Hair and hospital

12 July 2013 Hair and hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Troutbridge is sent off to rescue a lost yacht but manages to sink it. Its the admiral’s yacht too, but he has others. Fortunately he is Murray’s godfather. Priceless.
Warmer today hair for me and hospital visit for Mary
We watch Left Right and Center its not bad, magic
Scrabble Mary wins but she gets under 400 I might get my revenge tomorrow.

Anna Wing
Anna Wing, the actress, who has died aged 98, became a household name in her old age as the cockney matriarch Lou Beale in the BBC Television soap opera EastEnders.

Anna Wing Photo: REX
2:23PM BST 11 Jul 2013
Herself the daughter of an East End grocer, she was 70 when the series was launched in February 1985. She was cast as the “archetypal East End mother-earth figure. Fat, funny, sometimes loud, often openly sentimental”. As Lou Beale, she formed a formidable on-screen partnership with Ethel Skinner, played by Gretchen Franklin.
Anna Wing’s character — full name Louise Ada Beale — was so named after one of the writers spotted it on a tombstone in a London cemetery. As the principal matriarchal figure in the EastEnders cast, she ran her house in Albert Square as the command post for the extended Beale clan: her twin children, Pete and Pauline; Pete’s second wife, Kathy; and their son Ian. After just eight months on the air, EastEnders topped the ratings as television’s most popular programme, overtaking its chief rival, Coronation Street on ITV.
In a career spanning more than 50 years Anna Wing had worked extensively in repertory and the West End as well as on radio, television and in films. Although an East End cockney by birth, she lived most of her life in the West End of London and was a familiar figure in artistic and bohemian circles before the war.
Twice married and divorced with two sons, she once said that she was “fundamentally working-class” but preferred to think of herself as classless. She always felt that she was a natural bohemian.
She asked to be written out of EastEnders after only three years, saying that she had reservations about the way the show was heading, although she later admitted wondering if she had made the right decision.
Anna Eva Lydia Catherine Wing was born on October 30 1914 in Hackney, where her parents ran a small grocery business and lived above the shop, which they shared with a fishmonger. She was educated at a progressive Quaker school and considered becoming a missionary before deciding to work as an artist’s model. A visit to the Old Vic to see a play starring Sir John Gielgud inspired her to become an actress.
Her family were too poor to support her at drama school, but then help came from an unknown benefactor who paid £100 a year into a Post Office Savings account on condition that she would never attempt to identify the person responsible.
She kept that promise, and never knew who had made her career possible; but she endeavoured to repay this kindness in later years by giving lessons to struggling actors in her spare time.
She enrolled at Croydon Drama School at the age of 21 and within a year had made her professional debut as a 40-year-old maid in JM Barrie’s Mary Rose. This was followed by seasons in Glasgow, Nottingham, Sheffield and Croydon. After the outbreak of war she returned to London and served as an ambulance driver.
In the 1950s Anna Wing left the East End for a bohemian lifestyle “up West”, where her friends and acquaintances included Mark Bonham Carter; Quentin Crisp, author of The Naked Civil Servant; the writer Nina Hamnett; and the painter Augustus John. Her cockney roots, however, continued to influence much of her work.
Her West End successes included Cook in Little Brother, Little Sister at the Royal Court (1966), which Eric Shorter in The Daily Telegraph praised as “a cockney creation worthy of Irene Handl”. She was also singled out by John Barber in the Telegraph for her “riveting performance… as the landlady with the idiot grin” when she played Meg in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party at the Shaw (1975).
Her numerous television productions included Comrade Dad, The Invisible Man, Smiley’s People, Sorry, and Give Us A Break. She also appeared in films such as A Doll’s House (1973); Providence (1977), with Sir John Gielgud; Full Circle (also 1977); The Ploughman’s Lunch and Xtro (both 1983). She was also in numerous documentaries, commercials and training films.
But it was as the grumbling, dowdy Lou Beale that she really came to public attention, and she maintained that her authenticity in the role was down to her childhood memories of the East End: “She’s such an interfering old busybody, but I knew a lot of women just like her when I was a girl. They’re the sort of characters you never forget for as long as you live.”
Set in Albert Square in the fictional London district of Walford, EastEnders was launched as a rival to ITV’s long-running Coronation Street and within months its Tuesday and Thursday episodes (repeated on Sundays) had claimed the top two places as television’s most popular programme. Aggregate audiences climbed to 18,250,000, but sometimes reached 19,250,000 as viewers flocked to follow the twists and turns of the weekly plot.
The producers told Anna Wing to “bring something from your background” when developing her character. In the event, Albert Square was named after the actress’s real-life father.
When Anna Wing first read for the part of Lou she overacted, and on the second reading, when she was less nervous, she toned down her performance. But the producers were still concerned: at 70, would she have the stamina for a twice-weekly serial, and would she be able to remember her lines? For her part, Anna Wing had no doubts: “All my life I’ve been an actress,” she declared, “now I want to be a household name.”
When the Lou Beale character was written out in 1988, her leaving proved to be the beginning of an exodus of several other original characters from the serial’s early days.
Away from the EastEnders set at the BBC’s Elstree studios, Anna Wing lived in some style in a West End flat close to Oxford Circus. She listed impromptu musical gatherings around the piano as one of her favourite pastimes, and also enjoyed attending the ballet and classical music concerts.
She remained a Quaker, saying that she liked their open-mindedness, tolerance and pacifism, although she described herself as belligerent by nature. A lifelong political activist, she supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
She was appointed MBE in 2009.
Anna Wing first marriage was to Peter Davey, an actor. Her second husband was a poet, Patrick O’Connor. She had two sons, Mark Wing-Davey, also an actor, and Jon Wing-O’Connor, a teacher.
Anna Wing, born October 30 1914, died July 7 2013


