18 July 2013 Heat

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark nice to hear Pertwee again. Its the give the crew 48 hours leave and move Troutbridge and split the crew up one. As they have no money the crew stay on Troutbridge and are moved with her, fearing kidnapping by a forrigan power. Priceless
Warmer today manage to get the plants watered but not much else
We watch Are You Being Served its not bad,
No Scrabble today too tired


Dominic Beer
Dominic Beer, who has died aged 56, was a psychiatrist, historian and leading figure in the reform of psychiatric care at the turn of the century.

Dominic Beer 
6:51PM BST 17 Jul 2013
Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) evolved as a response to dramatic developments in the care of the mentally ill from the end of the 1950s. The introduction of chlorpromazine, the first effective antipsychotic, allowed psychiatric hospitals to open up many of their wards for the first time. Those that remained formally locked were for chronically ill patients who could not be safely attended to elsewhere.
These units tended to exist independently of each other and under a variety of titles, providing services according to local needs. Standards of care were therefore very difficult to enforce, or even to assess.
From 1995 Dominic Beer was at the forefront of a process of reform. Together with Carol Paton and Dr Stephen Pereira, he worked to set up the National Association of Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (NAPICU) and, amid growing concerns over the poor conditions on many locked wards, conducted the first nationwide survey of PICUs. This involved sending out 397 questionnaires, which gathered information on admission criteria, male-to-female patient ratios, medical staffing and written policies at 110 PICU units.
They found that the majority of units (76) had no policy on the use of rapid tranquillisers to subdue “treatment resistant” patients. Admission policies were variable or non-existent, and staff were frequently unsure of their precise role within the unit, with little control over who became an in-patient, and how long they remained on the ward. “Yes we have an admissions policy,” one staff member told researchers. “It hangs on the wall; that’s about all it does though.”
The response from the psychiatric world was swift. In 1996 the first national conference on intensive care psychiatry was held at Bexleyheath. NAPICU was formally established that same year, and has since worked to create national minimum standards in intensive care units and in low-secure support services. Today it runs various educational courses, and has partnered the Royal College of Psychiatrists Centre for Quality Improvement to identify areas of intensive care that need reform.
Dominic Beer served as chairman of NAPICU from 1997 to 2001. During that time he co-edited Psychiatric Intensive Care (published in 2000 and 2008), which addressed all aspects of care, including such critical issues as the use of seclusion, physical restraint and rapid tranquilisation in acutely disturbed patients. Other sections covered general management and the interactions with related areas, such as social work. Psychiatric Intensive Care remains the only such textbook in its field.
Michael Dominic Beer was born in Reading, Berkshire, on November 4 1956. From 1965 he attended Leighton Park School, Reading, where he excelled academically and was a keen sportsman, captaining hockey, football and 1st XI cricket for two seasons. His interest in cricket was lifelong, as a member of MCC and an active player in the Old Leightonians Cricket Club.
In 1975 he went to Wadham College, Oxford, to read Modern History and Modern Languages . It was at university that he became a Christian, and his faith played a pivotal role in his life. He would later become a member of the Christian Medical Fellowship, with numerous publications addressing issues such as the psychological impact of abortion and the role of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in treating profoundly depressed patients.
During his second year, he decided his future career path lay in Medicine. While completing his psychiatric rotation at Guy’s, Beer spent a year at the Wellcome Foundation, where he took his MD in the History of Psychiatry. He joined the Royal College of Psychiatry in 1989 .
In July 1994, Beer became Consultant Psychiatrist for the 15-bed low-secure challenging behaviour unit at Bexley Hospital, part of Oxleas NHS Trust, which served various London boroughs. There he developed expertise in intensive care and low-secure challenging behaviour psychiatry.
The author of more than 70 publications on psychiatric intensive care, low-secure care and historical aspects of psychiatry, Beer was also assistant editor of the History of Psychiatry and a referee for a variety of scientific journals . Following his chairmanship, he remained on the NAPICU executive committee as treasurer from 2001 to 2005.
During his final illness he devoted much of his time to oil painting and the London cultural scene, with frequent visits to the theatre and art galleries. He remained an active member of the Christian Medical Fellowship as well as his local community church.
Dominic Beer married, in 1985, Naomi Salter. She survives him with their four children.
Dominic Beer, born November 4 1956, died April 19 2013


The benefit cap is a cynical attack on the poorest families (Editorial, 17 July), particularly those in London who face rents twice as high as the rest of the UK. It is misleading for Iain Duncan Smith to suggest there is plenty of cheap accommodation available for families with children. The cap was implemented in four London boroughs in April and using freedom of information requests, I have found that in the first two months of this trial Enfield council used hardship funds to move 15 families with 46 children out of greater London.
The mayor of London has repeatedly promised that this wouldn’t happen. But in a city where rents are rising fast, where pay for many is flat, and where jobs that come close to covering living costs are few and far between, it is inevitable that more children will have to leave their schools, and that families will be forced to move away from their networks of support. Under this cap, if you lose your job or are working fewer than 16 hours, you risk losing your home.
Instead of imposing cuts in the social security net, the government should be regulating to stabilise private sector rents and to ensure secure tenancies as well as investing properly in new social housing. Such policies would benefit every tenant in every corner of the UK.
Darren Johnson
Green party, London Assembly
• Phillip Inman is right in that we need much more housebuilding to bring down prices so that more people can buy their own homes (Lack of housing, not credit, is root of property problem, 15 July). Another problem is the growth of the buy-to-let industry. We need some private rental properties, but the balance has gone too far in that direction, as landlords are able to outbid potential first-time buyers, and then rent the properties to the people they outbid. In effect, they are able to create their own demand.
Building societies should take a clear moral position on this and refuse to issue any more buy-to-let mortgages, and the government should stop treating mortgage interest as an expense to reduce landlords’ tax bills. The extra tax revenue from this could perhaps be given to housing associations to build more social housing.
Richard Mountford
Tonbridge, Kent
• I read Nick Herbert’s article (This wink to developers won’t fix the housing crisis, 11 July) and was surprisingly impressed by his analysis even though it was written by a Conservative MP from a southern perspective. However, on the same day Phillip Inman’s article highlighted how the lack of social housing is pushing up rents and house prices and the only solution to our domestic property crisis is to build more public housing on publicly owned land.
Can we find some way of getting this valid point over to our decision-makers before we become a nation shackled to higher rents and huge mortgages that adversely affect the quality of life of a huge proportion of our population?
Alan Briers
• Phillip Inman may well be right about the fear of a house price bubble but, being cynical, I suspect George Osborne has in the back of his mind the creation of a feel-good factor in time for the 2015 general election.
Alistair Gregory
Carnforth, Lancashire

