17 July 2013 Test

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark nice to hear Pertwee again. Its the laundry one where Pertwee is trying to flog pajamas , sorry night time unmentionables Mrs Povey, to the officers. Priceless
Warmer today manage to get to hospital Mary saw her young doctor, some more tests then treatment.
We watch Miss Robin Hood its not bad,
No Scrabble today too tired


3. s
Margherita Hack
Margherita Hack, who has died aged 91, was a leading Italian astrophysicist and a doughty campaigner for Left-wing causes.

Margherita Hack Photo: AP
6:24PM BST 16 Jul 2013
Known as the “Lady of the Stars”, Margherita Hack contributed in the fields of stellar spectroscopy and radio astronomy, and the asteroid 8558 Hack is named after her. The author of more than 200 scientific papers, in 1964 she became director of the Trieste observatory — the first woman to hold such a position in Italy.
Margherita Hack had a gift for explaining complex scientific concepts to the layman, and as well as writing popular science books she became a familiar figure on Italian television.
But she became equally well known for her views on politics and religion. An atheist, feminist and vegetarian in Catholic, macho, meat-eating Italy, she helped fight a successful campaign to legalise abortion and championed gay rights, animal rights, stem-cell research and the right to euthanasia.
But it was her attacks on religion that brought her the greatest notoriety. To her the only God worth the name was the Higgs boson, and when, in 1992, the Roman Catholic Church officially admitted that it had been wrong to condemn Galileo for asserting that the earth orbits the sun, she said that it was “better late than never”.
In 2005 she caused outrage when she observed that the blood of San Gennaro, held in a phial in Naples Cathedral where it miraculously liquefies every year in a ceremony watched by thousands of the faithful, was nothing but a hoax. The substance, she explained, was hydrated iron oxide or FeO (OH) which has the characteristics of blood, forming a dark brown gel which liquefies when shaken. “There is nothing mystical about this. You can make the so-called blood in your kitchen at home,” she declared.
Margherita Hack was born on June 12 1922, in Florence, to a Protestant father and Catholic mother who were both Theosophists and vegetarians.
She enrolled at the University of Florence to read Literature but soon switched to Physics. An athlete, she won national university championships in the long jump and high jump. She graduated in 1945 and by the early 1950s was working as an astronomer at Florence’s observatory. She retired from the Trieste observatory in 1987.
An outspoken critic of Silvio Berlusconi, she was a prominent supporter of the Million Women movement demanding his resignation; but she was no more impressed by Italy’s new political hero, Beppe Grillo, whom she dismissed as a “buffoon…[who] does nothing but shout”.
In 1944 she married Aldo De Rosa and afterwards would claim that her marriage had been the “first and last time” she had been in a church. She had agreed to a religious ceremony to please her mother-in-law, a devout Catholic. “When I pass away,” she liked to say, “if I meet God, I will tell him I was wrong.”
Her husband survives her. They had no children but owned eight cats and a dog.
Margherita Hack, born June 12 1922, died June 29 2013


Simon Jenkins (Who let this Gulf on Thames scar London? Mayor Boris, 12 July) is both alarmist and misleading. London does have a strategic approach to protecting its skyline, with 26 key landmark views across the city safeguarded from the impact of tall buildings through the London view management framework. We also have detailed policies in the London Plan, which deal specifically with tall and large buildings, alongside others that are aimed at ensuring the highest quality of architecture and design. These policies are designed to ensure that the right buildings are in the right place, that tall buildings sit well with their surroundings and that prominent buildings embody the highest standards.
What we can’t do is try to impose some kind of skyline blueprint and freeze the capital in stasis. As Wren discovered after the Great Fire, this kind of approach simply does not work for a dynamic, growing city like London that depends on development for economic growth. The key issue in any discussion of London’s skyline is whether a building makes a positive contribution to London’s urban realm, protecting the things we value about our city, while helping us meet the challenges of growth and ensuring the continued prosperity of London and Londoners.
Edward Lister
Deputy London mayor for planning
• Once the financial cleansing of London is completed, will the millionaire bankers and high earners clean the streets and carry out the “menial” low-paid employment that keeps society ticking (Rents bar poor from third of UK, 16 July)?
Jake Fagg

Susanna Rustin (Independents may show the way to a better kind of politics, 15 July) cites former London mayoral hopeful Siobhan Benita as an example of an independent candidate standing for election. We want the law changed so that independents that stand in future London mayoral elections are eligible to qualify for party election broadcasts – if they meet criteria set by the broadcasters – just like their rivals are. The law as it stands is a barrier to participation and should be changed in good time for the 2016 London mayoral election.
In September, the Electoral Commission is launching a wider consultation on the rules and benefits available to those standing for election in the UK. We will want to hear the views of party and independent candidates who have stood in the past; and the views of those who have been put off from standing. We will then recommend to the government what improvements should be made.
Alex Robertson
Director of communication, Electoral Commission

“There have been two significant Robert Johnsons in musical history,” Alfred Hickling observes (York early music festival, 11 July). Of the musical Robert Johnsons, the third was the American bluesman, the second the English lutenist, but the first, who died about 30 years before RJ2 was born, was a Scottish priest, described as Scotland’s greatest 16th-century composer, who then came to England and wrote innovative music, possibly for Anne Boleyn. Maybe Alfred forgot to mention him because he was from north of the border.
Copland Smith
• Is there any connection between the tragic death of two TA soldiers training on the Brecon Beacons in appallingly hot weather (Report, 15 July) and this government’s previously declared intention, having sacked large numbers of the armed forces to save money, to replace them with part-time TA personnel?
Frances Holland
• Joan Smith reminds us that 30 years ago, Doris Lessing’s publisher read and rejected her pseudonymous novel (Comment, 16 July). That wouldn’t happen now. These days, most publishers refuse to accept any unsolicited manuscripts.
Lindsay Camp
• Why not a football transfer tax (Neville: shortage of English players has reached ‘tipping point’, 12 July)? This could discourage the rentier behaviour, so common in football as in the economy generally, and encourage real investment in the future of sport, rather than splurging cash on vast salaries now. Come to think of it…
Roy Boffy
• So Michael Gove requires all teenagers to study two Shakespeare plays (Education, 16 July). In my time I have studied more than two and, thinking of Mr Gove, I was struck by this line from Macbeth: “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage”. How does it go on? “And then is heard no more”.
Kay Veitch
Brampton, Cumbria
• Best Test match ever (Sport, 15 July)? Shame most of us still can’t watch it.
Diana Bardell

My late partner, Meg, wrote to you a number of times that the assisted suicide law was discriminatory. She voiced an opinion – she could do little more due to MS – that suicide is a lawful act in the UK, but it’s illegal to help a person, too disabled to do it themselves (Letters, 12 July). Simply, the law prevents a disabled person doing something lawful. Meg wanted to end her life as it had become too burdensome for her in many ways. She had an intellect sharp enough to cut anyone on the wrong side of it, a glorious voice and could move her head, but that’s all. She could not cut her wrists, take an overdose or get on a plane to Dignitas. No one could assist her lawfully to end her life, but did they need to? Meg refused food and fluid in mid February. She was not mad, or neurotic, but clear and determined. Her action led to a peaceful death on 1 March. The inquest concluded a narrative verdict of suicide. Was she assisted? Well, no one force-fed her.
Meg would have gone on for longer had the government’s cuts agenda not been so vicious and threatening to her. But it was and she didn’t. The few weeks after Meg began her death fast she was seen by her GP, a palliative care consultant and nurse specialist a number of times. Meg had told many care and health professionals of her intentions over the last few years. What more would anyone need to know her wishes?
Might Meg have wanted to change her mind, at the last moment? Well, she was in a coma for less than a day before she died. Before this she was very sleepy, but able to think and talk, to watch University Challenge and answer Jeremy’s tetchy questions, and do the Guardian Quick Crossword. Suicide, like many things people do in life is a choice. We all decide which path to take and bear the consequences thereafter. This choice is more final as you can’t regret the decision or unmake it. Mature people can make these decisions for themselves; they do not need politicians, the god squad, or campaigners telling them how long to suffer the intolerable. Meg loved language but was succinct. She campaigned for people’s rights and, to those who told her how to live her life her response was consistent – “fuck off”Watch Meg Taylor 1952-2013 on YouTube to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
Garry Saunders

