Mary home

5 July 2013 Mary Home

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Leslie is to be tested on Navigation. But the officer who is testing him is an old flame of Mrs Povey and will do anything to get away from her even pass Leslie. Priceless.
Mary home at last wonderful day, cant find my freecycle books in Pudsey
We watch Curtain Up its not bad, magic
Scrabble I win but get under 400 Mary might get her revenge tomorrow.


3. es
Bernadette Nolan
Bernadette Nolan, who has died aged 52, was the lead vocalist with The Nolans, a group of Irish singing sisters and one of the original girl bands; their 1979 hit I’m In The Mood For Dancing became a classic in the disco boom of the early 1980s.

Bernadette Nolan (centre) with her singing sisters (l-r) Linda, Anne, Coleen and Maureen  Photo: PA
2:57PM BST 04 Jul 2013
Renowned for their spangled flares, platform shoes, big hair and perky wholesomeness, The Nolans began performing together in 1974 and had a string of hits between 1978 and 1984. At the outset they formed a quintet comprising Anne, Linda, Denise, Maureen and Bernadette, but in 1980 they became a quartet when Anne and Denise stood down and their youngest sister, Coleen, joined the group.
Originally billed as The Nolan Sisters, they were rebranded The Nolans and sold 25 million records worldwide (12 million in Japan, where they outsold The Beatles) and earned more than 20 gold, silver and platinum discs with albums and singles including Gotta Pull Myself Together and Attention To Me.
They toured with Frank Sinatra in 1975 and performed with artists such as Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Stevie Wonder and Andy Williams. But when Denise left and Anne took a two-year break to have a family, the remaining four sisters were stricken with a series of misfortunes — sickness, infidelities, bitter feuds and bereavements — which played out in the tabloid press and several tell-all autobiographies. They toured for the last time in 1984, and although they continued to sing and perform they also pursued successful careers in television and on stage.
The rift endured, in one form or another, for more than three decades. Bernie, as she was always known, finally left the group in 1994 to launch an acting career following her success in the stage play The Devil Rides Out a year earlier.
“I am the nutter of the family,” she told an interviewer. “We’re all quite funny, but I’m loud and funny. I do everything the others don’t — I drink, I smoke (well, I’m trying to give up), I stay out late, I have sex. So what? Of course I don’t like the idea of one-night stands, but I’ve got no ties, so I can do what I like. I get really infuriated with the goody-goody Catholic girls image.”
She maintained that the group was not as wealthy as it should have been because they had signed a bad record deal. “It was very hard to accept our decline. We’ve done shows where they’ve said: ‘Glad you came — we couldn’t get the group we really wanted.’ I wish things were still the way they used to be.” To try to replicate their explosion on to the pop scene more than a quarter of a century earlier, she and her sisters Maureen, Linda and Coleen signed up in 2008 for a lucrative reunion tour.
The eldest sister, Anne, was excluded by the tour’s producers, prompting her to accuse her siblings of “stabbing me in the back”.
“They could have had five of us on stage. They have had in the past,” Anne complained. “And let’s face it, even Nolans fans don’t know what sister sang on what hit. No one has a clue.”
Relations between the sisters deteriorated still further in 2010 after Bernie Nolan was diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease returned in 2012 and she was told that it was incurable. In her autobiography, Now And Forever, published in May this year , she admitted that the rift between the sisters was deeper then ever. Although she claimed to have made her peace with all five of her sisters before her death, it was clear that Anne and Denise remained estranged from Coleen and Linda, with Maureen apparently caught in the middle.
Bernadette Therese Nolan, always known as Bernie, was born on October 17 1960 in Dublin. Her parents, Tommy and Maureen Nolan, a husband and wife singing duo, would have two sons and five other daughters – Anne, Denise, Maureen, Linda and Coleen. “It got to the stage,” Bernie, the second youngest, once said, “where they didn’t talk about whether the new baby was going to be a boy or a girl but whether they could sing.”
The girls were still young when the family moved to Blackpool and they started singing together professionally as a family troupe, performing in pubs and clubs and on television. Their 1979 hit I’m In The Mood For Dancing epitomised their feel-good brand of music and brought them enormous chart success.
But beneath the upbeat image, the Nolan family was a troubled one. Although none of the other sisters knew it, throughout their early years their violent, drunken father had sexually abused Anne. When she was 16 he suggested they run away and live as man and wife.
Anne told the others only after Tommy Nolan’s death in 1998. She later recounted her experiences in a book, Anne’s Song (2008); but although Coleen had found her a publisher Anne maintained that — apart from Denise — her other sisters were not supportive. Bernie, in particular, did not approve of her sister’s decision to parade the family’s scandal. “I personally wouldn’t have made that public,” she argued, “I’d have kept it private.”
Anne’s marriage ended in 1997, and in the same year Coleen split from the EastEnders actor Shane Richie. Soon afterwards Anne was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having been cleaning and child-minding for Coleen to make ends meet, she believed her exclusion from the 2008 comeback tour was the result of a petty argument she had had with Coleen’s husband, Ray Fensome. In the resulting family meltdown, Bernie asserted that Anne would have retained more self-esteem had she kept her troubles to herself.
By then Bernie Nolan’s acting career was well under way. In 2000 She had joined the cast of the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside as Diane Murray, having starred to critical acclaim in a West End revival of Willy Russell’s musical Blood Brothers. Two years later she left Brookside to play Sgt Sheelagh Murphy in ITV’s police drama series The Bill. In 2005 she released her debut solo album of power ballads, All By Myself.
In 2006 she took part in Channel 4’s series The Games, returning to the live stage in 2009 to play the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Manchester Opera House.
In 2007 three of the Nolans were included in the Guinness Book of Records for each playing the lead role in Blood Brothers (Bernie in 1999, Linda in 2000 and Denise in 2003, all at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh). Bernie also starred as Mama Morton in a touring version of the musical Chicago in 2012, and later that year announced the Nolans’ farewell tour.
Bernie Nolan married, in 1996, the drummer Steve Doneathy, who survives her with their 14 -year-old daughter, Erin.
Bernadette Nolan, born October 17 1960, died July 4 2013


