7 August 2013 Ears
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Nunkie wants to smuggle a stamp to France so he gets Pertwee to put it in a ventriloquist dummy and persuade Leslie to take up ventriloquism alas the poor dummy falls overboard Priceless
We are both tired but I trot out to the medical center to have my ears done
We watch Yes Minister quite good
Scrabble today I win but I get just over 400. perhaps Mary might win tomorrow.
Dr John Weaver
Dr John Weaver, who has died aged 89, served in the Far East during the war and later became an eminent physician in Northern Ireland, leading the development of diabetes care.
Dr John Weaver
6:39PM BST 06 Aug 2013
He was born at Killyleagh, Co Down, on December 20 1923, to Emily, a bank official, and William Weaver, a farmer. Immediately on leaving Bangor Grammar School in 1942, John Weaver joined the Army and, after training with a tank regiment in Catterick, was posted to India and selected for officer training. Though the Empire was under dire threat from the Japanese, his first lesson at cadet college was learning the proper etiquette when presenting his card.
Commissioned into the 5th Royal Gurkha regiment, Weaver volunteered for parachute service and in all made 27 jumps into the jungle. At the attack on Imphal his earlier experience driving tanks landed him the job of transport officer, and he ended the war in the rank of Major.
On return to Belfast he studied Medicine at Queen’s University, graduating in 1950. He took up a Medical Research Council Fellowship to study endocrinology at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. While there he also attended Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee, a former Manhattan Project site which postwar was concerned with the peaceful application of nuclear technology. Weaver became proficient in the use of radioactive iodine for the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders, and led the way in setting up these services in Belfast on his return.
Appointed a consultant at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast in 1959, he worked in the Sir George Clark Metabolic Unit which had been opened the previous year by Dr Charles Best, one of the discoverers of insulin. The unit was at that time unique in managing diabetes and a spectrum of endocrine disorders by combining specialist outpatient and inpatient facilities in the same building – an important development that allowed immediate access to nursing, laboratory and medical diabetes expertise at all times, and which is now the norm in diabetes centres.
Weaver’s clinical researches, with David Hadden, included early studies of heart attacks in type 2 diabetes patients, which led to the observational Belfast Diet Study – a precursor of the UK Prospective Diabetes Study, which itself has become one of the most quoted randomised clinical trials in diabetes care. Belfast and Oxford were at that time the only major centres with a serious research interest in type 2 as opposed to type 1 diabetes, and the Belfast study revealed that strict attention to diet could for a time control type 2 diabetes.
In 1960 Weaver became a founder member of the Corrigan Club, established “for the promotion of friendship among consultant physicians in Ireland”, with members from the main teaching hospitals in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It continued to meet annually throughout the Troubles at alternate venues in North and South. A Senator at Queen’s University, Weaver himself was an active presence behind the scenes in the search for a solution to the unrest. He became the Corrigan Club’s chairman and was also President of the Ulster Medical Society. In 1988 he served as president of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland.
Throughout his life Weaver maintained an abiding interest and affection for the Gurkhas, as well as the Army units posted to Northern Ireland. His own military service had consequences for his peacetime career, however, as, reluctant to fly following his wartime parachute jumps, he was forced to make several epic railway journeys to present his research at medical meetings in Europe.
John Weaver was appointed OBE and Deputy Lieutenant for County Down.
He is survived by his wife, Iris, and two sons, both of whom are doctors.
Dr John Weaver, born December 20 1923, died June 16 2013
More than 150 civil society organisations from around the globe are asking President Barack Obama to end the prosecution of Edward Snowden (Activists stage second national day of protest against NSA’s domestic spying, 4 August).
Human rights, digital rights and media freedom campaigners from the UK to Uruguay and from the US to Uganda have joined together to call on the US administration to acknowledge Snowden as a whistleblower. All of us ask that he is protected and not persecuted.
Snowden’s disclosures have triggered a much-needed public debate about mass surveillance online everywhere. Thanks to him, we have learned the extent to which our online lives are systematically monitored by governments, without transparency, accountability or safeguards from abuse.
Rather than address this gross abuse, the US government has chosen to shoot the messenger. It has revoked his passport and obstructed his search for asylum. European governments have been quick to help.
The knock-on effect will be to encourage others to follow by example. States that have even less regard for their citizens will justify attacks on those who put themselves at significant risk to expose wrongdoing and corruption or raise matters of serious public concern.