In a way the Liberal Democrats’ insistence on reviewing alternatives to Trident (Opening salvo from Lib Dems fires up Trident public debate, 16 July) seems pointless, since neither the Conservatives nor Labour will wear it. But it is important that these matters not drop from public sight, so it’s right to do it and other alternatives should also be mentioned.
The Liberals’ alternative is not exactly radical: continue with Trident replacement, but with a smaller number of submarines, which are not necessarily 24 hours continuously at sea. A further step would be for Britain to cease possessing actual nuclear weapons at all, but retain the knowledge and capacity to produce them at relatively short notice if and when felt necessary.
This is known as threshold status and the example usually given is Japan. Threshold status was suggested as far back as the 1980s by the disarmament writer Jonathan Schell, as a possible first step in international disarmament negotiations.
Serious attempts at international nuclear disarmament are in deep sleep at the moment, scuppered by the determination of the existing nuclear powers to retain their nuclear weapons come what may.
But it is just conceivable that financial constraints could eventually induce some change in the lesser nuclear powers, and they would then need some idea they could sell to their more rightwing domestic opinion. This would not save the cost of each submarine – but would enable the reduction in their number – and it would not save all cost of nuclear facilities; but the savings would still be enormous.
Roger Schafir
• The coalition’s review on Trident fails to consider the unilateral option. Britain’s nuclear weapons are as anachronistic to our future defence as battleships or the Royal Company of Archers. Those who cling to the notion that Britain is still a superpower are living in the past. Nuclear missiles are as much a relic of the cold war as sailing ships to the Battle of Trafalgar.
At the Labour party’s national policy forum in Birmingham on 22 June, Ed Miliband stated that “Labour should debate the issue when the coalition report is published”. That time has now arrived.
George McManus
Labour’s global role policy commission
• The financial albatross called Trident is neither independent nor credible. Control was handed to Washington when the decision was made to use a missile delivery system designed, manufactured and overhauled in the US. Even submarine-launched test firings are conducted in US waters near Cape Canaveral under, needless to say, US Navy supervision. It is inconceivable that No 10 would fire Trident in anger without prior approval from the White House.
Persisting with Trident and its proposed replacement in order to retain our permanent United Nations security council seat is to reject British pragmatism in favour of la gloire. At least the French, to their credit, went to the trouble of developing their own submarine launched missile delivery system. They own it, hence control it.
Yugo Kovach
Winterborne Houghton, Dorset

Congratulations to Sarah Teather (Sarah’s war, 13 July) for her principled stance on the government’s immigration policies. To learn that a government working group was initially called the Hostile Environment Working Group, targeting “unwanted” immigrants, is no surprise when the Home Office recently put out a report blaming immigrants for stretched NHS services, crowded schools and, particularly astonishingly, exploitative landlords. British political debate is being poisoned by vicious rhetoric on immigration.
And who are the victims of the government’s policies? On the government’s own figures, about 18,000 partners of British people who won’t be able to live with their loved ones each year, and tens of thousands of international students, whose loss is costing our higher education institutions billions, and may eventually destroy the viability of some of them.
As the Green party conference said recently, in opposing the government’s immigration cap, we need to stop treating those who are not native to the UK as a problem. We have big problems with the NHS, crowded schools, housing and low-wage jobs. But the government must not be allowed to scapegoat immigrants for this. Instead we must firmly point the figure at the disastrous and unmandated dismantling of the NHS, inadequate and misdirected investment in schools, failure to build council housing, and failure to secure and enforce labour market regulation. The current direction of debate is going to have real world consequences. The drunk in the pub seeking a target for his ire or his fists, the frustrated woman on a crowded bus, are going to feel they have been given permission to make an immigrant, or perceived immigrant, their target.
Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green party of England and Wales
• The home affairs select committee claims there are 500,000 unresolved immigration and asylum cases and estimates they will take 37 years to clear. No doubt this problem arose under the last government with its open door policy of allowing a net 2 million into the country. Those who tried to point out the results of this uncontrolled immigration were considered to be racist or just anti-immigrant.
Now Sarah Teather claims it is dangerous to speak out against the treatment of immigrants. I suppose she kept her head below the parapet during the influx of so many immigrants, many no doubt into her own constituency.
More houses, school places, benefits, are necessary, as well as a struggling and overburdened health service. Is this a surprise? Cause and effect is not beyond the whit of our political leaders, surely? It seems that at last all three main political leaders are taking the issue of immigration seriously, now that other parties have highlighted the thoughts of the electorate.
Tom Jackson
• There is plenty to attack and good reason for Sarah Teather to do so (Ex-minister attacks plot to make Britain ‘hostile’ to immigrants, 13 July). Teather says she credits the Liberal Democrats with “achieving the impossible” on some issues, such as outlawing the detention of immigrant children.
This is sadly not true. The detention of children has not been outlawed – 216 children were detained last year, according to government statistics.
Nick Clegg described the detention of children as “state sponsored cruelty”. He promised to end it but it was just rebranded. G4S and Barnardo’s were awarded contracts to run a new detention facility for families with children.
It was perplexing that Teather and Clegg accepted flowers and thanks at the Lib Dem conference in September for ending the detention of children.
G4S were found to have used force against children and a pregnant woman. Last week a jury found that a man who died at the hands of G4S during deportation was unlawfully killed.
Detention can have a devastating effect on children and should be ended immediately. Far from being “impossible”, it is entirely possible – just stop doing it, and save millions of pounds.
Emma Mlotshwa
Co-ordinator, Medical Justice
• There is a sting in the story about Ayaka Sakurai, whom Grayson Perry describes as “something special” in designers (G2, 8 July).
Ayaka, from Japan, has just finished the second year of her degree at Central St Martins. Before that, she took an architecture degree in this country. The Home Office then allowed her to enrol for the fashion course on a student visa but the government has now changed the rules and is trying to make her leave without finishing her course.
This country has profited from the tens of thousands of pounds she has paid in tuition fees. She’s a prize-winning student. Our universities need overseas students’ fees, but you’d never know it. What message are we trying to convey? Perhaps “study in Australia”?
Christina Baron
Wells, Somerset