I don’t feel either Jonathan Steele (A ruinous intervention, 4 July) nor your editorial (4 July) shows much understanding of the Egypt situation. The inevitable fragmentation of the many different constituencies which had agitated for change in 2011 led to the wholly predictable situation in which the two top winners of the initial elections were representatives of the only two parties which had existed before the revolution: the followers of Mubarak and of the Muslim Brothers. Many of those who backed neither party but wished for a secular, liberal and democratic Egypt, voted in the run-off for Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, who at least promised change and the respect of human rights.
Elected by a small but clear majority, Morsi had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show Egyptians and the world that the Brotherhood were not the fundamentalist ideologues the rulers of Egypt had always painted them as, but an Islamist party ready to work for the whole nation to establish human rights and respect for the rule of law, and to set Egypt on the road to prosperity. Instead, Morsi squandered all the goodwill within months and has seemed determined to do everything in his power to forward the agenda of his party alone, while at the same time failing spectacularly to do anything to get the Egyptian economy working again. It is this double betrayal which led so many Egyptians, including many devout Muslims, to agitate for his removal before things got even worse; women were stripped of all their rights and the economy deteriorated further as tourists stayed away.
The army decided to act, partly, one imagines, out of self-interest, but partly too out of an awareness that Morsi was growing ever more authoritarian and intransigent even as he was destroying the delicate social and economic fabric of the country. How it will pan out no one can foresee. Much will depend on whether the Brotherhood has lost any sense of reality and are serious in their threat of turning this crisis into a dire religious conflict for the soul of Egypt.
Professor Gabriel Josipovici
Lewes, Sussex
• Morsi and David Cameron were elected in democratic and free elections to govern in the interests of the whole nation, but Morsi chose to govern solely in favour of the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Cameron solely in favour of the brotherhood of the wealthy. The Egyptians realised this after only a year – it still doesn’t seemed to have dawned on the working people of this country after three years that Osborne’s austerity is aimed solely at them – and at the poor, the disabled and the unemployed. Surely it is time for a few mass protests here, to show we realise our election has been hijacked too.
Tony Cheney
• Western governments might use this as an opportunity to review what are seen as the necessary steps to democracy. It is clear that “free and fair elections” do not in themselves lead to democracy. Political leaders who govern for the benefit of all the people – but with different views about what that means – must be a prerequisite, and an electorate willing to vote for such leaders. These things evolve over time; surely by now we have seen enough historical models to work out how to support and encourage the first steps rather than blindly backing only the final one.
Phil Wells
Hadleigh, Suffolk

Lord McNally (Society, 3 July) peddles the oft-repeated line that we have “one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world” when comparing us to Germany and the US. However, in simply looking at legal aid expenditure in isolation, both ignore the important structural differences between international justice systems that help explain the legal aid spend. As the National Audit Office pointed out in 2012, the average total annual budget allocated to all courts, the prosecution and to legal aid across Europe was 0.33%, exactly the same expenditure as in England and Wales when expressed as a percentage. Some other jurisdictions do have a lower percentage spend, but they are inquisitorial systems (such as Germany), with fewer allegations brought to court and fewer crimes on the statute book.
So although legal aid may be comparatively high (with the caveat that international comparisons are limited), spending on the justice system as a whole is comparatively low. This is not simple semantics as cuts in legal aid will lead to a contraction of justice. Put another way, with overall justice spending comparatively low, the system may not be robust enough to provide justice for those frozen out by the proposed legal aid cuts.
Matthew Evans
Prisoners’ Advice Service
• If we do have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world, this could be due, as McNally suggests, to the high costs of legal representation, choice and the range of eligible cases – all of which he and his colleagues are trying to reduce. The alternative explanation is that we have a higher number of cases that merit legal support due to inefficiencies in social care, incompetence and inefficiency in the criminal justice system, inept legislation etc. Better resourcing of other services, more carefully framed legislation and higher levels of efficiency elsewhere might reduce demand for legal aid services and thus the cost of provision without the vicious attack on this element of our welfare state.
Dick Willis

The difficulties at the National Media Museum (Report, 3 July) might be to do with the redevelopment of Bradford city centre and associated building work, but the fall in visitor numbers could also be linked to the change in name. The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television may have been a bit of a mouthful, but had something people could relate to, whereas the NMM is vague and does not resonate with the majority of potential visitors. Branding and rebranding are dark arts affecting the way things are perceived, and in this case may have back-fired.
Nigel Hamilton
• It’s a lot worse than David England thinks (Letters, 2 July). Methane actually has 21 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide so just the leakage of 16% of methane causes 3.36 times as much greenhouse effect as burning it. All in all that would make it a far dirtier fuel than coal, which is only about twice as bad.
Peter Hanson
• Someone should tell Nursultan Nazarbayev that the prime minister of the UK is not an elected position (‘I’d vote for you’, 2 July). He could only vote for Cameron (as his local MP) if he lived in the constituency of Witney. Perhaps he is planning to move there?
Michael Short
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
• Derek Middlemiss is obviously correct about your unwillingness to review what are essentially cover bands (Letters, 3 July), and while you’re about it, there’s too much coverage of artists enacting other people’s plays rather than their own. And don’t get me started about those so-called “dancers” who have never composed a ballet in their lives.
Martin Skinner
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
• Peter Leach asks how he might become consummate (Letters, 3 July). With ease, Peter, with ease.
Alan Saunders
Yattendon, Berkshire
• Taxpayers, customers, people, fairness and creativity are at the heart of various organisations. Is there any other part of the anatomy they’re ever put?
Mike Smith

5 July is the 65th anniversary of the founding of the NHS. During the election campaign David Cameron sought to reassure voters that the NHS was safe in his hands and promised to cut the deficit, not the NHS. All these promises have proven to be worthless.
Ignoring the overwhelming opposition of the medical profession, the coalition has spent billions of pounds on the biggest top-down reorganisation in the NHS’s history. The chairman of the British Medical Association described the health and social care bill as fundamentally flawed. The chair of the Royal College of GPs said of the bill: “It makes no sense. It is incoherent to anybody other than the lawyers. It won’t deal with the big issues that we have to deal with such as the aging population and dementia. It will result in a very expensive health service and it will also result in a health service that certainly will never match the health service that we have at the moment or at least had 12 months ago.”
Labour would repeal the privatisation of the NHS that is being implemented by the government. An important reform of the NHS would be a single point of contact so that those who need care services currently provided (or in some cases not provided) by councils do not end up unnecessarily staying in hospital.
Aneurin Bevan said when the NHS was founded that it “will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”. If you have faith in the NHS then now is the time to get involved in politics to fight for it.
Cllr S Corcoran
Lab, Sandbach Heath and East ward, Cheshire East council
• On this anniversary of the greatest health service in the world, we are witnessing the advent of more secrecy and less accountability, less training of doctors and nurses, and profit being taken at the expense of taxpayers. Surely it makes sense to insist on all contracts for outsourcing of services that freedom of information applies to the provider just as it does to the NHS, and that any contract must contain provision for training at least equal to the standard of that currently provided in-house.
Andrew Carmichael
Preston, Lancashire
• Your report about the ongoing problems with levels of care at Tameside Hospital, Manchester (Report, 3 July), describes it as being hamstrung by a shortage of both doctors, especially consultants, and nurses in key departments. What is also evident is the absolute lack of any shortage of organisations which have been set up to regulate and measure levels of care throughout the NHS. In addition to Monitor, and the Care Quality Commission, we now know about the existence of the NHS Interim Management and Support team, and the North West Utilisation Management Unit. Would it be appropriate to propose that an additional body also be set up with the task of looking into any possible correlation between the insidious development and funding of bodies such as these, and the failure to provide the required resources in terms of doctors and nurses, to actually deliver the levels of care which are woefully absent at Tameside and elsewhere?
John Evans
Langley, Cheshire
• The attempts by the government to charge migrants for NHS care (Report, 3 July) are a cynical attempt to divert people’s attention from the main problem affecting the NHS. The NHS is in crisis but it is not due to migrants’ use – most recently estimated at £200m, ie less than 0.17% of the NHS budget. Compare with the £20bn the Tories have cut from the NHS budget, which is 20% of the NHS budget; or the £3bn Health and Social Care Act for a reorganisation no one needed or wanted, which merely opens the door for more privatisation.
Assessing immigration status is a complicated job. It will leave busy NHS staff with more forms to fill in, less time to do real care, when they are already overworked. It will probably cost more to administer than it raises. But it is not about money. It is about passing the blame for the NHS away from the real culprits – the government and the bankers. It is also about making the idea of charging for the NHS more acceptable. Deserving sick, undeserving… – we all know where this ends. As far as the Tories are concerned no one deserves free healthcare. Migrants are the start. The NHS has been built by UK and migrant workers. It will be defended by UK and migrant workers together. We must not let them divide us.
Karen Reissmann
• I enjoyed Simon Jenkins’s article on politicians’ pay, especially when I learned that NHS consultants have an average salary of £160,000, almost half of which is said to come from a “clinical excellence” bonus (To reign in top pay, we need to keep MPs poor and furious, 3 July). But the facts are that the salary scale for NHS consultants ranges from £75,249 to £101,451. The Clinical Excellence award scheme gives bonuses to consultants who make an exceptional personal contribution to the NHS over and above their duties. National awards are decided by regional committees of doctors and lay members after a rigorous process, and overseen by a national committee. Fewer than 15% of consultants receive one, and fewer than 0.5% receive a top-level award, which would bring their salary up to the level quoted in the article.
Rob Primhak
Consultant paediatrician, Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Earlier this week I was seen by my GP without having to make an appointment. He had asked me to come back a month after my last visit to see how I was doing. At our first meeting he’d been happy to suggest medication but also explored my diet, opportunities to exercise, and so on. On my return visit we discussed my progress and plotted a future course to a (hopefully) continued recovery. He was a model GP. But one of the best things is that I think he actually cared about how I was. I totally understand the very many challenges facing our health system and its shortcomings. But it’s also a system which can also clearly be absolutely wonderful.
David Abbott