We urge President Obama to protect Snowden and other whistleblowers like him. We ask that the president initiate a full, public investigation into the legality of the National Security Agency’s actions. Perhaps, then, David Cameron might consider doing the same over allegations concerning GCHQ.
Dr Agnes Callamard
Executive director, Article 19, on behalf of more than 150 global organisations
Paul Tyler (Letters, 5 August) sees electing the Lords as the solution to its growing size. In fact, that way of tackling the problem is doomed, since – following the debacle of the coalition’s last attempt – the chances of any future government attempting big-bang reform are vanishingly small. Nor is there any need for such a reform to cut numbers. They went down from 1,210 in 1999 to 694 in 2000 with the exclusion of most hereditary peers; and they would go down today if indifferent attenders and the very aged were excluded.
Lab, House of Lords
• Vodaphone apparently “has to” give secret unlimited access to its customers’ communications to GCHQ (Named: the telecoms firms passing details to GCHQ, 3 August). It also enjoyed a rather cosy arrangement about its tax affairs. Could these facts in any way be related?
• Good to hear (Report, 31 July) that the demand for overnight trains is increasing – the attraction they provide compared with travel by air is substantial. But what is missing is a good restaurant car. What more pleasant way of travelling through the countryside than with a glass of wine and a well-prepared meal in a comfortable carriage. When we ask about its absence we receive a shrug and a comment about an unwillingness to invest. Perhaps the train companies could enlighten us?
Dr Simon Harris
• I should like to draw your attention to an obvious mistake in the Weekend recipe section (2 August). In both of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes all the ingredients are available in Andover. Could you publish the missing items which I will have to travel to one of the trendier parts of London to obtain, please.
• Yet another dog-whistle policy (Killer-dog owners could get life, 6 August).
• I suppose the new Time Lord (Report, 5 August) will be on a zero-hours contract.
We are writing to express our concern about recent government initiatives against irregular immigration (Report, 3 August). The most recent of these include the “Go Home” van campaign, which echoes the National Front graffiti slogans in the 1970s; and the immigration raids on tube stations in poor, mixed urban areas, which, according to Doreen Lawrence and eyewitness accounts, have involved racial profiling.
Proposals to require tourists from six Asian and African countries to pay a £3,000 bond; to charge non-EU migrants for healthcare; and to require private landlords to check the immigration status of prospective tenants also open the door to discrimination and abuse. These initiatives, combined with their promotion through inflammatory language on Twitter, represent an increasing politicisation of Home Office policy, where fears about immigration are exploited for a hoped-for electoral gain, while creating a climate of fear for migrants and people of colour.
We condemn and demand the withdrawal of these ill-thought-out and reactionary initiatives. We believe they may incite racism and intolerance and reverse the progress that has been made by previous generations towards equality. It is with great urgency that we ask the government to review its approach to immigration policy. We also call on others to join us in this condemnation of current government policy.
Kirsten Forkert Birmingham City University, Gurminder Bhambra University of Warwick, Meghnad Desai, Ken Livingstone, Salma Yaqoob, Natalie Bennett Leader, Green Party, Isabella Sankey Liberty, Ojeaku Nwabuzo Runnymede Trust, Caroline Lucas MP, Diana Holland Assistant general secretary, Unite, Maxine Peake, Owen Jones and 250 others
Full list at http://aarx.wordpress.com/
• While there is a need for more accurate figures on immigration and its effects, there is a more urgent prior need for some sort of consensus on what figures are relevant, and what accuracy they need to mean anything. Without that, alarmists and extremists on the both sides will continue to cherry-pick the data, exaggerate the significance of those figures that suit them and play down the significance of those that do not (Editorial, 2 August). Time frames will be chosen, factors included and excluded, to bias the figures towards a desired result.
I talk of sides, and here lies the hurdle. The debate is left too much to the extremes. There are xenophobes and scapegoaters on one side, and on the other those who hold that anything short of no controls at all is to be xenophobic. The hysteria of each feeds the other’s fears. Reasonable people are cowed into silence. We need to redraw the battle lines for the goal of a sane discussion.
• Why does the government have such a manic hostility to migrants and yet appoint mainly migrants to senior positions? It has appointed a Canadian as governor of the Bank of England, a New Zealander who failed his accountancy exams as head of the publicly owned RBS, an Australian lobbyist as head of Tory electoral strategy and an American as his deputy. Does Mr Cameron know the meaning of hypocrisy? And if no British banker is good enough for those senior positions, why are they paid so much?