Simon Jenkins’s assertion that NHS records online would be read by insurance companies is wholly wrong (Comment, 10 July). If insurance companies need to access medical records to write a policy or pay a claim, they retrieve them from a doctor, with the consent of the policyholder. Were that consent not to be granted or the records withheld, then the insurance company would not offer the policy or decline the claim. There would be no business reason whatsoever to do anything more than that.
Nick Starling
Association of British Insurers
• Nick Bagnall is incorrect when he says that Barnet is the only English battlefield that can be reached on the tube (Bring up the bodies, 10 July). If he caught the District line and alighted at Turnham Green, he would find himself within the parliamentarian lines of the eponymous November 1642 battle. This, the third-largest battle during the civil war, saw the royalist advance on London stopped with only limited fighting and the king’s hopes of an early victory dashed.
Simon Marsh
Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire
• Tim Ottevanger correctly pointed out the error in your report that last Friday’s Commons vote on holding an EU referendum was not passed unanimously, but wrong in claiming it was passed nem con (Letters, 8 July). This is an abbreviation of nemine contradicente, meaning that no one spoke against, not that no one voted against. According to Hansard, Douglas Alexander, among others, spoke against and 30 voted against. Yes, I know I should try to get out more.
Geoffrey Renshaw
University of Warwick
• Not teaching children 12 times 12 would be gross negligence (Letters, 11 July).
Claude Scott
Richmond, Surrey
• Shall I send the facetious letter about putting the shears on my chopin liszt, which might get published (Letters, 11 July); or the serious one defending Prince Charles (Letters, 11 July), which won’t?
Mary Jackson
Harlow, Essex
• You could always wave them to scare off the dog next door who offenbachs.
Marianne Lederman
Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Your editorial on Royal Mail (Don’t tell Sid: warn him, 11 July) compares the sell-off with British Rail – which many Conservatives would not criticise. The answer, therefore, is to do the job properly. The fixed assets – sorting offices and delivery offices – would be taken over by a new national organisation to be called Network Mail. If the upkeep and development of these premises became too onerous, they could always be taken back into public ownership. The movable assets – vehicles – would be taken over by one or more leasing companies, maybe Postmanbrook Leasing and a couple of others.
The house-to-house delivery of the mail would be undertaken by MOCs – mail operating companies – and would probably be best organised regionally. These companies, which would have to include Virgin Mail, would sell their own stamps through post offices in their region, but would accept each other’s stamps for items sent long distance.
The Queen would signify agreement to allowing her head to be used on the stamps by granting a royal appointment to each company on condition the stamps bore no advertising.
The franchise would be awarded by competitive tender, with potentially lucrative regions such as London requiring a payment to the government, while the Highlands and Islands would involve a government subsidy.
An alternative name for these companies would be POCs – postal operating companies – in which case the stamps would be cancelled by POCmarking.
Implementing this system would provide much-needed work for lawyers hit by the changes to legal aid and would also secure David Cameron’s place in history as the greatest privatiser since John Major.
Keith Potter
Gunnislake, Cornwall
• Your historian (Report, 11 July) has overlooked the 1989 sell-off of British Shipbuilders, comprising the great names of a lost British tradition: Vickers, Swan Hunter, Vosper Thornycroft, Yarrow … all now subsumed within BAE Systems. Like Simon Hoggart’s Farnsbarns, echoes from a forgotten age.
David Giles
• Royal Mail privatisation is an issue where David Cameron should have every reason to be grateful to his two sworn enemies: the European Union and the Labour party. It was the European commission that decreed postal services should be opened up to competition, and the Labour government which rushed to implement the decree, rather than finding valid reasons for not doing so. The result was to convert the Royal Mail into simply one of many delivery firms and to end the monopoly status it has rightly enjoyed since its creation. This in turn opened the way to the next step – full privatisation. If Royal Mail is simply another TNT, it arguably does not deserve to be owned by the public. What the Queen makes of all this is a matter for interesting speculation.
Robin Wendt
• The Conservative party is to privatise Royal Mail. Then presumably the Royal Mail will be able to make donations to … the Conservatives. A nice little earner.
Brian Moss
Tamworth, Staffordshire
• What happens to the government’s financial borrowing hole when there is nothing left to sell?
Jake Fagg
• Good to see the Labour party is opposing the privatisation of the Royal Mail. My new party membership card reached me this morning – via TNT.
Simon Adams

Paul Chamberlain, who is suffering from motor neurone disease, makes a most valid point when he challenges those in parliament who oppose assisted dying to tell him that in person (Report, 10 July). As he states, he would explain to such parliamentarians that he wants to avoid a continuing and escalating process where he would lose totally all his faculties prior to death. It was disappointing that there was such opposition when the Commons last debated assisted dying on 27 March 2012. Of course, like others who want to see a change in the law, I understand some of the arguments put forward by opponents, who argue there could be dangers to the lives of disabled people who may be urged to take that route. However, it is interesting to note that in the few places abroad where assisted dying exists, and where tight safeguards are in place, it has simply not brought this about. If I thought there was any such danger, I certainly would not be arguing along these lines.
It is to be hoped therefore that when Lord Falconer’s bill is debated in the Lords, there will be greater understanding and sympathy for those like Paul Chamberlain and others in his condition suffering from terminal illness, who urgently plead for the change being argued for.
David Winnick
Labour, Walsall North
• At the end of the article you print the address of the Samaritans (an organisation I support and respect), but you have not included the contact details of either Compassion in Dying or Dignity in Dying – both of which would be more appropriate for people in Paul Chamberlain’s and similar situations.
Rogelio Vallejo