Canadian affability a myth
I can forgive Oliver Burkeman for falling into the trap of thinking that Canadians live under a perpetual blanket of snow (Mind & Relationships, 14 June). Thousands have been there before him, and what he (and they) should do is to pop over and experience one of our regularly blistering summers, when whole tracts of the country erupt in forest fires under temperatures in the mid to upper 30s, people flock to the beaches and the lakes for relief and air conditioners whirr on most city streets. Yes, it can get cold here, but it can also be unbearably hot.
What I can’t forgive, however, is his reference to the “affable tolerance” of Canadians. Such epithets might have been appropriate 50 years ago, but the mood has changed. Most of us who live here are now downright angry. I speak not just of our neglected communities of native peoples, who march and go on hunger strikes in protest against the decades of callous disregard for appalling living conditions due to successive governments. They are angry and far from affable, as are young people who struggle through unpaid internships in large companies in the hope of eventually securing some form of long-term employment.
Canadians are angry at rapidly widening income gaps in a country blessed with enormous natural resources, and at successive governments – national and local – that are riddled with corruption, graft and wholesale deception. Child poverty rates have increased exponentially over recent years, social services are decimated and hundreds of thousands of us are out hunting for a family physician to look after our primary healthcare needs. We used to be seen as the world’s peacekeeper, but now we engage in military adventures overseas and spend billions on destructive weaponry, much of which doesn’t work and gobbles up billions more in re-fits.
Affable tolerance? No, we are angry, and have every right to be. Affable tolerance is a dying commodity in this country, except perhaps on the occasional warm afternoon in summer.
Barry Munn
Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, Canada
More carers, fewer teachers
Articles about declining birthrates despair about the lack of young workers and caring for the aged (Portugal suffers as birthrate plummets, 5 July) but surely the much greater concern should be about sustainability issues over world population growth. We should be encouraging voluntary and painless population control and voluntary population reductions should be reported as good news. I am no demographer but roughly we are each economically productive for four decades or so and unproductive for a couple of decades before and after. I imagine that caring for and educating children is on balance no more expensive than caring for and health services for the elderly, though the costs of old age are vary variable and uncertain. So Portugal and the like may need more carers and doctors and fewer teachers.
Keith Hitchcock
Sutton Coldfield, UK
Trident is the problem
Several articles (Britain had better get used to it, 21 June) have discussed the limited options available to any future UK government and how reductions in welfare provision are inevitable because of the need to reduce public spending and indebtedness. None of them, however, took any notice of the elephant in the room. A white elephant, of course. Its name is “Trident” (or “nuclear arsenal” if you prefer).
This is surprising, because not only does an “independent nuclear deterrent” no longer serve (if it ever did) any discernible military or political purpose, but it also seems certain that abandoning it would have a near-zero electoral cost. How many UK voters, given the choice, are going to vote for a nuclear arsenal in preference to better education, healthcare, policing, pensions, roads and public transport?
It really seems like a no-brainer. But where are the politicians shouting from the housetops that there are better things to spend taxpayers’ money on than phallic symbols?
Geoffrey Allen
Pilzone, Italy
Many types of learning
In describing the fight between rich tourism development and the indigenous tribe on Boracay, Philippines (the Atis), Kate Hodal calls them “uneducated and desperately poor” (Boracay islanders fear for their lives, 5 July). Both these terms are condescending.
What she means by “uneducated” is more likely “unschooled” – that is, not schooled in the western way (or schooled for a call centre). Because I’m sure the Atis are (were) very educated in the way of self-provisioning, of existing, of celebrations, of nature awareness. It is the unthinking (blind) view that indigenous peoples everywhere are “uneducated” that is so terribly racist. There are forms of education other than the regimented, institutionalised schooling we always assume in the west.
As for “desperately poor”, this is a term used to describe the degree to which people are co-opted into the formal monetary economy. There are many ways of living that are outside this formal economy. The living conditions of the Atis are possibly desperate, as their way of life has most likely been devastated by tourism “development” that takes away their land and their culture. It’s the ongoing story of colonisation (now by money/corporations, as well as by countries) that continues to make the world nasty and brutish.
Peter Brandis
Barrengarry, NSW, Australia
Gillard piece was unfair
Paola Totaro’s article, Gillard’s fall exposes dark flaws (5 July), is grossly sexist. Julia Gillard was an excellent negotiator and behind-the-scenes operator with high public anticipation of success as a prime minister, but once in the role she made critical strategic policy mistakes and was highly divisive. After one effective accusation of misogyny at the opposition leader, she launched into unwarranted claims of sexism in parliament and public debates in a way that no man could possibly get away with.
Directly contrary to the “dark flaws” accusation, Australia has many female heroes and has gone to extreme lengths to achieve sexual equality, even appointing people who were far too inexperienced to high levels in the public service, resulting in major disadvantage to the institutions concerned and the associated industries.
The public had high hopes for Gillard, despite concerns about the method of appointing her. It was very disappointing that it didn’t work out.
Darian Hiles
Adelaide, South Australia
Franklin had crucial role
While critiquing Mario Livio’s insightful book Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein, Marcia Bartusiak lists the blunders by the most famous and ground-breaking scientists who hung on to their statements until updated by later scientists (Mistakes of science lead to further insight, 28 June).
The three examples Livio gives: 1) Einstein’s universe is immobile – turns out it isn’t; 2) William Thompson’s age of the Earth – 400m years at most – turned out to be billions of years; 3) Pauling’s model of DNA, which wasn’t an acid at all, was put right by Crick and Watson.
My quibble is with the third example. The DNA discovery by Crick and Watson, though it won the Nobel prize, was not substantially their own work. The greater input was the proven research of Rosalind Franklin, the expert on X-ray diffraction on carbon. She led them in the right direction twice.
On the first occasion, Franklin and other members of the King’s College London team were invited to view the first model Crick and Watson had put together. On seeing it, Franklin at once pointed out that DNA is a thirsty molecule – soaking up water more than 10 times what they had allowed. Thus she put them on the right track.
On the second occasion, unbeknown to her, Maurice Wilkins (London team) had shown Watson (Cambridge) Franklin’s X-ray Photograph 51. Watson knew at once this was what they needed. He rushed back to Cambridge and together with Crick lost no time in making their second model based on it.
Hence, to give the example of Watson and Crick as the scientists who improved on the blunder of Pauling is neither apt nor true.
Rani Drew
Cambridge, UK
Gay rights hypocrisy
With the recent supreme court ruling against Clinton’s Defence of Marriage Act we may have reached an end to the hypocrisy over gay rights. As your article (Historic day for US gay rights, July 5) illustrates, this has been primarily about money rather than the defence of any biblical sanctity of marriage.
The Log Cabin Republicans formed in the late 70s as an LGBT caucus; George Bush Sr and Mitt Romney took no position of animus until they began pandering for religious votes nationally; and that archest of conservatives, Barry Goldwater, was born again at 85 to bless gay rights. At root this wasn’t a moral issue for most conservatives – they’re just tightfisted about government and legal benefits.
After all, we very likely had a gay president long since – James Buchanan (1857-61), of small renown as “the only bachelor president”. He and Rufus King, a gentleman senator from Alabama, roomed together many years and were as inseparable as two peas in a pod. As commander-in-chief, the dude was a bit of a dud.
R M Fransson
Denver, Colorado, US
• I hate to be too pessimistic, but as matters stand I have to agree with Gary Younge (5 July). Let me assure you that on the very day the problem of racism is solved, I will dance naked in the streets of my hometown (whether they like it or not) and treat the entire population to champagne and lobster.
Jan Schwab
Freiburg, Germany
• Congratulations to Wimbledon for creating the most complicated light switch ever.
N P Marshall
Decatur, Georgia, US



