Walking stick

25 July 2013 Walking sticks

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark It’s the break up of Heather and Pertwee’s ‘engagement’ she is back to Leslie, one cagain Priceless
warmer today give away two walking sticks to a lady of Freecycle pick up Joan’s stairlift chair
We watch The Brain of Morbius not bad nice dancing.
No Scrabble today just too tired and its off to bed


Bernardine Bishop
Bernardine Bishop, who has died aged 73, was an author, teacher and psychotherapist, and in 1960 appeared as a defence witness in the Lady Chatterley obscenity trial.

Bernardine Bishop Photo: SYLVAN MASON
5:33PM BST 24 Jul 2013
Her career as a writer was unusual in that she had two novels published in quick succession when she was in her early twenties, then remained silent for half a century until last January, when she brought out Unexpected Lessons in Love, an autobiographical work about a retired psychotherapist who is diagnosed with cancer. Bernardine Bishop’s friend Margaret Drabble found it “one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in years… frank, courageous and entertaining”.
In between publishing her novels, Bernardine Bishop brought up her two sons, taught in London comprehensive schools, and practised as a psychotherapist. Throughout her life her Roman Catholic faith was central; at one time tramps were regular guests in her home, and she founded a lunch club for the homeless at her local church in Islington, north London. Unexpected Lessons in Love also features a nun who provides an intriguing link between the book’s various protagonists.
She was born Bernardine Anna Livia Mary Wall on August 16 1939 into a literary family: her great-grandmother was the poet Alice Meynell; her parents, Bernard and Barbara Wall, were leading Catholic thinkers of their day, and there was a stream of bibulous visitors to their home in Ladbroke Road, including Rene Hague – who translated Virgil for Bernardine – Gavin Maxwell and Dylan Thomas.
Her earliest years, however, were spent with her grandmother in West Sussex while her parents were involved in war-related activities in Rome. This period produced the happiest memories of her life .
After the war the family was reunited in London, where Bernardine attended Catholic schools. It was at a tutorial college while preparing for her Oxbridge entrance that she met her lifelong friend, the playwright Caryl Churchill. At Newnham College, Cambridge, Bernadine met Margaret Drabbl e.
After Bernardine had graduated in 1960, her father introduced her to Michael Rubinstein, the defence lawyer for Penguin Books at the Lady Chatterley trial, as a potential witness. In her father’s view, she did not “seem very depraved”, despite having read Lawrence’s book. Bernardine was the youngest, and final, witness, and her testimony was considered crucial in winning the case. Her face appeared across the newspapers during the trial, and she was invited to appear on the BBC Television literary quiz Take It or Leave It alongside Anthony Burgess and John Betjeman .
In 1961 she married the American classical pianist Stephen Bishop (now known as Stephen Kovacevich), with whom she had two sons . Her need to earn a living after the break-up of the marriage led her into teaching. Reflecting on her school in a deprived area of north London, she said that her greatest achievement had been to instil in the girls a love of Shakespeare and poetry.
Her interest gradually turned towards psychotherapy, and she trained at the London Centre for Psychotherapy (LCP) while continuing to teach part-time. During this period she was greatly supported by her second husband, Bill Chambers, a scientist at London University, whom she married in 1981. Her work as a therapist continued until she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 . She then returned to writing fiction, and in the space of two years produced Unexpected Lessons in Love and two other novels which may be published posthumously.
When her death became imminent she stopped writing and instead received a constant stream of friends . Even as she “turned her face towards Jerusalem” (as she put it when she decided to stop chemotherapy), she continued to delight with her eloquence and humour.
Bernardine Bishop, born August 16 1939, died July 4 2013


As bankers’ pay, plus bonuses, plus long-term incentive schemes, plus share options, plus pension pots begin to head north again and City bonuses rise above £4bn, the European Banking Authority publishes some dramatic figures (Report, 16 July). They show that there were 2,436 bankers in the UK paid more than €1m (£833,000) in 2011. That is 77% of all the bankers paid above this level in the nine biggest EU states. In Germany there were only 170, in France 162, Spain 125 and Italy 96. The City is twice as large relative to size of economy compared with the other big EU countries, but why are there 14 times more euro millionaire bankers in the UK than Germany, and 15 times more than in France? And are banker euro millionaires justified at all when out of greed and recklessness they nearly crashed both the national and global economy?
So will the government rein them in? It seems unlikely when this government is far more concerned whether the unemployed deserve their £71 a week “handout” than whether City bankers get a minimum of £16,025 a week – let alone when the Tories get half their donated income from banks and hedge funds. However, the EU commission has heroically, and rightly, decided that top staff at banks receiving new state aid should have their total pay, including bonuses and share awards, capped at 15 times the national average salary, or 10 times the average bank employee’s salary. These new rules come into force next month. This means, since the UK national average salary is currently calculated at £26,500, that the pay of top executives at failing banks will be £397,500. So if that is right for top executives in failing banks, why not for those in other banks as well?
Michael Meacher MP
Labour, Oldham West and Royton