Professor Guy Standing
Soas, University of London
Tom McNally’s response to being called “legally illiterate” confirmed he is just that (Making legal aid work, Comment, 5 August). It is difficult to find anyone other than the minister for legal aid, and the justice minister, Chris Grayling, who positively supports the proposals to cut legal aid. McNally complains of scaremongers while he continues to ignore criticism from every quarter of the justice system, from those who use legal aid to court of appeal judges. Only two Tory MPs could be found to support the cuts in the recent parliamentary debate, while Grayling did not even turn up.
A rally outside the Old Bailey last week was supported by about 30 organisations under the Justice Alliance banner, celebrating the 64th anniversary of the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949. Grayling’s proposals threaten the very basis of that Act, intended to “open the doors of the courts freely to all persons who may wish to avail themselves of British justice without regard to the question of their wealth or ability to pay”. Do we want to live in a society where an innocent man can be shot by police in Stockwell and his family cannot get to the truth because they were not born here? Do we want to deny the vulnerable – the homeless, refugees, or the disabled – the ability to properly challenge unfair use of the law?
Billy Power, one of the Birmingham Six released from the Old Bailey in March 1991, told the rally: “It would be almost impossible under the new proposals that we would ever have been able to obtain decent hard-working representation of lawyers willing to work to uncover the evidence required to get our case back to the court of appeal … and clear our names.”
McNally says there have to be cuts, even though the budget for legal aid is already in significant decline. I am all for finding efficiencies, but time and again I work on cases that are delayed and where disclosure is frustrated due to the failings of the CPS. For the record though, no one at my firm has had a pay rise in five years – can Grayling and McNally say the same?
Co-founder, Justice Alliance
• Tom McNally appears to say there is no real problem to the changes in legal aid but almost ignores how it affects civil cases. It is now virtually impossible to get aid in respect of cases covering divorce and child contact, employment, welfare benefits, clinical negligence and housing. So if you cannot afford a lawyer, represent yourself. Regarding criminal cases, if you cannot afford legal representation, you will probably end up dependant on the lowest bidder for this service. In fact, similar to our NHS, where many services are going private to any suitable provider, and where quality is not a priority.
• I was delighted, but surprised, to read that only people whose disposable income exceeds £37,000 are affected by the proposed legal aid reforms so welcomed by Tom McNally. So all those people will be willing and able to follow the advice of the justice ministry’s impact assessment, which assumes “individuals who no longer receive legal aid will now adopt a range of approaches to resolve issues. They may choose to represent themselves in court, seek to resolve issues by themselves, pay for services which support self-resolution, pay for private representation or decide not to tackle the issue at all.” That’s all right, then.
• Perhaps Tom McNally can explain how depriving people who face losing their homes of legal aid to oppose legally represented landlords in civil claims accords with his party’s constitution, which says the Liberal Democrats exist “to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity”.
• Your report (Police face charges after strip search, 1 August) highlights many worrying features, but I would like to focus on the issue that a police constable was found to have influenced the detained woman’s decision to eschew legal advice in order to leave the police station sooner. My research suggests that for detainees to waive legal advice is far from unusual, and that such a decision is a complex product of police officer and suspect interaction, in that they share the desire to “get it over with”, but for quite different reasons. Legal advice may come to be seen by the detainee as likely to cause delay. However, I also found that delays are often as much a product of police action as the behaviour of legal advisers.
Dr Layla Skinns
Centre for Criminological Research, University of Sheffield
While it is encouraging to see Pope Francis trying to reach out to gay people (Pope Francis: gay priests in the Vatican? Yes. A gay conspiracy? No, 31 July), I can’t help feeling he’s doing it with both hands tied behind his back, given the Roman Catholic theology of sexuality at the moment. Catholic sexual ethics are based on the idea that human beings and resources are “good” only insofar as they fulfil their purpose and, as far as sex is concerned, its primary purpose is procreation. Hence gay sex and women priests are both forbidden, since both inhibit the production of babies (though so does a celibate priesthood).
Until this Thomist position is jettisoned in favour of a more holistic view of sex, we will be stuck with a view of gay relationships rooted in a 13th-century theology of the body. Repressing sexual love and even hiding away from one’s own sexuality in celibacy does not suggest a realistic view of human flourishing.