Over six years, successive governments have failed to implement the sensible recommendations made by Baroness Corston in her review commissioned after the deaths of six women in Styal prison.
During these years, as before, tens of thousands of vulnerable women, often victims themselves of serious crimes, domestic violence and sexual abuse, have trudged through prison gates to serve short meaningless sentences for petty offences, shoplifting and receiving stolen goods. So many lives have been blighted and money wasted by the casual cruelty of delays and failure to join up solutions across government.
Effective community sentences for women, which enable them to tackle the underlying causes of their offending, face a very uncertain future due to the upheaval of probation services. Many women’s centres are already experiencing reduction or loss of funding and are struggling to survive financial insecurity.
The Justice Select Committee (“Too many women prisoners, MPs say”, 15 July) is right to call now for “political courage” and leadership to go further  to divert women from  crime and faster to reduce women’s imprisonment.
Juliet Lyon, Director, Prison Reform Trust, London EC1
When those empowered to impose custodial sentences refer to an offender’s gender to decide whether or not they should be jailed, how does this represent justice? Could someone please explain?
If five male and five female defendants are convicted of the same crime, why should the five who are considered for custodial sentences necessarily be men?
Robert Bottamley, Hedon, East Yorkshire
To walk or not to walk: the ethics of cricket
As usual, Dominic Lawson makes some very perceptive points, this time about the Stuart Broad affair and how cricket has changed in recent times (16 July). However, one area he does not touch upon is the example set to the wider world.
To impressionable young people watching cricket and many other sports today, the message appears to be: if you want to get ahead don’t be too scrupulous in interpreting the rules, and “if you can’t prove it I didn’t do it’’.
Peter Spilman, Snitterfield, Warwickshire
I am sure that Brad Haddin was fully aware that he had hit the ball that was caught by Matt Prior. Any top-class batsman knows. The fact that it wasn’t obvious to us did not make it any less culpable than what Broad is alleged to have done.
The easy way to sort this out would be to make “walking” illegal in the rules of the game, making it a level playing field, so to speak.
Ian Wilkinson, Derby
Critics of Stuart Broad for not walking should bear in mind that this practice goes back to W G Grace and probably earlier.
In 1898 the doctor was facing the Essex fast bowler Charles Kortright. Grace was hit on the pads exactly in line with the stumps but was given not out. Kortright charged in furiously for the next ball which W G edged to the wicket keeper but stood his ground Broad-style and was again given not out. 
Kortright raced in again and this time knocked middle stump out of the ground and sent leg stump awry. As Grace reluctantly departed, Kortright said: “Surely you’re not going, Doc? There’s still one stump standing.”
Gordon Elliot, Burford
I  have just read the holier-than-thou letters from Mike Cannell and Gerald Sinstadt (16 July) claiming that Stuart Broad should have walked even though given “not out” when he almost certainly would have known that he touched the ball with his bat, glove or lower arm.
Perhaps they both could tell us what they think a batsman should do, when given out on appeal, when he knows the ball only clipped his pads when given caught at the wicket, or touched the bat before the pad when given out LBW. Should he argue with the umpire and stand his ground?
Of course not. Umpires can make mistakes both ways, so cricketers and pundits must and should accept these honest umpiring decisions as part and parcel of the game.
Robin Wright, Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Care pathway for the dying works
I am disappointed that the Liverpool Care Pathway is going to be phased out, following the Neuberger inquiry. If there are incidents of poor practice in hospitals, then address them – don’t scrap a system that works for countless individuals.
From our perspective – running one of the largest care homes in Manchester – the LCP has been a useful tool and has provided guidelines to steer us through what can be a very challenging and heartbreaking period.
Our staff have received extensive training in this area. Why can this level of training not be possible elsewhere? We achieved this in partnership with Macmillan nurse trainers and it has been crucial in our ability to provide high-quality care to residents and their families.
No decision on end-of-life care is made at the Fed and Heathlands Village in isolation. Care pathways are developed in partnership with GPs, medical teams and families, wherever possible. The LCP is not viewed as a quick way to end life, but as a way to reduce pain and suffering, and maintain dignity.
I felt compelled to write to help dispel the anxieties and myths that are gathering around the LCP – not as a medical professional, but as someone who sees this in practice every day and has seen the LCP first-hand in the case of my mother-in-law, who passed away peacefully in our care.
Surely it is about investing in training and ensuring the right resources are there to make the LCP work. Perhaps the failure sits in the NHS structure and the inadequate resources that prevail.
Karen Phillips, CEO, The Fed and Heathlands Village, Manchester
Good neighbour but no Samaritan
Julian Baggini (16 July) and much of the recent reporting on the murder of Graham Buck have got the Good Samaritan wrong.
The point about the Good Samaritan is not that he was good but that he was a Samaritan, an outsider from a community at odds with the Jews. From a right-wing polemicist point of view, a Good Samaritan in this context would have been, perhaps, an illegal immigrant hiding in a shed who came out to help.
It was not, of course, Jesus who asked “Who, then, is my neighbour?” but a certain lawyer. The answer from Jesus was the parable, concluding, “Who do you think was the neighbour?” The neighbour was the one with impartial compassion (we are not even told whether the victim was a Jew or an Israelite or a Roman, just “a certain man”) and the fact that he was an outsider turned the smug certainties upside down.
If Graham Buck was “cast to type”, it was as a good man or a good neighbour but not as a Good Samaritan. I’d like to think that anybody would have helped, and not through law or religion, but always worry whether I would have the courage.
Colin Standfield, London W7
Unqualified staff in class
Fred Jarvis is right to point out the iniquity that teachers in free schools and academies aren’t required to be qualified, while this is in effect illegal in local authority schools (“Why this old-school plan doesn’t add up”, 11 July).
However, the real crime is the growing army of teaching assistants (TAs) in all schools who do not hold Qualified Teacher Status but are increasingly being asked to cover lessons.
Schools often claim that TAs are adequately supervised and that there’s a qualified teacher on hand, but that is like having a trainee doctor diagnosing your grumbling bowel while the specialist is otherwise engaged at the other end of the hospital.
It’s a daily battle in most schools to ensure lessons are covered, but TAs are often seen as a cheap and flexible alternative to qualified subject specialists rather than working in their original roles in pupil support.
This is a particularly attractive solution to some academy trusts who may be top-slicing schools’ budgets more than local authorities ever did.
Neil Roskilly, Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire
Austerity Tories target babies
Your front-page headline on 16 July was “Tories prepare to get tougher still on single teenage mothers”. That should have read: “Tories prepare to get tougher still on the babies of single teenage mothers”.
Madeleine Webb, West Malling, Kent
How blatant can they get? The 40 Group of Conservative MPS openly admit their ideas stemmed from “listening to key swing voters on the doorstep”. In other words, government policy should be decided by what will attract votes from a small percentage of voters in non-safe seats. What a perversion of democracy.
Mark Miller, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria
So the Government has £100bn for Trident nuclear missiles, £50bn for the HS2 rail link and money to back Sabre, the super-fast space rocket engine. But the benefits which the disabled, unemployed and poor rely on to live have to be capped and scrapped in the name of “austerity”.
Sasha Simic, London N16
Opinions for sale
Like Nigel Jarrett (letter, 16 July), I read Simon Usborne’s piece on Katie Hopkins, but unlike him I found it illuminating: she may be opinionated, but she is a professionalised opinion-giver, has an agent, and sees herself as a purchasable commodity; this told me a lot about the way opinion-giving on TV happens; and it confirmed my suspicion that the amazement at guests’ views expressed by presenters is, as Usborne says, disingenuous.
John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire
Deaths in training
I find it appalling and obscene that soldiers can die during a training exercise. Who had a duty of care for them?  Who screwed up badly? I cannot agree with Julian Brazier, MP,  who says: “One’s got to say these kinds of activities can’t be risk-free. If it becomes risk-free, it wouldn’t do the job.” What if it was his son?
Dave Johnstone, Crowborough, East Sussex
What was that?
When the Director-General of the BBC has stopped his own actors mumbling and muttering (report, 16 July), could he please have a word with authorities at the Royal Shakespeare Company
Dr John Doherty, Stratford-upon-Avon