If the Scottish National party seeks to remove the Trident base from Faslane as an intrinsic part of a possible post-independence government (Report, 11 July), is it really too much to ask that it pays for the relocation of the facility? The estimated cost could be as much as £20bn and take 20 years, and it seems wholly unreasonable on the part of the SNP to deny costs that are precipitated by its own political actions. This argument serves only to highlight the complexity of the settlements that will be necessary should Scotland leave the UK, because it is not just assets that should be considered; an equally fraught issue will be apportioning public debt.
Both the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS had their financial headquarters in Edinburgh when the credit crunch had a serious impact on the banking sector in 2008. These two companies required massive injections from the UK government to stay afloat. The cost of the bailout to HBOS is reported to be in excess of £30bn. Alex Salmond is on record as saying that the UK government should still be liable for the full £187bn that is propping up RBS, even if Scotland were to win independence, despite the fact that he supported the RBS takeover of ABN Amro, a move that led to the near collapse of the bank.
However, is the SNP really going to deny any responsibility for the capital these two Scottish-based companies required from UK public finances? The same applies to the possible relocation of the Trident base. The SNP’s attitude to sharing the responsibility of debt and infrastructural changes implies that it is not confident about the economic viability of an independent Scotland.
Henry Page
Newhaven, East Sussex
• I see the Ministry of Defence has a cunning plan to keep Trident at Faslane if the Scots are foolish enough to vote for independence. The ministry plans to designate Faslane as a sovereign base and therefore effectively part of England. Now where have I heard that idea before? Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Grabbed by the US at the end of the Spanish American wars, it has become a symbol of international shame, housing a prison where people are suspected of terrorism but denied any legal rights. In the unlikely event of Faslane being designated a sovereign territory it, too, would become a symbol of shame.
I suspect this plan is going to backfire. The people of Scotland will take it as an insult that we cannot decide whether our country can be used as a base for weapons of mass destruction.
Let us give a gift to the people of England: let them use the removal of the base as a reason to abandon Trident altogether and save themselves £100bn.
Hugh Kerr
• It is a sad day when your paper comes out (Editorial, 11 July) in support, not only of the retention of Trident and its location at Faslane on the grounds it is “relatively remote” (25 miles from Glasgow and a population of more than 2 million in the central belt who overwhelmingly oppose it being there), but also of the idea of the British state, in ways reminiscent of Empire, effectively blackmailing a smaller state into ceding territory for purposes inimical to the people of that state and against their democratic wishes.
Alex Turnbull
• So we in the remaining UK (RUK) will “allow” Scotland independence only if they surrender Faslane? And presumably when blockading demonstrators have been captured by RUK military and the then independent Scots police refuse to arrest them, they will be subject to extraordinary rendition to black sites back “home” in the RUK?
Peter Nicholls
Colchester, Essex
• Why not put the Trident subs in the Thames? Then London’s taxpayers (and US tourists) could actually see what they’re paying for, and perhaps understand what a bargain nuclear weapons are in the war against terror.
Jonathan Wills
Bressay, Shetland
• Bruce Kent suggests privatisation of the armed forces (Letters, 11 July). Let’s develop that idea further. How about selling Trident to G4S? That should be to everybody’s benefit.
Roger Plenty
Stroud, Gloucestershire

The horror of rural Cambodians losing their land so that we can consume the sugar grown on it is an example of a global problem we are all indirectly involved in and should do more to stop (Rush for Cambodia’s sugar leaves farmers feeling bitter at ‘land grab’, 10 July). We need better global regulations so vulnerable people around the world do not lose their homes and the land they rely on for food without consultation or compensation. Only then can poor communities be protected from exploitation and violence. In return, companies can protect their brand. Steps to stop land grabs make both strong ethical and business sense, but initial progress by the World Bank and the G8 must now be strengthened by action from the private sector and us all, as global citizens, if we are to stop land grabbing become a scandal of our time.
Sally Copley
Campaigns director, Oxfam

John Mullan’s commentary on The Masque of Anarchy was a welcome and informative read (Anarchy in Peterloo, G2, 9 July) and it’s great that the poem itself is available online. If only this were the case for Shelley’s Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, published in 1811. Having slipped out of sight for nearly 200 years, the poem was “discovered” in 2006, put up for sale and is now “in private hands”. The effect of this bit of business is that the poem is not generally available, as making it so would lower the value of this unique copy. This reminds me that though we talk blithely about the “republic of letters” and the “free circulation of ideas”, when it comes to the rules of property, we interested readers can go hang. Perhaps Amnesty could take on the injustice of the continuing imprisonment of Shelley’s poem.
Michael Rosen
• Maxine Peake is to perform Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy in Manchester this weekend. It’s some feat. Years apart, Paul Foot persuaded two of his young sons, Matt and Tom Foot, into learning the poem by heart. His eldest son, John Foot, refused the bribe. It was a commercial transaction at so much a verse, the rate rising with the number of verses remembered. A cassette records Matt reciting 73 of the 91 verses when he was under 10 and also, years later, Tom reciting the poem on his 13th birthday on 16 August 1992. In 1819, that was the day of the Peterloo massacre outside Manchester. Shelley’s poem was a furious response to the massacre, but it was not published until 10 years after his death. Paul’s wonderful book, Red Shelley, was written to restore Shelley’s political ideas to his poetry.
Rose Foot