Anna Chen is right to highlight the contribution made by non-white and ethnic minority people to Britain, but unfair to castigate the whole of the left for not recognising this (Comment, 17 July). Ironically, even rightwing Labour leaders acknowledged their contribution, if negatively. Ernest Bevin, in 1946, told the Commons: ‘I know that if the British empire fell… it would mean the standard of life for our constituents would fall considerably.”
The Movement for Colonial Freedom was set up in 1954 on the initiative of leftwing Labour MP Fenner Brockway and was supported by Barbara Castle, Harold Wilson, and Tony Benn, and the composer Benjamin Britten. The organisation played a key role in anti-racist campaigns and in giving support and publicity to liberation and independence movements throughout the British colonies as well as colonies of other countries. The Communist party had a west African branch and West Indies Committee that played a key role in anti-colonial and anti-racist work. Communist Claudia Jones was one of the founders of the Notting Hill Carnival and the Barbadian poet and communist Peter Blackman was an early pioneer of black British poetry, to mention just two key figures recognised and admired on the left. Graham Taylor and Jack Dromey celebrated the contribution of Asian workers in their book, Grunwick: the Workers’ Story.
Of course, Chen is right to ensure this contribution is not “whitewashed” out of our history books, but she needs to address her remarks to Michael Gove perhaps rather than the left.
John Green
• Anna Chen is right to point to the strong anti-racist record of the British working class in the post-45 era, from anti-apartheid to Grunwick. She is right too to argue that the working class has been, since at least the late 18th century, when black seamen were a significant part of the British navy, black and white and much else. While ridiculed at the time and largely ignored by history until recently, the leader of London Chartism in 1848, William Cuffay, was the son of a former slave and local woman from the Medway towns. That history is worth celebrating, and a blue plaque to show where Cuffay lived on the Strand in London should hopefully be in place before too long.
Keith Flett

The government of Ireland is one of many partners working with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Sierra Leone to deliver justice and security to women, particularly through the provision of Saturday courts (Report, 8 July). Improving justice and security for women is a key pillar of UNDP’s global programme to strengthen the rule of law in crisis-affected situations. As well as assisting the courts in Sierra Leone, UNDP also supports the prosecution of those accused of sexual violence through similar courts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, family protection units that provide access to justice and security in Iraq, and Centre Humura in Burundi, which provides comprehensive assistance to survivors of sexual violence. As a result of these and other UNDP programmes, 5,000 survivors received help in taking their complaints to police for investigation or to courts for trial in 2012. We look forward to continuing to work with partners such as Ireland in this critical realm.
Jordan Ryan
Assistant administrator, UNDP

I’m a little surprised and puzzled that no one seems to have picked up on the implications of the G4S attempt to push blame back to its customers (G4S blames court and prison services following overcharging allegations, 13 July). Surely if G4S is actually monitoring those it’s being paid to monitor, it should know if they die or are returned to prison, or cut off their anklet and flee the country. They should not have to wait to be told.
David Lewin
• If Simon Marsh (Letters, 12 July) were to extend his travels from the underground to the Docklands Light Railway, he’d find another station that is eponymous with and on the site of a battle – this being Deptford Bridge, where royal forces defeated Cornish rebels in 1497.
Greg Randall
• Perhaps Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (9/11 chief’s vacuum cleaner plot, 12 July) had read Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana, where James Wormold decides to make his reports to Hawthorne more “exciting” and sends sketches of vacuum cleaner parts, describing them as “sketches of a secret military installation”.
David Shannon
Woore, Shropshire
• I am reminded of the story of the telegram said to have been sent by Charles Napier in 1842 (Letters, 16 July). He had been commanded to subdue the rebellion in Sindh province in present-day Pakistan. Having accomplished the task more than amply, he sent his superiors the message “Peccavi” (Latin for “I have sinned”).
Tom Gardner
• I loved the irony of the Institute of Economic Affairs offering their prize for the best Brexit plan in euros (Report, 16 July).
Jim Pettman
Anglars-Juillac, France
• The caption to the photograph Festival spirit (13 July) states: “Music fans arrive for the 20th annual T in the Park music festival.” Don’t you know that music fans always “flock” to festivals? Keep up, caption writers.
Derek Schofield
Crewe, Cheshire

As a junior doctor working in the NHS, it is with great sadness that I read of the proposed end to the Liverpool care pathway (Report, 16 July). In the five years since I have been qualified, I have seen it used on numerous occasions to ensure that patients die peacefully and with dignity, pain-free and with their loved ones beside them. Not once I have I ever seen it used to hasten death or clear beds.
A recent survey of doctors, including specialists in palliative care, showed that 90% would want to be cared for using this pathway and that 91% believed it to represent best care of the dying patient. Despite this, it seems that public scare-mongering has become malignant and the Liverpool care pathway (LCP) will now be entering its terminal phase. RIP LCP, you will be missed.
Dr Sonia Wolf
• As a palliative care nurse in a hospice, I appreciate your article giving a more balanced view of the Liverpool care pathway. Hospices use the LCP, with individualised care plans built around the LCP framework, in which communication and openness with patients and relatives is paramount. What the article exposes are failings within the NHS to understand, implement and communicate the pathway. As a result of recent media coverage, it is clear that some people are associating this bad practice with all care establishments. This is certainly not the case in the hospice system. When the LCP is used in hospices, it is implemented with the full co-operation of patient and relatives who can see that it delivers good nursing care and a dignified death.
Sarah White
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
• I cannot let Simon Jenkins’s dismissive reference to the Liverpool care pathway go unchallenged (Another NHS crisis? This is no way to run a public service, 17 July). After my 94-year-old mother had spent six weeks in hospital following a successful operation to repair a broken hip, it became apparent that what had initially looked like the road to recovery had faltered after three weeks. She slowly lost interest in what was happening in the ward and would no longer attempt to eat or drink.
We watched her slipping away and it was a relief to us when we had a conversation with the consultant and ward sister regarding the LCP, since no one would take her bloods, administer medications and drips, or disturb her in any way. She was moved into a single side ward where I had the privilege of sitting with her for the 10 days she took to die. She seemed entirely comfortable, in a light peaceful room. She was effectively comatose and her care was exemplary. Any sets of guidance or rules are only as good as the people meant to be following them. More and better training for staff would be a much better solution than abolishing a truly humane system.
Joyce Howe
Whitley Bay
• I was dismayed to read that the Liverpool care pathway is to be phased out. My husband of 58 years died almost a year ago. His death was dignified and peaceful, helped by his last few days being on the care pathway. Initially he was in a large teaching hospital and the last few days in our small local community hospital. He was looked after with real kindness and made as comfortable as possible by a variety of staff. We were encouraged to stay with him. I only hope that the new individual personal end-of-life care plans can provide the positive experience we had.
Beryl Walkden
• The excellent report of the independent review of the Liverpool care pathway says: “Use of the Liverpool care pathway should be replaced over the next six to 12 months by an end-of-life care plan for every patient.” That is sensible. Can we hope that the logic that informs this directive in the specific instance of the Liverpool care pathway will be applied to every situation where people live with chronic, relapsing or progressive illnesses? The text might be: “Use of off-the-shelf care pathways should be replaced by personalised care plans for every individual – without delay.”
David Jolley
Altrincham, Greater Manchester