There are many types of discrimination within golf, from Muirfield, to women-only clubs, to the ‘working classes’ being treated as inferior
Sir, So Muirfield (leading article, July 15) is happy to take green fees from women but will not let them join the club. Surely the main aim of a sporting club is to promote the playing and enjoyment of its sport? In the case of Muirfield, clearly not.
Fine, be rigorous in handicap requirements when considering admission to membership, but to disallow women because they are women is frankly bizarre.
Jane Heller
Bishop Monkton, N Yorks
Sir, I disagree strongly with your leading article about Muirfield. Surely we all have the right to group ourselves voluntarily into sets whose composition we are free to define.
Neil Atherton
Sir, You call for moral leadership in golf. The R&A recently introduced a ruling banning the type of putting called anchoring. The ruling in itself was cogent but it took 25 years to bring it into being — and in that time very many players have settled into a methodology which will be hard to escape.
The R&A’s justification? “Twenty-five years is not a long time in the 600-year history of golf.” This may be true, but it is rather a lengthy period in many golfers’ lives. The organisation suffers not merely from an absence of morality, but of care for the people playing the sport it administers. Perhaps it should be run solely by women for the next 25 years.
Martin Rose
London W1
Sir, The pressure on Muirfield to admit women members brings to mind the discrimination against the “working classes” who are still barred from becoming “proper members” of some golf clubs and are consigned to an inferior type of membership as an “artisan”. It may be that artisan members like the deal of restricted rights at low cost and traditionally performing unpaid maintenance of the course, but this is just another type of discrimination with overtones of blackmail and slavery.
Gavin Davidson
Walmer, Kent
Sir, Is it not about time to remind all who are raising this issue that there are many ladies-only clubs around the country. In the interests of equality this fact should be admitted by those who criticise the R&A for taking the Open back to Muirfield.
David Martin
Stanmore, Middx
Sir, I accept that many believe that single-sex sporting organisations are anachronistic, but of the 3,000 golf clubs in the UK only about 30 operate a policy of membership selection according to gender. Of these few, those that exclude men slightly outnumber men-only clubs.
It is imperative that sexual equality applies to both men and women. Any proposed legislation to modify the Equality Act must reflect this in full.
Keeley Cavendish
London SW16
Sir, This Muirfield business puzzles me. To a golfer, the fact that women are allowed to play this demanding and historic course says almost all. That women are allowed free rein of the facilities says quite a lot more.
So, having played, smoked and dined — and crossed it off the list as one of the things to do before one dies — it is difficult to understand what other aspect of the Muirfield golfing experience is yearned for.
Richard Gunning
Wallington, Surrey

The concept, believe this reader, is so obviously right and inexpensive that it is hard to believe that it is not universally used
Sir, Libby Purves (July 15) argues with her customary humanity and thoughtfulness against any restriction of funding for the Liverpool Care Pathway in hospitals. A few months ago my wife died after ten years with Alzheimer’s disease. She was managed at home throughout with the help of her GP and carers. At the end her distress was such that after full discussion a care pathway was implemented with immediate relief.
A great strength of the NHS is its ability to fund new methods of patient management. If, after implementation and evaluation, these are plainly beneficial then that protocol should be incorporated into standard practice and the funding switched to other promising schemes.
The concept of care pathways is so obviously right and, in relative terms, inexpensive that I can envisage them being used increasingly during the course of community care in the future. My family now understands why I would wish to go on a care pathway should the need arise.
Paul Millac
Retired neurologist, Wheathampstead, Herts

The Government is considering how to change the Victims’ Code, and this is a real opportunity to enhance victims’ rights
Sir, Lady Newlove (“Justice is not served by humiliating victims”, July 15) offers a powerful first-hand testimony of how victims and witnesses can be left wanting by the justice process. We must all learn from such mistakes.
In the six years since the murder of her husband, Garry, much progress has been made. Victim Support works to ensure that victims and witnesses get the help they so badly need.
But, as the Victims’ Commissioner says, a culture change is essential. The Government is considering how to change the Victims’ Code, and this is a real opportunity to enhance — not diminish — victims’ rights. We must ensure this chance is not missed.
The new code must be supported by an effective complaints mechanism and support the principle that victims should have a single point of contact when raising concerns about their treatment. Every victim of crime must be automatically referred to support services.
Javed Khan
Victim Support
Sir, As a volunteer for ten years with the Witness Service I am very surprised at comments made in your article (July 15). My colleagues and I meet victims of crime, witnesses and family members on their arrival at court where they are taken to a witness suite which, incidentally, is a locked unit. This scheme was put in place in 2004 in all magistrates courts in England and Wales. We care for them for the duration of the trial, providing hot drinks and toilet facilities. Perhaps after the comments made by Lady Newlove and Javed Khan they would care to shadow me to see what really happens.
Many victims and witnesses and families have said “I couldn’t have done it without you”.
Sandra Tighe

All parties in Parliament have approved a Royal Charter setting up a non-political inspection body and listing regulatory standards
Sir, You say the newspaper proprietors’ latest scheme for self-regulation is a “full response” to Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals (leading article, July 11). It is not. Instead it conforms to the “pattern of cosmetic reform” that the judge detected in previous press responses to regulatory failure.
You wonder why Hacked Off thinks the will of Parliament important. Let me explain. Leveson found that newspapers “wreaked havoc in the lives of innocent people” and knowingly operated a regulator that put their interests before the public’s. As a remedy he proposed that the press should go on regulating itself but the regulator should be subject in future to periodic inspection by an independent body to ensure it met basic standards.
All parties in Parliament have since approved a Royal Charter setting up a non-political inspection body and listing regulatory standards. They did so to protect citizens from the abuses notoriously inflicted in the past on ordinary people, many of whom are now associated with Hacked Off.
Some proprietors, including yours, simply reject all this. Condemned by a public inquiry and urged to reform — in the most cautious way — by our elected representatives, they cling to unaccountability.
Professor Brian Cathcart
Hacked Off

The debate about whether a batsman should walk or not has been going on for decades — one reader remembers discussing it in the 1940s
Sir, “Non-walking” is far from new. Most famously, in the first Test at Brisbane in 1946, Don Bradman, then on 28, slashed Voce to Ikin in the slips. He did not walk, and when Hammond belatedly appealed, he was given “not out”. Bradman went on to score 187, and England, caught on a sticky wicket after a thunderstorm, were heavily defeated. It is hard to blame Broad.
J. H. C. Leach
London N6
Sir, The “walk or don’t walk” debate reminded me of a lesson at my London grammar school in the 1940s. The topic was fair play, and the master told us that as a boy he had met a man who had attended one of the earliest games of Association Football between England and Scotland. The game was played at the Kennington Oval and whenever a player felt that he had broken the rules of the game, he stood still with one arm held high indicating that he admitted committing a foul.
Peter Deller
Mayfield, E Sussex