I totally disagree with Andrew Grice (3 July) who argues that MPs deserve a £10,000 pay rise. MPs have for far too long regarded themselves as meriting special treatment. They have given themselves easily the best pension rights of any group in our society, they permit no performance assessment, they did their utmost to prevent the details of their taxpayer-funded expenses becoming public, and many treat their allegedly full-time job as if it were merely part-time.
We are now told they deserve a large pay rise because they could earn much more money in the private sector. In any other job, those making such a case would be laughed at or ignored. Earnings are largely determined by the law of supply and demand. Numerous people want to become MPs; that is an argument for reducing their pay.
The notion that paying MPs much more would lead to higher-quality MPs is specious. Most of those benefiting from the pay rise would be the same low-quality individuals who are currently MPs, plus those lured into Parliament by high earnings rather than dedication to the public good.
Professor Michael W Eysenck, London SW20
I went to my boss and asked him for a 10 per cent pay rise. I told him that I would be taking a few other jobs so might not be around all the time I am paid for. After all, I need experience of how others work to be able to do my job properly.
As we have a busy evening shift I also told him that we should have bars in our workplace. A wee drink helps make work more interesting.
I said that even if he quadrupled my salary to £70,000 a year I could not afford my drink and meals in the restaurant and would need a subsidy so I could eat foie gras and drink malt whisky.
What he said is unprintable. I took it as a no.
In the interests of efficiency in these hard times, at the next election all candidates should competitively tender and state the salary they would accept for the job, undertake to be available to do it full time and while sober and to pay for their own burgers from McDonalds.
Andrew Pring, Gillingham, Dorset
Could state pensioners and people on benefits please have an Independent Standards Authority on the lines of that which cares for our MPs?
Bill Fletcher, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Commons ‘veto’ vote will mean a Tory England
The proposed voting reforms for English-only matters in Parliament will, if Labour wins the next election, probably result in no government in England for the duration of that parliament. Every government bill on English matters will be defeated,
Another result is that a large part of northern England will be effectively disenfranchised for ever; England will have one-party government in perpetuity.
It is also wrong to assume that England-only decisions do not affect the smaller component parts of the UK. While we in the rest of Britain are to some extent insulated from the depredations of Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and others, we are by no means immune. Geographic proximity, and small relative size, combined with interlinked institutions, mean that there is a great deal of underlying pressure to conform to Westminster decisions.
Margaret Thatcher is largely responsible for devolution because of the way she managed to alienate the Scots and the Welsh. David Cameron obviously wants to finish the job.
Malcolm Calvert, Holyhead, Anglesey
Let HS2 stop on the way
I am disappointed that Chris Blackhurst has joined Peter Mandelson and other commentators in criticising the HS2 project (5 July).
However, the promoters of HS2 have only themselves to blame in not being flexible enough for the project to offer benefits to those along its path, as well as near its destinations. Contrast the opposition to HS2 by Cherwell District Council in Oxfordshire with its enthusiastic endorsement of the East-West Rail project which will eventually link Oxford and Cambridge via Bicester.
In HS1 and the 140mph Javelin services to mid and east Kent we already have a model where a service running on a “classic” railway uses a high-speed line to complete the journey to its urban destination. Such a popular, cost-effective solution to the likely overcrowding of the Chiltern Railways routes to Marylebone could be easily achieved with an interchange near Bicester or Aylesbury.
Such a more flexible approach would see HS2 as part of a railway network in the Home Counties and not simply as something “dropped from Mars”.
Peter Chivall, Peterborough
Vaughn Clarke is being disingenuous with his comment that HS2 will go to Birmingham airport (letter, 11 July). It will, but not to the present Birmingham International Station. Instead, a new station will be built on the far side of the runway. How the two will be connected is unclear, but the (needless) expense will undoubtedly be enormous.
As important as where HS2 goes is where it doesn’t go. Here in Coventry (eighth largest city in England) we currently enjoy an excellent fast service to London: does anybody really think that will last, once the Birmingham trains start to pass us by?
It is perfectly possible to be in favour of all the things the politicians promise from HS2 and still oppose it on the grounds that the proposed route is ludicrous, since it doesn’t connect anywhere after leaving Euston station.
Gillian Ball, Coventry
Devalued honours
Andy Murray’s is just the latest bandwagon that our dear Prime Minister has jumped on, all in the vain hope of making himself popular. John Boylan (Letters, 9 July) is quite right in saying that the honours system has become devalued. In fact, that happened many years ago, as my grandfather realised when he declined a knighthood just for doing his job as a civil servant – no doubt much to my grandmother’s annoyance.
Indeed, why should people expect honours for doing their usually very well paid jobs? Civil servants, politicians, bankers and business people are already well rewarded without the state heaping dubious honours on them. The system is occasionally exposed for what it is when one of the recipients blots their copybook and has his or her honour removed. 
Actors, comedians and singers are well enough known and rewarded without having “Sir” or “Dame” shoved in front of their names. Sportsmen are normally young, and otherwise immature, when saddled with a title. Which means more to them: an Olympic medal, a world title or this appendage which the state feels duty-bound to add ?
The only people worth honouring are those who are these days referred to as “unsung heroes”, who do what they do for the benefit of others and without hope or expectation of reward.
Michael Hart, Osmington, Dorset
Our duty to Snowden
We should be grateful to Edward Snowden for revealing that all of us, including our representatives in key international negotiations, are routinely spied on by American intelligence.
We should be sympathetic to his search for political asylum, because his is a political gesture not an act of espionage, and also because we have seen the cruel and inhuman treatment meted out to other whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning.
We should be horrified by the breach of the President of Bolivia’s diplomatic immunity: we rely on international law for the safety of our own ministers and missions.
We should cease to tolerate a USA which respects and protects the human rights of its own citizens but not those of other humans around the world; an America which kills, kidnaps, and tortures and which holds people in prison indefinitely, without trial, even when, by its own account, they have no case to answer.
Why the deafening silence? Is it that we no longer care? Is it that we are disabled by our complicity? Or are we afraid?
Sir Mark Jones, Oxford
Why did no one save deportee?
Your report (10 July) on the tragic death of the deportee Jimmy Mubenga aboard a British Airways flight makes no mention of whether any passenger or member of the crew objected to, or attempted to intervene in, what was in fact an extended unlawful killing taking place in front of their eyes.
Or perhaps they were so overawed by G4S uniforms that they made no objection or attempt to come to his aid and prevent the continuing and fatal distress of Mr Mubenga? In which case we might wonder how well they are sleeping at night?
Brian Mitchell, Cambridge
Modern manners
Isaac Atwal complains (Letters, 10 July) about supermarket customers who don’t respond to a “Hello, how are you?” If only. Mostly these days I’m on the receiving end of what I’ve concluded must be parsed as “You all right?”, delivered in sub-Valley Girl/Estuarine interrogatory, often through a mouthful of chewing gum. 
I suppose it’s nice of them to ask, but I never get the feeling that they expect a reply, much less care about what my reply might be. So I nod, and smile, and carry on talking on my mobile.
Edward Collier, Cheltenham,  Gloucestershire
As we were in a quiet carriage I asked a young man to turn the volume down on his headphones: “Australia 229 for 9,” he responded.
Dr John Doherty, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Bullfight cruelty
Why is The Independent glorifying the Running of the Bulls (“So what’s your beef?”, 11 July)? At the end of the frightening and hazardous chase through the streets of Pamplona, the bulls face a long and torturous death in the bullring. The reality of this “tradition” is shown in graphic detail in a new film by the League Against Cruel Sports.
Kevin Mutimer, London SE6
Both Archie Bland (10 July) and Grace Dent (11 July), while professing indifference towards news of royal babies, nevertheless find them valuable column-fodder.
Brian Mayes, Edinburgh