Luke Harding (Review, 29 June) wrote that Vladimir Putin “has forced western-funded NGOs to register as ‘foreign agents'”. That may be the goal – but it is still far from achieved. Since March 2013 Russian NGOs have resolutely refused to register as foreign agents. For example, in the once-closed city of Perm (it did not  appear on maps in the Soviet period), four NGOs stand by their articulate rejection of this procedure: “No one could use us to harm Russia, nor would they dare to do so.” And no one seems to have heard of the one and only NGO to register so far.
On 10 July a series of court hearings against a number of well-known organisations begins in Moscow. These may bring greater certainty, one way or the other. The determination of Memorial, Golos and other long-standing, widely respected Russian NGOs not to be scapegoated in this way suggests there is unlikely to be a quick or easy resolution of this conflict.
John Crowfoot
Beccles, Suffolk

It is extraordinary, when the US has deeply offended France by being found snooping on its communications, that France should apparently accede to an American request to refuse permission for a plane to enter its airspace because that plane might be carrying the very person who revealed the snooping (Bolivian jet diverted on Snowden escape fears, 3 July). It is more remarkable still when that plane was carrying the president of a third country with which France has had good relations – up till now. France was probably within its legal rights, but it will be most interesting to see the American reaction when some country refuses overflying rights to USAF1 and compels it to make an unscheduled landing with President Obama aboard so that it can be searched for the presence of someone suspected of spying, the director of the National Security Agency perhaps.
Anthony Matthew
• Your editorial (3 July) states “Over the weekend, Ecuador aborted the idea that he might find sanctuary in Quito.” This is completely false. Rafael Correa has made a clear distinction between considering Snowden’s asylum request and committing to provide him safe passage to Ecuador, where he must be to make such a request. The thuggish treatment France and Portugal just delivered to Evo Morales reveals how important that distinction is. Correa has always said he would seriously consider Snowden’s asylum request if he arrives on Ecuadorian soil.
The incident with Morales reveals how foolish it would be for any Latin American country to attempt to move Snowden around within Europe. European governments must be pressured to honour Snowden’s right to asylum and international law generally by explicitly allowing him to move. That is the responsibility, primarily, of Europeans. Others can only implore the Europeans to behave in a civilised manner.
Joe Emersberger
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
• Isn’t it rather naive of the Guardian to suggest that Edward Snowden gives himself up to face trial in the US? This is the country that has 166 men locked up illegally in Guantánamo, 86 of whom have been cleared for release; a country that justifies the use of torture and the killing of innocent civilians with its drone attacks; a country that pardons members of its armed forces who have admitted the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And what about the terrorist Orlando Bosch, who walked the streets of Miami freely despite his involvement in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in the 1970s, where all 73 passengers and five crew were killed? I submit that Edward Snowden could expect little justice from the US and I hope he is awarded protection and support from other countries with more humane governments.
Maisie Carter
•  It seems that the US government has already convicted Mr Snowden, by denying him the use of his passport and by obstructing the fundamental human right to seek asylum from prosecution. The absence of any legal due process speaks volumes about how the government views itself – judge, jury and prosecutor – on any and all actions that may reveal the truth about its covert activities and schemes of privacy destruction – especially when they involve billions of dollars in profits for its corporate subcontractors. The pressures and blackmail applied by the US government on other nations’ leaders also seem to confirm American officials’ views of other countries as mere pawns in a global chess game of domination, in which sovereignty means little and can be trampled on whenever circumstances require it.
Professor Luis Suarez-Villa
University of California, Irvine, US
•  Mark Weisbrot suggests a number of useful ways in which governments can assist Edward Snowden, instead of allowing him to hang out to dry (We can help Snowden, 2 July). I would like to see the Norwegian Nobel committee convene five months earlier than usual and award Snowden with the Nobel peace prize. Such a bold act of solidarity would offer the American whistleblower great comfort at a critical period in his life, and wrongfoot those who wish to bring him down.
Paul Pastor
Ormskirk, Lancashire