The government’s decision not to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol concludes a disastrous few days for our nation’s public health. The government has turned its back on the key measure that will help us get a grip on our unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and shown that the commercial interests of the alcohol industry come first. The same industry has worked hard to spread fear and misinformation, saying minimum unit pricing will hit the average, responsible drinker. This simply is not true; it is a targeted measure, designed to stop cheap, strong alcohol being sold at pocket-money prices. The unpalatable truth of this decision is that lives will be lost because of it and there will be more needless deaths for every day that we delay implementing this policy. The Alcohol Health Alliance will continue to fight for minimum unit pricing, a measure proven to save lives and cut crime.
Professor Ian Gilmore
Alcohol Health Alliance UK
Eric Appleby
Alcohol Concern
Dr Vivienne Nathanson
British Medical Association
Paul Lincoln
UK Health Forum
Dr Evelyn Gillan
Alcohol Focus Scotland
Sir Richard Thompson
Royal College of Physicians
Rob Poole
Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales
Andrew Langford
British Liver Trust
Dr Francis G Dunn
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Katherine Brown
Institute of Alcohol Studies
Colin Shevills
Balance North East Alcohol Office
Dr Kieran Moriarty
British Society of Gastroenterology
Dr Nick Sheron
Head of clinical hepatology, University of Southampton
Professor Sue Bailey
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Dr Zulfiquar Mirza
co-lead on Alcohol, College of Emergency Medicine
Dr Olivia Carlton
Faculty of Occupational Medicine
Dr Owen Bowden-Jones
Faculty of addictions, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Dr Peter Rice
Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland
Eric Carlin
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
Hadas Altwarg
Drink Wise North West

I had the good fortune to attend the West Suffolk county grammar school for girls in Bury St Edmunds in the 1960s when Oliver Bernard joined the staff. Those of us studying English and drama had already been knocked for six by the arrival of Robin Rook, a mesmerising figure who went on to produce, with James Saunders, the book Playforms: Seven Scripts for Secondary Drama. To then have Bernard join the department was almost too much to bear. To call him handsome did not begin to describe his overwhelming good looks. Had the headmistress been aware of his history I have no doubt he would never have been allowed inside the building. Of course, we had no idea of his vivid lifestyle but fell under his spell nonetheless. Surely the English department had never been blessed by such an inspirational pair before – or since.

Transparency is a noble goal to which we all should aspire. However, it is antithetical to the ways of governance dating back to the origins of governance: evident in the mantras of ‘divide and conquer’, ‘knowledge is power’. Corruption is permitted, or tolerated, by those who are governed as well as by the partners of government (including government officials, donors, NGOs and private sector participants).
This is not a cynical view. Rather, it is a confirmable pattern that one unfortunately sees too often in too many places. Sometimes it is disguised or nuanced; sometimes it is simply blatant. That it continues to exist is most discouraging, given that so much evidence exists – and has existed for a long time – that an absence of transparency and the existence of corruption leads to failures in important and essential programmes.
How many major roads have failed – just a year or so after they were built – due to improper selection of the implementing contractor or ‘shorting’ the inputs needed to properly build a road? How many new buildings have gone unutilised because there was no stakeholder engagement prior to building them and no operating funds budgeted? Then there is the greater issue of resource management, especially as applied to natural resources. One also must consider transparency with respect to enforcement institutions like customs and police.
Transparency is a big goal indeed. Much needs to be done to move towards the day when proper management of public funds becomes the norm rather than the rare exception.
Malcolm Versel, development economist, Senegal