The public will decide at the 2015 election whether to entrust our civil rights and liberties to the judiciary or to politicians
Sir, Martin Howe, QC, a Eurosceptic Tory colleague on the Bill of Rights Commission, describes (Thunderer, July 10) the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment on the review of life-term prisoners’ sentences as “an offensive attack on civilised principles of justice” and as “arbitrary rule by judges according to laws they make up as they go along”.
The Prime Minister, the Justice Secretary and the Home Secretary also use the judgment to attack the ECHR and to renew their threat to scrap the Human Rights Act and UK acceptance of ECHR jurisdiction if they win a majority at the next election. Dominic Raab, MP, claims that the ruling is evidence of the court’s “warped moral compass”.
These attacks are unfair and harm the UK’s diminished reputation for upholding the European rule of law. The ECHR’s judgment protects civilised principles of justice. In his concurring opinion, the British Judge, Paul Mahoney, suggests that it could readily be met by giving greater clarity in the Prison Service Order or by providing for the review of life sentences after a set period, usually after 25 years’ imprisonment.
Ministers and Parliament will need to consider these options in accordance with their duty to abide by the court’s judgment. And the public will decide at the 2015 election whether to entrust our civil rights and liberties to the independent judiciary or to populist politicians who dislike having to account to judges, here and in Strasbourg.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC (Liberal Democrat)
House of Lords
Sir, Recent rulings by the ECHR on Abu Qatada and life prison terms have outraged many politicians but we should pause before sharing that outrage. After all, who would you trust best to give a fair judgment — someone with a lot of training, experience and time to consider the law and facts of the case, or a politician seeking approval with populism tinged with jingoism?
We should show more respect for the expertise and independence of those making the rulings. Part of the purpose of the judiciary is to protect us from the abuses of the political mechanism and the European Court is our last line of defence.
Gareth Tarr
Chertsey, Surrey
Sir, The ECHR decision was clearly reasoned and correct. Had Nelson Mandela been executed, he would have become a martyr. What if his life sentence had been incapable of review?
Michael Stannard
Verbier, Switzerland
Sir, Chris Grayling argues that the ECHR judgment on life sentences was perverse because the draft of the European Convention was drawn up when the Soviet Union had political prisoners jailed for indefinite periods.
The Justice Secretary’s logic is wrong and the reference to the former Soviet Union anachronistic. Accepting the Convention is a precondition of accession to the Council of Europe. The Soviet Union never joined the Council nor applied the Convention, no doubt because its ruling party felt the same as ours does now about inconveniences of the rule of law. Does the Justice Secretary’s onslaught on the court mean he wants to put the UK back in the position of the old Soviet Union, outside the Council of Europe, to which Russia now belongs?
The European Court’s judgment would not have seemed perverse before 2003, when ministers themselves gave up the power to review whole-lifers. It wouldn’t seem so odd in Scotland where there is no whole-life tariff, or in Northern Ireland, where there is provision for review. “Life means life” instils hopelessness into the system and the individual. The European Court is right.
Sir Edward Clay
Epsom, Surrey

The UK should respond positively to the election of a new President who has made clear his commitment to greater transparency
Sir, We urge the Government to restore full diplomatic relations with Iran in the wake of the election of Dr Hossein Rouhani as its new President. Currently our ambassador is not in place in our embassy in Tehran.
Dr Rouhani unexpectedly romped home with more than half the vote on the first ballot in a 75 per cent turnout. That was the more significant given his progressive campaign and positive stance towards the West, which would hardly have endeared him to many in Iran’s religious establishment.
Since the election the new President has made clear his commitment to greater transparency on nuclear matters and more freedom for Iran’s people and press.
The UK should respond positively, without the predictable pre-conditions.
If such an overture is not reciprocated, then the long stalemate in our relations with that country would no doubt be resumed. But if it led to an ending of the diplomatic deadlock at this critical moment in the Middle East it would benefit everyone bar the extremists.
We believe that the UK would be right not to wait for the US before reaching out. Many in the US would quietly applaud such a move.
Baroness Williams of Crosby; Lord Lamont of Lerwick; Lord Phillips of Sudbury
House of Lords

We should have a written Constitution, US-style, to set limits to the quasi-presidential prime ministerial system inaugurated by Tony Blair
Sir, So we are now to move to a continental European ministerial “cabinet” system, in the name of Civil Service reform (July 9).
On the basis of 20 years’ diplomatic and administrative experience in the Paris embassy and Brussels, I am less than impressed. If we intend real reform the transatlantic example is worth considering. Why not a written Constitution, US-style, to set limits to the quasi-presidential and only semi-accountable prime ministerial system inaugurated by Tony Blair (and only in temporary abeyance under the coalition)?
Parliament also needs to be reinvigorated, by releasing MPs from the tyranny of the Whips and harnessing their energies and talents in a really powerful system of Congressional-style, cross-bench committees, independently staffed, to hold the executive to legislative account.
Sir Leslie Fielding
Elton, Shropshire

Union members should be able to support any political party they wish to, which might be a democratic solution to the problem of funding
Sir, Mr Miliband wants union members to opt in to paying dues to the Labour Party and through this become party members (July 10). Why not, at the same time, add a facility for the union members to be able to become members of any other political party they wished?
A majority of the population do not support the Labour Party so it is quite possible that many union members support another party; this would widen party membership and be a democratic solution to the problem. Union leaders might then find out the views of the majority of the members, not just those of a few activists.
Nicholas Russell

The reinstatement of left luggage lockers would be an ideal way to use wasted parts of railway stations and bring in extra income
Sir, If Network Rail wishes to generate income from the redundant parts of its stations, it could first bring back the much-lamented left luggage lockers.
Our Danish friends, who do not drive, refuse to visit as long as they cannot leave their luggage at such cities as Salisbury and Exeter.
Malcolm Chase
Fleet, Hants


SIR – The Government’s proposed changes to legal aid threaten children’s access to justice and put their protection, safety and wellbeing at risk. As representatives of organisations working for children’s welfare, every day we see how critical the support from legal aid is for protecting children’s rights. We are shocked by the range of proposed restrictions.
Introducing a residence test for civil legal aid and plans to restrict legal aid for judicial review and prison law would leave thousands of children unable to challenge unfair and inhumane treatment, including unlawful treatment by public authorities.
In the most serious cases, such as care proceedings, clinical negligence or cases where children are at risk of homelessness or detention, children will be left without access to legal support. Even some victims of child trafficking and exploitation will be cut off from legal assistance, leaving them unable to challenge damaging decisions.
We urge the Government to acknowledge the harm these changes would cause both to children and to the integrity of our legal system, and abandon these proposals.
Matthew Reed
Chief Executive, The Children’s Society
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Dr Hilary Emery
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Kathy Evans
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Kay Boycott
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Andrew Radford
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Camila Batmanghelidjh
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Sarah Brennan
CEO, Young Minds
Penelope Gibbs
Chair, Standing Committee for Youth Justice
Shauneen Lambe
Executive Director, Just for Kids Law
Barbara Rayment
Director, Youth Access
Susanne Rauprich OBE
Chief Executive, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services
Frances Crook
Chief Executive, The Howard League for Penal Reform
Wayne Myslik
Chief Executive, Asylum Aid
Celia Clarke
Director, Bail of Immigration Detainees
James Kenrick and Holly Padfield-Paine
Co-Chairs, JustRights
Professor Carolyn Hamilton
Director, Coram Children’s Legal Centre
Keith Best
Chief Executive, Freedom From Torture
Bharti Patel
Paola Uccellari
Director, Children’s Rights Alliance for England
Julie Bishop
Director, Law Centres Network
Vaughan Jones
Chief Executive, Praxis Community Projects
Jane McConnell
Chief Executive, Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA)
Sheila Melzak
Clinical Director, Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile
Alison Garnham
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Natasha Finlayson
Chief Executive, The Who Cares? Trust