We fear Patrick Wintour’s prediction of disquiet in Glasgow’s Liberal Democrat conference (Nick Clegg prepares to push Lib Dems into occupying centre ground, 6 August) is accurate. There is little doubt that the Conservatives and Labour will be offering up Conservative and Labour manifestos in 2015. The Liberal Democrat leadership seems to be preparing a coalition manifesto by asking the party to abandon distinctive policy positions and seeking its backing for compromises. On several issues including nuclear power, but most notably on the economy, it is saying: “Why have the real thing when you can have a diluted version of our opponents’ policy?”
Liberal Democrat activists know that, to win elections, a voice has to be heard as well as trusted, so are not likely to accept a manifesto endorsing the coalition’s entire record as a credible message to take to the public. Any future coalition negotiations should take place once the voice of the electorate has been heard: a party second-guesses that voice at its peril. Political parties have values as a navigation point for the electorate, with policies framed around those values. The abandonment of the party’s distinctive economic narrative combining fiscal credibility with effective policies for jobs and growth in favour of George Osborne-lite should be treated with particular alarm.
Co-chair, Social Liberal Forum
Director, Social Liberal Forum
• Proffering support for nuclear power, tuition fees and renewing Trident surely means that the phrase “centre ground” should have been in quotes? If this is the centre ground, it only confirms to me how supine the Labour party is: no one is voicing any serious opposition to the stupid policies of this nasty rightwing government. But at least we now know where the Lib Dems stand: shoulder to shoulder with the Tories. Vote Ukip, you might as well!
I am not at all surprised at the military’s action in Egypt (Killings fail to end pro-Morsi protest, 2 August). What surprises me is that they waited as long as they did, and that nobody else seems to have seen it coming. From Nasser through to Mubarak, the Egyptian president has always been a military leader. The Arab spring saw the military take a front seat, generously creating the “Supreme Council of the Armed Forces” as a temporary solution. Knowing that the eyes of the world were on them, they stepped aside to allow for attempts at democracy, giving Egyptians the impression of democratic freedoms and reforms.
Although Egypt was without a military president since Mohamed Morsi’s election, the true power in the country continued to be held by the military, waiting for the right moment to take back full control. The military would have acted the same way against any elected president of Egypt, secular or religious, because any non-military president would be a hindrance to restoring the military-run political system.
The only difference between Morsi and other candidates is the timing of the military intervention. Morsi made it easy for the military because he was active in trying to wrest political power from them.
Whatever Morsi’s motives were, his actions gave the military the chance they were waiting for. In their coup, they can claim that they were acting on the will of the people by removing Morsi from power.
Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
• I am not a Muslim, but it is plain to me that the Egyptian government led by the Muslim Brotherhood has been the victim of a military coup, and that Egyptian secularists have made a Faustian bargain with an army that is unreconstructed from the times of Hosni Mubarak.
In those times, the Egyptian army became a byword for torture and murder, as its secularist victims must know, and it has not changed. The proof of this is its slaughter of Muslim brothers protesting the removal of Mohamed Morsi and its hastening to forestall any judicial consideration of those murders.
Egyptian secularists will live to regret that they helped to facilitate the installation of a new Mubarak.
Crash was no surprise
The train crash in northern Spain was a tragedy for all involved (Train crash driver ‘reckless’, 2 August). There is no doubt the train driver was driving too fast. He looks set to spend some time in prison. The train company will no doubt be reprimanded but it is unlikely that any company officers will be sent to prison. But that is not the whole story.
Those of us who live in Spain are not surprised that such an accident should happen. Every day we see corners cut because of the austerity measures. Maintenance that would have been routinely carried out a few years ago is now neglected. Rubbish bins in the streets that would once have been emptied every day now get emptied every two or three days. Road surfaces deteriorate and are not repaired. Public buildings begin to look like they are about to fall down.
But more than that, the salaries of public workers in Spain have been cut by up to 50% and people working in the public sector are now completely demoralised. They work, but without motivation and without any interest in whether what they are doing is correct. The private sector is not much better.
So I am not surprised if the train driver lost concentration. He will pay the price.
But those who are really to blame will get off scot free – I refer, of course, to the greedy, irresponsible bankers who caused the financial crisis and the worthless, ineffectual regulatory bodies who let them do what they wanted.
Ian Sample’s recent report on the results of a study by scientists at University College London (Irregular bedtimes may affect children’s brains, 19 July) is of considerable interest, not only because it could have a profound impact on the way parents raise their children, but also because the findings indicate there were significant gender differences in the youngest age groups (three, five and seven). However, what was even more significant to me (and also astonishing) was the fact that apparently all of the three-year-olds in the entire study could read and do maths. Either this was the result of the scientists selecting the three-year-olds from a sample of children with truly exceptional abilities, or, the average three-year-olds in Britain are the most intellectually advanced children in the world! I think, if I was one of the scientists involved in this study, I would want to switch direction and find out how these children were able to develop such wonderful skills at such an early age.