One would think, reading some of Owen Paterson’s statements on GM technology, not that he has “swallowed the industry line on GM crops” (4 July) but that he is knowingly cheerleading for the biotech companies, rather than having a care for the environment which is his ministerial responsibility.
He should read the research comparing US and western European agricultural practices, by a team led by Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, which found that “the combination of non-GM seed and management practices used by western Europe is increasing corn yields faster than the use of the GM-led packages chosen by the US”.
Europe has higher crop yields and less reliance on herbicides and insecticides. In other words, Mr Paterson, we are doing far better than we would be if you had your way. But money talks louder than the facts.
Lesley Docksey
Buckland Newton, Dorset
Hugh Pennington (letter, 24 June) thinks that GM is the best way to see off potato blight. He is perhaps unaware that non-GM traditionally bred blight-resistant potatoes, marketed as Sarpo, have already been successfully developed by the Savari Research Trust, a not-for-profit company based in North Wales. Six of its varieties are on the UK national seed list.
Despite promises of supercrops for the past 20 years, the special features of most GM crops are still related to either herbicide resistance or pesticide production. More complicated traits seem to have been much more elusive.
Golden rice (designed to contain high levels of vitamin A) has not been ready and waiting for 15 years as stated by Owen Paterson – it has been at the research stage for 15 years but has been difficult to produce. The International Rice Research Institute reports that it hasn’t yet been tested for effectiveness in reversing vitamin A deficiency, or for toxicity, and is still not ready for commercialisation.
However, there are many supercrops bred by modern conventional breeding techniques, much more quickly and less expensively than GM crops. For instance, Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa has produced 34 new non-GM drought-resistant maize varieties which have been grown in 13 African countries since 2007, resulting in higher yields and a more assured food supply.
Conventional breeding seems to be outpacing GM in this field.
Elizabeth York
Mags for the lads  – and the lasses
John Moore raises an important point about censorship (letter, 4 July). Hannah Pool’s campaign seeks to ban (or remove from sale in certain stores) items that are legal. Lads’ mags are characterised by photographs of young, semi-clad women and are mainly sold to young men.
Meanwhile, another group of magazines (Closer, Now, Chat,  Take a Break etc) is aimed at  young women and is also  characterised by photographs  of young, semi-clad women, as  well as editorial content that encourages prurience, envy and schadenfreude.
I would not wish to chair a debate on the moral equivalence of the two kinds of publication, I simply conclude that you pays your money and you takes your choice.        
Nigel Scott, London N22
I know what I’ll do, John Moore.  I will start publishing magazines with naked men on their covers, with penises both erect and flaccid, and get the local newsagent and sweet shop to make them readily visible. So that we can let the “lasses” have a good giggle, you understand.
No? Then why should women have to be the subjects of “harmless fun” for the lads?
Sara Neill, Tunbridge Wells
Economics lesson
If schools in future could be run for profit, then could students negotiate how much money is spent on them annually before taking up a place and then renegotiate every year? What would stop students changing schools every year  to the provider offering to spend the most?
Kartar Uppal, West Bromwich
Spice of death?
Having recently reduced my salt intake by a half on the advice of your health correspondent who reported (5 April) that by so doing “death could be prevented”, I was sorry to learn that I am going to be obliterated in a billion years, as research from the University of St Andrews suggests. Might as well go back on the salt!
Dr Nick Maurice, Marlborough, Wiltshire
Food fit for a lord
Knowing the reputation millionaires have for being notorious penny-pinchers, may we assume that Lord Freud is sending one of his staff to the local food bank to get food for him?
Gordon Whitehead, Scalby, North Yorkshire
One way to bridge the divide in Egypt
One way of bridging the divide between secularists and Islamists in Egypt would be to recall the view of many Muslims living in the West who see a secular state as defending the right to religious freedom and therefore protecting Islam.
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im argues that only a state whose institutions are free of religious bias can enable Muslims truly  to practise their faith, because then they are free from compulsion to do so.
The Qu’ran says: “There is no compulsion in religion.” A precondition is that, as in the US, the state is not permitted to have an official religion. Apart from that, Muslims can practise their faith as enthusiastically as they wish, as Christians do in many Western countries; everyone is free to believe or not believe.
This may be essential to a resolution of this crisis because it settles a question of principle.
Antony Black, Emeritus Professor in the History of Political Thought, University of Dundee
Failings of the rude generation
I am so pleased that most of the letters in The Independent support the idea that it is rude to disregard others and carry on a conversation on the phone when an interaction such as shopping is going on.
My background as a mental health nurse has demonstrated that people’s psychological health can depend on friendly interaction with others. With so many people living on their own, you may be the only person that day who looks them in the eye and says: “Good morning.”
A friendly smile can mean so much to the lonely, the mentally ill or the elderly. Having a chat to the person on the next table in a coffee shop can be so lovely, and I believe both parties benefit.
I encourage families to eat together too and hold a conversation. Unfortunately, I think we have bred a whole generation of people who would rather interact with machines and I fear they will lose the ability to hold a human conversation – but I am hopeful we can challenge this.
Linda Dickins, Wimborne, Dorset
Speaking on a mobile phone while at the supermarket checkout is appalling behaviour and I am shocked that Sainsbury’s did not support the cashier who refused to serve this very rude woman. There are many other instances where speaking on a mobile is rude, such as when buying bus or train tickets, paying the bill in a restaurant, paying a taxi driver, in a quiet zone on a train and so on.
If this incident leads to an improvement in behaviour, so much the better. We have become a nation where good manners are no longer the norm.
Maria Twist, Sutton Coldfield
If Jo Clarke now intends to talk on her mobile in front of staff at Waitrose because a Sainsbury’s checkout person refused to serve her for doing so (“I’ll go to Waitrose instead”), I trust that such bad manners will receive an equally dusty response from anyone who works for this civilised company.
Andrew Keener, New Malden
Now that we have bus and cycle lanes in our towns and cities, I feel we should also provide special lanes on our pavements for those imbeciles who insist on staring at their smart phones while they are walking along crowded streets. At least it will help to prevent elderly people from being knocked over by their inconsiderate behaviour.
Ivor Yeloff, Hethersett, Norfolk
So hard to get the right teachers
I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of the new “tech level” for sixth-formers to run alongside A-levels. But, as with so many innovations in education  these days, the idea is one thing, the delivery is something else entirely.
Where are the suitably qualified and experienced teachers going to come from? They will have to be able to deliver the “stretching subject knowledge” and have the “hard-nosed practical experience” that will be required.
Anyone with suitable qualifications and experience will already be working in the business world and earning quite a bit more than the average teacher. Why change?
Teaching, as I know from personal experience, is a  rewarding profession in many  ways other than financial, so maybe there will be some disenchanted business employees who will prefer to put something back into society.
But will schools be able to  attract enough highly motivated, suitably qualified teachers by 2016? I doubt it.
Louise Thomas, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Why on earth is Michael Gove unveiling a new “tech level” to run alongside A-levels when there is an existing BTEC National Diploma course (roughly equivalent to three A-levels) which is aimed at those who require a more technical-based education?
Alan Gregory, Principal Engineering Design Systems Engineer, WorleyParsons Europe, Stockport
CHCs still support Welsh patients
John Henderson (letter, 1 July) mentioned the value of Community Health Councils (CHCs) in monitoring the quality of local health services. I couldn’t agree more.
Whereas they were abolished in England in 2003, here in Wales they are still alive and very  much kicking.
We’ve got a statutory duty to represent the interests of patients and support people who wish to make a complaint about their care, and we still have rights backed by law to enter and inspect health premises in our area.
Each CHC has a council of voluntary members drawn from our local communities, supported by a small team of paid staff in local CHC offices. We think they’re still a really good idea.
Dr Paul Worthington, Maes-y-Coed, Pontypridd