Your report that the private security companies G4S and Serco face a £50m fraud inquiry (11 July) raises grave concerns. The Justice Secretary will now wish to consider whether it is appropriate for G4S and Serco to be granted permission to bid for the proposed contracts for delivering privatised probation.
Two months ago, Chris Grayling confirmed plans to privatise the majority of probation work by 2015. Many public sector probation staff will be transferred to private companies.
While efforts have been made to sugar the privatisation pill by emphasising the potential of charities and voluntary groups to bid, multinationals like Serco and G4S – already enriching shareholders via privatised incarceration – are ideally positioned to take over the bulk of probation’s core public sector rehabilitative work.
Pushing two-thirds of probation’s challenging caseload into private-sector hands is a risky strategy that may compromise public protection. Napo, the probation union, estimates that almost 70,000 out of a total of 140,000 medium and low-risk cases that will be moved outside the public sector may be individuals convicted of violent and sexual offences, domestic violence, burglary, and robbery. Outsourcing the service’s work privileges profit and ideology at the expense of public safety.
The changes are part of the continuing transformation of our justice system into a market place in which financial return rather than social justice is a primary driver. When probation thrives, communities benefit, individuals are rehabilitated, crimes are prevented and potential victims are protected. This essential component of our civil society deserves better than being hived off to the highest bidder, in order to comply with economic dogma.
Michael Teague, Social Futures Institute, Teesside University
When ministers want to be told bad news
There is a crucial point about the current furore over unexpectedly high death rates in certain hospitals that Andreas Whittam Smith has missed (17 July).
He is no doubt right that the Labour government wanted good news about the NHS and this would colour the way the Department of Health behaved, incidentally without having to be told to do so. This fits with Andy Burnham’s account that only two cases came to his attention and that he took action on them.
However, Whittam Smith is wrong to say that ministers always want good news. At the moment, this government wants as much bad news about the NHS as it can get, because its agenda is to privatise as much of the service as it can. It wants to create a general feeling that the NHS is failing. If it can blame Andy Burnham at the same time, so much the better.
David Bell, Ware, Hertfordshire
It is little surprise to learn that former health authority employees who received ample redundancy pay-offs are being re-hired by the NHS at massive cost to the taxpayer (report, 10 July).
The idea that GPs could take over all the former administrative duties of primary care trusts without “red tape” was always nonsense. It was inevitable that clinical commissioning groups would need to take on ex-civil servants to do the admin work, no doubt at twice the rate of their former “bureaucratic” posts. 
This is yet another example of a classic bungled Tory reform on the lines of rail privatisation, which after two decades has only delivered ever-soaring fares and taxpayer subsidies which dwarf those paid to BR. Is it too early to suggest that Royal Mail privatisation has all the hallmarks of another market-driven Conservative omnishambles?
Anthony Rodriguez, Staines, Middlesex
Every day, it seems, we hear of yet another example of a failed “regulator”, dissembling or downright dishonesty from a politician, or another banking scandal followed by assurances of expensive inquiries.
Today (17 July) is an average day, with revelations of arms trades to repressive states, 11 hospitals in “special measures” , water companies siphoning off cash to foreign owners,  and revelations that  Margaret Thatcher was  warned about Jimmy Savile’s private life but persisted in getting him a knighthood.
Incompetence, duplicity, and general corruption seem to abound at the highest levels in public life. Instead of setting up committees to identify wrongdoing, perhaps it would be easiest to set up a single committee to identify totally efficient organisations run by honest, uncorruptible people. It would be much quicker and would identify all the rest by omission.
Andrew McLauchlin, Stratford-upon-Avon
They say things happen in threes. We have had headlines on failing schools and failing hospitals. Perhaps the third will be failing politicians. Failing that, we could rank them on a one to 10 rating as we intend to do with our 11-year-olds. I am sure that that will raise standards!
Lewis Bell, Wareham, Dorset
‘Heroes’ of propaganda
The death of Lee Rigby was a heinous and barbaric act. But equally sickening is the way the media and politicians have exploited his death to stoke national pride around the loss of a “hero”.
Lee Rigby was murdered on the streets of London. He did not “fall as a hero” on some foreign field. He did not die for a greater cause. Tellingly, his own family has said that “Lee has become a hero since his death”; in other words the heroic status has been created. The term for this creativity is propaganda.
This political exploitation of a murder victim is an insult to the memory of Lee Rigby and disrespectful towards his family. It also perpetrates our murderous activities abroad while constraining free speech at home. Watching sanctimonious politicians honouring the dead is infuriating when it was their lies that put “our” military personnel in danger in the first place.
We need to challenge the patriotic and childlike propaganda that military deaths – wherever they may be – are heroic. There are no heroes: just people who have tendencies to do both heroic and evil acts.
David Walden, Newcastle upon Tyne
High-speed water from the North
A few weeks ago, just before the current heatwave, there was an informed prediction that the next 10 summers would be wet. More recently it was reported that farmers would be facing severe water shortages in the coming years. 
God only knows how much rain will fall and when, but what is certain is that the demand for water will grow, particularly in the south and east of England. The water companies have resisted the idea of a trunk water main running north to south because of the costs and planning involved. 
If this government pursues the proposal to build HS2, including the extension to Manchester and Leeds, a wonderful opportunity will arise to use the same route to run a water main alongside the track. Costs could be shared (particularly land purchase). Other utilities might also be interested. “Blue-sky thinking” is called for.
David Winter, South Cadbury, Somerset
Pay rise for MPs or else
On 11 July you published this headline: “Warning of another expenses crisis unless MPs get pay hike”.
As someone who has spent the last 40 years studying the ways in which labour markets work, I have never come across such a justification for an abnormally large pay increase. Can any reader think of another job where the threat of increased “fiddling” of expenses justifies such largesse?
Two further thoughts. First, how independent can an independent review body really be when its terms of reference are set by the very people who stand to win, or lose, from its recommendations? 
Second, did the deliberations of the review body take into account future increases in earnings arising to MPs, over and above what they might reasonably have been assumed to earn had they never been an MP.  Perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer should introduce a windfall/bonus tax upon the earnings of former MPs and ministers from after-dinner speeches, company directorships and the like.
David Sapsford, Sir Edward Gonner Professor of Applied Economics (Emeritus), University of Liverpool
Children should be out in the sun
Whose idea is it to keep children in school until the end of July? Cooping them up to wilt in the heat in poorly ventilated buildings is verging on child abuse.
July is the peak month of our northern seasons and after the first week of the school holiday summer is in decline. Keeping them in school at the best time of the year does not enhance their joy of exploring and learning, which is after all the essence of education.
Peter Cunningham, Bath
Prince’s taxes
The claims of tax avoidance relating to Prince Charles combine high society and low farce. The Duchy of Cornwall is a business. Like a local plumber, Prince Charles has the choice to trade as a personal business and pay income tax on profits or to incorporate and pay corporate tax. He seems to have chosen the former. He has “avoided” corporate tax only in the sense that he has opted to keep paying at higher income tax rates.
Andrew Watters, Partner, Thomas Eggar LLP, London EC4
Italian chants
I recently visited the ground of Juventus, the Italian champions. Inside the ground, I read their “rules and regulations” with interest. The rules were in Italian and English. The English version stated: “No homophobic, racial or other discriminatory chanting…”. The Italian version omitted the homophobic reference and referred only to the other two. Is this a comment on Italian culture?
Anthony McCarthy, Turin
Easy targets
Our government has the courage to cut benefits to disabled people, and send the terminally ill back to work in nappies, but when asked to face down the tobacco and drinks lobby and implement minimum  alcohol price and plain packaging for cigarettes they cower in fear. What a spineless bunch they are!
Pete Rowberry, Saxmundham, Suffolk
No faith
Robert Readman inadvertently makes a point for all of us with his letter on Ulster trapped in the past (16 July). Faith schools have fuelled the problems in Ulster that he refers to, and we have not learnt the lessons as we develop them in this country.
James Dunlop, Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire


A selection panel that has no direct knowledge of the candidates for this office may have greater transparency but is not an improvement
Sir, There are many in the legal profession and outside who have been dismayed by the process for the selection of the new Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales (report, July 13).
Since the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 the appointment of judges has been taken away from the executive (the Lord Chancellor and his advisers) and given to the new Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). Very recently the JAC, charged with the important task of recommending the new Lord Chief Justice, moved from a three-person panel consisting of the chairman of the JAC and two senior members of the judiciary (the President of the Supreme Court and the Master of the Rolls) to a five-person panel.
This recent change moved the selecting panel of the JAC from one carrying a judicial majority to one carrying a lay majority, and from a majority who closely knew each candidate from years of working together on the bench to a minority who did not — a deficiency which seems to have been met by putting the candidates through rigorous essay writing, formal presentations and two lengthy interviews which, as reported in your newspaper, were regarded by some as “humiliating”.
In all of this something very important was lost — the special judgment on which candidate was right for this post. This should not have been the candidate who wrote the better essay, or who made the better presentation or who interviewed the best, but the candidate whose personal qualities and background universally reflected what was best for this appointment.
It seems to have been recognised that each of the three candidates had the right credentials for the job and would have performed it well. Thus in the selection process the test could have been applied on what would been best now for the English judiciary and for the public at large. This is that, for the first time in our history, the Lord Chief Justice should have been a woman of the proven standing and ability of the one female candidate. There are all sorts of reasons why this would have been right and widely welcomed.
It, therefore, has to be said that, in its composition and selection processes, the selecting panel of the JAC got it wrong. Thus a real opportunity for the appointment of an outstanding woman to be the next Lord Chief Justice has been missed.
As one who supported the change from “the tap on the shoulder” to something more transparent, I have to comment that a selection panel with a majority who have no direct knowledge of the candidates for this judicial office and who require a range of essays, presentations and gruelling interviews, may have greater transparency but is not an improvement.
Lord Hacking
Littleton Chambers, London EC4

There should be at least one condition imposed before supplying arms to any faction in Syria: the release of two kidnapped archbishops
Sir, If Parliament eventually concurs in the sending of arms to one or more of the many rebel factions in Syria, it should impose a condition precedent, namely the release of the two archbishops, the Syriac Orthodox Mar Gregorious Johana Ibrahim and the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi, who were kidnapped near Aleppo on April 22, one assumes by a rebel faction, and have not, I think, been heard of since, except for one report in May that they were alive.
Edward Nugee, QC
London WC2