SIR – Tom Chivers may be right that Samuel Beckett’s drawings in his Murphy manuscript reveal he wasn’t a very talented artist and “got bored in meetings” (“What good does owning a £1million doodle do a university?”, Comment, July 12). But when those meetings were between Beckett and James Joyce — two of the most influential writers of the 20th century — their interactions will have been anything but dull. Moreover, any insight into their creative processes is heaven-sent for students and scholars of literature, of which I am one.
The complete manuscript, bought by the University of Reading last week, reveals tantalising glimpses of how Beckett wrote every word of his first published novel, including several versions of its opening line: “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”
If Mr Chivers’s former schoolbooks do turn out to contain literary masterpieces on a par with Murphy, then his parents are indeed sitting on a gold mine. Having no reason to doubt his talents, I urge his parents to keep their son’s scribbles carefully – rude bits and all – for Chivers scholars of the future.
Dr Mark Nixon
Director, Beckett International Foundation, University of Reading

SIR – The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) might extend the Save our Countryside campaign (Letters, July 13) into Save our Villages, not only to oppose greenfield development, but also to preserve the mixed community that is the basis of our heritage.
In a small new-build development, half will be snapped up as buy-to-lets, and young would-be buyers are caught in the rent trap. The gap between first and second buy is huge. A young family might aspire to a modest three- or four-bedroom home, but a developer will probably get there first. With loft conversion, kitchen extension, master bedroom suite and office above the garage, this house is now out of reach.
Villages cannot remain as traditional communities while planners are giving permission to developers so easily, despite objections from parish councils. Is the future of the English village an enclave for the rich surrounded by fields of brick?
Christine Ractliff
Sewards End, Essex
SIR – I doubt neither the sincerity of the CPRE nor those who signed a letter to support the campaign’s latest attempt to set in aspic England’s rural areas (Letters, July 13).
However, England’s countryside has evolved over thousands of years and it will continue to evolve. Those who seek to ban any further development in our countryside are often misguided and have little appreciation of the needs of those who live and work in that countryside.
Farmers are frequently vilified for their actions, but what we prize so highly today is largely due to the efforts and diligence of previous generations of farmers and landowners.
Peter Ruck
Abinger Hammer, Surrey
SIR – We endorse the CPRE’s new charter to save our countryside. However, we would draw attention, as they have not, to the underlying causes of development pressure: Britain’s high proportion of larger families and high level of net migration. Only by ending our record rate of population growth can we preserve our countryside in the long term.
Simon Ross
Chief Executive, Population Matters
London E4
SIR – On Friday we tried to walk the Isle of Wight Coastal Path around the headland at Bembridge using our new Ordnance Survey map (2013 edition). Unmarked on our map was the diversion of the path in at least two places in the space of a mile, to make way for development.
We spent a frustrating hour walking through housing estates and around holiday parks with no view of the sea. Perhaps the Ordnance Survey organisation should be legally informed of such diversions. This might uncover far greater abuse of our countryside than even the CPRE imagines.
Christopher Pratt
Dorking, Surrey
Patient deaths
SIR – Surgeons’ mortality rates should never be published until the data justify it.
The usual objection to publication is that those treating difficult patients will be judged more harshly. This can be allowed for, and so is a red herring. The fundamental problem is that although death rates are a sensitive indicator of poor performance, a high death rate does not necessarily mean poor performance, as there is inevitably a large element of chance.
To illustrate the point, if 200 equally competent surgeons performed 200 similar operations with an expected mortality of 5 per cent, the observed range of mortality for individual surgeons would range from 0 per cent to more than 10 per cent.
Obviously, a surgeon with a 10 per cent mortality rate would expect his practice to be examined, but in the context that this might be purely down to bad luck. Data accumulated over time will eventually demonstrate persistent, statistically significant and dangerous outliers. However, to wait the several years involved, as would be the case for the vascular surgeons whose figures were published recently, would be clearly unacceptable once there was a suggestion of a possible problem.
For these reasons, and because death is a categorical, yes/no variable affecting relatively few, it is a mathematically unsatisfactory outcome to select for publication, emotionally and politically satisfying as it may be. Other continuous variables that are relevant to everyone, such as recovery time, should be measured instead. These require much smaller numbers to be significant, enabling meaningful ranking and fair publication.
In the meantime, the public should trust in the audit system and only expect to know the names of those who are confirmed to be performing badly. Those surgeons who have “good” figures and are refusing publication of their data are to be commended for their principled stand, and not vilified.
Dr C K Connolly
Richmond, North Yorkshire
High-speed alternatives
SIR – If the object of the outrageously expensive HS2 scheme is “not vanity but capacity”, as Douglas E Oakervee declares (Letters, July 6), wouldn’t longer trains with fewer empty first-class carriages be a more effective and infinitely cheaper alternative?
A H N Gray
SIR – The advantage of travel by train over air is that there is time and space to read papers and do some work. HS2 will reduce that. It would be far better to improve the existing lines to carry double-decker trains and reduce the congestion that way.
Lord Gisborough
Gisborough, North Yorkshire
Packed lunches
SIR – Making school meals compulsory for all children (report, July 13) would be too difficult for children with allergies and food intolerances. I know someone whose little boy is on the autistic spectrum, so his mother keeps him on gluten-free food and he has become much calmer and happier. But if he was having school meals this could not be controlled, as she would not know what he was eating.
A M Wills
Ruislip, Middlesex
SIR – I’d much rather the Government focused its blunt instrument on daily vegetable snacking sessions, abetted by a strong-willed teacher.
Petra Boyce
Buxton, Norfolk
Trident review
SIR – Today, the Government will present the findings of a review into alternatives to our Trident nuclear deterrent. We firmly believe that we should not water down the strategic deterrent that has been the cornerstone of our national security for the past 45 years. Britain’s continuous at-sea deterrent is vital to ensuring this country has the ultimate defence and the means to deter any current or potential aggressor.
In an uncertain world in which the number of nuclear weapons remains high and some states are increasing their holdings, we should not take risks with our security by downgrading to a part-time deterrent.
We cannot possibly foresee what threats will develop over the next 30 years. Reducing our submarine-based Trident capability would weaken our national security for the sake of a very small fraction of the defence budget. It is our view that if Britain is to remain a leading global power with strong defences, nothing less than a continuous at-sea deterrent will do.
Lord Robertson of Port Ellen
Defence Secretary, 1997-99
Nato Secretary-General, 1999-2004
Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP (Con)
Defence Secretary, 1992-95
Lord Reid of Cardowan
Defence Secretary, 2005-06
Dr Liam Fox MP (Con)
Defence Secretary, 2010-11
Bob Ainsworth
Defence Secretary, 2009-10
Lord Boyce
Chief of Defence Staff, 2001-03
Lord Stirrup
Chief of Defence Staff, 2006-10
Action on Syria
SIR – The Prime Minister should listen to his wife, not the military bigwigs, and follow his own instincts in tackling the Syrian question (report, July 15). With the unrest already spreading across the region, only a robust Western-led military response akin to the successful Libyan no-fly zone will quell the conflict.
Anthony Rodriguez
Staines-upon-Thames, Middlesex
Rowling revealed
SIR – What makes readers rush online and download a book just because we suddenly find out it’s by a celebrity writer? I was one of the many that did that on Sunday, but I have to say – it is a jolly good read.
Paul Brazier
Kingswood, Gloucestershire
Science’s answer to the maiden name dilemma
SIR — Biology gives us a positive reason for the family to use the father’s surname (Letters, July 10). The father’s Y- chromosome DNA was inherited from his father, who got it from his father and so on, back for some 30 previous generations of male forebears (with only rare minor changes). Ancestors of some 500 years ago have precisely the same Y-DNA, yet it is unique to their family line.
Unfortunately there is no comparable process in the female line. The family’s male offspring will carry on the transmission process. Surely we should not destroy this link between the Y-DNA and family name, which is both convenient and useful for medical and genealogical needs.
Prof John Coldwell
Harrogate, North Yorkshire
SIR – When we had the first of our two children, I suggested to my husband that they might take my surname rather than his. He had no problem with this, coming from a large Catholic family with, as he put it, “far too many” cousins already.
I, on the other hand, was the youngest of three daughters, and my sisters had each also had two daughters, all of whom had taken their fathers’ names. My father had no family left, meaning there were about to be no more Haymans. So our children are called Hayman and the name lives on.
To me the bizarre choice is not mine, but that of almost all other women who are happy to hand over not only theirs but their children’s identities to their partner.
Sheila Hayman
London NW1