Only in the UK are the European directives, designed to give latitude to each nation, narrowed down into highly restrictive parameters
Sir, The letter from the historians adding their voices to those calling for reform in Europe (July 3) is welcome, but they make three criticisms which have straightforward answers.
First, they say that new EU taxes “penalise” finance. It looks as though the Financial Transactions Tax is dying, and the UK recently secured a deal that will help protect trading activities in the EU that happen outside the eurozone.
Second, they say that the EU disregards voters. They are right that the EU needs more democratic legitimacy, and this could be achieved by greater involvement from national parliaments, but no one is forced to be a member.
Third, they say that the EU is wrecking lives in the Mediterranean. Even if there are problems in the south, that is not a good reason for the UK to leave.
Roland Rudd
Chairman, Business for New Europe
Sir, Setting the date for a referendum on the EU has opened up the debate on Europe to rational argument from both sides. The country’s best interests are now more likely to emerge.
One thing which continues to mislead the public is the view that most burdensome regulation comes from Brussels. That is not true. Most of our unique regulatory overkill is made in Whitehall. Only in the UK are the European directives, designed to give latitude to each nation to interpret according to its particular culture, narrowed down by Whitehall gold-plating into highly restrictive parameters that throttle us alone. Where else is health and safety so preposterously burdensome, or small abattoirs and cheesemakers forced to close by regulatory costs? One of the worst areas has been flood defence. Here the restrictive interpretation of the European habitats directive has obstructed and delayed, as well as raised the costs of any work required.
The fastest-growing employment class in the UK in the past decade has not been welders or mechanics but “environmental officers”, up from 11,000 to more than 26,000 — that is more than 1,000 per county.
R. B. Skepper
Woodbridge, Suffolk
Sir, We expect objective analysis from professional historians, not unsubstantiated assertions. The group whose letter you published state as a fact, for instance, that it is EU economic policies that have wrecked lives in the Mediterranean countries. The most cursory examination of the facts would show that the major cause of the disasters was the economic and fiscal policies pursued by the governments of those countries.
Peter Pooley
Alresford, Hants
Sir, John Cridland (Opinion, July 4) is trying to frighten people with dark warnings for when Britain finally leaves the EU.
Claims that Norwegian authorities sit around the fax machine impotent, waiting for their latest instruction from Brussels, are risible: 90 per cent of Single Market rules are covered by UN and other international bodies. Norway acts in its own interest on those bodies, which is more than can be said for the UK where our place is taken by the EU. In reality Norway has more influence on EU rules, from outside, than we do from within. It has access to the market but sets its own rules.
Nigel Farage, MEP
Leader of UKIP
Westerham, Kent

Prizegiving ceremonies can discourage those who do not achieve the highest academic standards, but they can reward other qualities too
Sir, I disagree with the Rev Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard (“Schools should abandon prizegiving, says cleric”, July 3). In 11 years of headship and now as a guest speaker at numerous schools, I have come to value these occasions when the community gathers to celebrate achievements and efforts.
In my experience, a reassuringly Christian message pervades: those who have not won a prize are encouraged to persevere, and schools note that there are different kinds of success. All are, indeed, “treated as honourable” within the context of a realistically competitive society which inspires youngsters to achieve as individuals and to appreciate others, too.
A competitive attitude does not of necessity exclude the servant ethics of the Christian kingdom.
Julie Robinson
Education and Training Director,
Independent Association of Preparatory Schools,
Leamington Spa
Sir, While I agree that prizegiving ceremonies can discourage those “not quite good enough” to receive awards, I wouldn’t ban them altogether. At school in the 1950s my sister was the proud recipient of the annual Courtesy prize awarded for being considerate to others. With similar prizes, any child be can recognised for attributes which have nothing to do with academic achievements.
Alan Millard
Lee-on-the-Solent, Hants

Democracy is not a onetime event at the ballot box. It involves democratic institutions, free press, fair-minded bureaucracy and more
Sir, People who bemoan the fall of “democracy” in Egypt appear to believe that being elected is synonymous with democracy. But Hitler and Stalin were also “elected” and they promptly destroyed any semblance of dissent and democracy.
Democracy is not a onetime event at the ballot box. It involves democratic institutions, free courts, free press, fair-minded bureaucracy and more. It is a culture which is considerate of the needs and aspirations of every community within a country.
Sadly, it seems that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — with its highly intolerant attitude — seriously failed its people and the test of democracy.
Joshua Rowe
Sir, Many comments on events in Egypt conflate democracy and freedom. The distinction is clear. Democracy is a decision-making process. Liberalism defines a regimen that protects individual freedom; and it achieves consensus by the threads of social cohesion. The thickest thread is the common law and adjudication by an impartial judiciary — necessary only when parties fail to agree.
Politicians often suggest that the judiciary should not determine the law because it is unelected. The exact opposite is true. Legislation brings a potential for tyranny by the will of a majority. Mr Morsi’s declaration that placed his decisions beyond legal scrutiny did not bode well.
G. R. Steele
Lancaster University

In these austere times the enemy is not a warring nation of the 1940s but rising costs, waste and pollution of the 21st century
Sir, The Government should follow the lead of the French (“Put that light out!” July 1) and make it obligatory for businesses and public buildings to turn off unnecessary lights at night to reduce energy consumption and it should also fine non-compliance; instead of pussyfooting about saying that shops and factories will be paid to ration electricity (“Britain faces blackout”, June 28) and place the cost on to household energy bills.
In these austere times the enemy is not a warring nation of the 1940s but rising costs, waste and pollution of the 21st century. The battle is just as serious and the Prime Minister might well find Britain’s households will respond better to a demand that business and industry turn lights off. Penalise the offender, not the citizen.
Alan Wells
Ashford, Kent
Sir, In the 1950s and early 1960s we used to have an energy-saving day, it was called “Sunday”.
M. P. Bryan
Solihull, W Midlands

If we can’t find a way to recover the full costs of looking after foreign nationals on the NHS, we should call it foreign aid instead
Sir, British travellers must buy health insurance when they go abroad but have to underwrite the emergency medical costs of 30 million inbound travellers every year who don’t have to. This is worth at least £600 million every year.
If we can’t find a fair and simple way to recover the full costs of looking after foreign nationals on the NHS, these costs should go into our foreign aid budget.
Dr Richard Dawood, MD
London EC4

SIR – It was heartening to hear of the tree-planting initiative for black grouse by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (report, June 24).
However, woodlands are not the primary habitat of the species, despite much wishful thinking.
Focusing conservation efforts on woodlands will not benefit black grouse, whose main cause of decline is the loss of moorland habitats — ironically due to tree planting, predation and poor ground cover caused by over-grazing.
After 60 years of woodland creation in the Southern Uplands, black grouse number around 200 lekking males, and are now almost entirely to be found on a few grouse moors.
Urgent action to restore lost moorlands is required in this area.