The method of working out the different costs of district judges and magistrates may be flawed in one of the assumptions it makes
Sir, The research Jon Mack (letter, July 15) refers to did indeed conclude that the cost difference between a district judge and three magistrates was negligible. However, scrutiny of the research by the Magistrates’ Association showed that the method used to calculate the relative costs was heavily weighted against magistrates.
The costs for magistrates included an “opportunity cost element” — if magistrates were not on the bench they would be elsewhere in gainful employment. This makes little sense given that most magistrates are volunteers and the “elsewhere” would probably be at home gardening.
Patrick Cracroft-Brennan
Bicester, Oxon

If the high-speed rail project goes ahead, the rest of the network must not be neglected, or the rate of accidents is bound to increase
Sir, It is to be hoped that the comments about the French railways concerning investment in high-speed lines (“Rail crash follows years of neglect, Hollande claims”, July 15) are taken to heart by those who promote the HS2 route to the north. They have already been warned of the danger that the allocation of so much money to this line will result in a scarcity of funds for the remainder of the railway network. Now we see that this has indeed happened in France, and must beware the same fate for the other 98 per cent of railway mileage in this country.
We can not look at the purpose and benefits of HS2 alone: the integration of the whole of the railway network must be the prime concern of ministers, taxpayers and railwaymen alike.
Andrew Dow
Newton-on-Ouse, N Yorks

The British used to be steeped in a noble ethos, but we are at risk of replacing the moral imperative with the winning imperative
Sir, Matthew Syed’s analysis of sporting conduct versus a player’s “rights” within the rules (July 17) cuts to the heart of what sport needs to be.
Sport, though superficially trivial, is potentially raised to nobility in the human drama of the contest of wills. In a more religious age, the American Grantland Rice could write of the Great Scorer: “He writes, not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.” And the British, inventors and exporters of so many sports, were steeped in that ethos — the French still refer to “le fairplay anglais”.
Professionalising sport risks replacing the moral imperative with the winning imperative, and by going along with this, the England camp is adopting the wilful child’s defence: “But all my friends do it.”
Paul Braga

SIR – I am writing on behalf of the 29 members of the Independent Family Brewers of Britain who own 4,030 pubs, 3,034 of which are tenanted.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is currently reviewing the responses to the consultation process on the Government’s controversial proposals for legislation and statutory regulation for the pub sector. Although all our members own fewer than the proposed threshold of 500 pubs, we feel strongly that this legislation is unnecessary and harmful to our industry, our businesses and licensees.
The tied model allows small entrepreneurs to start up a business with very little capital. All this will be endangered by the changes envisaged in the proposed legislation. There would be many unintended consequences that would damage employment and investment. We also fear brewery closures as a direct consequence of legislation. We are painfully aware that the Beer Orders of 1989 resulted in the loss of all the major brewers to foreign ownership, and the creation of mega pub companies.
In recent years, a new system of self-regulation has been put in place at significant cost to all our companies. It includes low-cost arbitration services, giving pub lessees better protection than lessees in any other industry.
Instead of statutory intervention, the Government should allow self-regulation to prove its effectiveness. This will allow us all to get on with running our businesses successfully, working closely with and investing in our licensees for their benefit as well as the consumers’.
I write on behalf of Arkell’s, Daniel Batham and Son, Daniel Thwaites, Donnington, Elgood and Sons, Everards, Frederic Robinson, Fuller Smith and Turner, George Bateman and Son, Hall and Woodhouse, Harvey and Sons (Lewes), Holden, Hook Norton, Hydes’, J C & R H Palmer, Joseph Holt, J W Lees, McMullen and Sons, R C Brewery, S A Brain, Shepherd Neame, St Austell, Timothy Taylor, Wadworth, Charles Wells, Young, T & R Theakston, Black Sheep and W H Brakspear & Son.
S J Staughton
Chairman, St Austell Brewing Company
St Austell, Cornwall