Irish Times:

First published: Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 01:07

Sir, – Let me applaud Senator David Norris for adorning political debate in this country with a splash of colourful invective (Front Page, July 16th). There’s far too little of it from the serried ranks of our dull, obedient and politically correct politicians. If someone is that easily affronted, then I suggest a career in a contemplative order. – Yours, etc,
Saval Park Crescent,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – It is long past time that the media stopped calling behaviour such as that of David Norris in the Seanad this week “outrageous”. It would indeed be outrageous in an eight-year old, but is merely irresponsible, silly and bad mannered in an adult in a position of responsibility. – Yours, etc,
Co Cork.
Sir, – David Norris has an ingenious plan to save Seanad Éireann in the upcoming referendum. He’ll start by insulting half the voting population. – Yours, etc,
Pococke Lower,
Sir, – The lack of reform of the Seanad is the fault of Dáil Éireann. It was not the Seanad that brought this country to its knees. It was decisions made by senior civil servants and cabinet members backed up by the TDs of Dáil Éireann. – Yours, etc,
St James’s Place,
Co Cork.
Sir, – A constant whinge from Senators is that the Seanad has wonderful and insightful debates that are never reported by the media, and thus the public never get to learn how brilliant and necessary the Seanad is for democracy. On Monday the Seanad debated its own demise, and showed just how insightful its debates really are.
Mr Norris’s vulgar references to a female politician would have seen any other male flogged to within an inch of his life by the feminist commentariat. But since Mr Norris is the darling of the intelligentsia, he will be allowed to get away with it.
In comparing pro-abolition arguments with Nazi propaganda, Senator Mary White proved she should stick to making chocolates and not arguments.
Yet again the Seanad, when given an opportunity to demonstrate why it should be retained, has shot itself in both feet and proven beyond all reasonable doubt why this sorry excuse of a legislative chamber is destined for the dustbin of history. – Yours, etc,
Swords, Co Dublin.
Sir, – Richard Bruton’s description of the Seanad as a luxury we can no longer afford is nothing short of an affront to democracy in Ireland, and indeed an insult to the intelligence of the electorate. The second chamber, far from being a luxury, is an integral part of the democratic process. Indeed his party colleague, Regina Doherty, goes further and describes the Seanad as “shockingly undemocratic”. Well if that’s not the pot calling the kettle black.
Ms Doherty is part of a Government-controlled legislature that consequently only represents the views of Government supporters, via the whip system. That same legislature is now trying to do away with a substantial part of the inbuilt checks and balances in our democratic system.
The diminution of democracy does not qualify as legitimate political reform. – Yours, etc,
Lismore Road,
Dublin 12.
Sir, – Was David Norris too refined to say arse? – Yours, etc,
Caldra House,
Co Leitrim.
Sir, – Any doubts I may have had regarding the abolition of the Senate have been erased. Congratulations, Senators Norris and Leyden. – Yours, etc,
Carrickhill Rise,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – I am shocked that Fine Gael should have launched its referendum campaign for the abolition of the Seanad before the enabling legislation has passed through the Oireachtas. This shows total disrespect for our national parliamentary institutions. Their behaviour provides another good reason for voting No. – Yours, etc,

Sir,   – As a fellow member of the Church of Ireland, I wish to endorse Senator David Norris’s view that the church should put clear blue water between itself and the Orange Order (Home News, July 15th). At present, the church permits “Orange Services” to be held in its places of worship and, in many rural areas, union flags are flown from church towers. It is argued that it is up to the rector and select vestry of a parish to decide on these matters and that the central church has no power to intervene.
Quite simply, that is not true. The bishop of each diocese has authority over the nature of the worship that is conducted in each parish church under his care and the general synod is the ultimate authority on all matters.      
In the aftermath of the Drumcree crisis, the church set up a “Hard Gospel” committee to deal with sectarianism. Rather than confront the beast and slay it, the church took a “softly, softly” approach. A new approach is now required.
Sadly, we have witnessed the hard reality of naked sectarianism on the streets of Belfast over last weekend. It is imperative that the church now takes active steps to prove that it is on the side of those who are opposed to religious hatred. There must be no ambiguity.
The church has no right to dictate the private interests of its members and some may wish to be Orangemen; that does not mean that the church should be tied to those members’ interests in any way.    There has been silence from the church over the last few days. If it is to retain any moral credibility, someone in a position of authority must break that silence. – Yours, etc,     DAVID FRAZER,    
Inse Bay,
Co Meath.  
Sir, – I am sure that republicans and loyalists could work out something together that would recognise the beliefs of each other and lead to a happy and peaceful compromise for both sides.
However, the real problem is not those with sincere and traditional political positions – it is the vandals, gurriers and thugs, who have no real interest in politics (despite avowed affiliations) and whose primary concern is to indulge in brick-throwing and generally indulge in behaviour that somehow appeals to their more base instincts. Both sides need to recognise and root out this “third group”, while working together to celebrate their individual and shared traditions. – Yours, etc,
Loreto Grange,

Sir, – Some people, including at least one Government Minister (Leo Varadkar) have suggested that it would be a good idea for the President to refer the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill to the Supreme Court under article 26 of the Constitution to test its compatibility with the Constitution. I do not agree.
The article 26 procedure may be satisfactory when a single readily identifiable point is at issue. The constitutionality of more complex legislation is best tested in the light of the facts of particular cases. In examining a Bill under article 26, the court cannot foresee all of the situations that could arise in future cases and can only deal with the constitutionality of the Bill in a theoretical fashion. Once the court has found a Bill to be constitutional under article 26, no further challenge can be brought to the Act in the future, even if a future case exposes considerations or circumstances, of a nature unforeseen by the court, that would otherwise raise serious questions about the constitutionality of the Act.
Hard cases may make bad law but absence of cases can make bad and unchangeable law. – Yours, etc,
St Assam’s Avenue,
Raheny, Dublin 5.
Sir, – Sr Catherine Tansey calls for a referendum on the abortion legislation currently being pushed through the Oireachtas by the Government (July 11th).
This is perfectly possible under article 27 of the Constitution once the Bill has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
What is required is for one-third of the membership of the Dáil and a simple majority of the Seanad to address a petition to the President to “request the President to decline to sign and promulgate as a law any Bill to which this section applies on the ground that the Bill contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people thereon ought to be ascertained”.
Under article 27.3, any such petition must be presented to the President “not later than four days after the date on which the Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas”. This is entirely distinct from any eventual decision by the President to refer the Bill to the Supreme Court to rule on its constitutionality.
Whether or not this would actually make any difference to the final result is hard to say, but there’s only one way to find out and there’s no logical reason for any party leader to try to prevent it. Giving the people the final say on such contentious legislation, in strict accordance with established constitutional procedures, is surely the most democratic way to handle the matter, irrespective of whether one is for or against the Bill. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – With reference to the letter from Eamon Timmins, head of advocacy and communications at Age Action Ireland (July 15t), I want to clarify that the Government has not “turned its back” on the commitment in the Programme for Government to introduce a free allowance of water.
The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has decided that water meters should be installed in households connected to public water supplies. Irish Water has been given responsibility for the metering programme. Legislation is currently being drafted to provide Irish Water with statutory powers to provide water services and this will include the power to charge for those services.
The Government is aware of the need to protect and support vulnerable households. I have stated on a number of occasions in reply to questions in Dáil Éireann that affordability issues, including the level and the approach to the free allowance, and supports that may be required for those with a high essential use of water due to medical conditions, will be addressed in advance of the introduction of charges. This remains the intention. – Yours, etc,