The declaration that “the Olympics investment has already made a genuine difference to many people” (Letters, 24 July) is unfortunately true in this area of east London. The difference is that in 2010 Drapers Field, a small popular sports ground lying on the border of the Olympic Park, was used by a local school, nursery and many others, but has been closed since November 2011. It was deemed “essential” to the success of the Games and included in the park. And despite campaigns to save it, including a letter published by the Guardian (14 August 2010), this precious and well-loved ground has gone. Local people were led to believe that the Field would reopen at the end of 2012 refurbished, with full compensation from the Olympic Delivery Authority. Latest news is that another year will pass before the reopening, and then plans show more of a “park” than the sports ground it had been. What message is sent to the young people of east London?
Pamela Cowan

We can afford decent social care, if we choose to (Polly Toynbee, 23 July). And it doesn’t have to be a “burden” on people of working age. Three-quarters of pension tax relief benefits the better off. It’s hugely regressive. Scrapping pension higher-rate tax relief for employers and employees would save £15bn; paying for pensions out of taxed income, but drawing those pensions tax free, as with ISAs, would save around £8bn. Removing the partial National Insurance cap on higher-rate employees would save a further £11bn. Yes, this would mean that higher-rate earners would have a lower, though still generous, pension in retirement; but if we ringfenced those savings for social care, we would be redistributing within the pensioner population, from younger, healthier, wealthier, mainly male, pensioners to older, poorer, more frail and mainly female pensioners in need of care; and not be expecting our children and grandchildren in future to pay for us.
Patricia Hollis
Labour, House of Lords
• The changes outlined (Report, 18 July) are indeed a real step forward in ensuring better protection for people against catastrophic care costs in later life. People must understand that they will need to pay towards their care in later life. What these reforms mean is that people will have an understanding of that fact and can plan how best to meet those costs, while being assured that the government will make a contribution once people have reached a cap.
What it cannot do however is compel local authorities to get self-funders care at the same low cost as it pays. There is much independent evidence to show that the low rates currently paid by councils are not sufficient to ensure the sustainability of care homes and, as such, fees must rise to a level that meets the true costs of care. Only in this way can people be guaranteed quality care and ensure homes be sustainable into the long term. Care homes are a vital resource in our health and social care system and we need to support them to continue in that role.
Professor Martin Green
Chief executive, DH Independent Dementia Champion
The observation that “monarchy has a logic-defying resilience” (Editorial, 23 July) should not dismay republicans. Key trends have, for some time, been transforming the way in which the monarchy is perceived. Deference has markedly decreased since the last coronation, continues to do so and is being steadily replaced by the tyranny of celebrity, which forces the younger members of the royal family to the fore and lays down its own rules for their behaviour.
Effortless superiority is no longer a useful qualification. Then there is a growing demand from the political elite for financial accountability and, consequently, an increasing interest in royal financial affairs to a level not known since the days before the civil war. Finally, voices have been raised even about the private communications between the Prince of Wales and government ministers. The management of the Firm has never been trickier. These closely related trends are driven by forces beyond republican protagonists. All they need to do is to stay in step; the country is moving in the right direction for them.
Russell Woodrow
• Your headline “A baby, a boy, a prince, a king” (23 July) made me think, how sad: a child born with no hope for the future; isolated, a part of an obsolete and arcane sect, kept separate from all aspects of normal society and used as a poster child. To be successful as a doctor, or a lawyer or a scientist, a writer or an artist, or a businessman, banker or even politician is denied to this child, for the sake of what? To be a figurehead.
We should allow adults who have decided they want to fill this position to put themselves forward and be voted upon. We should not allow a child’s potential to be so ruined by this medieval ritual.
Neil Burgess
• Without getting into a republican argument, the photo shoot mattered. Kate showed up for it visibly emotional – her hormones all over the place – and with large remains of her baby bump still showing. Furthermore she was just not bothered about it and so, in fact, looked lovelier. Since she has to be one of the most photographed and intruded-on women in the world, it is great she is using her role-model position to counter the idea that women’s bodies can only be seen when they are harnessed and honed to some thin extreme.
Olivia Byard
Witney, Oxfordshire
• Thanks so much for the information on the dress Kate Middleton wore on the steps of a hospital in your front page article and for repeating it on page 2 in even fuller detail (additionally providing crucial guidance as to what currently constitutes “glamour – hair”), in case we had missed it (24 July). It sat really well with your editorial about the way women broadcasters and journalists are expected to represent a particular “version of femininity”, I thought, and even more so with the Society section’s article about the oppression preventing girls’ education. Feminists and republicans can only breathe a sigh of appreciation for Seumas Milne (Cut this anti-democratic dynasty out of our politics).
Frankie Green
Whitstable, Kent
• The conscience of the Guardian has a still small voice yet.
Benedict Birnberg