SIR – If Damian Green, the policing minister, really wants to concentrate the minds of our 43 police chiefs on improving the standards of behaviour of their officers (report, July 9), he should simply publish a league table showing the names of the best and worst behaving forces.
The necessary statistics required to compile such a league table must surely be readily available in annual chief constables’ reports in the form of records of substantiated complaints made last year.
John Kenny
Acle, Norfolk
SIR – Mr Green is right to say that the police should be more polite. They should also be encouraged to stop using tiresome police jargon which doesn’t help communication with the public.
Unless, say, in a court setting, why are people “persons”, or a 42-year-old “male” not a man, or a four-year-old “female” not a girl? I recently heard a policeman explaining on television that “the victim was ‘life declared extinct’ at the scene” – that will be dead then.
Christopher Read
Guildford, Surrey
SIR – The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it would infringe the human rights of convicted murderers if they had no chance of ever being released (report, July 10). But what about the human rights of their victims?
Dr Peter Islip
Sanderstead, Surrey
SIR – The ECHR has decided that “life means life” sentences are a breach of a murderer’s human rights. Surely these convicted killers gave away their human rights when they took another human’s life – a life sentence should mean just that.
Allan J Eyre
Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire
SIR – Our legal system is capable of making the distinction between killers who should be kept in for long sentences, and those who should never come out. We do not need Europeans to instruct us.
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Ellis Field
SIR – I agree entirely with the sentiments expressed in yesterday’s report on the decision by the ECHR to uphold Jeremy Bamber’s appeal under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
I do, however, take issue with any implication that the decision has been made by “Europe”. Britain was one of the original signatories to the convention, which took effect in 1953. This country’s legal draughtsmen had been instrumental in drawing it up in the wake of the horrendous human rights abuses during the Second World War. Implementation of the convention was not then, nor is it now, part of the EU bureaucracy. As with all the countries subscribing to the convention, our judiciary is represented at the Court.
We cannot blame “Europe” for this latest legal interpretation, derived from war-time human rights abuses.
Angus McPherson
Findon, West Sussex
SIR – One argument used for abolishing capital punishment was that it would ensure that innocent people, mistakenly convicted of murder, could never be executed. Your list (July 10) of the 48 murderers serving life sentences shows that eight of them killed again after having been convicted of a previous murder.
Since capital punishment was abolished, many innocent people have been killed by previous murderers. So the argument that the abolition of the death penalty would save innocent lives has had the reverse effect.
David Whitaker
Alton, Hampshire
SIR – It is shameful that we in this country are unable to accept the ruling that to refuse even to review a prisoner’s punishment after 25 years is unjust. Whole-life tariffs should be reviewed, even if it is likely to be adjudged that the offender should remain in prison.
Simon Bryden-Brook
London SW1
Trade union’s politics
SIR – Workers join their recognised union for professional reasons, not because of any political ideology (report, July 9).
A retail worker joining the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) is no different from a land owner joining the Country Land and Business Association (CLA). The principle is exactly the same. And like the CLA, Usdaw has always had a good working relationship with the government of the day, regardless of colour.
An example of responsible ground-level union activity is the Union Learning Fund, which upgrades the skills of workers in the interests of the wider economy, as well as themselves.
John Barstow
Member, Usdaw Executive Council
Pulborough, West Sussex
SIR – Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, has identified the problem, not just with Labour, but with all the political parties. He is trying to stop the career route from university to political adviser in the Westminster bubble, and then to becoming an MP. He wants people with real-life experience to be MPs.
This echoes the advice given by the late Iain Macleod when approached by a young man wishing to become a Conservative MP. He told him to get a job, get a wife and family, and when he had some experience to apply to become an MP.
Hugh McIntosh
Bedtime battles
SIR – Bedtime for our daughter was easy when I was working in the tropics (“The bedtime routine to a brighter child”, report, July 9). Night descended at 6pm.
However on first leave in June in Britain, it became a rod. As my daughter said at 9.30pm: “But mummy, it’s not dark yet.”
Leslie Thorogood
Maidenhead, Berkshire
Honours even
SIR – If a knighthood can be bestowed on Baldrick – aka Sir Tony Robinson – surely the honour is deserved by Andy Murray?
Geoff Chessum
London EC2
Clinical cancer trials
SIR – As a specialist registrar in clinical oncology, I cannot agree with Maurice Saatchi’s assertion that there is no cure for cancer because innovation is regarded as deviation (Comment, July 9).
There is no panacea that would cure people of devastating diseases if only physicians were brave enough to use it. Neither will progress be made by mavericks combining therapies on the basis of their personal interpretations of the scientific literature. Cancer is more complex than that, and the potential for unintended harm is too high. Progress can only come about if the fruits of scientific research, for which Britain is renowned, get translated into clinical trials.
If Lord Saatchi wishes to improve the lot of cancer patients in Britain, his influence would be better brought to bear by improving the recruitment and retention of talented cancer biologists; improving the rates of early cancer diagnosis, when the disease is at a curable stage; removing some of the regulatory roadblocks to clinical trial initiation; and ironing out regional disparities in access to curative therapies such as cutting edge radiotherapy.
I fear that the Medical Innovation Bill obscures the real issues, and will achieve nothing.
Dr James Good
London W14
SIR – Sir Michael Parkinson expresses his confidence in being cured of prostate cancer, and comments that: “If you can pee against a wall from 2ft, you haven’t got it” (report, July 8). Sadly, this is untrue; it is possible to have prostate cancer without any symptoms at all, which I did. Luckily mine was detected early, and easily cured.
All men should be urged to have a prostate specific antigen check every year once they are nearly 50; a high reading does not necessarily mean cancer, but does indicate that something is wrong, which should be investigated.
David A D Smith
Newmarket, Suffolk
Tuned into the Ashes
SIR – The opening of the Ashes series brings a sharp reminder of the lack of coverage on free-to-air television. One elderly member of our village cricket club remarked that he was doing what he did 70 years ago – listening to it on the radio.
Cricket is rapidly becoming unknown to the majority of schoolchildren, making the future of clubs such as ours uncertain.
Rob Lowe
Daventry, Northamptonshire
A woman’s maiden name is part of her identity
SIR – Keeping your maiden name has nothing to do with feminism – but everything to do with identity (Letters, July 10). The blood coursing through my veins is Bailhache – it’s who I am, the history that I was brought up with, my illustrious ancestors that I was taught about.
My husband’s name (Lavender) has no resonance for me; having said that, our daughter is a Lavender – it’s for her to find her own history.
Helen Bailhache
Tandridge, Surrey
SIR – When I got married, I took my husband’s surname, abandoning my father’s name. This was on the grounds that I had chosen my husband, but I did not choose my father.
Elizabeth J Charlesworth
Loughborough, Leicestershire
SIR – My youngest daughter is a superb wife and mother but many years ago rejected both her husband’s and her parents’ surnames because she did not wish to be known merely as an appendage to someone else.
She legally adopted her second Christian name as a new surname.
Maurice Tyler
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
SIR – The problem of identity when naming the children of parents with different surnames would be solved if male children took their mother’s surname and female children took their father’s surname.
Surnames would be less likely to be lost forever.
Ann Stally
Alcester, Warwickshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – Enda Kenny seems to be in a frightful hurry to get the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill through the Dáil as rapidly as possible. Sitting until 5 am? The last time the Cabinet debated an issue until that hour, we ended up with the bank guarantee. Why the hurry?
The months of July and August lie ahead, free for Dáil debate at reasonable hours, until such time as proposed amendments are thoroughly debated. – Yours, etc,
Royal Oak Road,
Co Carlow.
Sir, – At this juncture, as our politicians debate the Government’s abortion proposal, it may be worth considering the Dublin Declaration on Maternal Healthcare which has, to date, been signed by over 200 obstetricians and gynaecologists in Ireland and worldwide.
“As experienced practitioners and researchers in obstetrics and gynaecology, we affirm that direct abortion – the purposeful destruction of the unborn child – is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
“We uphold that there is a fundamental difference between abortion, and necessary medical treatments that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child. We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women.” – Yours, etc,
Professor of Obstetrics
& Gynaecology (Emeritus),
NUI Galway,
University Road,
Sir, – Apparently our Government found it necessary to work through the night – finishing just before 5am. I’m not surprised a Labour TD made a mistake, voting the opposite to the way he intended. I find it incomprehensible that the Government thinks it is acceptable to work through the night. Please, go home, get a good night’s sleep, and deal with the matter in hand refreshed the following morning. – Yours, etc,
Glenoughty Close,
Co Donegal.
Sir, – Fine Gael should not be too worried when pro-life supporters threaten never to vote for the party again. Irish people appear to have short memories when it comes to such vows, judging from Fianna Fáil’s current standing in the polls. – Yours, etc,
Meadow Copse,
Dublin 15.
Sir, – I see we’re still complaining about the right to conscientiously object to giving potentially life-saving treatment in the case of risk to life to mothers in pregnancy (July 11th). Here are some possible solutions: if you object to supplying treatment, another branch of medicine might be more suitable as a career; or perhaps hospitals could “conscientiously” opt out, whilst publicly notifying prospective patients that a range of potentially life-saving treatments will not be on offer in those establishments.
As for those who want everyone working in the health sector to be able to refuse to assist in supplying medical care when it suits them, they need to consider what it means to live in a society governed by laws, and see how they would like this attitude to be adopted by people with other ethical, philosophical or pragmatic concerns that differ from what is deemed legal and just. Maybe the Catholic Church could lead the way in this exciting new regime of moral relativism. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I recently went to the Montrose branch of the Bank of Ireland, intent on speaking to an actual member of staff. I was ushered into a little room with a telephone and directed to speak to a disembodied voice. I emailed Bank of Ireland to complain about such a dehumanised way of doing business. I received a brief email in reply, which thanked me for my feedback and told me that new services had been introduced in their branches to make banking “more efficient for our customers”. This is just one example of a phenomenon that I’m sure many of your readers also experience and lament. Who is actually in favour of this increasing facelessness in business and public life? Isn’t the great claim of the free market that it is supposed to give people what they want? Who is calling for this? Surely the great majority of customers would rather talk to a person than negotiate an online form, a recorded telephone menu or a self-service machine?
Today I sent an email to the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, suggesting they begin a campaign against this sort of dehumanisation in business. The ironic reply: “Thank you for contacting the Consumers’ Association of Ireland. The huge response to our recent request for correspondence in relation to consumer issues means we are unable to respond to all queries and unfortunately we are not in a position to offer you advice at this time.” No help from that quarter, then. But surely there is something that can be done, if enough people feel the same way? Any suggestions from your readers? – Yours, etc,