SIR – Under the Lib Dem plan, if Britain faced a deteriorating international situation, rather than having a known and effective nuclear deterrent already at sea, it would have to deploy one of its “Trident Lite” boats (Leading article, July 16).
Any competent intelligence operation would notice such an action and alert the world. International condemnation at the UN would follow this “aggressive escalation” and British and allied interests would be put at increased risk of hostile response. An already bad situation would deteriorate further, edging closer to the conflict that Trident Lite is meant to deter.
Actually, the Lib Dems would probably want to avoid this and would therefore shilly-shally around and not deploy it at all, relying again on the permanent protection provided, increasingly resentfully, by others. So we would have no usable independent deterrent but would still be forking out billions for it.
Victor Launert
Matlock Bath, Derbyshire
SIR – Trident renewal should be considered in the context of why any country or organisation armed with nuclear weapons would choose to attack Britain.
Related Articles
State intervention can only spoil the brew
17 Jul 2013
If we were to stop careering around the world like an imperial power seeking to put the world to rights – but often making matters far worse – nobody would consider such an attack on us any more than they would choose to attack Sweden or Norway.
Britain should have the good grace to accept that we unwittingly caused many of the world’s current problems by creating arbitrary states in the scramble out of empire and there is no reason to believe that we can resolve them now.
There would be a multiple funding benefit from showing a bit of humility: reducing our out-of-Britain military capability, abolishing our nuclear weapons systems and concentrating instead on rebuilding our technological and manufacturing capability.
Andrew Papworth
Billericay, Essex
SIR – It takes years to design, develop and introduce a nuclear capability. But the international situation can change overnight. To base our future strategic requirements on the current situation is therefore naive. Reducing the number of submarines would not only encourage a hostile pre-emptive strike but also reduce our capability to sustain the deterrent during a prolonged period of tension.
Col Stephen Ashworth
Lichfield, Staffordshire
SIR – Readers of the Asterix books will remember that when he was “chez les Bretons” the British warriors fought only from nine till five, five days a week. Is this where the Liberal Democrats learned their military strategy?
Readers will also remember that Julius Caesar decided to attack only after five o’clock and at weekends, and so rapidly conquered the country.
David Mathieson
Epsom, Surrey
Led down a lethal path
SIR – In December 2011 my uncle, a nursing-home resident, could not be woken up, and paramedics were called to deal with the problem. He was taken to Stoke Mandeville hospital where I was advised that he would not recover and should be put on the “care pathway”. After some thought, I agreed to this.
After about half an hour I returned to find him wide awake and asking for water. His request was refused on the grounds that I had authorised deprivation of food and drink. I personally obtained a drink for him and had him returned to the home where he ate a hearty breakfast.
I am pleased to report that he is still alive and well 17 months later.
D F Clarke
Tring, Hertfordshire
SIR – In your leading article on the Liverpool Care Pathway (July 16), you say: “To have no national guidelines in place, and leave end-of-life care to individual doctors’ consciences, would invite abuses of their own.”
End-of-life care was, in the past, the responsibility of individual doctors, and generally worked very well. This was, however, only possible when the doctors had freedom of clinical control and responsibility to be always available to apply their care.
There are many factors which have produced the present sorry state of affairs but bureaucratisation of the service has in my view been the major cause.
No matter how many schedules or protocols are produced to delineate the care of the sick, they will be open to interpretation.
But worse than this, the printed and accepted rule can be exercised by anyone who can read and thus distances the senior doctor, who should be responsible, from its application.
Nigel Dwyer FRCS
Solihull, West Midlands
Nice warm bubbly
SIR – The present spell of weather is the best possible excuse to crack open the champagne.
However, in a supermarket yesterday morning I saw a bottle displayed with a label which read: “Not suitable for microwave.” Can anyone explain?
Philip Styles
Cheddar, Somerset
Mr Dodo, it’s for you
SIR – I too have had a lot of calls on my mobile that are not for me (Letters, July 15). They are for a Mr Shanghai Dodo, whoever he may be, who presumably gave my number.
The firms with my number are all loan companies. In the last week I have had numerous texts and phone calls, mostly from the same number, which does not appear to be British. Being on “pay as you go” I do not answer, but it is still very annoying.
I suppose I could change my number but I have had this one for about 15 years.
Perhaps people who give out any old number indiscriminately should think of who they may be upsetting.
Vanne Martin
Northallerton, North Yorkshire
SIR – It is not necessary to make up a number in order to solve the problem of being required to enter a mobile phone number on an online form.
Ofcom’s website publishes a range of fictitious numbers, intended for use in radio and television dramas. Ofcom recommends the use of mobile numbers from the 07700 900000 to 900999 range.
Robert Lucas
Syrian weapons peril
SIR – It is clear that the Syrian chemical and biological weapons stockpile is at risk of falling into the hands of terrorists and extremists. The weapons could be used on the Syrian people, countries in the region and to target the West.
It is essential that we send in specialist troops to secure these weapons at the earliest opportunity. We cannot let the legacy of Iraq endanger our own security.
Kieran Bailey
Classroom fasting
SIR – The phrase “political correctness gone mad” doesn’t do justice to the case of the teacher who forbade a boy to drink in his primary school classroom lest it offend fasting classmates (report, July 13).
Denying a child food and water for about 16 hours a day for 30 days is a form of child abuse, even in cool weather. The fact that this is perpetrated in the name of the God in whom the child’s parents profess to believe does not make it any less cruel. No teacher should defend such treatment, let alone inflict it on other children.
Vera Lustig
Walton-on-Thames, Surrey
Archers blackmail
SIR – The BBC wants to turn off the FM radio signal, thereby making seven of my eight radios useless. Before it can do this, the number of digital radios must increase. To boost sales of digital radios it practically forces keen Archers fans to buy a digital radio. I find this sickeningly devious.
David Beach
Minehead, Somerset
SIR – As long-term listeners to The Archers we do not feel we need to be challenged by the BBC drama commissioner, Jeremy Howe, who has decided to broadcast “powerful and dramatic” scenes on digital Radio 4 Extra only (report, July 13). We have had our fair share of challenges and are now content to have the reassurance of things being where we expect them to be.
Susan and Terry Alcott
Parkstone, Dorset
SIR – There’s no need for Archers fans to feel pressurised into buying a power-hungry, stuttering DAB radio. Instead, they can switch on the television, relax into an armchair and listen to the superb BBC Radio 4 service on Freeview — far superior to the DAB service on a portable receiver.
Rob Mannion
Bournemouth, Dorset
Goldfinger – the man with the hideous touch
SIR – I blinked with disbelief when I read the eulogies being heaped on Alexander Fleming House (Features, July 11), which must surely rank as the most hideous modernist building ever erected in Britain.
Erno Goldfinger’s architecture eschewed the humane architectural tradition of the West with its cultural continuities. The resulting New Brutalism, and its impact on public authority housing in particular, has been calamitous – a major contributor to the moral and social anomie which has blighted so many inner-city communities since the Sixties. Those architect disciples of Goldfinger should hang their heads in shame for contributing to this disaster.
Charles Jackson
Hyssington, Montgomeryshire

Irish Times:
Sir, – I was highly surprised to find an article in your paper suggesting that I do not support a campaign to change the lives of abused women (“Former prostitutes ‘offended’ by Clare Daly stance on sex industry”, Home News, July 16th). I have to take issue with the comments made. In my contribution to the debate on the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2013, a Bill that dealt with the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, I expressed concerns regarding this course of action. This Bill did not tackle the wider issue of violence against women or human trafficking; my decision not to support the Bill does not mean that I am unsupportive of any campaign to improve the lives of women.
The issue of prostitution/sex work is a very complex one and an open and honest discussion should be welcomed. The Swedish model of criminalising the buyer advocated by Turn Off the Red Light is highly problematic. The data has significant gaps and the collection of information is complicated by the nature of prostitution and the stigma associated. The Skarhed report, carried out to investigate the impact of criminalisation in Sweden, has been criticised (by the Swedish Equality Ombudsman, among others) for being biased and riddled with bad research and speculative conclusions. And this should give pause for thought to anyone considering basing Irish law on the Swedish model.
We need to accept that there is no quick-fix solution. The act of purchasing sex has been outlawed in the United States for over 100 years and it has not stopped either violence against women or human trafficking, or prostitution for that matter.
Because I do not believe that the Swedish model is the correct course of action for Ireland, it does not follow that I endorse or wish to see a continuation of abuse against women in society. And to suggest such is simplistic and wholly inaccurate.
The defensive language often used by members of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign serves only to stifle open discussion on this issue and has put many people off joining the debate. The “if you’re not with us you must be against us” attitude is self-defeating and serves only to trivialise the issue. It would better serve Turn Off the Red Light campaign to explore some of the issues I have raised in relation to the Bill instead of resorting to distorted accusations. – Yours, etc,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.
Sir, – Eilis Ward makes a good case in her article “Call for ‘Swedish model’ to curb Irish prostitution lacks evidence” (Opinion & Analysis, July 12th). However, there is a more fundamental issue involved. The proposal to criminalise the clients of prostitutes goes against a basic liberal principle: that it is not the legitimate function of the state to police the private behaviour of consenting adults. This principle was key to removing the laws against gay sex; and, had it been followed, would have prevented the current dangerous nonsense of the “war on drugs.”