We at the Institution of Engineering and Technology believe that government proposals to use legislation to force internet service providers to block access to pornography will be ineffective and harmful (Report, 22 July). There are better ways to protect children. Every illegal image is a crime scene but law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to identify, locate and protect every victim, nor to identify, and charge every abuser. More resources must be provided. That is the top priority and legislation to block access will do nothing to help, while making it harder for troubled adolescents to search for on sexual health and sexual identity issues.
Protecting children from seeing legal adult pornography, online exploitation and sexting are different issues that are best addressed by parents following the excellent advice provided by Get Safe Online and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and teaching their children to do the same. Universal blocking of websites, search terms and content is a blunt, ineffective tool. Such blocks can easily be circumvented, and children will continue to share ways to access sites their friends tell them about, whether the content is pornography or music files. The serious criminals are already using encryption and other technical means to hide their activities, which blocking by ISPs will not affect.
There is no quick technical fix that will protect children – it needs education, responsible parenting and more resources for enforcing the laws that already exist.
Dr Martyn Thomas
Institution of Engineering and Technology
• Before each household formally commits itself to accepting or rejecting access to restricted material online, should we not be given guarantees concerning how this knowledge is put to use? Which organ of government will keep the records of those households that are signed up to a filter and those that are not? And how can the government bind any successor administration to an undertaking not to find it economically advantageous to put such information up for sale?
W Stephen Gilbert
Corsham, Wiltshire
• First, our eight-year-old twins have access to the internet only through a computer in communal areas – they have no hand-held devices of their own. Second, there is clarity in our home that the adults and not the children are in charge. Third, we prioritise spending time with our children so we know what they are doing – mostly more interesting than surfing YouTube. If we insist on giving our very small children mobile gadgets which give them a hotline into an adult world from the privacy of their own bedrooms, we are asking for problems. The internet is a virtual world and, as in the real world, our children must be accompanied until ready to go alone. Government action alone will never solve this problem. Preventing our young children from wandering around unprotected is our adult responsibility.
Ruth Clements
• Before David Cameron goes ahead with outlawing possession of scenes of simulated rape he should remember the fiasco of the Dangerous Dogs Act and consider exactly what harm he wishes to prevent and how he is to define it. The National Gallery has The Rape of the Sabine Women by Rubens hanging on its walls. Will the director escape prosecution by removing it to thebasement or will he have to destroy it? Are all copies of Ingmar Bergman’s film The Virgin Spring to be destroyed as well? MaryWhitehouse failed to have the National convicted for staging Howard Brenton’s Romans in Britain but will the proposed law prevent any future productions of the play?
At least we should be grateful that scenes of simulated murder are to be permitted or galleries would have to be cleared of all those saintly martyrdoms and Quentin Tarantino’s career would come to an instant end.
Anthony Matthew
• I’m sure filters can play an important role in reducing access to pornography, but they can also have perverse results. I volunteer in a charity bookshop where, among other things, I list books for sale on the internet. One day I received a warning from the charity’s ISP about the inappropriate title of a book I was entering – Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage.
Martin Staniforth

Colin Richards is right (Letters, 24 July). Ofsted should be replaced by a national inspection service, independent of government, to assess and report on the effects of government education policy. It should also assess impartially the quality of education in schools. It might be called Her Majesty’s Inspectorate.
Iain Paterson
Axminster, Devon
• Keith Flett’s proposal of Michael Gove for weather minister (Letters, 23 July) is intriguing. Surely Gove would claim that reaching record high temperatures was just too easy now and would replace C and F with a more rigorous scale. Of course, at the same time, he would point out that the fine weather was down to Tory policies raising standards, unlike the cold, grim Brown years.
Phil Brett
• When routine bites hard, and ambitions are low, and resentment rides high, but emotions won’t grow… Gove Will Tear Us Apart (Letters, 24 July).
John Bevis
• How about Gove Changes Everything… frequently, and not in a good way?
Colin Walker
• Peter and Gordon’s A World Without Gove. Now that’s a song.
Bernard Ormerod
Salisbury, Wiltshire
• CB Fry is an object lesson in what cigars can do to a sportsman (Letters, 24 July). One of his was still smoking in an ashtray when he broke the British long jump record in 1892. Sadly, he was snatched away from us at the age of 84.
Willie Montgomery Stack
• Jack King, of the Colchester Rovers Cycling Club, used to ride time trials with a fag in his mouth while singing opera.
Jenny Haynes
Barton on Humber, Lincolnshire
• Why are odd shoes to be seen all along our motorways? On a recent journey of about 100 miles I saw four. I once saw a horse’s leg on a roundabout, but that is a different story.
Caroline Smith
Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire


The Times has received lots of suggestions for additions to its reading list for children, and some criticism of those that were included
Sir, Oh dear. The best children’s books (“The 50 books that every child should read”, Saturday Review, July 20) ignoring Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass? For pace, humour and a creative imagination equalled only perhaps by Dickens, they knock spots off most of the other entries.
John Julius Norwich
London W9
Sir, How could you omit Treasure Island, the original and best adventure story for children?
You do include The Man whose Mother was a Pirate, but without Robert Louis Stevenson there would be no pirates. Ask anyone to describe a pirate and it will be Long John Silver, wooden leg, parrot, eyepatch and all. Every child should be able to chant: Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest / Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
This is a terrible omission and unless you correct it, you will have the Black Spot put on you and Blind Pew will come tap, tap tapping his way to 3 Thomas More Square.
Vivien McCoubrey
Wantage, Oxon
Sir, You neglected the outstanding contribution to children’s literature by Australian authors — and misremembered some books that you did recommend. For example, Wart was not bullied by Kay and he was as astonished as everyone else by the revelation that was he was king.
Blanche Miller
Shaftesbury, Dorset
Sir, Kenneth Williams (letter, July 23) bemoans the fact that Harry Potter doesn’t figure on the list of 50 books every child should read. I thought it was on the adult list.
Mark Crivelli
Sir, What an ill-considered list. Top of the list? The cringe-making Hobbit, safe in his feebly imagined olde worlde “Shire”, surrounded by Oxbridge dons — I mean “wizards” — quaffing real ale and smoking their pipes while defeating those horrid proletarian Orcs. All the other usual suspects: the creepy Maurice Sendak, loved by Freudian parents, loathed by children; The Wind in the Willows, only redeemed by its illustrations; Roald Dahl, despite his being forced on children by film and musical makers. Just check the falling sales and borrowing figures for those books. Almost every title in the list is what an adult imagines a child ought to read. No Jacqueline Wilson?
Ralph Lloyd-Jones
Librarian, Nottingham
Sir, To commend Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials as a “kid’s book” on the grounds that “religion, science and adolescence are brilliantly handled” is misleading. The handling is brilliant, true, but it is a sustained attempt to prejudice the reader against religion, and the Catholic Church in particular. Covert sectarianism has no place in children’s books — C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series feeds children Christianity in disguise, but at least its message is love, not Pullman’s hatred. As Tolkien pointed out of his own trilogy (curiously absent from the list), any strong story where good defeats evil by dedication, perseverance and sacrifice, cannot but be positively theological.
Tom McIntyre
Frome, Somerset
Sir, And where is Peter Pan which my 4-year-old Anglo-Russian grandson is enjoying in both languages? Flown away?
Gloria Gillott

Computer programming is a creative and difficult discipline, and getting new ideas that have never previously existed to work is no mean feat
Sir, When Sir Andre Geim says that social media are a few lines of code rather than some kind of scientific discovery that could drive technology for decades, that is quite as outrageous as me, a computer scientist, disparaging graphene as just a layer of carbon (“Twitter is no substitute for proper science, laments Nobel laureate”, July 22) .
It is not even true that social media are a few lines of code; they are some of the largest programs around. In reality, it takes scientific work to understand and make something new that works, and Sir Andre deserves his Nobel Prize. What he overlooks, however, is that computer programming is an extremely creative and difficult discipline too, and getting new ideas that have never previously existed to work is no mean feat and involves impressive discoveries. Indeed, social media programs are already out of the labs and in use by millions of people. It is amazing that something so complex, that did not exist a few years ago, is already having such a huge effect on society.
Professor Harold Thimbleby

Insurers focus on companies as they negotiate keen rates, leaving private individuals to pay almost twice as much, with large premium increases
Sir, It is hardly surprising that the number of people with private health insurance has fallen to a 20-year low (“Private patients ‘dumped on NHS’ ”, July 22). Insurers focus on companies as they negotiate keen rates, leaving private individuals to pay almost twice as much, with premium increases of more than 10 per cent a year, compounded by even higher inflation generated by private consultants. In turn, consultants’ costs are a direct result of conditions imposed by the private health insurance industry which sees no short-term harm in ignoring — or exploiting — the reality of today’s marketplace. With no chance that salaries or pensions can keep up with this cynical inflation, this is a self-perpetuating disaster.
Charles Foster
Chalfont St Peter, Bucks

Active engagement in sport among schoolchildren implants physically active habits and healthy lifestyles that endure for life
Sir, Sebastian Coe (July 19) is right to be emphasising the need for the Olympic sports’ legacy to be put at the heart of policy. Yes, some good government initiatives have flowed since the Games, but they have barely begun to scratch the surface. There is much more to be done.
Active engagement in sport among schoolchildren implants physically active habits and healthy lifestyles that endure for life, as well as giving much enjoyment. We will have a healthier nation, costing the NHS far less annually, if we see the Government putting its back seriously behind sports for all schoolchildren, so those at state schools can enjoy the same levels of physical activity as those at independent schools. The latter are already doing much to share their facilities, and many would be willing to do more. Embedding sport deeply in state schools after years of decline could still be one of this Government’s great achievements, and this summer of high British sporting success is the moment for it to seize the opportunity.
Anthony Seldon
Master, Wellington College

The reactions to the birth of the new Royal baby have been many and diverse among the Times readership — here is a small selection
Sir, I sincerely hope that the new prince, directly descended from King Alfred the Great (AD871-899) no less, never becomes “King of England” as you aver. I notice you did not suggest he would become King of Scots in due course, though he be descended directly from Kenneth McAlpin (843-858) via Robert the Bruce and James VI and I. The last bona fide King of England died in 1553. Although Mr Salmond might disagree, 300 years should be long enough for those English, Scottish and Welsh Britons all to get used to the term Great Britain and be proud of it.
Angus Sprott
London SW10
Sir, Having worked my way through 12 pages and a pullout supplement in The Times yesterday devoted to the royal birth, I am somewhat relieved that it was not twins.
B. M. Brayford
Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan
Sir, Having just looked at the picture and caption on the front of today’s paper (July 24), I’m not too sure about the royal wave. Looks more like two fingers to me.
Alison Bolt
Leece, Cumbria