A chara, – I note that Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore is visiting the US to lobby for new immigration legislation there which will put many, including an estimated 50,000 “undocumented” Irish, on the path to US citizenship (Breaking News, July 11th). This is all very laudable and hopefully a satisfactory conclusion will be reached for all those who are undocumented in the US.
However, Mr Gilmore’s trip to the US once again highlights the sheer hypocrisy of this Government. Migrant Rights Centre Ireland estimates that 30,000 undocumented migrants, including children and families, live in Ireland, the majority of whom have been here for many years. In 2011, for example, nearly 2,700 people were deported from Ireland by this Government.
Perhaps on his return from lobbying support for the “undocumented” in the US, Mr Gilmore might also lobby Minister for Justice Alan Shatter for those in a similar “undocumented” state here. – Is mise,

Sir, – It is distressing to hear commentators in print and other media and now Chief Justice Susan Denham (“Boardrooms must emphasise ethics, says Chief Justice”, Home News, July 9th) lumping all business and company directors together with the prominent few speculators loosely termed “businessmen” whose reckless greed dragged us all down the drain. The vast majority of directors and owners of companies never got on that gravy train but like so many others, are paying for it now as their business are stifled or killed by zombie banks withdrawing normal overdraft and loan facilities. – Yours, etc,
Industrial Packaging Ltd,

Sir, – Aside from the difficulties of empanelling an unbiased jury, there has long been an argument that matters involving company law are unsuitable for this kind of trial: they are too technical for the ordinary juror to grasp and proceedings can be of long duration. There are good reasons to have such issues tried by a special court of judges only.
What the past couple of weeks have indicated is the best way to extract the truth of the banking collapse is to put those with a case to answer on trial and listen attentively to their defence.
An Oireachtas banking inquiry is likely to be protracted, tortuous and far too expensive. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Arising from your colourful piece on (ticketed) touring outdoor theatre productions (Summer Living, July 10th), isn’t it a shame that free home-grown performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Dublin’s Iveagh Gardens have had to be cancelled for lack of quite modest commercial and institutional sponsorship?
As an actor in the free Fortune’s Fool Productions’ The Tempest at that venue last year, with the rain one evening pouring down our faces and the muddied ground barely keeping us upright, I have treasured the sense of communion, almost osmosis, between the dedicated cast and the audience, who by huddling around our playing area until the final line, showed their respect for our efforts and, of course, for Shakespeare! – Yours, etc,