Insofar as the proposed law is supposed to put down a marker regarding male behaviour (as appears to be the rationale in Sweden), it is basically misconceived. There is, for example, no warrant for laws against idolatry, missing church on Sunday or telling social lies. If these are wrong, they are sins, not crimes (in biblical parlance, they belong to the jurisdiction of God, not Caesar). Sins against religion (or against whatever sexual-political mores are current) are to be countered by argument and persuasion, not force of law.
The other main objection to prostitution seems to be the commercial aspect (since coercion for purposes of prostitution is already prohibited by law). There are many objections to commercial transactions, including the fact that people have to work in the first place in order to get a living. In an ideal post-capitalist world there might be no commercial transactions at all. But we are very far from such a world, and it’s not clear why sexual transactions are singled out to be banned and not others, unless there is some implicit moral rationale and a related wish to enforce a particular worldview through law. Nor is it clear how removing their client-base (if indeed that could be done) is going to help people who rely on prostitution to make a living.
Whether a relationship involves romance, lust, affection, or the desire for material gain (or some combination of these) is – and should be – entirely a matter for the individuals involved. It is ironic that, just as the “war on drugs” is being widely seen as a failure, the “war on prostitution” is being ramped up. The “law of unintended consequences” can be expected as surely from the one campaign as from the other.
One does not have to be in favour of either drugs or prostitution (and I’m not in favour of either) to point out the folly involved in both cases.  – Yours, etc,
Lamb Alley,
Dublin 8.
Sir, – Dr Eilis Ward criticises the lack of evidence for the proposal – based on the campaign by Turn Off the Red Light – that the Oireachtas adopts the “Swedish model” in seeking to abolish prostitution by criminalising the buyers rather than the sellers of sex. Behind her argument is the liberal feminist stance that women should be free to be sex workers, a stance that ignores the violence and coercion that dominate the sex trade, in Ireland and throughout the world. Prostitution, she argues, without a shred of evidence or research, cannot be abolished.
In April 1981 Geraldine Niland and I published a two-part series in this newspaper on the lives of real prostitutes in Dublin. We spent several weeks “on the beat” with the women, interviewing many prostitutes and male clients. One thing the women kept reiterating was that without clients, prostitution would not exist. Clients, they told us, came from all walks of life. From the married man who sought casual sex on Percy Place on the way home from the pub, to the priest whose dog collar on the back seat gave him away, and who the women described as “taking from the poor to give to the poor”. Most of the women we spoke to had been abused as children, most had a drug habit and all spoke of their wish to leave prostitution if and when they could, or if and when their pimps allowed them to. For most Dublin prostitutes, we wrote, the decision to enter “the life” was a lack of real choice. The women spoke of the split between their daytime and night lives when they assumed “the slang, the vulgarity, the behaviour, the violence”, and between their adored children and their sex work. While for some women prostitution may have seemed a choice, most of the women we interviewed would agree with how one of them described herself: “you’re dirt, and no good to anyone”.

Since then prostitution in Ireland has moved indoors from the streets to private flats, “escort agencies” and brothels, often kept by traffickers, where women are often coerced to have sex with many men through violence and threats of violence. Many are not Irish, many very young. But what has not changed, I believe, is the client profile – men from all walks of life, married, single, old, young, Irish, non-Irish, all regarding these women as mere bodies to be used and abused.
It may indeed be hard to abolish prostitution, but criminalising the men who trade in women’s bodies, be it pimps, traffickers or clients, and assisting women who wish to do so to work out of free, informed choice in dignified and safe conditions, can go a long way towards reducing it. – Yours, etc,
Department of Sociology,
Trinity College Dublin,
Dublin 2.
Sir, – Regarding the article by the Rev Dr Donal Dorr (“New reality of prostitution has to be addressed by a change in the law”, Rite & Reason, July 16th), I do not disbelieve the reverend gentleman when he says that nowadays many of the women (he says nothing of men and boys) involved in prostitution in Ireland are victims of trafficking from eastern Europe, Africa or Asia. However he offers no evidence for this alleged “fact” and I suggest he may well be merely repeating an assertion that is popular with those campaigners who are framing the debate rather than those who are genuinely interested in what the real facts are and what precisely is the problem.
Unless you understand this there seems little point in changing the law and every danger of dire unintended consequences when prostitution is driven further underground. So let us start with the evidence and then look at solutions, be they legal or otherwise. – Yours, etc,
Moyclare Close,
Dublin 13.
Sir, – I see Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is examining a plan to extend the right of multimillionaire tax exiles to live in Ireland for up to 244 days a year, without further liability to Irish taxation, if they were to “buy” this right in the form of payments of €15 million to unspecified charities over a period of 10 years (Front Page, July 15th).
My question for these homesick patriots is, if you love your country so much, why don’t you pay your taxes here? In that case, they could stay here as long as they wanted. – Yours, etc,
Stannaway Road,
Dublin 12.
Sir, – The proposal apparently is to establish a second class of citizens, who are to live amongst us, yet not pay the taxes we pay, and who undertake to make charitable donations outside the democratic determination of the common good – in other words, where and when they see fit.
How can this be attractive, and is holding one’s nose sufficient?
My answer: it is repugnant, and I shall refuse to hold my nose. – Yours, etc,
Tubbermore Road,
Dalkey ,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – Now that the Government is considering its equivalent of plenary indulgences for our sinning tax exiles, perhaps they can also set up a panel of “Pardoners” to grant these favours.
We are now blessed with some great medieval politicians and civil servants! – Yours, etc,
Caldra House,
Sir, – Further to Harry McGee’s report (“Nuns will not pay Magdalene compensation”, Home News, July 16th), it is worth remembering the initial reluctance of the Government to make a formal apology, following the publication of the McAleese report, and that it only did so after after a public outcry.
Clearly, as judged by today’s standards of care for vulnerable women, the State and the orders failed miserably, but this would not have been the case at the time, when there was little state social welfare provision and religious orders were often the only ones to offer such services.
These institutions responded in practical ways as best they could to the fraught situations of the sometimes marginalised girls and women sent to them, by providing them with shelter, board and work. – Yours, etc,
Ballyroan Park,
Dublin 16.
Sir, – Let us not forget the unwritten 11th commandment – religious orders shall not be separated from their money. – Yours, etc,
Abbey Hill,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – Mercy? Charity? Sisters? Shepherd? Good? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – In public discourse in general, but particularly in the media, there is a constant friction between the desire to be accurate with one’s reporting, and the impulse to be fair to the “other side” of the debate; to give equal time, or column inches, to those at the fringe.
This can be seen to various degrees, particularly in the United States, in reports on topics such as global warming, vaccination and evolution. Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus on these and other issues, there remains a journalistic tic which compels reporters to present both sides as though they were on an equal footing scientifically.
The effect of this style of reporting is that it manufactures a debate that doesn’t exist. There is no significant dissent from the consensus on any of the topics I mentioned above; the overwhelming majority of scientists who work in the relevant fields follow the evidence to the same explanations (technical scientific minutiae notwithstanding).
What do exist are small but vocal, and often well-funded, lobby groups, whose opinion is not endorsed by researchers who are familiar with the literature and the evidence.
Media space for scientific and factual claims should be proportionate to their acceptance in the scientific community. If the evidence is there, it will tend to make its way into the scientific debate by the normal publication and peer-review processes; for every genius renegade researcher, there are a dozen dishonest or disingenuous campaigners. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – The defence by ICTU’s Peter Rigney (“Nothing striking in union funding of political parties”, Opinion & Analysis, July 16th) of the right of trade unions to political action and affiliation to a political party stands to reason.
Mr Rigney explains how the process of trade union political support compares favourably with the more covert support of business for traditionally conservative parties.
The question not addressed is whether, in both Britain and Ireland, trade unions might not be better off supporting or helping to generate parties other than the Labour parties given their conversion to, or close alliance with, conservative and austerity policies. Many trade unionists have answered this individually since March 2011 by cancelling their political contributions to Labour.
Just before reading Mr Rigney’s article, I read Arthur Beesley’s report on Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar’s plan to privatise some bus routes, a few days after it was reported that a Siptu ballot in Dublin Bus had returned a 94 per cent result in favour of strike action in defence of pay and conditions (Home News, July 16th).
Mr Rigney rightly gives as one of the aims of trade unionism “to liberate working people from the dehumanising and commodifying effects of markets on a wider society”.
Could privatisation of unionised public transport at Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann be that “bridge too far” that might lead to a concerted rebellion in unions affiliated to the Labour Party against any form of official support for any component of this Government? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The debate on abolition of Seanad Éireann really must be elevated above the populist “€20 million” argument.
This might be assisted if the Government were to publish a White Paper on the unicameral chambers in what Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton calls the “progressive” small countries, such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden. This would highlight the factual situation in those countries in respect of real parliamentary control of the executive, effective scrutiny of EU affairs and relations with local government.
Meaningful reform to match those systems will require much more than Friday Dáil sittings and a more equitable sharing of committee chairs. – Yours, etc,

