving, couldn’t be heard as all are shouting at same time. It is comedy.
Or is it a ploy to distract from issues like the disappearance of billions of euro, of accountability and of decency and common sense. We sure live in a crazy world amid unrest, injustice, waste. This sad old earth is in need of some mirth. And the Dail can supply that.
Your columnist is out of her depth
Your columnist is out of her depth Madam – I was surprised at your alarmist and unfounded piece by Fiona O’Connell on water fluoridation (‘Argument for fluoridation doesn’t hold water’, Sunday Independent, February 23, 2014). It is hard to know where to begin in criticising the serious flaws in this piece.
Hydrofluorosilicic acid is not banned by the EU. In fact the European Parliament has declared that there are no legal concerns with water fluoridation as long as the limit of 1.5ppm is maintained – a position that’s far from a ban. Most of the other comments in the article on the chemical nature and origins of fluoride for water fluoridation have a similar relation to the truth.
The linking of a shopping list of complaints to water fluoridation is scaremongering at its worst and wholly unworthy of your paper. There is no evidence for any of the claims made, and to print an article that doesn’t make it clear that this is merely an opinion is appalling. No mention is made of the fact that the USA provides fluoridated water to roughly 70 per cent of its population. This is not a uniquely Irish phenomenon – and neither, sadly, are the opponents the issue attracts.
Newspapers that touch on science should at least be reviewed by someone with the relevant expertise, so as to avoid undermining one of the few successful public health initiatives in Ireland.
Cllr Padraig McLoughlin,
Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
FLUORIDE CLAIMS ARE NOT CORRECT
Madam – It is with shock and dismay that your paper has given publicity to the campaign against fluoride (Sunday Independent, February 23, 2014).
Has Ms O’Connell researched all the scientific claims? It is widely known within the international scientific community that fluoride, at correct levels, is not harmful.
In Ireland the levels in our water are safe, and indeed are below the EU recommendations. Fluoride in water is not banned by the EU. The EU allows each individual country to decide if they administer it, and how. Parts of the UK are fluoridated. Germany fluoridates through salt. The USA and Australia also fluoridate their water.
In this country depression and other mental health issues are a real problem. The rise is due to many factors including alcohol, drugs, obesity and stress. Some forms of depression are genetic and hereditary. To claim fluoride is the reason is very dangerous.
I’m sure Ms O’Connell meant well, but I hope that any further reporting in your paper on this issue will be well researched, as opposed to opinion.
Clonmel, Co Tipperary
HEALTH OF IRISH PEOPLE IS AT STAKE
Madam – Irish Water has an urgent obligation to immediately take on board the issue of fluoride. The health of the men, women and children of Ireland is at stake. Other countries were quick to recognise the risk and take the appropriate action. Columnist Fiona O’Connell wrote a timely and very informative article on the subject last week (Sunday Independent, February 23, 2014).
Our Department of the Environment developed a National Drinking Water Monitoring Programme in 2004 to ensure our testing regimes and standards were in line with European drinking water standards. Isn’t it strange, then, despite 98 per cent of Europe rejecting water fluoridation, that Ireland and Singapore remain the only nations with mandatory fluoridation policies?
Our Environment Department and Irish Water must take the problem in hand before any charges are made.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
KEEP ISSUE OF WATER CURRENT
Madam – Thank you for finally covering the water fluoridation problem in Ireland. Please continue to keep this argument current, especially if they are to charge us for this water.
Rush, Co Dublin