SIR – Allan Massie’s piece (Comment, July 22) is very interesting, but I must respond to his assertion that my father, Len Hutton, was “essentially a back-foot player”.
The consensus view of his contemporaries was that, as one of the leading players of his time, he was unique, or at least unusual, in being a front-foot player, and as an opening batsman in playing forward to the new ball. His style of play was conditioned at an early stage by the 1935 change in the LBW law, which allowed a ball pitching outside the off-stump to be eligible, whereas previously it had to pitch between wicket and wicket for a decision. He saw danger in the ball coming in to him off the pitch and tried to negate it by getting his front leg outside the line of the off-stump whenever possible. This positioned him well for his glorious driving on the off-side, which was such a superlative feature of his play.
On a personal note, my father was forever drumming into me “get forward”. Alas, it worked far better for him than it ever did for me.
Richard Hutton
Wetherby, West Yorkshire
SIR – There are now three heirs in the direct line of succession to the Crown for only the second time in British history.
In 1894, the birth of a great-grandson to Queen Victoria reinforced a sense of pride in the Royal family, which had been wholly lacking at the start of her reign.
Today, the British people, once again, have the good fortune to live under a secure monarchy, which can contemplate the long-term future with confidence.
Lord Lexden
London SW1
SIR – We all welcome the new royal baby, but will this child ever become King?
Related Articles
My father, Sir Len, was a front-foot player
24 Jul 2013
The Queen has dedicated her whole life to the throne, and with advances in medical care she may be there for many more years. Prince Charles could succeed at an advanced age. Prince William could be even older, and the new Prince of Cambridge older still.
Elderly coronations are unlikely to excite people, and the monarchy could become an irrelevance. To avoid this happening, the Royal family is going to have to accept abdication as a real prospect.
John Thorp
Langton Green, Kent
SIR – Now that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have produced a son and heir, David Cameron’s plan to overthrow the rules of primogeniture, which have held through the centuries, lies useless. It is not that people are against female succession, but many are against politicians manipulating the constitution. If there was a case for a change in the rules of succession then it should have been determined by the people in a referendum.
Richard Tracey
Le Grand Osier, Dinan, France
SIR – It was interesting to note that the royal birth was recorded in pounds and ounces, not metric units.
Terry Morrell
Willerby, East Yorkshire
SIR – Some will criticise the media storm surrounding the birth of the royal baby, but they should be silent. This is the future of our constitution, and it has been secured. It merits the interest of the media, the British public and the world.
Ben Crompton
Odiham, Hampshire
SIR – Within 30 minutes of the announcement of the birth of Prince William, 31 years ago, the St Bees Priory ringers rang a peal of bells.
On Monday, at 9.15 pm, we were again able to assemble an emergency team of eight, and ring for the royal baby.
Doug Sim
St Bees, Cumbria
SIR – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will receive many gifts; instead of their being showered with presents, donations should be made to their chosen charity.
Geraldine Logan
Ormskirk, Lancashire
Elderly rural isolation
SIR – The Age UK report on the loneliness of elderly people in villages, where the hubs of pubs, shops and post offices have closed, makes for sad reading (report, July 22). But there is another hub – the church, and every village has one.
If lonely elderly people go to church they will be welcomed and, if they are too frail to walk, there are usually parishioners who will give them a lift.
Father Michael Rear
Manningtree, Essex
SIR – The Meals on Wheels service used to be the antidote to loneliness for many aged people. Each day, someone called to deliver a hot meal and have a chat. Doctors could be informed if any concerns were raised, and the odd task carried out.
Health and safety advocates and accountants then decided it was better to deliver frozen meals in one hit per week. At a stroke, thousands of volunteers were cast aside, and old people were left isolated.
For a volunteer, there was great satisfaction in taking part in this activity, which was not overly burdensome. Bring back this service in its original form, and we may see the benefits very quickly.
Maggie Down
Paulerspury, Northamptonshire
SIR – Concern for older people in the countryside is misplaced. I am on the wrong side of 70, and live in a small village. I have my mobile, a computer and a 25-year-old Land Rover. What more would I want? The big problem is property being bought up by “townies” who never integrate into country life.
Neville H Walker
Orton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire
Internet porn harm
SIR – The Prime Minister’s crackdown on online access to pornographic and violent images should be welcomed (report, July 22). As a forensic child and adolescent psychiatrist, I see the permanent harm that ready access to such images brings.
For those young people who have pre-existing risk factors for becoming sexually violent, being able to view such material plays into their eventual abusive acts in a significant way – and, of course, causes irrevocable harm to those children who may become victims of their sexual abuse.
Over the years, professionals and organisations have held endless meetings with government ministers to discuss ways of preventing child sexual abuse. At last, we have measures being introduced that could strike at the heart of the problem.
The Prime Minister’s campaign will, I hope, reduce the chances of at-risk young people offending, and make a real difference to the lives of innocent children.
Professor Sue Bailey
President, Royal College of Psychiatrists
London SW1
SIR – Preventing children from accessing adult content online is the responsibility of parents, not government. There is already software out there that will do it far more effectively than the state.
Censoring the internet on a nationwide level (even using an opt-in scheme) is a slippery slope. Soon it could be anything injurious to national security.
Andrew Turnbull
London SW13
Too much thanks
SIR – Nobody says “Thank you” any more (Letters, July 23); they say “Thank you very much indeed”. This is common with newsreaders and interviewers, who use it for the most trivial reason. It should only be used on the receipt of a donor kidney.David Wilson
Catsfield, East Sussex
Unfair pub companies
SIR – We write on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, and in support of the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign (Letters, July 17).
The problem isn’t with family brewers, but with the large property companies, or “pubcos”, who owe billions of pounds due to reckless borrowing against inflated property values. To service their debts, they take too great a share of pub profits, leaving many of their tenants unable to make a living. Overcharging takes the form of both hugely inflated beer prices and excessive rents.
The unfair pubco model is very different from the traditional brewery tenancy, and the Independent Family Brewers of Britain have acknowledged this themselves.
Attempts at self-regulation have not resolved the problems faced by pubco tenants. Most licensee organisations refused to back this system, which was set up by the pubcos’ own lobbyists, the British Beer & Pub Association, and was devised to avoid the fundamental issue – the endemic overcharging.
No family brewer will be covered by the statutory code, which will only apply to companies with 500 or more pubs, but it is essential to have one with a market-rent-only option for the large companies.
Greg Mulholland MP (Lib Dem)
Chairman, Parliamentary Save the Pub Group
Brian Binley MP (Con)
Grahame Morris MP (Lab)
London SW1
Double-decker pain
SIR – Dick Bizzey (Letters, July 22) was lucky that he travelled only occasionally on the double-decker trains operating on the Southern Region. For those of us who had to use the things on our daily commute, they were an unmitigated disaster. Slow to load and unload, hot in summer, cold in winter and badly ventilated.
Malcolm Bulpitt
Maidstone, Kent
A tidy sum
SIR – My late mother, on entering an untidy room, would declare “Rule of 17”, and 17 items would have to be put in their place. Yesterday, I entered a kitchen recently vacated by my son, said “17”, and soon the job was done. Does anyone else have similar mother’s wisdom?
Mandy Peat
London SW4
SIR – Doona Turner (Letters, July 23) questions the need for onions to be imported from New Zealand.
New Zealand has been exporting onions to Britain for many years. Advancing technology has made it possible for the home crop to be stored for long periods, but the cost of long-term storage is high.
It costs no more to ship the new season’s produce across the oceans than to hold the home crop in storage. The fresh-produce shelves would have a very barren look if they were restricted to home-grown commodities.
George Wilkie
Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire
SIR – Living in the Vale of Evesham, for most of the year I frequently find myself driving behind trailers of freshly picked spring onions. Yet the local Tesco sources its supply from Mexico. The seedlings are grown here before being flown out.
Tim Hickson
Pershore, Worcestershire
SIR – Recently, I picked up a pack of fresh basil from a local supermarket, and when I returned home, to my surprise, it read: “Country of origin – Ethiopia”.
It was lovely, fresh basil, but do we really have to import it?
Barbara Mills
Harpenden, Hertfordshire
SIR – I was in Australia last year and bought a “baked in store” pastry from a large supermarket chain. On opening the pack, I read the label. It may have been baked in store, but it was made in Britain.
Bob Fleming

Irish Times:

Sir, – The decision by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice to deny justice to the survivors of abuse in Bethany House makes me despair that Ireland will ever change (“Government rules out Bethany Home redress”, Home News, July 23rd).
Yet again, given the choice between doing the right thing, even at a cost, we instead see this Government default to type and instead choose to protect the system instead of its victims.
That choice denies justice to the victims of abuse in a Church of Ireland children’s home, where innocent children were sent because the State deliberately and consciously refused to carry out its duty to protect the most vulnerable in society.
It is simply not good enough for Mr Kenny and Mr Shatter to argue that times were different then. Lots of Irish people grew up in poor families but were not abused or mistreated, precisely because “even then” it was as wrong to abuse children as it is now and people knew it then as they know it now.
There is no dispute that children were abused at Bethany, so the only question remains is why it has been agreed that the State has liability for facilitating the regime of abuse inflicted on children by the Catholic Church, but then uses the same facts but reaches a different outcome when it comes to abuse by the Church of Ireland. – Yours, etc,
Canary Wharf,
Sir, – Saying the Government had arrived carefully at the decision to rule out creating a redress scheme for Bethany survivors, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter acknowledged that the former residents would be “disappointed” at the decision. While acknowledging the attempts that have been made to heal the scars and wounds associated with institutional child abuse by way of the publication of the Ryan report, the State apology to victims and the setting up of the redress scheme, I believe the continued exemption of former residents of the Bethany Home from a redress scheme is not just “disappointing” but morally wrong. – Yours, etc,
Delaford Lawn,
Knocklyon, Dublin 16.
Sir, — Much of the writing on the so-called triple-lock arrangement seems to regard the United Nations Security Council as a neutral geopolitical arbiter somehow above or removed from the states that comprise it. In reality it is nothing of the sort, and was never intended to be so.
The investing of certain powers in the UN Security Council and the granting of vetoes to the five permanent members (P5) were intended to make it a form of supranational governor of world affairs, with the P5 effectively leading a new world order. The Cold War prevented this from coming to pass – arguably for the better, though that is a debate for the historians.
In any case, Edward Horgan (July 24th) is simply wrong to speak of the states “abusing” their vetoes. The ability of any of the P5 to block actions they feel detrimental to their own or the international interest is integral to the entire structure of the security council itself, and why UN-sanctioned military actions have been so rare. Even when they have been sanctioned (in Korea in 1950 and Iraq in 1990) the value of such actions in extending and defending the principles of the UN charter has been dubious at best, a matter Mr Horgan chooses not to address in his letter. His criticisms, and attempts to label certain international actions as “good” and “bad”, show a lack of understanding of the UN as an institution and a rather romantic view of international affairs that bears little relation to their conduct in practice.
Joe Ahern (July 21st) should be applauded for breaking down the highfalutin rhetoric of the “triple lock” and stating what it means in practice – giving Moscow, Beijing, Washington, Paris and London veto power over the ability of the Irish State to deploy its military forces as it sees fit, according to its own security needs and moral judgment. I can think of no other state, neutral or otherwise, that would regard such an arrangement as remotely tolerable. Neither should we. – Yours, etc,

Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 01:07
First published: Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 01:07

Sir, – The majority of patient groups on the Irish Donor Network (IDN) welcome the recently launched public consultation process on an opt-out system for organ donation In Ireland.
The IDN believes that, as one part of a broader strategy, a shift to a “soft opt-out” system will have a positive effect on organ donation rates in Ireland.
A 2008 HSE audit showed that up to 21 per cent of potential organ donors in Irish hospitals were being missed. While Ireland is generally in the top half of countries in the Council of Europe when it comes to organ donation, Ireland also continues to lag far behind the deceased organ donor rates of Spain, Croatia, Austria and Sweden (for example). All these countries have both an opt-out system and a well-resourced transplant infrastructure.
The IDN supports the principle behind a soft opt-out system – that if people do not object to their organs being used after death, they should be used to save lives, with the proviso that next of kin must continue to be consulted. We welcome Minister for Health James Reilly’s commitment that organ donation would not occur where next of kin object. This is a significant change from 2009 when this issue was last debated.
Under an opt-out system, individuals have exactly the same choice as in an opt-in system – to donate or not to donate. An opt-out system continues to give protection to those who do not wish to donate and makes it more likely that those who are willing to donate will be able to do so.
The most important change with an opt-out system is that organ donation becomes the default position which, with public support, changes expectations in society. This is not “presumed consent” because of the protections offered by the “soft’” approach and it represents a more sustainable approach to organ donation, which is to be encouraged.
Too many people continue to die in Ireland while waiting for a kidney, heart, lung, liver or pancreas transplant. An opt-out system, as an essential part of a broader strategy, is better for recipients (because more organs will be available), better for donors (because it is more likely their wishes will be respected) and better for relatives (because the donor’s own wishes will be known and they will continue to have a say). – Yours, etc,
Irish Donor Network ,
Sir, – I read with interest the letter by Laverne McGuinness, the chief operating officer of the Health Service Executive, indicating that those with severe and life-threatening illnesses will continue to receive medical cards on discretionary grounds (July 22nd).
However, I am puzzled by the disparity between the policy as enunciated, and our recent experience in the motor neurone disease clinic. Within the past few months, I have drafted many letters to the HSE in support of appeals by people with advanced motor neurone disease who have been refused medical cards. I have also written many letters for people in the terminal stages of their illness, whose medical cards have been withdrawn for reasons that are entirely unclear.
Motor neurone disease is a rapidly progressive and terminal condition that requires integrated community-based care, including GP services, access to public health nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and nutritional advice. These services are not available in the private sector, and limiting access to medical cards also limits access to essential community-based support and equipment, with ensuing hardship for patients and their carers. This in turn leads to increased hospitalisations and reduced quality of life in the terminal stages of illness.
Following Ms McGuinness’s letter, I sincerely hope that everyone with motor neurone disease will now be issued with a medical card without further delay. – Yours, etc,

A chara, – The article “Dublin forum to weigh options for elected mayor post” (Home News, July 24th) states that my colleague, Dublin City Council lord mayor Oisín Quinn, is leading a forum of councillors to draft these proposals. The lord mayor sits on a steering group along with myself as mayor of South Dublin, the mayor of Fingal and the cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Council, who are acting as guides for the process. A cross-party selection of councillors from the four local authorities, as well as the Dublin Regional Authority, sits on the forum itself.
There is no set leader of the process. My view is that it should be the people of Dublin who will lead this process, in terms of their contributions though a public consultation process for which I have argued from the outset.
The article entitled “Dubliners want to elect their mayor, poll finds” (Front Page, July 24th) states that the lord mayor of Dublin City Council will chair the first meeting of the forum. By the time this letter goes to print, I will have chaired the first meeting in County Hall, Tallaght. This is because there is an agreement that all four Dublin local authorities will share meetings. The mayor or cathaoirleach of each local authority will take turns in chairing these meetings.
It is understandable to focus on the lord mayor, given the history of that position, but it is worth noting that, compared to the 525,000 people living in the Dublin City Council area, more than 745,000 live in the other Dublin authority areas.
Those living in Greenhills, Tallaght, Lucan, Rathfarnham or Clondalkin, or for that matter Swords or Dún Laoghaire, are as much Dubliners as those in the city council area. We are all part of the story of Dublin. And if an elected mayor for Dublin is to work, she or he must have regard to this and be a voice for all Dubliners, regardless of their address or postcode. – Is mise,

