Sun and rain

Sun and rain 25th May 2013

I trot round the park today and listen to the Navy lark. I Oh dear, oh dear
Admiralty are having a secret meeting to discuss how to keep Troutbridge out of the fleet exercises. All the Admirals get to do their party pieces,in the end they decide to tell her nothing. So all theo other ships steal off in the night leaving Troutbridge all alone. Priceless.
A quiet day off sun hang out the washing rain bring in the washing sun rain sun rain. Off out to post a book sun rain sun rain, my gooodness
Mary wins at Scrabble today, just and gets just over 400, I might get my revenge tomorrow, I hope.


Alistair Campsie
Alistair Campsie, who has died aged 84, was a former officer in the Colonial Service in Africa and became a writer and hotelier in Scotland; but he was best known for his controversial views on the art and history of the bagpipe.

Alistair Campsie 
6:23PM BST 24 May 2013
As two of the main characteristics of the instrument are the continuity of sound and the absence of any means of varying the volume, south of the border many might suggest that the best way to play the instrument is with a pocket knife. Yet debates about correct method and the traditions of playing arouse great passions in Scotland.
Campsie’s problems with the piping establishment began in 1980, when he published The MacCrimmon Legend: the Madness of Angus MacKay, in which he challenged one of piping’s most cherished legends.
The MacCrimmons, who lived on the Isle of Skye, were, according to the tale, a family of hereditary pipers who originated piobaireachd, the classical pipe music of the Highlands.
Celebrated in verse by Sir Walter Scott, the MacCrimmons are honoured in the form of a cairn overlooking Loch Dunvegan, erected in 1933 and paid for by clan societies around the world. In translation the Gaelic inscription reads: “The Memorial Cairn of the MacCrimmons, of whom 10 generations were the hereditary pipers of MacLeod and who were renowned as Composers, Performers and Instructors of the classical music of the bagpipe. Near to this post stood the MacCrimmons’ School of Music, 1500–1800”.
Campsie argued that the legend was a hoax and attempted to show that almost all the “MacCrimmon” piobaireachd pieces had in fact been appropriated from elsewhere. Even the famous MacCrimmon’s Lament , supposedly composed by Donald Ban MacCrimmon during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, Campsie argued, was stolen from the victims of the Clearances, who sang We Shall Return No More as they waited for the boats to take them from their native land.
In particular, Campsie investigated Angus MacKay (1812-59), Queen Victoria’s first piper, whose name appears on a collection of piobaireachd (which until then had mostly been passed on through oral tradition) published in 1838. According to Campsie the “self-appointed piping Establishment” had claimed that “Angus MacKay’s father, John, had been taught by the MacCrimmons and had handed on their music unchanged to Angus…”
Yet the MacCrimmon propagandists, Campsie maintained, had concealed the truth that MacKay was probably clinically insane from the age of 20, long before most of his work was written, and was dragged off to Bedlam after an indiscretion at Windsor Castle involving the Queen when he was raging drunk with “ardent spirits” at Christmas, 1853; he was certified insane in 1854.
Though he was later diagnosed as “the most violent patient in England”, MacKay’s deranged musical settings, Campsie alleged, had been accepted in piping circles as piobaireachd Holy Writ. “The Establishment, headed by two minor lairds who were also judges, then corruptly forced pipers to play Angus’s disturbed versions. Those who refused… were fraudulently denied their rightful gold medals, clasps and cups at historic Highland gatherings, in the process killing off the traditional settings of the music.”
The book caused outrage. The Piping Times, the monthly bible for enthusiasts which had always supported the MacCrimmon Legend, launched a blistering attack on the author, its fury buttressed by some obvious errors in the book. Campsie claimed that someone had tampered with the manuscript in order to bring him and the book into disrepute and later appealed to libraries to insert corrections.
According to Campsie’s obituary in The Scotsman, the book “led to years of mutual tirades and even legal battles”. On his website Campsie claimed that he and his family “were made homeless, my writing career was ruined, and I was hounded into a heart attack from which no one knew how I recovered. I was told the next could be terminal.”
Alistair Keith Campsie was born in Inverness on January 27 1929. His father played lead violin in the Scottish Orchestra (now the Scottish National Orchestra) but, finding it hard to make ends meet, moved his family to England, where he supplemented his income from music by working as a painter and decorator. After the Second World War, they moved back to Lanark.
Alistair attended Lanark Grammar School and went on to study at the West of Scotland College of Agriculture in Ayr. In 1949, aged 20, he joined the Colonial Service and was posted to Sudan, and later Nigeria, to oversee agricultural projects. He always enjoyed writing, and created and edited the East African Farmer and Planter, the first magazine published in English and Swahili.
Later, after spells as a stringer for British newspapers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar, he returned to Scotland to work for the Weekly Scotsman, and later for the Scottish Daily Mail and the Scottish Daily Express in Glasgow. When, during an interview with Cary Grant, the actor told him about the self-hypnosis technique he had used to give up smoking, Campsie, a heavy smoker, tried it himself. It worked and he later turned the experience into a book, Cary Grant Stopped Me Smoking (1991).
After his retirement, in 1974 Campsie and his wife bought a former coaching inn at Barr, Ayrshire. Five years later they bought a hotel in Montrose which Campsie renamed The Piper’s Private Hotel. They retired from the hotel trade in 1995.
Campsie’s other books include The Clarinda Conspiracy (1989), about Robert Burns, and a novel, By Law Protected (1976).
Campsie had played the pipes from childhood and, during his travels in Africa, always carried his instrument with him. Once described as one of Scotland’s finest amateur pipers, he was a keen proponent of the more rounded Cameron style of piping (against the more clipped MacPherson style), having been taught by Pipe-Major Robert Reid, a man described in his lifetime as “The King of the Pipers”.
Until the end of his life Campsie kept up his campaign against the piping establishment on his website, and passions continue to run high even after his death. An article on the website of the Glasgow-based College of Piping noted that, “like similar anti-establishment snipers”, Campsie was “seldom seen at any gathering or competition, preferring his own narrow, visceral polemic to opinion formed through social discourse and reasoned argument with fellow pipers”. The article went on to add, in a slightly more conciliatory tone: “Still, piping needs people like Alistair Campsie. ”
Alistair Campsie married, in 1963, Robina Anderson, who survives him with their daughter and two sons.
Alistair Campsie, born January 27 1929, died April 21 2013


Barbara Richardson writes: The films made by Joyce Robertson and her husband James had a huge impact on me as a trainee social worker in 1969 and still inform my views on childcare and parenting. They deserved a much wider audience: the messages in them are still relevant for every carer who looks after very young children.
I was once told that the film about “John”, a powerful study of the breakdown, in a very short time, of a small boy in residential care, could not be shown on TV because “it is too harrowing”. It would be a timely reminder to policymakers seeking to increase the number of children looked after by one carer if the Robertsons’ work could be the subject of a television documentary.
Malcolm Pim writes: While training as a social worker, I absorbed much from the Robertsons’ Young Children in Brief Separation films. Together with the then relatively recent work of John Bowlby on maternal deprivation, their work is still an influence, if not often acknowledged. The current theories around attachment, of course, stem directly from their work.