SIR – The last Labour government was convinced that absenteeism by NHS consultants in favour of the private sector was widespread and was the root cause of the ills of the NHS of the day (report, July 2).
So entrenched was this view that, despite cogent evidence to the contrary (most consultants worked significantly in excess of NHS contracted time), Labour railroaded through a new contract to regulate consultant working hours.
This forced consultants to account for every hour of their working week, reduced flexibility and obliged out-of-hours work to be contracted and thus remunerated.
This massive miscalculation by Labour de-professionalised the consultant grade and resulted in the NHS suddenly having to pay a huge premium for services that previously had been delivered for no cost.
Another case of politicians not taking doctors’ advice?
Related Articles
Restore moorlands in order to save black grouse
04 Jul 2013
Dr Rob Ginsburg
London NW11
SIR – I have retired as an NHS consultant this week after 39 years in the health service.
For the last few years I was paid at the top of the consultant pay scale and earned approximately £101,000 a year with an additional mid-range clinical excellence award. Even taking this extra income into account, I never achieved the “average” consultant salary of £140,000 suggested in the report of the public accounts committee.
Where did I go wrong? Do you think the authors of this report might have confused management consultants in the NHS with doctors?
Dr Michael Johnson
Guiseley, West Yorkshire
SIR – It was the Office for National Statistics that created the myth about NHS productivity falling. In December 2012 it accepted its error and concluded that rather than falling by 0.4 per cent a year for 10 years, NHS productivity rose by about 0.7 per cent a year. Measuring productivity is complex; most of my surgical colleagues are compulsive workaholics, but if management does not provide sufficient porters, nurses, intensive care units and ward beds, it is difficult for them to treat more patients, even on weekdays.
Dr David Whitaker
SIR – Productivity has fallen but this is because we have put in a whole range of processes such as the World Health Organisation’s operating theatre checklist to make hospitals safer.
Audits and revalidation all take time but do contribute to better patient outcomes.
Stephen Blair
Heswall, Wirral
SIR – Does the Hippocratic oath now only apply Monday to Friday?
Bharat Jashanmal
Fairford, Gloucestershire
MPs’ salaries
SIR – Jack Straw (Comment, July 2) is quite right to argue that one of the causes of the expenses scandal was poor basic pay.
However, this Government is quick to advocate productivity-related pay in other areas of the public sector, so why not adopt a payment-by-results policy for MPs? Their pay could be linked to a variety of things such as national deficit, national debt, inflation, balance of payments and unemployment.
If such a policy also affected their absurdly generous pensions then this policy of enlightened self-interest might even lead to sensible economic policies.
Andy Dyson
Southwell, Nottinghamshire
SIR – It is not clear to me why MPs’ salaries should be compared with those of the professional classes, since they have no professional qualifications, have had no training and cannot be sure of being in the job for very long. They are public sector workers and less immediately useful to the public than the people who remove our rubbish, keep our streets clean or rescue us from fire and flood.
Surely, if MPs were valuable to us, more of us would turn out to vote for them.
Doraine Potts
Woodmancote, Gloucestershire
SIR – Since Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973, there has been much transfer of law-making and responsibility from Westminster to Brussels. In the intervening 40 years, has there ever been a reduction in MPs’ salaries to reflect this reduction in responsibility?
Stephen Gilbert
Maidstone, Kent
Bedtime reading
SIR – Your excellent obituary of Professor Kenneth Minogue (July 3) is subtitled “Influential conservative thinker who argued that politicians had no business telling voters how to behave”.
Could I suggest that the many titles cited might make salutary bedtime reading for Chris Grayling (Comment, July 3)?
Roger Smith
Meppershall, Bedfordshire
Slippery science
SIR – Neil Stubley (“Hands off our grass”, News Review, June 29) and Justin Smith (Letters, June 28) have correctly analysed the slipping problem at Wimbledon: the players need more suitable shoe soles.
The complex theory of polymer friction was elegantly outlined by K A Grosch in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 1968, and at about the same time J T Barclay of the Mining Research Establishment observed that compounds with a high friction in dry conditions often had very poor friction in wet or contaminated conditions, and vice versa.
I am sure that the manufacturers of yachting shoes have encountered similar problems and would give helpful advice.
D I James
Wem, Shropshire
Marital secrets
SIR – What keeps a marriage together (report, July 2)?
The phrase, “Yes, dear”.
Simon M Wall
Edgbaston, Warwickshire
SIR – You report that to “bite your tongue” is the way to ensure that a marriage endures. I did this – and was told that I was sulking.
John Newbury
Warminster, Wiltshire
Renting property
SIR – Your report on “Generation Rent” (“End of the Thatcher property revolution”, June 29) highlights the need for profound reforms of our home-rental system.
We need intelligent rent controls to prevent escalation of the costs beyond the capacity of most wages to meet them (as is already happening in London); greater security of tenure – so that a rented flat or house can truly become a home; and strong controls to prevent rogue landlords and agents exploiting tenants with unreasonable charges.
After the clear failure of the Coalition’s Green Deal, we need investment of government money in improving the quality of our housing stock. This will create jobs, reduce fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions.
Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales
London NW1
Cost of sugar
SIR — I fully agree with Germaine Greer’s defence of cane sugar (“Beet a retreat from a brute of a crop”, Weekend, June 29).
The cost of sugar in the EU is currently 90 per cent above world prices. The main reason for this is a lack of competition in the EU sugar sector, exacerbated by European rules that make it difficult and expensive for cane refiners such as Tate & Lyle to import raw sugar.
The latest EU Common Agricultural Policy deal will liberalise the market for beet while maintaining tariff barriers for imports of cane. We need to protect, not penalise, refiners. Sugar cane must be an important element of the EU sugar regime.
Marina Yannakoudakis MEP (Con)
London N3
Whistling sweetly
SIR – My mother made the most glorious puddings and cakes, but whenever she had briefly to leave the kitchen she would ask me to whistle my favourite tune.
Ever tried to whistle and swallow cake mix at the same time?
Michael Draper
Nether Wallop, Hampshire
SIR – While waiting for the train, I was absently whistling The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Whenever I came to the awkward “diddle-iddle-dum” phrase, a stranger on the down platform obligingly put it in for me. We continued in concert until his train came in.
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Northwood, Middlesex
Commemorating (lost) battles, the French way
SIR – Nicholas Wightwick (Letters, July 1) asks if the British would ever commemorate a battle lost, as the French do Agincourt.
Perhaps he would care to join me at Arnhem this September.
Colin Cummings
Yelvertoft, Northamptonshire
SIR – Mr Wightwick should visit Battle Abbey in Sussex. English Heritage commemorates there our most famous defeat on English soil, the Battle of Hastings, with engaging interactive displays, audio tours and re-enactments.
The exact location of the battlefield itself is disputed and relics of the conflict are strangely absent, but a splendid story is enjoyed by English and French alike.
Peter Saunders
Salisbury, Wiltshire
SIR – A few years ago a BBC programme invited French schoolchildren to think of some historical victories over the English. Without hesitation they started to recite “Azincourt, Crécy, Poitiers…”.
Perhaps Napoleon was right when he said that history was “the agreed fable”.
Christopher Egerton-Thomas
Hove, East Sussex
SIR – France was on the winning side at the battle of Waterloo. The King, Louis XVIII, was on the side of the Allies. The French government, under the leadership of Talleyrand, was on the side of the Allies. The people of Paris at the opera applauded the Allied Sovereigns even though they had arrived as conquerors.
The fact was that everyone except the army (members of which resisted the idea of a dull civilian life) and a few disgruntled revolutionaries were tired of Napoleon’s wars and wanted a settled life. The French can celebrate 2015 as fully as we can.
David Damant
Bath, Somerset