A chara, – Tom Gilsenan notes an ad on the radio in which an actor says “thirdy” instead of “thirty” (July 13th). Vocalising dental consonants between vowels is a common feature of both American and Northern Irish English. The feature was rare in Southern Irish English until very recently, but has become ubiquitous all over Ireland in the last 10 or 20 years, particularly amongst the young. It appears to be mostly under the influence of American television, however, rather than the English of Northern Ireland. The feature is the result of young people wanting to fit in and seem “cool”, and thereby says a lot about how Irish people really view American and Irish culture. – Is mise,

Sir, – Robin Miller (July 16th) asks where, in this glorious spell of sunshine, are all the moths, houseflies, bluebottles, wasps, horseflies, dragonflies, midges, etc. Sadly, I have to report that most of them have appeared very visibly on the front of my white car. – Yours, etc,
Royal Oak Road,

Irish Independent:
* Following deliberations by the Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Finance last week on the subject of philanthropy, Minister Michael Noonan has promptly declared a proposition to extend the right of multi-millionaire tax exiles to reside in Ireland for up to 244 days per year, without any further liability to Irish taxation, “attractive”, if they were to buy this right in the form of philanthropic payments of €15m to unspecified charities over a period of 10 years.
Also in this section
Seanad now has a chance to prove its worth
Labour has already ‘gone’
Penalising brave TDs is shameful
It is odd that he should find this attractive at a time when the State is waging a relentless and intensive public relations war across the globe to persuade a sceptical public that Ireland is not a soft touch when it comes to tax avoidance following the Apple Corporation tax controversy in the United States.
The fact that the bosses of many charities in Ireland receive remuneration on a huge scale, and that the State does not even have a charity commissioner to oversee these unregulated regimes, hardly strengthens the proposition. Nor does it make it attractive in the eyes of ordinary, hard-working taxpayers struggling to make ends meet.
However, were the proceeds of such a proposition to be applied, for example, exclusively to the Government’s Irish Aid Programme, taxpayers in general would be immediately relieved of some of the obligation to fund this programme through additional borrowings of €600m a year.
The Government would be directly accountable to the citizens for the promotion and impact of its “tax breaks for tax exiles” strategy.
That strategy could become an iconic symbol of Ireland’s foreign policy, a moment when our influence in the world is defined by the off-balance-sheet transactions of whom we attract and how much they donate.
The capacity of generous multi-millionaire tax-exile patrons to personally embrace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals would be laudable and give some tangible expression to the advocacy of Bono and his passionate belief that 80pc of Irish people support these goals.
This is because, under such a system, the funding of Irish Aid would become discretionary and not merely another unaffordable tax burden.
Myles Duffy
Glenageary, Co Dublin
* Some people have suggested that it would be a good idea for President Michael D Higgins to refer the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill to the Supreme Court under Article 26 of the Constitution to test its constitutionality . I do not agree.
The Article 26 procedure may be satisfactory when a single, readily identifiable point is at issue. But the constitutionality of more complex legislation is best tested in the light of the facts of particular cases.
In examining a bill under Article 26, the Supreme Court cannot foresee all of the situations that could arise in future cases and can only deal with the constitutionality of the bill in a theoretical fashion.
Once the court has found a bill to be constitutional under Article 26, no further challenge can be brought to the act in the future.
This is true even if a future case exposes considerations or circumstances that were unforeseen by the court, which would otherwise raise serious questions about the constitutionality of the act. Hard cases may make bad law but an absence of cases can make bad and unchangeable law.
Ciaran Connolly
Raheny, Dublin 5
* The first indicators of summer are the swallows, which were late flying in from warmer climes this year. However, the other visitors from warmer climes arrived bang on schedule. Those cheery Spanish students are here to improve their command of the “queen’s English”.
Some of our news bulletins will not help, when the students hear that our “rubbee” players are home from the Lions tour and the “fuhhball champinnships” are in full swing.
At least they will hear that the temperatures will start in the “late teens” and reach the “early 20s”. Even the weather has to act its age!
Sean Kelly
Tramore, Co Waterford
* In your editorial (Irish Independent, July 15), you copper-fasten the myth that “banks” were the cause of economic collapse.
The banks were not the cause of our difficulties; their deplorable behaviour was the inevitable outcome of incorrect policies to cope with an unprecedented economic situation.
Economic activity has historically struggled to produce enough to sustain the human race. However, since the Industrial Revolution, despite enormous population increases and increasing affluence, technology has continually closed the gap. In the 21st Century, computer technology not only eliminated the gap but also reversed the whole situation of supply and demand.
In such a situation, “growth” is impossible. It is not sustainable to continually increase production in a world that is already producing too much.
When this situation became apparent at the end of the last century, it was perceived as “recession”, a pause in the normal cycle of global economic growth. Old remedies were applied – low interest rates were introduced to stimulate investment. When this proved inadequate, laissez-faire lending was encouraged in place of prudent banking policy.
Banks obliged and an enormous bubble of unsustainable borrowing and unnecessary growth emerged. It all inevitably came crashing down, and then a secondary fallout of modern technology kicked in. A huge number of jobs were eliminated. So, the economies of the world are left with stagnant or declining growth, massive, unrepayable debt and an alarming rise in unemployment.
Current economic thinking is unable to cope with such an unprecedented situation. Whether we emerge from this crisis depends on whether we can change our economic mindset and plan, manage and share on a fair basis the genie of enormous productive power that technology has unleashed upon the world.
Padraic Neary
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo
* Two nonsensical references to Hitler in the space of a week-and-a-half, one to Mussolini, two extraordinary rants against the Government having the temerity to ask the people what they want, and a TD being told she’s speaking through something no one can speak through, nor speak of in the Seanad.
If certain Seanadoiri keep shooting themselves and their colleagues in the feet, the Government can kick back and look forward to a pretty easy referendum campaign.
Killian Foley-Walsh
Co Kilkenny
* It’s incredibly fortunate that Dubliner Robert Thackaberry is recovering from the injuries he sustained at the Running of the Bulls over the weekend (Irish Independent, July 13).
If only the bulls were as lucky. Each one of the terrified animals forced to partake in this sadistic spectacle endured a slow and agonising death in the town’s bullring after being repeatedly stabbed with spears and swords.
Thrill-seeking tourists share in the responsibility for the carnage. As long as Pamplona continues to make money from the festival, we will see horrific injuries like the ones that took place over the weekend, and bulls will continue to needlessly suffer and die. How many more devastating injuries and fatalities do we need before this bloody festival is finally given its marching orders?
Ben Williamson
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), London
Irish Independent

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