Sir, – So people who don’t pay their water bills will have their water pressure reduced (Front Page, July 9th). The governor of Mars in Total Recall tried to do something similar with the air supply to the residents of Venusville. Has this Government entered its science-fiction stage? Will it send the Terminator to households that don’t pay their property taxes? – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

* Should this letter be published, by the time it appears in newsprint the sound and the fury over the abortion debate will have abated somewhat and a matter that has been dodged by governments for decades will have been addressed.
Also in this section
Law should be there to protect women today
Time for some blue-sky thinking
Seasonal invasion of second-home owners
I commend Enda Kenny for acknowledging his responsibilities. No I am not “pro-life” per se, nor, I hasten to add, am I pro-choice.
I am one of the many who harbour in a twilight agnosticism far from the madding crowd.
Of course I would love to see every expectant mother given the support and love to bring her infant into this world.
I would also hope that those who are overwhelmed and incapable of doing so are afforded all of their needs. But ours is far from a perfect or idyllic existence. In the utopia of my private views all would be cherished, capable of parenting, and loved.
Yet every year there is a silent procession to the UK, and other countries, of thousands of Irish women seeking terminations, abortions or whatever is the word we use nowadays to classify this tragedy.
Until now we have always looked the other way. At least a modicum of realism has been introduced – we have finally acknowledged that there are circumstances where doctors have been circumscribed from discharging their medical obligations.
I am not happy that this amendment has been voted through. There is no triumph, but we have at least matured enough to take some moral responsibility.
There is no subject more charged with emotion than abortion, and that is as it should be for there is no gift more precious than life.
Let us do all we can to take care of mothers and their babies, and this includes bringing errant fathers into the equation and compelling them to play their part so that a mother is not left in an impossible position.
There are very few absolute truths in life.
However, one of them is that all must ultimately take responsibility for their decisions. If one goes through the long and lonely night of the soul and makes a decision in good faith then why should there be such haste in casting the first stone?
In the end there are no black, white or grey areas, these metaphors are confounding – there is really only life. Compassion and a resolution to care for each other are the only lights we have.
PW Du Barry
Monkstown, Co Dublin
* During the 2011 General Election campaign, Fine Gael gave a commitment in writing to the voters that the party would not legislate for abortion. People voted for Fine Gael in the election on that basis, so Enda Kenny and Fine Gael have no mandate from the Irish people to introduce abortion legislation.
Despite this, Enda Kenny has brought the abortion legislation through the Daíl, and the Fine Gael deputies who had the courage to stand up for life and the party’s commitment to the Irish people have been expelled from the parliamentary party.
No wonder people are cynical about politicians and political promises. Sadly, in this case, Fine Gael’s broken promise will lead to broken lives.
That is the ultimate political betrayal.
Dr Cliodhna Donnelly
Aisling, Knocknacarra, Galway
* Rosaleen Hogan (‘No right to take life’, Letters, July 9) asks: “How can we embody a law that allows the suicidal ideation of a mother to decide the fate of her unborn child?”
There is one major point that Ms Hogan seems not to have taken into consideration – when a mother commits suicide, her unborn child will die automatically at the same time. Perhaps this factor might change the ethical calculus regarding abortion in this particular case.
Martin D Stern
Hanover Gardens, Salford, England
* It is a pity after what was a very good and open debate on the protection of life that key people have now taken unreasonable entrenched positions.
The Taoiseach is in effect excommunicating TDs and senators from Fine Gael who do not fully back the bill. On the other hand many pro-lifers, and in particular the Catholic Church, are opposing any legislation at all.
I would suggest the following solution: Remove the provisions of suicide from the bill. Have a tied vote on this reduced bill. Put the provisions on suicide in a separate proposal and have a free vote on those proposals.
If the outcome is approval for the suicide issue reinsert it in the bill and that’s the end of the matter.
If the outcome is rejection, pass the bill on physical danger.
The bill would not be unconstitutional – it would be silent on suicide. It does not change the existing legal position – the courts would still hear cases on danger of suicide.
At the same time as passing the bill the Government announces that it is preparing a referendum on the suicide issue.
Such an announcement would make it clear that the courts would only have to proceed by case law for a limited period.
John F Jordan
Rue de la Rive, 72, 1200 Bruxelles
* The abortion debate has thrown up all sorts of sideshows, none of them particularly complimentary to the Fourth Estate.
Firstly, despite the deep divide in the country, this is not mirrored in media commentary/editorials.
Secondly, we have the bizarre situation where only a few months ago the media were craven in their hero worship of Fr Tony Flannery, when he received a relatively mild slap on the knuckles from the Vatican, and effectively lost the party whip. We were told this was a brave example of an individual obeying his conscience. Fast forward to now, and when really brave individuals actually risk their livelihoods by defying the Government party whip, they are sneered at by most of the media.
Finally, in stating its case in opposition to the bill the Catholic Church appeals to natural law/scientific principles, while Enda wraps some kind of spurious Catholic flag around himself. It appears that the intellectual infantilisation of ‘Modern/Liberal’ Ireland continues apace.
Eric Conway
Navan, Co Meath
* A bizarre situation occurred when Osama bin Laden was pulled over for speeding on the way home from a bazaar many years before his capture.
According to the wife of his trusted bodyguard he “quickly settled the matter”. You see, just like here, the “golden-circle” always get off. Ask some of our TDs and celebs.
Sean Kelly
Tramore, Co Waterford
* Can we finally draw a line under the contentious issue of Brian O’Driscoll’s omission from the Lions team for the Third Test, by respecting the opinions of the player himself?
On January 18, 2011, Brian O’Driscoll stated publicly, while captain of Ireland, that Warren Gatland, the Wales manager, should leave out the Welsh centre, Gavin Henson, who was available for Wales after a series of injuries.
O’Driscoll said: “But when it comes to being selected for the Wales squad for the Six Nations, I don’t know about that, whether he’s injured or not.
“Centre is an area where Wales have a wealth of talent and experience. No one should be selected on reputation alone.”
John Hopwood
Killiney, Co Dublin
Irish Independent


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