Irish Times:
Sir, – Only at US Immigration have I ever had my mug-shot and fingerprints taken, while the online US visa application process has my date of birth, home and IP addresses, phone, email and credit card details.
That’s a lot of personal data to be held by an agency of a foreign government who, we are now told, is warehousing vast quantities of electronic data and communications, collected on a worldwide basis.
Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US Prism project should serve as a warning of the vast ambition of this burgeoning security-technology complex which, if left unchecked, poses a real threat to civil liberties, not just in the US.
There is a balance to be struck between the right of the individual to privacy and the safeguarding of the populace from terrorist activity, but a virtual electronic tagging/spying programme involving much of the world’s population seems to overstep the mark by some considerable distance.
Prism appears to breach international law and should be the subject of the strongest possible protest and, if possible, legal prosecution by Ireland and our EU partners. One way of driving home the message in forceful terms would be to grant Mr Snowden political asylum on an EU-wide basis, if that is possible. – Yours, etc,
Haddington Park,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – What a pity those two warriors for freedom: Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, weren’t around on the days leading up to the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6th, 1944. Their policy of “Everybody must know everything” would have been most helpful to those defending the beaches, don’t you think? – Yours, etc,
Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath.
Sir, – In view of the Snowden revelations, and in particular of the latest antics affecting Tuesday’s flight across Europe by a South American head of state, perhaps there is a need for a European Independence Party? – Yours, etc,
Rue Victor Vanderhoeft,
Brussels, Belgium.
Sir, – What blatant hypocrisy is displayed by European countries, especially France, in relation to Edward Snowdon. To satisfy public outrage at the US attack against their citizens’ right of privacy, European politicians assert publicly it could hinder trade relations with the US. However, in private they are still the lapdogs of US imperial power, displayed by their obedient behaviour in refusing the President of Bolivia Evo Morales’s aircraft the use of much of European airspace on suspicion that the Bolivian plane carried Mr Snowdon.
Goodness only knows what would have happened if Mr Snowdon was actually on board. – Yours, etc,
The Moorings,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – Since Big Brother was obviously not watching when our bankers/politicians helped Ireland into financial freefall, maybe we should ask Edward Snowden if Uncle Sam was, by any chance, listening. – Yours, etc,
The Park,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – If Edward Snowden was an official of the Iranian intelligence service and disclosed details of that country’s nuclear weapons programme, I have no doubt that western countries, Ireland included, would be falling over themselves offering him asylum. – Yours, etc,
Pope’s Quay,
A chara, – Mr Snowden, I have a spare room in Kimmage. – Is mise,
Cashel Road,

Sir, – In his column (“Public anger over Anglo tapes can not be ignored”, Business, July 3rd), Ciarán Hancock asks what is to stop the Central Bank from providing a step-by-step account of its various actions in relation to the banks and what is to prevent the Central Bank from publishing correspondence from the banks, in addition to other materials?
There is no unwillingness on the Central Bank to provide as much transparency as possible on these matters; however there are a number of legal restrictions – both domestic and European – placed on the Central Bank which requires it to maintain confidentiality on certain matters and in particular in regards to its dealings with individual banks. These confidentiality requirements are not specific to the Central Bank and indeed apply to financial regulatory authorities throughout Europe, stemming as they do from European law, including various supervisory directives in addition to the Rome Treaty and the European System of Central Banks Statute.
It is worth noting that, despite these constraints and within the legal requirements, an in depth analysis of the relationship between the Central Bank and the banks, including analysis of the banking guarantee, was presented in the report, The Irish Banking Crisis, Regulatory and Financial Stability Policy 2003 -2008 of Central Bank Governor, Patrick Honohan, published in May 2010. – Yours, etc,
Central Bank of Ireland,
Dame Street, Dublin 2.
Sir, – Let’s keep our eye on the ball here. It is not the German people who are bailing out the Irish people, but the Irish people who are bailing out the German, and other, banks that invested in Anglo Irish Bank. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – As deputies Mathews, Timmins, Walsh and Flanagan vacate their offices in Leinster House, I hope their hearts will be lightened by the fact that they have the heartfelt respect and admiration of a very great number of the citizens they serve.
The whip has its uses, particularly in as small a democracy as ours, where it can shield deputies from constituency-based pressure, as they carry out the normal business of the House.
In the present instance, however, as a result of the courageous stance of a number of deputies, the whip no longer provides cover; it has been broken in principle by people of principle.
It is becoming clear that the whip will offer cold comfort to any TD who is unwilling to take and articulate a principled stand regarding the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. – Yours, etc,
Tinahely, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – I know practically nothing about embryology – which appears to be far more than the Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry from UCC does (Letters, July 4th). The suggestion (though vague enough for future denial) is that the zygote divides and divides and divides until eventually it becomes a lovely baby nine months later. This is pseudo-scientific claptrap.
I have one simple question for Prof Reville: at what point in this admittedly incredible process does there exist a completely differentiated cell that he can clearly state will be part of the final human being and not just medical waste? It is certainly long after the zygote stage.
The problem with life is that it is complex. The zygote is only slightly more down the road of development than the sperm and egg – and Prof Reville also seems unaware that it is just as powerless to initiate a biological continuum. It still needs a host (with or without her consent). – Yours, etc,
Killarney Road,
Bray, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – With regard to the evocative opening paragraphs of Miriam Lord’s article “Creighton finally lays her cards on the table without showing them all” (Dáil Sketch, July 2nd), it is unclear whether ”[a] woman with her husband” and “[a] young girl [who] sits with her mam” are imagined by the author or actual persons.
I presume these scenarios are imagined, unless Miriam Lord was in Dublin and Cork airports simultaneously and also privy to both of the conversations referred to, each of which, by chance it seems, happened to refer to the possibility of Fine Gael TDs losing the party whip. If these persons and conversations are imaginary, it appears they are purely intended to evoke the emotions of the reader at the outset of an article which, it seems from the headline, is concerned with commentary on the debates in Leinster House. In my view, this blurring of fiction and fact is unhelpful to the reader. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Brian O’Connell has sought to misrepresent the approach of our company and the wider industry (Opinion, July 3rd), so it is important to reiterate the commitment of Diageo to both Ireland and working with all parties to tackle alcohol misuse.
He also incorrectly asserts that photos of prominent figures with a pint of Guinness in some way promote what he calls Ireland’s “boozy image”. This is akin to saying that famous people photographed enjoying a glass of champagne in France promotes drunkenness. It doesn’t.
The fact is that the international popularity of the Guinness brand has seen the Guinness Storehouse become the number one paid visitor attraction in Ireland. Therefore it is no surprise that visiting dignitaries specifically request to see the Guinness brewery and Guinness Storehouse when they come to Ireland. We are happy to support these requests, the vast majority of which receive no public attention whatsoever. A small number of these visits are made public by the visitor him or herself and they can generate huge positive publicity abroad for Ireland.
The recent Tom Cruise visit secured more than 300 million media impressions across the globe, in newspaper, television and internet pieces highlighting Ireland as a place to visit. Care is taken during such events to ensure that excessive consumption of alcohol is not promoted. For example during the recent visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he was given a 100 ml sample of Guinness in a half pint glass to taste. Therefore, rather than promote alcohol misuse, these visits promote Ireland both as a tourist destination and a producer of high quality crafted food and drinks products that are marketed and consumed responsibly.
Diageo remains one of the largest food and drink manufacturers and exporters on this island and our purchases of goods and services are worth an estimated €274 million to the rural economy alone, and up to 90 per cent of what we produce is exported. We are currently investing just under €160 million in a new brewing centre of excellence at St James’s Gate, and hope to be able to continue our centuries-old tradition of producing high-quality crafted products, which we can then promote and market responsibly both at home and abroad. – Yours, etc,
Corporate Relations