First published: Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 01:01

A chara, – As there are Catholic unionists (Life and Style, July 13th), there are probably nationalist Protestants. An idea for another day perhaps? – Is mise,
An Pháirc Thiar,

Irish Independent:

* The furore over the remarks made by Senator David Norris has marked the beginning of what will be a robust discussion leading up to the referendum to abolish the Seanad.
Also in this section
Give multi-millionaire tax exiles a break
Seanad now has a chance to prove its worth
Drowned by a system of debt
To suggest that the Seanad has outlived its usefulness is shortsighted. Somebody more suspicious than I might suggest that the referendum is nothing more than an opportunistic power-grab in straitened economic times.
The report launched by Fine Gael’s Richard Bruton and Regina Doherty seeks to suggest that €20m might be saved with abolition of the Upper House. However, what it fails to highlight is that such savings would take years to materialise given the contractual and statutory entitlements vis-a-vis pensions etc.
If the Seanad were to be abolished what would we be left with? A unicameral parliament consisting of the Dail. And let us consider for a moment their behaviour when debating one of the most important and socially divisive issues of our times. The Dail is led by a huge majority despite a few defectors. In a ‘parallel unicameral Oireachtas world’ Fine Gael would be able to sign, seal and deliver its own policies without any challenges or checks and balances within our democratic structures.
Ask yourself: would you have Fine Gael be the sole decision makers in this country headed up by Enda Kenny (Labour is gone)? Back in the day imagine if that power had been structurally acceded to the likes of Charles J Haughey or Bertie Ahern! Wake up!
There are other ways to save €20m. Let’s start with adjusting the huge salary and pension entitlements of all Oireachtas members. If Fine Gael considers the €65,000 a year salary for senators to be too high in its “mendacious” report, that same concept should be applied to TDs and ministers.
The entire Oireachtas needs to be run more efficiently. According to Richard Bruton “politics in this country has to make changes like every other family and business are doing in this country”.
However, in Ireland we don’t cast family members adrift and have them euthanised or put down if they are becoming a cost burden.
Killian Brennan
Corofin House, Clare Village
Malahide Road, Dublin 17
* I find myself uncomfortable with being asked to abolish Seanad Éireann on a promise of Dáil reform, by a Government that has failed to implement the openness, transparency and accountability promised in 2011.
Might I respectfully suggest An Taoiseach consider reducing the Dáil and Seanad by a third while also reducing salaries in these houses by a third.
This action would save the taxpayer money and keep both houses, thereby ensuring that checks and balances continue.
Róisín Lawless
Rath Chairn, Áth Buí, Co Na Mí
* 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.
Last Monday the Seanad debated its own demise, and showed just how insightful its debates really are.
David Norris’s vulgar references to a female politician’s genitalia would have seen any other male flogged to within an inch of his life by the feminist commentariat.
But since Norris is the darling of the intelligentsia he will be allowed to get away with it.
In comparing pro-abolition arguments with Nazi propaganda, Mary White proved again that she should stick to making chocolates and not arguments.
The Seanad, when given an opportunity to demonstrate why it should be retained, has yet again shot itself in both feet and proved beyond all reasonable doubt why this sorry excuse of a legislative chamber is destined for the dustbin of history.
I would like to thank Senators Norris and White, among others, for making the case for Seanad abolition so much easier.
Jason Fitzharris
Rivervalley, Swords, Co Dublin
* The recent drowning deaths among teenagers around the country is an awful tragedy that requires examination.
When I was growing up in the ’70s there was a huge increase in the building of swimming pools that were affordable to all.
I remember me and my siblings rolling our towels up and heading to the pool for about 20p each.
Now, because the local authorities have outsourced the pools, they cost an unaffordable €5 each.
I believe this has led to a generation that can’t swim.
Name and address with Editor
* When Enda Kenny used the ‘crozier’ of the parliamentary party whip to bully Fine Gael TDs into supporting his abortion bill, and he ‘excommunicated’ from the Fine Gael parliamentary party Deputies Lucinda Creighton, Terence Flanagan, Peter Mathews, Billy Timmins and Brian Walsh for honouring Fine Gael’s general election pledge not to introduce abortion legislation, there were very few criticisms of his actions by media commentators.
Yet, when some bishops raised the possibility that Catholic politicians voting for the legalisation of abortion may face excommunication from the Catholic Church, there was massive criticism of the church across the media.
It would appear that our political leaders and parties have become the new ‘bishops’ and ‘church’ of the 21st Century, who must be feared and obeyed.
Those representatives who dare to stand by their principles and conscience against the party on life and death issues face political eternal damnation, and this is deemed acceptable.
Have we learned nothing from history?
Dr Cliodhna Donnelly Aisling
* Once again the Tour de France is making as many headlines for drug suspicion as spectacular racing.
I have to ask the question: am I watching a truly remarkable achievement in sport or a lab rat on a bike?
As a cyclist I really want to believe that it’s a great sporting moment.
I would like to compliment Sir David Brailsford (Team Sky) on suggesting a member of the World Anti- Doping Agency come and live with the team.
Might I also suggest as a joint project with UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) that this scheme is extended to all professional teams.
Prove once and for all that cycling has changed.
Let’s face it, it would be money well spent.
Millions of youngsters are watching the sport, many of whom are Irish and are well capable of doing something really special in the future.
Some fine work is being done at local club level to enhance the sport of cycling for our young athletes.
Let’s give them a real goal to aim for.
Colm Alley
Naas, Co Kildare
* Branislav Ivanovic would be happy for Chelsea to sign Liverpool’s ‘enfant terrible’ Luis Suarez (Irish Independent, July 16).
Perhaps Mr Ivanovic is unaware of the expression “once bitten, twice shy”.
Or, is this a case of revenge being a dish best served cold?
Gary J Byrne
IFSC, Dublin 1
Irish Independent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: