30 July 2013 Consultant
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Troutbridge is to try out a new guidance system, Heather and Judy propose marriage but the ‘alien’ saucer they have been sent to investigate is Nunky Priceless
Go see Mary’s Consultant treatment next week.
We watch Yes Minister quite good
Scrabble today I win but get under 400. perhaps Mary might win tomorrow.
Harry Grindle, who has died aged 77, was an eminent choral musician and choirmaster; in the 1970s he secured the choir of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, a place in the Top 10 British cathedral choirs.
7:27PM BST 29 Jul 2013
In 1964 Grindle succeeded Capt CJ Brennan, who had retired after 60 years at the cathedral, inheriting a large choir — some of whom were paid singers — and more than 50 boys. He maintained a strong roster of talented trebles by regularly visiting local schools with illustrated brochures about the choir and the training offered. This strategy proved successful in 1965, when the boys were invited to sing in two performances of Britten’s War Requiem — the first following its premiere at Coventry Cathedral.
In the 1970s, undaunted by the severe challenges of the Troubles, then at their height, Grindle rescheduled the weekly full choir rehearsal to begin earlier, with the trebles coming straight to the cathedral from school and the adults from their places of work. Following a soup and sandwich meal, a shorter rehearsal ensured that the choir members returned home to safety before violence erupted after dark.
After an absence of a number of years the cathedral choir was heard live in the BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong series in March 1967. The success of this broadcast ensured regular invitations to summer residencies at English places of worship, including St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
The eldest of four children, William Henry Grindle was born on October 2 1935 in the seaside town of Bangor, Co Down, and educated at Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards, where he studied piano . He was seven when he joined the choir of the ancient abbey church in Bangor, where his father was a member of the Select Vestry and his mother superintendent of the junior Sunday School.
There he encountered a wide repertoire of music which instilled in him a lifelong love for Anglican Church music and liturgy. He later became head chorister. In 1950 he started organ lessons with Huston Graham, then organist of Bangor Abbey, and in 1953 took up his first post as a church musician, as organist of Shore Street Presbyterian Church, Donaghadee .
He read French Language and Literature at Queen’s University, Belfast, and the University of Strasbourg before moving to London to take up a teaching post. He studied organ-playing with Flor Peeters in Belgium, and orchestral conducting with Sir Adrian Boult in Kent.
Returning to Northern Ireland in 1962, Grindle was appointed organist at Bangor parish church, before being appointed organist and Master of the Choristers at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, a post he held until 1975, when he was appointed to a senior music lectureship at Stranmillis College of Education.
In 1986 Grindle established the Priory Singers, which undertook a number of residencies at several English cathedrals, including Hereford, Gloucester, Lincoln and Chichester. He served as music editor of Sing & Pray, a hymn book issued in 2009 for use in both Sunday and primary schools. His hymn tune Stranmillis, a prize-winner in the St Paul’s Cathedral millennium hymn competition, was subsequently included in the latest edition of the St Paul’s Cathedral Hymnal. His book on Irish cathedral music is widely regarded as a definitive work on the subject.
In 1977 Grindle became the first Irish musician to be elected to an associateship of the Royal School of Church Music . In 2005 he was awarded a Lambeth degree, a Doctorate in Music, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and three years later was among those chosen to receive the Royal Maundy from the Queen in Armagh Cathedral.
He was appointed MBE in 2009 for services to music.
His busy and varied career was the subject of a film documentary shown on Ulster Television.
Harry Grindle is survived by Heather, his wife of 45 years, and their two daughters .
Harry Grindle, born October 2 1935, died July 4 2013
We write as members of the Green party and refer to the letter from Adam Ramsey (27 July). He states that Chris Padley and others (Letters, 26 July) demonstrate an outdated 70s’ environmentalism obsessed with population, while ignoring vast inequalities of consumption levels. But these are not either/or issues and both need to be addressed.
To be concerned with the impact that world population rising to 9 billion people has on resource availability, pollution, climate change etc is not to be locked in a 1970s time warp. It may have ceased to be the number one issue for some greens, but in terms of the long-term damage to our planet as a habitat for all species, it remains at the forefront. Those who wish to emphasise this should not be denigrated.
Members, North Devon Green party
The Bank of England has graciously agreed to recognise women’s achievements, with Jane Austen appearing on £10 notes from 2017 (Report, 25 July). It’s a shame, though, that the opportunity to mark a significant anniversary has been missed. Emmeline Pankhurst would have been a great way of recognising the vital step forward in 1918, when (limited) votes for women were introduced. This was the moment when Britain became a modern democracy.
The suffragettes were not just tackling an abstract inequality. They knew that votes would be the first step to improving the education, health, welfare and safety of women, girls and children. The male parliament had repeatedly let them down over the previous 40 years. Yet the recent media coverage of the centenary of their activities has been paltry. The courage and daring of the suffragettes, which led to the entitlements we have today, are not celebrated. Thank goodness for Danny Boyle.
St Albans, Hertfordshire
• Do let us have parity for women on banknotes, but why “even” Octavia Hill as a candidate (Letters, 27 July)? Octavia Hill’s work benefited men, women and children and continues today. Octavia pioneered social housing and encouraged all her tenants to develop their skills in order to live fulfilled lives, however low their incomes.
She cofounded the National Trust and coined the term green belt. Her Kyrle Society, supported by William Morris, was the forerunner of the Civic Trust; her training of housing managers led directly to the Chartered Institute of Housing; and she made key contributions to modern social work and occupational therapy. Her focus on “a hand up rather than a handout” was controversial, but is still an appropriate debate today. However, few have heard of her. Appearing on our banknotes would be a great way to change that now. This social pioneer is a worthy successor to Elizabeth Fry.
On 16 March, you published a letter by Professor Nick Black explaining both that there are no reliable numbers for avoidable deaths at Stafford hospital and that the Francis report explicitly stated this. Gail Gregory later (Letters, 16 July) made the same points. Your social affairs editor has now carefully examined the uncertainties around published numbers for avoidable deaths at the hospital (Report, 29 July). So while your columnist Dr Dillner couldn’t have read this, there is no excuse for her statement the same day that the Francis report into Mid Staffs “found at least 1,200 deaths over five years could have been prevented” (G2, 29 July).
Dr Alex May
• It warms my heart to know David Cameron is protecting our children from pornography (Report, 27 July). Meanwhile many breathe the most polluted air in Europe, can still get cigarettes and alcohol, live below the poverty line and have more than their fair share of road fatalities.
Dr LJS Lesley
• Can we now look forward to a billboard campaign in the City of London, urging corporate tax avoiders and evaders to come forward or face exposure and arrest (Anger at ‘go home’ message to illegal immigrants, 26 July)?
• Michael Gove wants performance-related pay for teachers (Report, 25 July). Why not for MPs? Toe the party line most assiduously, and reap the highest pay.
Lewes, East Sussex
• Why is David Cameron so unpopular with teachers? Because (Letters, 29 July) he can’t give them anything but Gove.
• ”What’s French for double entendre?” (Report, 26 July) was presumably rhetorical, but it means nothing in French. “Double sens” is what they say in France.
• So Darwin is to be replaced on the £10 note. That’s what happens when you discover natural selection (Letters, 27 July).
Nick Herbert MP is right (All hail the Rubicops, 23 July) that “bad deals aren’t a reason to turn our back on the private sector; they are a lesson to write contracts properly”. However, neither is poor performance a reason to turn our back on the public sector; it is a lesson to manage performance in a expertly informed way (see Stephen Bolsin’s piece on his work in Australia, 17 July).
But however good a contract with the private sector may be, five factors cannot be overcome. Private borrowing is more expensive than public borrowing, whether or not it is configured to keep it off the public borrowing balance sheet. “Proper contracts” involve many highly paid professionals, incurring costs that governments are shy to disclose. And once a contract has gone to the private sector, control is largely lost, as private firms can be taken over or bought out. A proportion of the money paid out by the state will go as profit to shareholders. And those highly paid professionals will find “tax-efficient regimes” at the expense of the exchequer (us).
• Nick Herbert has discovered the holy grail of public service reform. Reduced spending equals improved performance and standards. Of course, the resource envelope is only one factor affecting the quality of public services. But a resource threshold is eventually reached. Early symptoms of stress points are already beginning to appear in relation to his principal example of reform, policing, something dear to his heart while a justice minister. It will be a while before this shows up in crime outcomes, which in any case have been on a downward trajectory since the mid-1990s.
In the example of healthcare, the increased investment under Labour had a demonstrably positive impact on outcomes, reflected in dramatically reduced waiting times and increased patient satisfaction.
Of course, for politicians of his persuasion, there can never be too much of what he calls “independent” public service provision. In reality, this often means jumping from state monopoly to private oligopoly, with public service markets dominated by large outsourcing companies, many with a record of shoddy service.
Emeritus professor, Birmingham City University
• By private sector efficiency, does Mr Herbert mean the gas, electricity and water companies? Think of their prices. Or the entrepreneurial spirit of G4S charging to tag people who have died? Or Serco’s cost-cutting in out of hours services? The banks? G4S at the Olympics? Best not go there. The NHS? No, the NHS is one of the most cost-efficient health services in the developed world. Care costs in the largely private US health system are about twice the NHS’s. And why have I time to write this letter? Because my privatised train is running two hours late.
Newcastle upon Tyne
• ”Britain spends proportionately far less on private healthcare than other developed countries,” Nick Herbert says. Er, that’s the point of a national health service funded from general taxation, Nick. Perhaps you could write an article explaining why it’s bad that we don’t have to spend a fortune if we fall ill.
• Nick Herbert’s smoothing piece on police efficiency should remind us that we continue to be softened up for privatisation in essential services. We know that good leadership and good management are found in the private and public sectors; good practice can be exchanged and shared to the benefit of both. Evidence of the inherent superiority of profit-centred management seems hard to come by. The lesson for the public sector is: sharpen your pencils and re-invent the principles of public service before it’s too late.
• Nick Herbert suggests that we all used to measure the quality of services by how expensive they were. In Westminster they may have done, but the rest of us judge them on their quality.
• Could I ask that when MPs, of whatever party, are given space on the Comment page, this is followed by a summary of their register of interests? It would be have been enlightening to read of Nick Herbert’s connections with Chime Communications plc (Report, 12 July 2008), which does excellent work on behalf of its healthcare clients.
Dr Ian Ground
• Alarm bells should be ringing at the news of a £1.1bn contract to outsource healthcare (Report, 27 July). Ministers may welcome providers who offer services at the lowest price but such a benefit is likely to be short-lived. The BMA is already expressing concern that large non-NHS providers could have an advantage over smaller competitors in the tender process. The “free” market is good at letting the strong get stronger and the weak go to the wall. Such was the outcome in banking, and the energy industry has finished up with half a dozen firms that hardly compete vigorously. In 10 years the balance of power will have moved away from the NHS to near-monopoly private suppliers.
• When outsourcing public services the rule is not that you get what you pay for, but that you pay and get what is in the contract. It is nigh on impossible for an under-resourced public sector organisation to describe its requirements in every last detail or to define a comprehensive and ungameable performance measurement mechanism. Given that when it comes to the crunch, neither the purchaser nor its masters in central government will have the guts to terminate a faltering contract, and that the use of past performance as a selection criterion is constrained by EU regulations, it’s no wonder Big Outsource is laughing all the way to the bank.
Justice minister Helen Grant is wrong about the expense to taxpayers of speculative employment tribunal cases (Protests as new tribunal fees come into force, 29 July). Two-thirds of applications are settled outside a tribunal. The threat alone makes uninformed and bad employers balk at going to the tribunal, saving the taxpayer money. The introduction of fees will also mean less mediation by employers because they know that the employee will not be able to afford to go to a tribunal.
Mediation is compulsory anyway, under the Acas code, when it comes to lodging a grievance. But with the introduction of fees, employers will move to dismissal without fear of ending up in the tribunal. TUC general secretary Francis O’Grady is right when she says this is a campaign to get rid of workers’ basic rights at work. You only have to look at the introduction of zero-hours contracts and the attack on trade union representation in the civil service to see that this is not about saving the taxpayers money.
Public and Commercial Services Union (Ministry of Justice)
The Association of Teachers of Mathematics is dismayed at the programmes of study for mathematics just published (New curriculum to introduce fractions to five-year-olds, 8 July). The association drew on the expertise of its members to compile a comprehensive response to the consultation and met with the parliamentary undersecretary of state, Elizabeth Truss, to discuss our response in detail. We feel that our thoughtful and evidence-based response has been almost completely ignored.
We raised concerns about the overly ambitious yearly programmes which have many age-inappropriate expectations including premature formalisation. We also raised our concerns over the heavy reliance on practice as a principal teaching approach, as this will not lead to the development of fluent mathematicians. The curriculum as presented will result in more attention spent on developing technical competence in outdated written methods for arithmetic at the expense of developing secure foundations for progression through mathematical concepts and skills. Mathematical foundations compromised in the draft programmes include developing an excellent understanding of relations between number and quantities including place value; using mental methods as a first resort; the skills of estimation and equivalence; and, most importantly, the ability to reason mathematically and solve problems, both as a means of learning new mathematics and developing understanding of mathematics through use and application.
The proposed changes will result in many children being labelled as failures in mathematics from an early age, as teachers attempt to cover the yearly teaching programmes. The presentation of the curriculum will not support primary to secondary transition as there are no clear lines of progression. Appendix 1, entitled formal written methods for multiplication and division, but including addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division, is a complete travesty and needs to be removed.
We would urge further revision to the programmes of study before taking them through legislation.
Dr Tony Cotton
Honorary secretary, Association of Teachers of Mathematics
Sir Bruce Keogh’s remarks suggesting that PC World is a model for the NHS (report, 29 July) are bizarre.
The extraordinary but true doubling of performance-for-price every two years of much electronic equipment, usually known as Moore’s Law, comes from R&D and investment within the electronics industry (in which I spent my career). This has nothing whatsoever to do with the retailers, and has no relevance to running the NHS.
It is important to distinguish between what the private sector does well and what the public sector does better: all the objective evidence says that running healthcare efficiently is one of the latter. The private sector can supply equipment efficiently to the NHS, but has nothing to offer in the running of the NHS except increased costs.
R J brewer, Lambourn, Berkshire
Your editorial “NHS primary care still stuck in an earlier age” (24 July) highlights well the confusion with regard to the range of alternatives and lack of remedies on offer for unscheduled care. What the politicians don’t seem to grasp is that A&E IS primary care (with the added facility to care for true “emergencies”).
What people demand, and we are duty-bound to provide, is a “one-stop” shop (modelled after supermarkets) where the lights are indeed on 24/7. Our local emergency department should not just be a safety net and dumping ground for “failed service provision” but rather be empowered to hold all those other services to task for their failures.
The failure of recruitment to emergency medicine isn’t just a manifestation of the relatively poor pay compared to their counterparts; but more importantly the sense of helplessness and frustration of senior emergency clinicians to influence the rest of the system.
Naeem Toosy, Oxshott, Surrey
Hello GP charges, goodbye NHS “free at the point of use”. Dental charges came by sleight of hand. How many poorer families stopped going?
Your recent articles foretell the privatisation of the NHS.
Was there a public vote for the ending of free healthcare? Does the Government have a mandate for this?
Charles Becker, Plymouth
Sir Bruce Keogh thinks the NHS should be run like PC World. Would this be the same PC World in which I was unable to make a purchase a few weeks ago because their tills were “down”? I think we should be told.
Eddie Doherty, Wolverhampton
Our Christian God is up to his neck in politics
In insisting that “The Church should keep to matters spiritual” you demonstrate an impeccable pedigree. That’s just what the Nazi leaders said to Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he cried Nein! to the inhumanity of Third Reich, and what the white supremacists said to Martin Luther King when he protested against systemic racism: “Your job is souls, our job is bodies.”
Without doubt the church’s interventions in public policy can be not only misguided but also seriously hypocritical and sometimes quite repugnant (the anti-gay lobby being a salient contemporary example). But the privatisation of faith – the perennial default position of the establishment – is an ideology that Christians can never accept without abandoning the God in whom they have faith, a God who is up to his neck in politics, whose prophets have always spoken truth to power – and often suffered for it.
Revd Kim Fabricius, Swansea
The Church of England has got into some difficulty by, on the one hand, wanting to close down wonga, and on the other hand having indirectly and inadvertently invested in it.
It is easy to see how this state of affairs has come to exist. While the Archbishop would like a certain policy to be followed, trustees of the fund in question are required to be “ethically blind”, to make investments solely on the basis of maximising the return to their beneficiaries. This was established by the court case of Cowan vs Scargill (1985).
Could the Church of England perhaps fund a member of the church to take the trustees to court over this issue, and perchance set new case law to supercede that laid down in Cowan vs Scargill? I have heard reports that there might be a case for the law to be reviewed on the basis that the mineworkers were not properly represented in the original case.
My interest in this and rather patchy knowledge was gained while investigating why a proportion of the council tax that I pay was being invested in arms manufacturers, including Halliburton, by Dorset County pension fund, and perhaps the majority of pension funds in the country.
I hope that I would prefer to starve to death than to have my pension provided on the back of arms exports, but I have not had to make that choice – yet.
David Partridge, Bridport
After recognising Justin Welby’s considerable expertise and concern for the poor, you somehow conclude that the Church should confine itself to “spiritual” matters.
The Church is already a major player in providing social support to the poor and disadvantaged. Thousands of Christians work daily in food banks, debt and relationship counselling, and programmes for youth in our inner cities because of their practical love for people.
Yes, the Church is a minority institution, but I was under the impression that in Britain anyone is entitled to contribute to public debate and to attempt to improve things for the better. Presumably including Justin Welby. Do you seriously want to put him in a religious box and slam the lid? Is it only secularists who are entitled to express a view and take action?
Geoff Larcombe, West Wickham, Greater London
When the Archbishop of Canterbury appears before his final Judge he will not, I imagine, expect to be questioned about “spirituality”, but rather what he has done about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger.
Fr Ephrem Lash, London N7
UK arms trade’s mixed messages
I commend The Independent and Kim Sengupta for the article “British arms sales: a step towards transparency, but many more are needed” (18 July), but was surprised that it failed to mention the Arms Trade Treaty which was adopted at the UN earlier this year.
The UK has been a strong champion of the Arms Trade Treaty and demonstrated this by taking the first available opportunity to sign the Treaty on 3 June 2013. At the heart of this Treaty is the obligation to refuse export licences where there is clear risk that the transfer could facilitate human-rights violations. How can the UK Government reconcile this progressive stance on the world stage with the huge quantity of export licences it is authorising to countries the UK itself has dubbed “of human rights concern”?
Before ratifying the Treaty later this year and revelling in the associated kudos, the UK needs to put its money where its mouth is and ensure its export policies are fully aligned with the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as with existing UK and EU legislation. The mixed message the UK is currently sending out risks damaging the prospects of the Treaty before it enters into force and raises serious questions about the UK’s professed commitment to implement the Treaty to a high standard.
Ben Donaldson, Communications and Campaigns Officer United Nations Association – UK , London SW1
Surveillance – not always a bad thing
I have a slightly different view of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) from the residents of Royston (report, 24 July). My neighbour is in his late 80s, lives alone and has no children. Recently his niece knocked on our door. For two days she had left voice messages on his answer phone and she had now driven round to his house to find the curtains drawn and no response. She called the police who decided he could have gone out. ANPR recorded his car travelling towards the coast at 9.30am that morning. The niece said that he would be going to visit another family member at which she was greatly relieved and further missing-person enquiries were avoided.
Vaughan Clarke, Colchester, Essex
Name that airport – with a little flair
The Italians often name their airports after famous countrymen: Marco Polo Airport, Venice; Leonardo da Vinci Airport, Rome, Galileo Galilei Airport, Pisa. The few British examples of this are not particularly inspiring: George Best Airport Belfast, John Lennon Airport Liverpool and one named for a fictional character, Robin Hood Airport, at Doncaster. Given the wealth of heroes in our history, is this the best we can do? I should be happy to see Bristol Airport renamed as Isambard Kingdom Brunel Airport.
S Garrett, East Lydford, Somerset
The mindset of a sporting champ
Drawing on his own experience of 2005 and, in particular, of his struggle to deal with Andrew Flintoff, Adam Gilchrist (25 July) articulates support for my long-held view that of the two attributes necessary to succeed at sport, though talent is a prerequisite, it is the suitability of an athlete’s mindset – his or her mental toughness – that affords that talent’s desirable expression.
Dr Michael Sheard, Yarm, North Yorkshire
When it’s best to do nothing
Dr Alex May’s letter “When doing nothing is best” (26 July) reminded me of the appropriateness of a text whose date of writing is seldom accurately guessed:
“We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised – I was to learn late in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising, and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation”.
The writer: Petronius Arbiter in 210 BC. What hope, therefore, for change?
Patricia Stewart, Little Baddow, Essex
Send in the clown
With Queen Elizabeth’s crown on display in an exhibition at Buckingham Palace, I feel Inspector Clouseau should be on hand to advise their security team now that a leading member of the “Pink Panther” gang of international jewel thieves has escaped from a Swiss jail (report, 27 July).
Ivor Yeloff, Norwich
SIR – Your report, “Vince Cable: Olympics’ £10 billion economic benefit claim is a marketing exercise” (July 19), raises a crucial question about the long-term legacy of London 2012. The Government acknowledges that any improvements in public attitudes since the Paralympics may have been undermined by welfare reforms.
Many disabled people feel that they are being labelled as “benefit scroungers”, just because they need support. Despite all the negative publicity, benefit fraud only accounts for less than 1 per cent of claims.
The Paralympics were a breakthrough moment, but a fortnight of positivity will not shift attitudes in the long term. If the Government wants to honour the legacy of the Paralympics, it needs to stop demonising benefits claimants.
SIR – Being an unpaid authorised lay minister in a group of rural parishes, I found myself smiling ruefully through Vicki Woods’s article (Comment, July 27), and her description of rising church costs against a dwindling congregation.
Here in rural Kent, the vast majority of ministry is unpaid, as, by the time the congregation has paid to insure, repair and maintain the building and pay the basic parish share, there is no money left. This puts a lot of pressure on retired clergy living in the area, who are called upon to take Communion services, baptisms and weddings.
As a lay minister, I take services and preach, prepare for confirmation or baptism, provide minimal pastoral care, and act as one of the public faces of the church during our current interregnum. I choose to work approximately double the hours I signed my ministry agreement for because I love the people in the community, but I do it alongside my secular work, and I feel frustrated because I cannot do everything that needs doing. Regular diocesan communications about “new initiatives” leave me feeling even more exhausted.
In the 11 years I have been a minister, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times anyone from the hierarchy at Canterbury has expressed an interest in my ministry, or asked me how things are going. Members of our PCC regularly discuss the number of people working in Diocesan House in Canterbury and wonder how much of their job contributes towards the building of the Kingdom of God.
I wrote to Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in May suggesting that perhaps the Anglican Church should work towards a different model, whereby any unpaid work should be done at Diocesan House by volunteers, and the money saved diverted towards paying for the ministry who are actively working in the field.
Welfare cuts undermine the Paralympic legacy
29 Jul 2013
I am still awaiting a reply.
SIR – With only a handful of worshippers (one hand that is) who attend church in Yorkshire’s tiny hamlet of Buttercrambe, the task of meeting the diocesan quota was becoming increasingly daunting.
A year ago, I proposed closing the church.
An open meeting was held in the church, attended by over 20 villagers, where it was decided that the church should be kept open; their surge of interest has enabled this. But the decision to stop paying the diocesan quota was the biggest element in being able to keep the church open. Instead, villagers opted to pay what they thought was fair and sustainable.
However, from next January, each parish throughout the land has been asked to make its own “Freewill Offering” to the common fund. Buttercrambe church, of which I am honorary treasurer, is sustaining its own church building and paying to the common fund what is practicable. Were we ahead of the game?
Mr and Mrs Middleton
SIR – Christopher Wilson (“Step forward please, the Earl and Countess of Fairfax”, Comment, July 27) suggests that the parents of the Duchess of Cambridge be ennobled. What for? Surely the recent boost in support for our monarchy derives from the fact that the Duchess of Cambridge comes from an ordinary family, and that family, the Middletons, wishes to continue to live as such.
Giving them titles would simply take away much of the additional support currently being given to our monarchy.
SIR – The Middletons have done nothing more than be the parents of a lovely young woman who has happened to marry the second in line to the throne. Surely, their “manor house and burgeoning wealth” are not reasons for ennoblement?
Such honours should only be given to those who have earned them through duty to the state and/or great philanthropy.
Bingley, West Yorkshire
SIR – Intriguing as the speculation about creating an hereditary title for the admirable Middletons is, all the minefields of the situation could easily be avoided.
The Queen might choose to recognise the couple’s services by appointing them to the Royal Victorian Order.
This would avoid political intrusion, as the order is in the personal gift of the sovereign.
SIR – Your report (July 25) about anxiety disorders mentions the stress of urban life. Greatly contributing to this stress is the noise of emergency vehicles’ sirens: these are designed to disturb and alarm, which they do about 20 times a day in the otherwise peaceful city in which I live.
These sirens will often save a few seconds of response time, but I’d be surprised if they themselves don’t contribute to road accidents, as they cause drivers to panic; they probably cause accidents at home too, as they shatter one’s ability to concentrate. The blaring noise also disturbs sleep patterns.
Yes, there are probably times when having sirens going at full blast en route to an accident is of some use. But there are costs too, and these costs could well outweigh the benefits.
SIR – Robert Leven’s query about the meaning of “Yeah no” (Letters, July 27)
reminds me of the interminable discussion about whether a double negative in English – “We don’t have no bananas” – results in a positive meaning, or reinforces the negative. But only in English does a double positive make a negative – “Yeah, right”.
Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex
SIR – Robert Leven quotes “Yeah no” as one of the most annoying sayings currently in vogue.
The saying that drives me to distraction is “wake up and smell the coffee”. If I read or hear it once more, I will most definitely switch to tea.
William D Holmes
SIR – When entertaining a French exchange student some 55 years ago, I was asked to explain “Now then”.
Too few trained doctors
SIR – Manpower planning for health services has been woefully inadequate for many years. As a result, insufficient numbers of doctors and dentists have been trained in this country, and this failure has not been recognised.
Some 39 per cent of registered medical practitioners and 28 per cent of registered dentists trained outside Britain. That we have not trained sufficient numbers is obvious, because these overseas-trained doctors and dentists would not have come here unless there was work to do. The same, or worse, is probably true of nurses.
Apart from the moral question of Britain stealing practitioners from other countries, the shortage of training places here has deprived many young British people of the opportunity to practise.
Entry to medical and dental schools is competitive, and each year there are disappointed applicants who, given the opportunity, would have become perfectly good doctors and dentists.
Professor Robert Clark
Cyclists on pavements
SIR – The number of cyclists using the roads is increasing, often causing delays to traffic and creating a hazard for themselves. Apart from established cycle lanes, isn’t it time to allow cyclists to use dedicated, little-used pavements with signs indicating that they are for joint use?
Cyclists and motorists would greatly benefit, while pedestrians would only be marginally inconvenienced.
SIR – When we walk past houses with their garage doors open, I tell my wife: “Look at that” (Letters, July 27). Invariably they are untidy tips with barely room to walk between the junk. This makes mine, which is full of things which may one day be useful, look reasonably tidy.
SIR – When my granddaughter visited us one Sunday, when she was about three years old, she was given a sweet to eat while playing with her toys. We watched her throw the wrapper on to the floor.
When challenged and told to pick it up and put it in the bin, she replied: “I can’t my, hands are busy.”
Worcester Park, Surrey
Catering for elderly people in country villages
SIR – Meals on Wheels is not dead (Letters, July 24) – it is alive and well in Lingfield and Dormansland, Surrey.
We have up to 150 volunteers, about half of whom cook and half deliver, with a few who organise the operation. Our turn on the rota comes round every five weeks.
Each day from Monday to Thursday, a team of four prepares a main course and a sweet, where possible from fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and this is delivered by two teams of two to our customers in the surrounding area. They pay £1.50 for a home-cooked meal, and really look forward to their lunch. We chat while serving the food but cannot stay too long, as the remaining meals need to be delivered while they are still hot.
SIR – Having done Meals on Wheels for a number of years, I must say that, as an antidote to loneliness, it didn’t really work.
It was upsetting that the old people we delivered to were anxious to talk, but, having so many meals to deliver in a short time, we hadn’t the time to do more than exchange a few pleasantries and move on.
Earswick, North Yorkshire
SIR – Fortunately Neville H Walker (Letters, July 24) is fine, but there are many other elderly people who are cut off from a social life due to being unable to drive, lack of public transport, no village shop or post office, the inability to master the use of a computer and debilitating illnesses.
Charities do their best to help by offering transport and services to aid the well-being of rural residents, but these charities are in constant need of funding. Without volunteers, they would grind to a halt. Where possible, everyone should help to care for older people in our society.
Sir, – I refer to Paul Cullen’s article (Front page, July 29th) advising that the number on waiting lists for nursing homes is set to double by year’s end.
The nursing home time bomb in relation to older person’s access to nursing home beds has been building now for the past number of years and will become acute very shortly. Approximately 5 per cent of the over-65 population require nursing home care, but the recent census indicates this population is rising by 20,000 per annum, and as a result over the next 10 years another 10,000 nursing home beds will be required. The Government is reducing its public nursing home bed provision as it is uneconomic to bring them up to national minimum standards and this is the correct approach to ensure proper care for older people. In addition, the private sector has no access to finance to build new nursing home beds to meet the coming demand due to the uncertainty the banks have regarding the continuity of the Fair Deal funding scheme, the review of which has been kicked down the road by the Government.
The moral hazard that the Government is facing is that families with older relatives who require nursing home care will now go directly to the acute hospital system as it will be perceived as the quickest way of getting access to a nursing home bed for a relative. This in turn will only aggravate the shortage in the acute hospital sector and therefore the coming problem will not only affect older people but younger people requiring access to the same acute hospital beds.
Successive governments have been aware of the “nursing home time bomb” for some time and they have respectively stuck their heads in the sand in dealing with this growing problem. – Yours, etc,
JONATHON ROTH (Dr),
Clancys Strand, Limerick.
Sir, – Thank you for highlighting the pernicious situation whereby families who are unable to care for their elderly put them into a private nursing home on the “understanding” that they will be transferred to a public nursing home in a matter of weeks (Front page, July 29th). There are families who are being wiped out financially as weeks turn into months. This is a very sensitive and difficult area for the families to speak about publicly. – Yours, etc,
Friends of the Elderly,
Bolton Street, Dublin 1.
Sir, – I take serious exception to the comments made about me by Breda O’Brien (Opinion, July 27th). Yet again she has used her Saturday column to launch a tirade against any legalisation of abortion. Her constant crusade to portray all those who would like to see sensible reform of our highly restrictive abortion law as “militant pro-choicers” has become very tedious. But in this case it is important to set the record straight.
However Ms O’Brien and her fundamentalist anti-choice allies may try to twist the facts, the tragic death of a young woman in London last year after leaving the clinic where her pregnancy had been terminated should raise serious questions about Irish abortion law.
For any compassionate person, it should raise the obvious question why a woman whose pregnancy poses a serious risk to her health should be forced to travel abroad for a medical procedure available in every other European country. Indeed, it should also raise the question why 4,000 women a year continue to travel to Britain for abortions.
Ms O’Brien criticises me for failing to call for an immediate investigation into the Marie Stopes clinic where the termination in this case was carried out. Perhaps she missed the report that investigations are already being carried out by the British authorities? She and her allies have been running a sustained campaign against non-directive pregnancy counselling agencies such as the Irish Family Planning Association for some time now, but even they cannot ignore the bigger questions about our abortion law raised by this case.
For far too long they have successfully persuaded our legislators to collude in the hypocritical pretence that there is no abortion in Ireland. The week after the welcome passage of the Protection of Life Bill, it is time we started talking about the reality of abortion for Irish women. – Yours, etc,
As a matter of custom and practice – there is no constitutional impediment – the president of the day does not account for his decision-making in this important role to the people. Nor do we hear the advice given by members of the Council of State. As we, the people, elect the president, it is time that the president carried out this role in a transparent way. He or she should also expect to receive, as a normal event, written submissions as to why he should or should not refer Bills from concerned citizens; these, too, should be made public. The absence of awareness in the public of this role has helped create the impression that the president’s role is largely a sinecure so that elections to the office have descended to a kind of Rose of Tralee contest.
Presidents are slow to refer Bills to the courts. This is because of an amendment made to Article 34 of our Constitution – one of 30 amendments – in the summer of 1941 by the De Valera government of the day, availing of the transitional provisions of the 1937 Constitution. This amendment, which wasn’t put to the people, stated that once a reference made to the Supreme Court on a constitutional issue was considered and decided by the court, it could never be referred again, notwithstanding new information, demographic, scientific or cultural changes in the meantime.
Hindsight has shown, I contend, that this was an imprudent decision and ought to be reversed by referendum.
A comparatively uncontroversial example was the courts decision on the constitutionality of the Fluoridation (of public drinking water) Act which was challenged by Mrs Ryan some 60 years ago. It was held to be constitutional. With the efflux of time, many health experts and civil libertarians would argue that the courts made a decision which, if made now, would be regarded as wrong. – Yours, etc,
JOHN COLGAN, PC,
Sir, – In light of Eamon Gilmore, an agnostic, being required to pledge an oath “in the presence of Almighty God” in order to take his seat on the Council of State (Home News, July 27th), I think it’s about time we discuss the removal of these explicitly religious, exclusionary references from Bunreacht na hÉireann.
Public representatives are rightly lambasted if they are discovered to be dishonest, yet, in order to become a judge, president, or, as the tánaiste has discovered, to sit on the Council of State, those of us who do not have a religious faith are constitutionally required to perjure ourselves.
There can be surely no reasonable case made for the retention of religious oaths in a modern, democratic country – they are unjust, discriminatory, and archaic – so for the sake of efficiency, let us bypass the hysteria and faux outrage, bundle them all together and, with the referendum on Seanad abolition, allow the public to vote on their removal. – Yours, etc,
First published: Tue, Jul 30, 2013, 01:08
Sir, – Finbarr Corkery (July 27th) in referring to Conor Brady’s article on the role of the Garda and the Defence Forces appears uncomfortable with the notion of military intelligence duplicating, or impinging on, tasks that might be considered the preserve of the Garda Síochána. He falls into the trap that catches most commentators on defence in this country. When he reads Defence Forces he thinks Army.
The Navy with Air Corps support patrols our territorial seas, exclusive economic zone and maritime domain 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. While so engaged, the Navy is extensively engaged in intelligence gathering. No other State agency covers the Navy’s area of operations. Indeed the use of the Navy for maritime law enforcement, including intelligence gathering, is an extremely cost effective method of maintaining a Navy and ensuring that activities being carried out in the seas under Irish control are legal. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – This country has spent an enormous amount of money on exhaustive tribunals of inquiry that behaved as a tightly closed shop, had no procurement procedures and whose extravagant spending was not subjected to either independent validation or expert oversight. Compared to other jurisdictions our authorities demonstrate little capacity to speedily and successfully prosecute white collar crime, although special investigations by the Revenue Commissioners have yielded €43.04 million in tax payments from 28 cases connected to the Mahon and Moriarty tribunals.
The scale of loss, the impact on public confidence, the practical consequences of fraud and bribery on the lives of ordinary citizens, the effect of fraud, bribery and corruption on the reputation of Ireland as a safe place to conduct business, the underlying complexity and the secrecy that is inherent in corrupt transactions ought to prompt a far more robust and vigorous approach to the investigation and prosecution of white collar crime.
The recently collapsed corruption trial involving former politicians and a businessman had been heavily dependent on the evidence of a key witness. Should there not be a designated national reporting point for allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption that is available to the public so that the pool of evidence in such cases is enhanced and the public becomes more alert to the incidence of corruption?
Observations by individuals, based on their knowledge, insight and experience that something is not quite adding up could become valuable information leading to the thorough investigation and successful prosecution of white collar criminals. But it is up to the authorities to facilitate this by showing clear leadership and educating the public on how to recognise the indicators; how to report fraud, bribery and corruption and for juries to understand the issues.
The Serious Fraud Office undertakes this role in the UK. The cost of prosecuting fraud cases there last year was equivalent to €0.74 per person in Britain. The cost of the Moriarty and Mahon tribunals, are of the order of €366 million, equivalent to €80 per person in Ireland and there has only been a single conviction for planning corruption. There urgently needs to be zero tolerance of white collar crime or the fuzzy excuses for not dealing with it effectively and conclusively. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Ann Marie Hourihane’s enthusiasm (Opinion, July 29th) for the arrival of Lidl in her Dublin village may not be universal.
Those of us whose neighbourhood street party on Saturday was generously supported by the other, Irish-owned, Irish-run, supermarket in the area, have other loyalties.
On the only sunny day of a weekend of downpours, we dined out on their meat of Irish origin and the trolleys didn’t have to be back until the next day. Like Prince William, we “couldn’t be happier”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The ongoing demonstration of defiance of the Parades Commission of Northern Ireland by the Orange Order demands an appropriate response from the authorities in Northern Ireland.
Given that sporting organisations are required to contribute to the cost of policing events, surely it is not inappropriate that the Orange Order be required to foot some of the enormous cost of policing their parades. In the case of repeat parades, the full cost of policing should be levied on the Order of it continues to defy the law. – Yours, etc,
* One must wonder if the decision to send 114 of our soldiers to the Golan Heights in the midst of the crisis in the Middle East is the correct one.
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The area is, at the moment, one of the most dangerous places in the world and possibly one of the most volatile hotspots, politically, in the world.
I know it has always been unstable, having been fought over by Egyptian, Hittites, Hebrews, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines, Crusaders, Turks, French, British and finally the Israelis, Lebanese and Syrians.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, there have been at least 12 incidents of fighting on the Heights where non-Syrian forces, either government or rebel, were attacked due to spillover from the Syrian conflict.
In fact, the situation was thought so dangerous by the Austrian government that they pulled out their troops just a month ago.
We cannot pretend that being Irish and having a good record of peacekeeping will protect our soldiers. Since the beginning of our peacekeeping operations, 86 Irish troops have been killed in action. We cannot assume there will be no threat to our troops.
No one expected that our missions to the Congo in the 1960s would be marked by the Niemba Ambush, killing nine of our men, and the Siege of Jadotville, where 150 Irish soldiers were forced to surrender after holding off an attacking force of Belgian mercenaries and local tribes between 500 and 5,000 strong.
I wish our troops the best out there but I hope they are not being put in unnecessary danger.
Clara, Co Offaly
A COMPLEX STORY
* With regard to Liam Fay’s piece in your paper (Irish Independent, July 20) and subsequent letters to your paper, may I suggest that any person with a sincere motive to understand this issue have a quick read through the introduction to the ‘Report of the Inter Departmental Committee to establish the fact of state involvement with the Magdalene Laundries’ by the independent chair (former) Senator Martin McAleese.
The very first point in the introduction states: “There is no single or simple story of the Magdalene Laundries.”
The report states that “the women who entered the Magdalene Laundries were from many backgrounds and the circumstances which led to their admission were varied”.
Some were sent by their families for reasons that are unknown, some were poor and homeless who entered voluntarily or were referred by County Homes or Social Services. Others were referred by psychiatric hospitals or industrial schools.
The courts referred others on foot of criminal convictions ranging from vagrancy and larceny to manslaughter and murder. Some were young girls who were rejected by their foster parents when maintenance payments from the authorities ceased.
Mr Fay states that the congregations involved “enslaved” women. The report clearly states that the committee found no evidence to contradict the position taken by the congregations that they did not recruit women for these institutions.
Their position is that they “responded in practical ways as best they could . . . to the fraught situations of the sometimes marginalised girls sent to them. . .”
There is no doubt that women experienced the laundries as lonely and frightening places. However, the vast majority of women who engaged with the report stated “that the ill-treatment, physical punishment and abuse that was prevalent in the industrial school system was not something they experienced in the Magdalene Laundries”.
Opportunistic or emotive comments do not do justice to this tragic event in our history.
To finish, I again quote the above mentioned report: “Respect for the complexity and sensitivity of this story means that any new caricatures of the women who spent time in Magdalene Laundries, or indeed of the Religious Congregations who operated them, must be avoided.”
Firhouse, Dublin 24
LACKING IN LEADERSHIP
* I have re-listened to the notorious Anglo Tapes and still find it hard to believe that men holding the future of Ireland’s economy in the palms of their hands were incapable of thinking beyond their own interests. What we once suspected, but now realise, is that the management of our country’s finances was not driven by deep, rational reflection but by more basic instincts.
The protagonists in the Anglo Tapes came across as bungling buffoons, well out of their depth. They thrived in the absence of an effective regulatory environment.
The lessons learned from the collapse of Ireland’s financial institutions and the businesses that sank with them is that the rituals of management and of government conceal mindboggling levels of managerial incompetence, which have been subject to a sea of public anger but not rationally confronted.
I fear that Ireland is set to repeat the policies and practices that failed us but to do so with a mindless intensity, redoubling our effort as we steadily lose sight of our aims.
The Anglo world seems to have thrived on mutual admiration. One of the driving forces of all impenetrable management systems is flattery. Each level flatters the one above it, thus eliminating even a hint of upward-driven appraisal, as flattery confirms the opinion the recipient already has of himself.
What is missing in all of this is any clear sense of leadership. Managers tend to do the wrong things efficiently while leaders tend to do the right things effectively. There is no shortage of managers in Ireland but a significant dearth of leadership.
Oxford OX1 4QB, England
* Further to Dearbhail McDonald’s smugathon, ‘Ooh, look, everybody! Women are taking over the judiciary!’ (Irish Independent, July 26), can we now look forward to a debate on the need for gender quotas to ensure that men will, in years to come, have their fair representation in the higher echelons of the legal profession?
Because, as a man, I am now feeling really, like, “victimised”, and would find judicial quotas, you know, really, like, “empowering”. Naturally, anybody who disagrees with me on this must be a “man hater”.
Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
CURBING WATER DEATHS
* The dramatic rescue of all on board the ‘Astrid’ avoided a catastrophe that would have challenged the rail disaster in Spain for world headlines. Such a disaster would have been discussed for years to come here.
Yet in the two preceding weeks, one-third of the number of people on board the ‘Astrid’ had died in our waters. One week out and there is little comment in the media on these tragic drownings. Tragedies on a large scale seem to capture our collective imaginations, yet each tragic death holds its own misery.
Such a positive outcome from the ‘Astrid’ incident was the result of great work by the Coast Guard, the RNLI and local communities. This is the result of much planning, training, practice and dedication. Even with all of this work, deaths by drowning reached 147 in 2012, a significant increase over the previous two years.
The fantastic work done by the Road Safety Authority in curbing deaths on our roads is to be admired. Road deaths are now only slightly higher than deaths in water, though a lot more people use the roads.
If we are to reduce deaths by drowning, we will need to have the same level of commitment as shown by the State in tackling road deaths.
Glasnevin, Dublin 11