Sir, – John Murray (Opinion, July 3rd) argues that we should not consider re-defining marriage in the absence of evidence that children raised by same-sex couples fare as well as children raised by opposite-sex couples.
Leaving aside the debate on the relevant sociological evidence, this position is flawed for the simple reason that preventing same-sex couples from marrying does not prevent them from raising children.
We might as well pass a law preventing same-sex couples from driving, and seek to justify this by reference to evidence on optimal parenting arrangement. However, such a law would not prevent same-sex couples from raising children – it would just make their life more difficult where they do. The same can be said about preventing them from marrying. – Yours, etc,

The Senator omitted to state that it was Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton who, under the Irish presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of this year, brokered the EU-wide agreement on the Youth Guarantee. The guarantee, once implemented from 2014 on, will assure young people between 18 and 25 a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship, a traineeship or work experience within four months of becoming unemployed.
Thanks to the priority which the Irish presidency attached to the youth unemployment issue, it has risen to the top of the European political agenda, as evidenced by the high-level Conference on Youth Employment held by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin this week, attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ms Burton.
Furthermore, Ms Burton and German minister of labour and social affairs, Dr Ursula von der Leyen, have reached agreement in principle on a memorandum of understanding between Ireland and Germany on a range of youth employment measures to benefit both countries.
Ms Reilly suggested that just four of the 333 commitments in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs relate to young people. In fact, young people are included in half of the major policy areas covered under the action plan, and many of its individual programmes and schemes will be of major benefit to young people.
Finally, Ms Reilly stated that the Department of Social Protection submitted its bid for funding for a Youth Guarantee pilot project in Ballymun only in June of this year, several months after the European Commission had invited applications. This is absolutely and verifiably untrue. The department submitted its application in October 2012, and the Commission indicated it would respond in due course. It did so yesterday – and confirmed that funding would be provided for Ballymun. – Yours, etc,
Press Adviser to the

Irish Independent:
* Brian O’Driscoll is the incarnation of the truism that form is temporary but class is permanent. His reaction to being cruelly axed from the Lions’ squad says it all.
Also in this section
Cowen helpless to stop impending disaster
No winners if austerity continues
Sneering at Germans has been deeply hurtful
Though gutted, he put his own massive disappointment to rest and immediately saw the bigger picture in declaring it is up to “the boys to see it through”.
With his back against a wall for the stale stilted brand of rugby he has been championing, Lions chief Warren Gatland has backed himself into a corner.
This test series should already be won. Caution, conservatism and an innate lack of creativity have given the kiss of life to the Wallabies.
Gatland’s lack of vision is a great shame, but his decision to revert to the tried and the trusted in selecting 10 Welsh players is not surprising.
He put himself in a desperate situation and O’Driscoll has taken the hit. The Welsh contribution has been outstanding and for every joyous day in sport there has to be a loser in the reckoning too.
O’Driscoll has lost this time out; but he has sealed his place in the pantheon of legends of the oval ball, already. If honour, courage and consummate skill count for anything in rugby then O’Driscoll will walk away a giant, regardless of Saturday’s result.
By contrast, the decision not to discipline the Australian captain James Horwill for the incident in which he appeared to stamp on the head of a new Lion’s opponent, has upset all those who appreciate the true spirit of sport. It was not rugby’s finest hour.
Test matches are supposed to be the pinnacle of the game after all. I hope the Lions win, but without the totemic O’Driscoll even allowing for his dip in form, it has become a much tougher task. Gatland has gone for dray horses when he needed thorough-breds.
Tommy Bowe, Johnny Sexton and Sean O’Brien – make your old mucker in the stands proud, in the name of BOD.
TG O’Brien
Ballsbridge, Co Dublin
* What are the Lions supposed to stand for: The best that England Scotland, Ireland and Wales has to offer? Ten Welshmen? No Scots! Why did Gatland not just stick Neil Jenkins in instead of Johnny Sexton and put the tin hat on it? Sounds like panic stations to me. Brawn over brain and no Brian. Enough already.
DW Lawless
Killiney, Co Dublin
* I ate a sandwich on a bench in leafy Herbert Park, Ballsbridge, yesterday. Within minutes I was surrounded by vermin. Eleven magpies got close and personal.
It was a positively Hitchcockian experience. They meant business – if birds could speak I imagine that they were saying, “Your sandwich or your eyeballs, Bud!”
They were joined by two grey squirrels – if squirrels could speak I’d say they were muttering, “Your sandwich or your nuts, Bud!” All that was missing was a few rats.
What, I ask, is the City Council going to do about this infestation? These creatures need to be culled, and swiftly.
Manus O’Toole
Milltown, Dublin 6
* Your correspondent Ewald Gold describes himself as a German taxpayer who participated in helping to save Anglo Irish Bank. My understanding is that the bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank, who were in the majority German, were in fact bailed out by Irish taxpayers.
Contrast this with the treatment meted out to 155 Irish investors who bought Dresdner 6.25pc 2031 Bonds rated A in early 2005 which were marketed by Bloxham Stockbrokers. Unknown to the Irish investors the Dresdner Bond was subject to a swaps agreement contrived by Morgan Stanley.
In January 2009 during the bank crisis, the Dresdner Bond was downgraded by Standard and Poor’s and Morgan Stanley took the opportunity to exercise the swaps agreement with the result that the Irish investors were left with only €0.03 per €1 invested.
Some of these investors have since received part settlements by Morgan Stanley under threat of legal proceedings but I and another known to me have received nothing.
It seems “bonds” have a different meaning when issued in the name of a German bank to Irish investors from those issued by an Irish bank to German investors.
John Caffrey
Greystones, Co Wicklow
* It is at last encouraging to see that the DPP is considering criminal prosecutions against the Anglo Irish bankers following publication of the tapes by the Irish Independent.
It is unprecedented that the President has had to apologise to the world and to assure them that this was not representative of the Irish people.
How this will be received remains to be seen as the Irish accents would suggest they weren’t exactly aliens spouting the foul-mouthed castigations of all and sundry in the financial world together with government figures to boot.
Those responsible for the creation of the current austerity should be brought under the hammer – such as those not doing their job like the regulator and senior bankers refusing to divulge the correct information for assessment purposes in establishing their net worth.
Nothing less than prosecutions will suffice in the recovery process.
Pat O’Grady
Pinner Middlesex, England
* So the Anglo Tapes may lead to prosecution.
In this case, can the Government re-examine sentencing for these crimes before any trial starts?
After all, we don’t want to get to the end of a long, expensive trial to figure out you only get 12 months for defrauding the Irish public of over €200bn.
If lessons are to be learned from this, then they need to be harsh ones.
Pauline Bleach
Wolli Creek, Australia
* We have to stop our faux outrage at being perceived as drunken morons by our friends around the world. The legislation for alcohol sponsorship in sporting circles being put on the backburner further emphasises the problem.
We welcome Queen Elizabeth to have a sip of the black stuff, Barack Obama tried it too and the images went around the world hammering home the point that all we do is drink.
I commend Minister James Reilly and Junior Minister Alex White for taking a stand against this regime.
David Patrick
Dunboyne, Co Meath
* I have a suggestion regarding the applications for asylum by Edward Snowden. Has he tried the Vatican? Surely they would not refuse a good Christian.
He did not kill anyone and did not plant a bomb. What he did was tell a great truth in an effort to prevent wars. He deserves protection under international and humanitarian law.
John Merren
Address with editor
Irish Independent

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