Sir, – I know of at least one person outside the royal family in the UK who was really thrilled at the birth.
As the band of the Royal Guards celebrated the event with a rendition of Congratulations outside Buckingham Palace, I could just imagine a good Irishman, Phil Coulter, counting up the “royalties”! – Yours, etc,
Ashbrook Gardens,
Ennis Road,
Sir, – Great to see the healthy birth of the as-yet-unnamed son of Britain’s Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge. It would also be wonderful if we as a nation could avoid the temptation of engaging in the usual begrudgery and sarcasm following such events and wish this young couple and their son every good wish and blessing for the future. – Yours, etc,
Loreto Grange,
Bray, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – It has been most gratifying and appropriate to see The Irish Times announce the 8lb 6oz weight of the royal baby in imperial units. – Yours, etc,
Spey Terrace,

Irish Independent:

* Twelve people have drowned whilst swimming in Ireland this past month – about as many as die on our roads in an average month. Telling people not to swim on our rare days of hot summer weather is akin to telling them not to use the roads. It might save some lives, but it is hardly realistic or practical advice.
Also in this section
Dail equality debate shouldn’t ignore men
Let’s vote on people’s ability, not gender
Awareness vital in suicide fight
So what is to be done? Ireland is almost alone in the world in not designating certain areas in every county as safe swimming areas and not employing lifeguards to help assure their safety.
Let’s stop wringing our hands about the drownings and start doing something practical to prevent even more.
Let’s designate safe swimming areas in every county and employ lifeguards to make them even safer.
Frank Schnittger
Blessington, Co Wicklow
* It struck me during the current good weather that we in Ireland could be quite good at competitive diving if we bothered to put the formal structures in place to develop and produce internationally competitive diving teams.
It doesn’t seem to take much for Irish youngsters (and the young at heart) to spontaneously try their hand at it.
John B Reid
Monkstown, Co Dublin
* I would like to disagree with Robert Sullivan on the issue of gender quotas (Letters, July 22).
He says the “notion of a gender quota” in our voting system is “laughable, undemocratic, nonsense and an absurdity”.
In saying so, he is effectively arguing that the talents, interests and perspectives of the half of the electorate that are women should continue to be marginalised.
That is neither just nor efficient in a democracy that is supposed to be representative.
Mr Sullivan says it is “cockeyed” to vote for a woman instead of “a capable man”. It is no more cockeyed than voting for a candidate because they belong to a particular political party, social class or come from a particular area.
As for the capable man moniker, this country was bankrupted by a Dail that was nearly 90pc full of capable men.
A Leavy
Sutton, Dublin 13
* It seems we can all learn an important lesson from the woman at the centre of the rugby scandal.
In fairness, it’s not much of a scandal, three adults indulging in private consensual activity.
Nothing posted in Facebook is private. Let the buyer beware, especially of free lunches.
Pauline Bleach
Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia
* I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was pleasantly surprised that the birth of a privileged baby in London did not make the main news on Monday evening and featured instead as normal news.
While the addition of a new link to the British line of succession certainly is newsworthy, Ireland de facto revoked its duty to fawn over the future king 90 years ago and de jure did so 63 years ago.
We’d do well to remember that.
Name and address with editor
* It is astonishing how Micheal Martin feels justified in claiming that Enda Kenny misled the Dail on the Anglo issue.
After all, was it not Mr Martin’s party that totally misled this country for very many years and betrayed the Irish people by making the original arrangement for €30bn of taxpayers’ money to be eventually pumped into this defunct bank in the first place?
Whether Mr Kenny misled the Dail or not is practically irrelevant at this stage. What is more relevant is that, like his predecessors, he misled the Irish people, who believed in him and his false promises.
Christy Kelly
Templeglantine, Co Limerick
* I was astounded when I read Barry Mahady’s criticism of the proposed penalties for cyclists breaking the law (Letters, July 20).
It is about time the authorities put measures in place to deter people like himself, a self-confessed law-breaker, from cycling on footpaths. Footpaths are for pedestrians.
Cycling through pedestrian crossings. Non-compliance at traffic lights. Cycling up one-way streets.
It beggars belief that pedestrians should have to jump out of the way of errant cyclists, courtesy not being a virtue that permeates through the two-wheeled brigade.
Even a spokesman for cyclists has agreed that a change in practice has to take place. Fines seem to be the only way this will be made to happen.
So roll on the fines.
Name and address with editor
* I am amazed at the decision to divert scarce policing resources to Leo Varadkar’s much-publicised ‘crackdown on cyclists’.
Perhaps the minister would be good enough, in the light of statistics on deaths or injuries caused by cyclists, to explain to the taxpayer where the benefit lies in this use of scarce resources.
I would suggest that he would be better off focusing on motorists who drive their vehicles on footpaths and then park there, forcing pedestrians, wheelchair users and people pushing prams onto the road.
Christopher O’Donovan
Rathgar, Dublin 6
Irish Independent


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