After three years of Tory-Lib Dem coalition, our economy remains in the doldrums, performing much worse than that of the US, where President Obama has achieved a deal of stimulus despite obstruction by Congress. We have a health service under increasing pressure and sliding with government encouragement into private hands; we have education being planned by the whim of a secretary of state whose latest wheeze is schools run by army officers; we have a welfare state re-engineered to produce homelessness, hardship and ever-growing child poverty.
Small wonder that more than 60% of the electorate disapprove of what this government is doing and want them gone, though how that will pan out in seats in the parliament to be elected in 2015 is uncertain. It is possible that the arithmetic might allow for the Labour-Lib Dem coalition that Martin Kettle is now advocating (Comment, 23 May), but politically at this moment the Lib Dems are part of the problem – they have voted solidly for every one of those Tory measures – and not part of the solution.
Is a politics in which the Lib Dems spend five years in alliance with the Tories demolishing the welfare state and the next five years in alliance with Labour rebuilding it for real? Either they believe in what they have been voting for or they don’t; and in either case, what credence can be put in them post-2015? The illusion that the Lib Dems are a progressive party is one that Martin Kettle has been peddling for years, but with Nick Clegg recommitting to the coalition with David Cameron to the bitter end, it should surely be clear even to him it has reached its sell-by date.
Pete Ruhemann

David Collier, England and Wales Cricket Board’s chief executive, reckons that cricket is in rude health at all levels (Report, 22 May) and that participation in grassroots cricket has increased over the last eight years. This must be a different game than that which I follow every summer weekend, as an official of the New Victoria CC in the Southport and District Amateur Cricket League. Hardly a season goes by without teams and whole clubs folding for various reasons. Even worse the Merseyside Competition, founded in 1929, was gradually undermined until it was left with hardly any teams. The Saturday section of the West Lancashire League went the same way. It would be interesting to know if this was the case in other parts of England and Wales and my guess is that it is.I wouldn’t be too confident about participation statistics. I can never remember us being asked, from above, how many members we had, young or old. Where Mr Collier’s figures come from, who knows? What I do know is that teams are still playing on grounds where the pitch care is nominal and where players get changed in cars and behind bushes. Far from being “one game”, there are the haves and the have-nots and most of the money goes to the former.
Dave Addison
Southport, Merseyside

Simon Jenkins has shown courage in connecting the criminal outrage in Woolwich with the participation of the UK in the use of drones to destroy whole village communities in Afghanistan (An echo chamber of mass hysteria only aids terrorists, 24 May). He is surely correct when he poignantly remarks: “Of course, people should be able to walk peacefully down the street in London. They should also be able to walk peacefully in Kandahar, Yemen or Baluchistan.”
We should be very grateful that our home-grown religiously inspired fanatics have not yet got their hands on a Hellfire missile, the standard weapon of choice used by Predator and Reaper drones operated by the US and UK in Afghanistan, and by the US in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. This missile can carry an anti-personnel charge which allows one missile to kill dozens, even hundreds of people. It is not difficult to imagine more sophisticated jihadists being able to mount such a missile on the roof-rack of a car (they weigh about 100-150kg), perhaps hidden in a roll of carpet. It could then be fired into a crowded market place and achieve a kill-rate comparable to that obtained in Afghanistan by the drone pilots based at RAF Waddington.
As Menzies Campbell correctly points out (Syria needs help but it does not need arms, 24 May), if William Hague gets his way and is allowed to supply sophisticated weapons to the Free Syrian Army, they will inevitably end up in the hands of the jihadists of the al-Nusra front. According to most reports, the latter is now doing the bulk of the fighting in Syria on “our” side and might demand access to the most effective weaponry from the FSA. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that they would not mind supplying the odd missile or two to their fellow religious fanatics in the UK. It is even said that UK-born jihadists are already fighting in Syria with al-Nusra.
Dr David Hookes
• President Obama has defended his country’s drone attacks as “legal, effective and a necessary tool in an evolving US counter-terrorism policy” (Report, 23 May). According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Obama approved 300 drone strikes in Pakistan alone between 2009 and 2012, that killed 2,152 people, including 290 civilians, 64 of whom were children. This is a higher death toll than the Bush administration in the period 2004-09, which launched 52 strikes, killing 438, including 182 civilians, 112 of whom were children. This comparison bears close scrutiny for those – including the Nobel Foundation – who feel that Obama represents a turn to a more enlightened page in US history. 
Stephen McCloskey
Centre for Global Education, Belfast

Illustration by Gary Kempston
I wholeheartedly endorse the anti-war sentiments expressed by Jude Law et al (Letters, 22 May). It may be worth reminding David Cameron, before he goes on to mark the anniversary of the first world war with a “truly national commemoration of national spirit”, that the so-called “war memorials” erected throughout the land after the war were originally called “peace memorials”. If you look at two politically neutral guidebooks, in Arthur Mee’s The King’s England, in the 30s, you will see them referred to in a quite matter-of-fact way as “peace memorials”, whereas three decades and another world war later, Nikolaus Pevsner’s The Buildings of England describes them as “war memorials”. Let any modern memorial mark that peace, and remember with humility the suffering and sacrifice on all sides rather than by taking pride in “national spirit”.
Austen Lynch
Garstang, Lancashire
• So David Cameron plans to spend £55m commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the first world war. I trust he will commemorate the West Indies Regiment. On 6 December 1918, 180 sergeants forwarded a petition to the secretary of state complaining about the levels of pay, which were much lower than for white troops, and the failure to increase their separation allowance, as well as discriminations in promotion. On the same day, the men of the 9th Battalion revolted as they had been forced to work as labourers, including cleaning the latrines of the Italian Labour Corps. So shall we also be commemorating British racism during the war?
Marika Sherwood
Sr research fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London
• David Cameron is unlikely to take the good advice of Jude Law et al and “promote peace and international co-operation”, especially given his current Ukip infatuation. However, individuals can decide to wear “never again” white poppies in 2014 as a reminder that, in almost all cases, war is a choice and peace an alternative. In doing so, they would also show sincere respect for those who have died or been wounded in war by signalling that they do not want such avoidable loss and suffering to happen again.
Richard Stainton
Whitstable, Kent
• If Martin Adams (Letters, 22 May) had read the article on the previous page by Guy Standing, about the progressive stripping of social security rights from working and unemployed people since the time of Margaret Thatcher, perhaps he would not have written about “the acts of bravery that helped ensure that this and other nations were not enslaved”, since that enslavement is precisely what so many of the unemployed, the disabled, the low-paid and the mentally ill experience as their daily lot.
Fr Julian Dunn
Great Haseley, Oxfordshire
• I thought the whole point of continued remembrance of the two world wars, and all wars, was to help to avoid starting another. Every November, across the world, there are thousands of services where lines from poems of Laurence Binyon and John McCrae are spoken: At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them (For the Fallen); If ye break faith with us who die / We shall not sleep, though poppies grow / In Flanders’ Fields (In Flanders’ Fields). Are these words not meant to be taken to heart?
K Vines
Yelverton, Devon
• The first world war was labelled the war to end war. The second world war, the war to end tyranny. War and tyranny still flourish. Both wars were failures. Those who died or were maimed for life fighting or sheltering from bombing or fleeing or starving were not the only casualties. Their families, their communities, their nations and their economies were all deeply affected for many years. At 88, my memories of both wars – my parents’ and my own – still bring me to tears. They failed. We need, as communities, to remember the suffering wars bring about, to recognise that to try to solve conflict by violent means, by war, will fail. I shall be adding my name to and urging my friends to do the same.
Audrey Urry
Bridport, Dorset



I send my sincere condolences to the family, friends and comrades of the brave soldier who was so barbarically slauhtered.
The lady who challenged one attacker is a very brave woman, as is the one who held the soldier’s hand while he lay dying.
When told by a cleaver-wielding maniac that he wanted to start a war in London, his challenger replied that it was just him against everyone else and he would lose. We must all unite against this atrocity and recognise this is a vile act by extremists who are pure evil.
Wendy Keelan, London SW16
What compels me to write this is the sheer brutality and inhumanity of the brazen attack. By bringing God’s name into it, they have actually defiled His name.
The police need to be commended for keeping their cool in such a trying situation and capturing them alive by wounding, not killing them in anger. It will now be possible to find out when and where these individuals became “Muslims”, who was their mentor and how many others are being “educated” that way.
Looking at the stills, the suspects do not appear to be mentally ill but they certainly have been brainwashed and their humanity has been turned around. It is a picture of a cult and not any religion, let alone Islam.
The government, past and present, has made mistakes but this is not the time for counting faults and failures. This is a time to come together and listen to each other. The secret services, the police and the communities need to come together and work together to root out this evil. 
One may consider some to be “swivelled-eyed loons” but let us accept the possibility that even those may come up with something sane which needs to be listened to. Keeping aloof will just increase the distance, and it is only by coming together that we can reach understanding and respect for each other.
Dr M Naseem, Chairman, Birmingham Central Mosque
A soldier is hacked to death on the streets of London. The violence is deplorable, but no amount of propaganda (by Boris Johnson and others) can gloss over the reality that we are at war.
We might try to sanitise it, by ensconcing our pilots safely in Lincolnshire as they control drones wreaking bloody havoc on tribal communities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and by our media failing to report deaths of Afghans, but there is no escaping the truth that war is disgustingly violent. Yes, Britain’s present enemy is too poor to send planes to bomb the towns and villages of this country, but this doesn’t mean that we should be astonished, or deem it a “national emergency”, when supporters of the Taliban choose to take violent action on our streets, using what limited weapons are available to them.
Phil Harriss, Brill, Buckinghamshire
The killing in Woolwich is sickening and our thoughts are with the victim’s family. Such acts are incompatible with Islam.
The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the drone attacks on Pakistan and other colonial interventions were eventually going to lead to such acts but Bush and Blair decided to ignore that.
Instead of preventing terrorism, these wars caused more terrorism. It is pathetic that the racist opportunists of the EDL and the BNP will use the loss of a life to justify more hatred and violence.
Mohammed Samaana, Belfast
If the planned brutal daylight killing of a British soldier by terrorists was to get maximum worldwide publicity for their cause, then they got it right, but the worry now is, will there be copycat killings by other like-minded would-be terrorists? The dreadful dilemma for the press and TV is whether to cover in macabre detail the acts of terrorism, doing what is basically their job to report events accurately and honestly, or to deny the terrorist the publicity by restricting reporting.
There is no clear policy in this, becauses we see modern technology with personal mobile phones and cameras overtaking conventional reporting and news coverage, with no holds barred.
Dennis Grattan, Aberdeen
Given the tidal wave of media Islamophobia, I trust some space will also be found to remind people of the criminal convictions of the leaders of the misnamed English Defence League.
keith Flett, London N17
One might take more note of the position of some extremists about Western soldiers killing Muslims if it weren’t the case that extremists were killing so many Muslims themselves.
Howard Pilott, Lewes, Sussex
National statistics show that about 300 people die from knife attacks every year. Few of these cases fit the media’s priorities, which to many appear racist, jingoistic and hypocritical.
Last month, 75-year-old Mohammed Saleem Chaudhry was fatally stabbed returning from prayer, in what police believed was a racist attack.
Theresa May did not recall Cobra. BBC News24 did not fill hours of air time asking local people if they felt safe (from whites). Newspapers did not print letters telling the “white” community to get its house in order.
Dr Gavin Lewis, Manchester
After the appalling slaughter of the young serviceman we, as a nation, must stand together in a very visible way.
Please, please buy a “Help for Heroes” T-shirt and wear it to show your support and solidarity with our brave armed forces. The most efficient way to defy those who seek to murder our troops is to wear a “Help for Heroes” shirt with pride.
Henry Page, Newhaven, East Sussex
MPs face pay rise of up to £20,000
A basic salary of £65,738 plus expenses is not enough for our MPs (report, 22 May).
Their pay body believes they’ve been working so  hard at choking off economic recovery that their pay should go up by £20,000 a year, with our average wage at £26,500 and the public sector in a pay freeze.
Arrogant politicians could take a few lessons from socialist councillors, who get only the average wage of the people they represent and fight the corner of ordinary people?
Daniel Pitt, Mountain Ash, Mid Glamorgan
Seeing the future
During my first week at teacher training college in 1945, a lecturer said, “The 1944 Education Act is now in place. We now have a Ministry of Education. The time will come when politicians will tell teachers what to teach and how to teach it.” Now we have Michael Gove. How lucky I was to teach when I did.
Ray Steele, Barnstaple, North Devon
Giant step for man
John E Orton (letters, 23 May) would have problems with his idea of walking tours across Hadrian’s Wall to gain illegal entry from Scotland. The Wall lies entirely within England. At no time does it lie near the border. In fact, its eastern terminus at Wallsend is almost 70 miles south of Scotland.
Philomena Lewer, Morpeth, Northumberland
Was Mary right?
With the revelations about Jimmy Savile et al, was the much-derided Mary Whitehouse much nearer the truth about morality at that time than many of us would care to admit?
Patrick McCausland, Seaford, East Sussex
Muslim radicals shame forefathers
I am a peace-loving atheist, disgusted by what is being done in the name of religion. To all young British Muslims who desecrate the Union Jack or burn poppies, I say you are doing a grave disservice to your forefathers.
In two world wars last century, four million Indians (including those who would later become Pakistanis) volunteered to fight alongside British troops to protect our country from Nazidom. Asian combatants were involved in every theatre of the Second World War. One-third of these volunteers were Muslim.
Some 27 Indians were awarded our highest military honour, the Victoria Cross, for their extraordinary valour. Rather than hail Bin Laden as a “hero”, young British Muslims should revere forebears such as Sepoy Ali Haidar, whose courage in Italy earnt him a very worthy VC.
Tens of thousands of brave Asian men died and many more were wounded fighting for Britain, so let’s not forget that.
To all those uneducated EDL thugs who talk about “Our country being overrun by Pakis”, you should learn more about our past reliance on foreigners, rather than attacking those who live among us, for being different. You are wrapping yourselves in a flag soaked with the blood of Asians who also fought the Nazis, including many Muslims whose religion you denigrate.
Our politicians must listen to what the disgruntled, radicalised Muslim youth are saying, and understand that our actions and foreign policies are the root cause of their discontent.
If Tony Blair and his colleagues had listened to millions of us on the streets protesting before he dragged us unwillingly into that bloody and disastrous campaign in Iraq alongside America, I suggest the 100 or so Muslim terror deaths on British soil since might not have happened.
The elders of the British Muslim communities need to instill in their youngsters that sense of national pride, and aspirations for our way of life that your forefathers displayed when they willingly put themselves in harm’s way for us.
In the name of Islam, you must stop tolerating the hate-mongering, Sharia-peddling extremists in your midst. Condemn them each and every day. Force them out in the open.
Will Patching , Phuket, Thailand


Graduate employment is by no means guaranteed, so prospective students should be careful when considering their choice of subject
Sir, I agree with Mary Curnock Cook of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) that students should choose courses that they enjoy (report, May 24). Many parents and teachers wrongly assume that a legal career requires a law degree. In my case philosophy and theology were a more enjoyable preparation for life at the Bar.
John De Bono
Serjeants’ Inn Chambers
London EC4
Sir, The advice of Mary Curnock Cook to teenagers not to choose a subject to study at university on the basis that it might lead to a good job is reckless, especially in current times. Graduate employment is by no means guaranteed, with one in five graduates who are available for work being unemployed. Recruitment into “higher skilled” occupations has been in decline over the past ten years University fees of up to £9,000 a year mean that students are graduating with higher debts than ever, and house prices continue to rise above inflation. It is harder than ever for young people to get a foot on the property ladder, and graduating with a large debt and no thought about future employment is unwise.
While I was studying for my PhD at Imperial College just before the introduction of tuition fees, an academic involved in the university administration told me that it cost Imperial roughly £1,000 per home student per year to educate them. This was a result of the Blair Government’s target for half or more of young people to go to university, with no increase in total funding, leading to more university places but reducing funding per place. This has had an enormously damaging effect on the university system, and Mrs Curnock Cook’s advice does nothing to help that.
There are many well-paid and highly respectable careers which do not require a university education, and this is rarely talked about. These should be championed to young people as acceptable and worthy choices. In many cases three years of work experience at a young age can be far more beneficial to future prospects than three years of a university course, and the financial benefits are obvious.
Barnaby Garrood
Shamley Green, Surrey
Sir, As an 18-year-old Ucas applicant reading Mary Curnock Cook’s remarks, I must say that it is easy to tell a teenager to ignore the wishes of their parents. But when it is the parents who will have to supplement the student maintenance loans by at least £1,500 a year, it is neither simple nor sensible to apply behind the backs of your parents for a degree you are passionate about. It is better to apply for one that the parents consider more reliable.
Moreover, with the state of the job market now worrying for teenagers, how can Ms Curnock Cook advise them to pay £27,000 and spend three years in a course they will enjoy, but the rest of their lives in jobs that they will not?
If a person is passionate about a subject then they do not need to study it at university to remain passionate about it. The sacrifice students are faced with now is giving up something good for something better and giving up a mere three years in order to gain a dependable degree. Then perhaps they might spend 40 years in a better job.
Miriam Schechter

It is high time that the UK honestly addresses the roots of Islamic terrorism instead of focusing just on its contemptible results
Sir, The killing of the British soldier in Woolwich (reports, May 23) has to be condemned without reservation by all Muslims. Last week the British Muslim community was in the national spotlight with the conviction of a sadistic Muslim paedophile gang in Oxford. Now two Muslims — new converts to Islam — have brought further opprobrium to practising Muslims in the UK.
The scourges of paedophilia and terrorism within some strains of British Islam are sadly reflective of the broader incapacity of the Muslim community to fully integrate with the mainstream. If UK Muslims had a genuine stake in British society, the ideological drivers that fuel immoral sexuality as well as bloody terrorism would be inhibited, if not eradicated altogether. British Muslims must dissociate themselves from all variants of imported religious fundamentalism so that fascist groups and far-right organisations cannot exploit social tensions in the UK.
However, there are other unpalatable reasons for the Woolwich brutality. There is a correlation between Tony Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq and the emergence of Muslim terrorism in the UK.
This is in no way to condone the despicable deeds of two opportunistic converts to Islamic fundamentalism who forlornly sought religious martyrdom, but it is high time that the UK honestly addresses the roots of Islamic terrorism instead of focusing just on its contemptible results.
Dr T. Hargey
Imam, Oxford Muslim Congregation

To encourage gardening among the younger generation cultural change is required through sowing the seeds at an early age at school
Sir, Your report (“Young generation just doesn’t dig gardening,” May 17) is nothing new. Gardening is, regrettably, unappealing to young people.
The RHS has launched an appeal to raise £1 million towards inspiring the next generation of gardeners, growers and garden designers. It says that the horticultural industry is facing a serious labour shortage, with nearly half of under-25s today dismissing horticultural work as an “unskilled career”.
Laudable though it is, I query whether simply throwing money at the problem is the solution. A cultural change is required through sowing the seeds at an early age at school. Part of playgrounds and sports fields could be turned over to chemical-free gardening and nature study. I learnt as a small boy how to grow and then pick raspberries for a healthy school lunch.
In the middle of London are the gardens of the Inns of Court where Kew-trained gardeners teach volunteers and apprentices how to tend gardens and plants.
Gardening in all green spaces is the essence of civilisation.
His Honour Judge Simon Brown, QC
Stevington, Beds

The proprietor of a local shop will retain and spend locally his trading profit, but international chains hardly benefit the local economy
Sir, The decline of locally owned shops (letters, May 23 & 24) has a malign effect on the local economy. The proprietor of a local shop will spend his profits locally and use local suppliers for many of his overheads. Superstores leave only staff wages in the locality and even that is less than the sum of the wages paid by the shops they replace. International chains are even worse as their profit is expatriated to the detriment of our national economy. A simple withholding tax on inter-company transfers and a more rigorous investigation by HMRC into the deductibility of such transfers (are they incurred “wholly and exclusively” for the purposes of the trade) would curb much of the current abuse.
Simon Banks
Burghclere, Hants

The UK invested less than £1.5 million in mesothelioma research in 2011, a fraction of what is spent on research into other cancers
Sir, The Mesothelioma Bill which is progressing through the House of Lords, and which received its Second Reading on Monday, represents a historic opportunity to secure long-term funding for research to find new treatments and ultimately even a cure for this dreadful disease.
Mesothelioma — the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos — kills 2,400 people every year, and it is forecast to kill a further 56,000 people over the next 30 years. Yet the UK invested less than £1.5 million in mesothelioma research in 2011, a fraction of what is spent on research into other cancers.
We are therefore supporting an amendment to the Bill which would create a secure, sustainable fund to support vital research into mesothelioma at no cost to the public purse. Our amendment enjoys all-party support. We very much hope the Government will take advantage of this opportunity and accept our proposal.
Lord Alton Of Liverpool, Baroness Butler-Sloss, Baroness Greenfield, The Bishop Of Hereford, Lord Howarth Of Newport, Lord Harris Of Peckham, Lord German, Lord Monks, Lord Pannick, Baroness Thomas Of Winchester, Lord Tugendhat, Lord Wigley, Baroness Masham Of Ilton


SIR – Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, is right when he says that the atrocity in Woolwich should not be blamed on the religion of Islam. But it does arise from a canker in the Muslim community, which must take a lead in cutting it out by cooperating with the police and security services – otherwise it will incur the wrath of the general public. It is not enough for Muslim leaders to say they disagree with such excesses, when their community is aware of the dangerous radicalisation of their young people.
Graham Lilley
Edge, Gloucestershire
SIR – This young serviceman stands as an example of all those who have fallen in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world, whose names and deeds rarely come to public knowledge. Their sacrifice is no less mourned.
This event is a shocking reminder that Britain is on the front line in the war on terror. And it is all the more vital to remember that the actions of isolated and deceived terrorist cells do not represent the peaceful and tolerant faith of Islam as revealed by the Koran and subsequent teachings.
This is not a war against Islam, it is a war against fundamentalism and intolerance.
Related Articles
Is kissing at party conferences really necessary?
10 May 0017
Arthur Brittan
SIR – May I request that the powers that be remind themselves, forcefully, of Lady Thatcher’s wise words in a speech she gave in 1985 to the American Bar Association: “And we must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend”. As we have seen and heard since the atrocious murder in Woolwich, the opposite has been the case and can only be detrimental.
C A Delahunty
London W2
SIR – Perhaps the atrocity in Woolwich yesterday will underline dramatically and finally why the country needs the Prime Minister to concentrate on the serious problems that beset this country: terrorism, the economy, immigration and Europe, not on the relatively insignificant same-sex marriage furore.
John Wright
Hull, East Yorkshire
SIR – Is it not time to put aside our default moral relativism and ask whether there is something in the heart of Islam that allows acts of such barbarity as we have seen recently in Woolwich and Boston?
Barnaby Taylor
Falmouth, Devon
SIR – In view of the suspect’s comment “An eye for an eye” (report, May 23), is it fair to assume that the reintroduction of the death penalty would be acceptable?
John Breining-Riches
Chagford, Devon
SIR – When the police arrived at the scene of the Woolwich murder they were confronted and charged by two bloodstained men carrying knives and a pistol, who were then shot, wounded and are now in hospital. It is also reported that members of the Police Complaints Commission were also quickly on the scene. I hope they accept that in most other countries in the world these two thugs would now be dead.
Malcolm Allen
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
SIR – In the aftermath of the horror that was perpetrated in Woolwich, it is time for the public to show its support for the Armed Forces. The serviceman who died in the attack was wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt, showing his support for wounded comrades. An appropriate response to the attack would be for the public to show their solidarity with our troops by wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt, tie or wristband.
This would send the message that terrorists will never separate our people from our Armed Forces.
Phil Coutie
Twickenham, Middlesex
Secret arrests
SIR – Your piece about secret arrests (“The police should not be shielded from scrutiny”, leading article, May 22) requires response on a number of points.
It is a long-held principle of British justice that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The College of Policing’s guidance on police and media relationships holds to that principle. Many people are arrested as part of an investigation but not charged.
The guidance allows for naming people on arrest when doing so would prevent or solve crime, protect life or would be in the public interest – for example, if naming an arrested person is likely to lead to other victims coming forward. At the point of charge, personal details can be released. When arrested, a detained person has the right to a solicitor and can notify another person of their arrest. These are legal rights and ensure that arrests are not secret.
The guidance advises forces to be open and honest and establish good relations with the media. In forging these relationships, forces must ensure that they act with integrity and guard against the unauthorised release of personal information.
Chief Constable Alex Marshall
Chief Executive, College of Policing
London SW1
Not-so-Scottish oil
SIR – Many years ago I visited the Shetland Isles to discuss building storage to receive North Sea oil. The Shetlanders viewed the Scots as lairds and ministers of religion and, given the choice, preferred to stay with England with a status similar to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. I imagine the Orcadians may feel the same way – so “Scottish” oil gets less and less!
Richard Kellaway
Cookham Dean, Berkshire
SIR – Isn’t it time England sought independence from Scotland?
Roy Sedgwick
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Pies on fire
SIR – Until reading your leading article (May 21), it had never occurred to me to set fire to an Eccles cake. However, I have often set fire to mince pies since microwaves first entered my kitchen. It is a much anticipated feature of our Christmas celebrations.
Carolyn Andrews
Bournemouth, Dorset
Taxing complexity
SIR – Sue Cameron (Comment, May 23) highlights the absurdity of one of the tenets of English law, namely, that ignorance of the law is no excuse. When those involved in the law, including HM Revenue & Customs and accountants, have difficulty in comprehending what it means, it is ridiculous to expect a layman to have a greater understanding.
Taxation relies on the legislature to stipulate what it wishes to levy, but this does not happen; instead, politicians lecture on (of all things) morals and aggressive tax avoidance, the latter having no clear definition. It is up to Parliament to state unequivocally what it wants, not for the rest of us to guess.
Michael Morris
Haverhill, Suffolk
SIR – Why is the Government getting excited about companies legitimately not paying corporation tax when it has given special dispensation to the multi-millionaire soccer players, competing in the Champions League final at Wembley, not to pay UK taxes?
Graham Francis
Fetcham, Surrey
Brown before green
SIR – There are plenty of brownfield sites ripe for building on, such as disused airbases and old mining sites.
Let them be used before the planners despoil our green and pleasant land.
J A Nurcombe
Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
SIR – I have an alternative definition of ”Nimby’’ for Michael Gove; someone who stands in the way of others who want to make a lot of money at his expense.
Colin Robertson
Bramhope, West Yorkshire
Prime movers
SIR – Your report on the swarms of cicadas now beginning to appear on the east coast of America (May 20), a once-in-every-17-years event, highlights the wonder of Mother Nature.
With 17 being a prime number, the frequency of appearance of these insects is calculated to avoid the interest of potential predators which might appear every two, three, four… up to 15 or 16 years.
Not that this will be of any comfort to those who have to put up with them.
Richard Symington
London SW17
Sir David Nicholson’s £2m pension is undeserved
SIR – It really isn’t difficult to identify the fact that the NHS is in a shocking state. Sir David Nicholson quit with a £2 million pension pot (report, May 22) after presiding over the Mid Staffs Hospital Trust scandal where many people died. The waste and incompetence is beyond belief.
The last government was too obsessed with targets and its own political reputation to manage the NHS gravy train properly and many people have died as a consequence. Change is urgently needed.
I’m still trying to work out how and why the Olympic opening ceremony focused on the NHS as a cause for celebration. Black armbands and a funeral march might have shown a more honest face to the world.
Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall
SIR – The amount that Sir David Nicholson is to be given in his pension pot is truly obscene. If the man had done the honourable thing, he would have resigned weeks ago for allowing the NHS to sink to the level that it is now. But of course there is no honour amongst thieves. One of my granddaughters is a paediatric nurse, having qualified six months ago. For helping to keep premature babies alive, her monthly salary hardly pays enough to live on, despite the fact that she and most other nurses work their socks off to achieve the high standards required of them.
Maybe Sir David will donate his millions to pay for the salaries of several hundred much-needed nurses, but I very much doubt it.
Clare M Blake
Sutton, Surrey
SIR – I wonder how much thought Sir David Nicholson will spare for those of us left propping up a National “Hellth” Service on the brink of collapse as he jumps on the gravy train to a six-figure annual sum for life.
As for finding his replacement, is there a man or woman on this earth brave or bold enough to take on the ultimate poisoned chalice?
Kirsty Blunt
Senior physiotherapist
Sedgeford, Norfolk

Irish Times:

Sir, – So what did Maureen O’Hara whisper into the ear of John Wayne at the end of The Quiet Man ? (Simon Carswell, World News, May 24th). May I suggest that it was “Do you know you’re standing on my foot”? to which he presumably said “You hum it, I’ll play it”. – Yours, etc,
Lonsdale Road,

Sir, – I was breathalysed a few weeks ago at a random Garda checkpoint on the Stillorgan Road in Dublin. I have been an asthmatic for more than 30 years. I had no difficulty blowing into the bag for the required number of seconds. I passed the test. It is, however, comforting to know that in future, I along with the tens of thousands of other asthma sufferers in the country, will be able to avoid being breathalysed by stating that, just like Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, we too suffer from asthma.
Why do we keep electing these people? – Yours, etc,
Nutley Avenue,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
Sir, – I find it hard to believe that Alan Shatter would be unable to fully complete his breath test when stopped by gardaí. In the last week he has blown so much hot air as to complete 1,000 breath tests. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I can sympathise with the frustrations experienced by Sheila Maher (“Religious control of schools is neither tolerant nor inclusive”, Opinion, May 23rd ) at having to remove her child from Catholic religious education, which seems to take up so much of the curriculum as children approach Catholic communion time.
While my local primary school is supportive of me in taking my child out of the class during this time, it would help immensely if other parents would also take a stand, rather than display an all too apparent hypocrisy and go through the motions of Catholic communion just to feel inclusive and not wanting their child to miss out.
What I suggest to parents such as Ms Maher is to take their children away for a family weekend during this time and make them feel special. After a couple of days, when the carnival is all but over and forgotten about, the child can move on and once again feel inclusive, because after all, many of their peers won’t see the inside of a Catholic church again until they reach confirmation age. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Independent paediatric specialists have requested that Minister for Health James Reilly reconsider the South Circular Road site as a more suitable location for the National Children’s Hospital than the St James’s Hospital site (May 20th). They make a very sound case for the 6.2 hectare site, which directly adjoins the Coombe Hospital, but the argument is even more compelling.
The Clear/Martin report prepared for the Minister for October 2012 found the planning risk at the South Circular Road site to be “low” but this was based on the misconception that “hospital use” was not among the land uses allowable. In fact, the site’s predominant zoning (Z14) permits the same medical uses as are permitted on the St James’s site (Z15). In other words, the planning risk at the South Circular Road site is even lower than that suggested in the report for the Minister.
In contrast, the planning risk associated with the St James’s site is entirely different. The Clear/Martin report states, “the nature and location of the site pose a number of planning issues which would need to be resolved if the planning risk is to be reduced”, suggesting the planning risk would be “moderate” if the site area for the proposed hospital were to be enlarged from 2.44 hectares to 3.5 hectares. But even such additional land would only allow very limited, if any, room for future expansion of the planned children’s hospital. In the planning of any new hospital this is surely unacceptable.
To assuage the concerns of the New Crumlin Hospital Group chairman (May 22nd) regarding further delay, it should be made clear that there is no suggestion that the decision in relation to citing the national children’s hospital on the St James’s campus be changed – simply that the campus be expanded to include the South Circular Road site (it has already been earmarked by St James’s Hospital for ancillary medical activities).
The lesson of the attempt to locate the children’s hospital at the Mater site is clear. The site was too small and was turned down by the planning appeals board. Here, again, we already know the preferred site is too small. Why on earth would Dr Reilly risk repeating a similar outcome when a more suitable site almost twice the size, on an expanded campus and carrying negligible planning risk is available? – Yours, etc,
Member of the Dublin C

Sir, – A pattern is occurring after each Islamic extremist terrorist attack.
Following the incident and initial shock, the media spend a day or two producing reports on the Muslim community and the challenges that it faces in having to live and assimilate into society. This is followed up by the usual letters and heartfelt pleas from members of the community not to tar all Muslims with the one brush.
Of course nobody, with the exception of the extreme far right would do such a thing. However, I’ve yet to see any mass street demonstration of moderate Muslims disavowing extremism. I don’t see any reports of senior Imams castigating fundamentalism from the pulpit in Mosques. I do not see Islamic extremists being rejected from mainstream Muslim society nor any widespread support of the police in doing their job, protecting society.
What I do see and read is the constant reasoning away of these atrocities as being caused by “western policies”. Isn’t it about time the average follower of Islam who disavows extremism, which is the vast majority, stood up and was counted? All that their silence and passivity is doing is feeding the extremists on the far right, and making their recruiting task a lot easier. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

* Sir, I want to congratulate Seamus Coffey on his article on austerity (Irish Independent, May 21).
Also in this section
Banality republic
Casting the first stone?
State ‘jobs for the boys’ policy benefits us all
In his article, he tells us the simple fact that ‘we are spending more money on government services for ourselves than we are collecting in tax revenue from ourselves’.
A bandwagon has being going for some time in which too many in politics and the media have been saying that austerity is not necessary and/or is not working.
Seamus Coffey assures us that austerity is both necessary and working and he gives us the figures to prove it.
He tells us that in the last five years the cumulative budget deficits added up to nearly €120bn (over 90pc of GNP) and the rescue of the Irish banking system contributed around €40bn to this.
In 2009, the deficit on providing government services was more than €15bn.
This year, as a result of austerity, it will be €4bn.
The truth is that, as a result of past mistakes, the present austerity is unavoidable.
Seamus Coffey has done us all a service by telling us the story in understandable figures.
A Leavy
Shielmartin Drive, Sutton, Dublin 13
* I am writing concerning John Bruton’s lecture on ‘frugality’. I find the arrogance of the man breathtaking considering his vast income and pensions.
The only thing I find “immoral” is that “retired” politicians and senior civil servants are allowed to work full-time and continue to draw pensions from their previous employment.
Why does John Bruton suggest that pensioners and people on low-incomes be further penalised?
Liam Mac Cionnaith
Co Luiminigh
* “Still cold enough for month of May and growth sluggish,” I remarked to a casual acquaintance on entering the newsagents last evening. “Except for dandelions,” he replied. “The roadsides, fields and lawns of the country are covered with them.”
How right he was! So prolific was the dandelion crop around my holding that on the following day I went to the garden centre for a spray remedy. Rather than encourage my custom, the merchant half muttered: “Aren’t dandelions like ‘golden flowers from heaven’ compared to the cold wet barren sight that was our lot for the past months?” Once more I had to agree, while deciding it was time I did a little research on dandelions.
The common dandelion is a perennial yellow flowering herbaceous plant. After flowers have gone, fruits form and open up with the seeds inside attached to little bristles that travel large distances in wind. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the yellow flower and help pollinate them. Deer and rabbits feed off the leaves and certain birds such as goldfinches eat the seeds.
Herbalists view the common dandelion as a valuable herb because of its medicinal and culinary uses. It is used by children in play, but despised by gardeners because they overcrowd crops.
Its food value in salads, soups, winemaking and green tea are well known, but the medicinal value of the dandelion is vast. It is used to treat everything from stomach problems, gallstones, joint pains and eczema to being recommended as skin toner, blood tonic, aid to viral infection and in cancer treatment.
Nature provides us with many blessings – if only we had the eyes to see.
James Gleeson
Thurles, Co Tipperary
* According to the article in your newspaper ‘Suicide risk for men under 21 is four times higher’, (May 21) Prof Kevin Malone, author of a report on suicide, “says Irish youths have the fourth highest suicide rate in Europe, and the numbers taking their own lives is rising”.
Why is there such a discrepancy in the rates of suicide between men and women?
From a young age, boys are taught not to cry. Such shows of emotion as fear, timidity or sadness are frowned upon. Boys learn, both consciously and unconsciously, to suppress their emotions. For girls, such expressions of emotion are encouraged and girls consequently feel more comfortable with their emotions and with expressing them.
The teenage years are difficult at the best of times. Children move away from the security of their parents and begin the tentative steps of forming their own independent personalities.
Their interests, their values, even their sexuality can all be in the mix. Coupled with this, in their late teens they do what’s commonly regarded as the most difficult exam they will ever do in their lives, while trying to figure out what career they will follow.
No wonder some teenagers fall through the cracks. Many feel unable to articulate their difficulties or reach out for help. By the time these boys become young adults, the die is cast.
A lifetime of “programming” can be very difficult to overcome.
When a crisis occurs they feel unable to cope and suicide unfortunately is looked at as an option. However, there is hope.
According to the report “existing suicide intervention and prevention programmes may be missing the boat by not focusing on school-age young people”. I agree. Education can play a huge part.
I believe resources should be put into organisations like Positive Mental Health here in Galway, with whom I am a volunteer. We deliver modules to transition-year students on all aspects of mental health, from bullying to relationships to peer pressure – aspects of a young person’s life that are just as important as getting good grades in the Leaving Cert. Positive strategies to help people who are experiencing difficulties are an integral part of the modules we deliver.
Everyone takes the emotional well-being of young people for granted, but the recent suicides of young people show us we do this at our peril.
Thomas Roddy
Salthill, Co Galway
* I was interested to read in an Irish Independent article that Trinity College Dublin has launched the entire Cromwellian map collection of Ireland, made shortly after Oliver Cromwell’s successful conquest of Ireland, available online for the first time. Thirty-two counties, 240 baronies, 2,000+ parishes and 62,000 townlands.
TCD associate professor of modern history Dr Michael O Siochru said of it: “Some of the maps are in magnificent condition, beautifully coloured and engraved. They are beautiful works of art and it’s the first time in 300 years that this collection has been back together.”
It is believed to be the first time in world history that a country had been mapped in such detail in ‘The Down Survey’, conducted between 1655 and 1658 and supervised by William Petty, surgeon general in Cromwell’s army. Ireland’s population was then estimated at 200,000. It seems a small number and can’t be known for certain.
Astonishing too, when one considers that 200 years later it had exploded to more than six million by the Great Famine in 1845.
One can view on the TCD Down Survey website a Cromwellian map of a region of the country with a Google map and satellite image of today below it.
There was a human cost which lies behind the creation of these ‘beautiful’ maps. Irish people were evicted in their tens of thousands from their homes, lands and properties and shipped in large numbers as slave labour to new English colonies overseas in the Caribbean and the few early colonies in the US.
Let us admire the Cromwellian maps, but also remember the Irish people taken, never to return.
M Sullivan
College Road, Co Cork
Irish Independent

* I find it hard to understand why we entered a singer for the Eurovision noise and banality competition when we had the more relevant expertise of Jedward available.
Also in this section
Proof that austerity is necessary and working
Casting the first stone?
State ‘jobs for the boys’ policy benefits us all
* I find it hard to understand why we entered a singer for the Eurovision noise and banality competition when we had the more relevant expertise of Jedward available.
When will we wake up to the fact that banality is an imaginative art form?
Music, as we know it, has had its day; noise is here to stay. We should open our arms to the possibility of becoming a banality republic. Music is a figment of the bourgeois imagination.
The great advantage of the noise movement is that there are no rules – nothing to inhibit the free flow of indiscriminate sound.
There is noise all around us; we should celebrate it as if we can’t get enough of it.
We should liberate ourselves from the constraints of music and start living. This is the age of the decibel where everybody is a prodigy.
Our children should be exposed to this world of arbitrary noise where they can all have a go, repress their inhibitions, cut loose and defy the laws of gravity by letting their hair up.
Schools should be compelled to develop a cross-curricular policy on noise, so that students are prepared for the real world, not the dying world of music.
Additionally, all educational institutions should intensify the banality movement, by helping to dispose of the idea that dance is concerned with patterns of disciplined movement, rather than with pure arbitrary gyration.
Even nature is catching on; there are fewer song birds in our garden. We now regularly awaken to the attractive monotonous tone of the pigeon, giving us a break from the now outmoded, dulcet tones of the blackbird and the thrush.
There are exciting rumours to the effect that Louis Walsh is going to take charge of the proposed new ministry for noise and banality.
However, I am not convinced that he is sufficiently tone deaf to meet the demands of the new post.
Philip O’Neill
Edith Road, Oxford
* At last, a man of my own heart (Padraic Neary, Letters, May 21). Are we alone in thinking that technology, for all its advantages, and there are many, also has a dark side?
In my opinion, not only does it wipe out jobs by replacing human beings, it is slowly turning people into zombies who cannot last a day without Facebook, spell, or hold a conversation without flicking through their phone. More importantly, people no longer understand the importance of keeping their lives private.
Like everything else in life, unless we are directly affected, we really pay no attention. If technology doesn’t rob you of your job, why care about anyone else?
When you walk into a bank, you are greeted by machines, the same with supermarkets. When you go to an ATM, it will probably dictate what you can take out, in other words, you have no control over your own money.
When you ring most companies, you find two minutes later you are still being spoken to by a machine.
Day by day we are becoming willing zombies who just accept what is thrown at us. We love the term “fighting Irish”. In my opinion, we have become complacent fools who, quite frankly, deserve what we get.
C McGarry
Co Dublin
* How can you tell that the bite in Apple’s logo is not the bite from Ireland’s taxman? The bite is too big.
Kevin Devitte
Westport, Co Mayo
* Perhaps, after all, we are not the Apple of the EU’s eye?
Tom Gilsenan
Beaumont, Dublin 9
* John O’Connell opines that “You come to God, to Christ and to the church through love and not law” (Irish Independent, May 22), citing “compassion and understanding” within the Catholic Church.
In reality, of course, individuals and in particularly children, come to “God, Christ, and the church” through the abhorrent practice of childhood indoctrination.
From the psychological perspective of a child, this is the law, masquerading as love. Yet the difference is quite stark, considering the fact children are incapable of understanding and accepting such theological, philosophical and fictional concepts under their own volition. It is, actually, forced upon them. A distinct lack of compassion and understanding.
Gary J Byrne
IFSC, Dublin 1
* I was typing the word Dail into my smartphone when it ‘corrected’ the word to Fail. I reckon it’s more than a smartphone, it’s an intelligent phone.
Conan Doyle
Co Kilkenny
* The hope offered to Irish and other undocumented by the prospect of genuine immigration reform in the US (Illegal Irish get chance to step out of shadows, Irish Independent, May 23) will be greeted with relief by thousands.
However, that hope stands in stark contrast to the frustration, distress and heartache being caused to those in a similar situation in this country, where successive governments have failed to introduce a streamlined, transparent and modern immigration system. Our politicians would do well to learn from the lead taken by US President Barack Obama.
As a first step, the Government should introduce its long-awaited policy on family reunification, and set out clear rules for Irish citizens and migrants legally living here who have been torn apart from loved ones.
A clear and transparent appeals system is also needed and there are many other areas in need of reform, including improved access for workers who can help fill the skills gap in many sectors.
Our political leaders were quick to mobilise our full diplomatic and lobbying ability in Washington, to bring about reforms there, now it is time they looked closer to home.
Denise Charlton
Chief Executive
Immigrant Council of Ireland, Dublin 2
* The truth has now been shot at by so many people and nations, that it may well decide to crash-land into their very heartlands.
If it does, you may be sure that the resulting shockwave will be the equivalent to that of a maximum magnitude earthquake.
There won’t be too many reputations or shibboleths left standing after it hits.
Patriots, Kevlar and Star Wars missile defence systems will not offer any protection.
What say you that the “hawks” are given the job of coming up with an even better description than “shock and awe” to describe the aftermath?
It should keep them suitably engaged, while a true and believable audit of the real state of world affairs, is carried out by somebody other than any of the Big Four.
Before I am accused of being a seer or soothsayer, let me say that I am neither. Anyone who has attempted to predict the future in the past has failed to be outlandish enough in their speculations as to what has actually transpired.
After all, Shakespeare himself wrote: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Liam Power
Angel’s Court, San Pawl Il-Bahar, Malta
Irish Independent

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