Keith E Barnes
Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Progress in Yemen?
Your article (Yemenis are living in fear of drones, 26 July) concludes, “So far little has changed in Yemen,” the land of ubiquitous qat (narcotic stimulant), the jambiyah (curved dagger) and the futa (men’s sarong). Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi has assumed the mantle of president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had juggled a myriad of tribes into a semblance of nation-state, and dealt with a secessionist movement in the once-Marxist south, all the while mollifying the demands both of al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula and the Bush-Obama “war on terror”.
From the late 20s until the early 60s by way of maintaining the Aden Protectorates, the RAF gratuitously bombed Yemeni villages, albeit with some advance notice: “this is a highly exacting task and the RAF rightly resents any suggestion that bombs are being scattered carelessly or lives endangered” (BBC, 1961, as quoted in Victoria Clark’s Yemen). In 1967 Nasser’s Egyptian air force dropped mustard gas on villagers in (royalist) north Yemen, killing 500. And now Obama’s invisible “wild birds” thrum menacing overhead, engendering nightmares in the children and elderly. “Stricter rules to limit civilian victims” is a progress, of sorts.
R M Fransson
Denver, Colorado, US
The Letter from Honduras (26 July) does not contain a single comment on the political situation in the country, and looks like a thinly disguised propaganda piece for the (unnamed) church to which “Pastor Antonio” belongs. After a brief experiment in democracy, Honduras is again ruled by a dictatorship, abetted and supported by the US. Many fundamentalist North American denominations are active in the country, providing schooling and services exactly as described in the letter (with whose money?), but effectively acting as powerful agents for the status quo (though they would claim to be “apolitical”).
Is Pastor Antonio’s church one of these? Does the author of the letter belong to the same church? What is he doing in Honduras? I think we should be told.
Xenophobia no surprise
Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd’s draconian announcement of harsh treatment for asylum seekers in a desperate bid for the xenophobic vote in marginal seats in the upcoming federal election is a profound disappointment, but no real surprise (Australia scraps the welcome mat, 26 July). It’s a strategy based on the latest manifestation of an old fear of alien hordes descending on a mostly empty continent that’s been a strong feature of our society since early colonial times. Such is the desperation in our federal electioneering – and the general fragility of our so-called liberal democracy – as polling day approaches.
Adelaide, South Australia
Actions speak louder
Why expect Edward Snowden to be the great orator (Snowden wrong to embrace Putin, 19 July)? Would Peter Beaumont rather Snowden have died heroically on his battlefield than get his words wrong?
Snowden is but a brave soldier now in a position of capture. He is no political leader or journalist. Judging him for his suggestion that Russia stands against human rights violations clearly ignores his tactical speechmaking. He is trying to save his life. His actions speak far louder than his words.
Wellington, New Zealand
“The citizens of the US have an absolute right to go about their business without being slaughtered,” says Deborah Orr (The US needs to take a long look at itself, 26 July) and rightly so.
However, the best way to stop what she calls “the hateful tongues of people crass enough to insist that the US had got what was coming to it” on 9/11 will be to extend this “absolute right” to the people in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq who are considered collateral damage of the US lethal drone policy, to mention only a few of the victims of US foreign policy.
• How could you write about Chris Froome’s great victory in the Tour de France and mention his British team-mates without even a nod to his right-hand man, Richie Porte (26 July)? Porte selflessly pushed Froome over the finish line much as Froome did the same for Bradley Wiggins last year. For an Aussie to support a Pom like that against the background of the Lions tour and the Ashes was above and beyond the call.
• Women novelists on £10 notes: Jane Austen. George Eliot would have been a much stronger case (2 August).
‘Bringing up the next generation is a very important job and mothers should be encouraged and rewarded not patronised for fulfilling this role’
Sir, I find it very surprising that this Government is so determined to force mothers back into the workplace (“Stay-at-home mothers make a ‘lifestyle choice’ says Osborne”, Aug 6) at a time when jobs are in short supply and there is great pressure on childcare places.
It is all very well for Mr Osborne to say being a stay-at-home mother is a “lifestyle choice” but research shows that particularly in the early years children benefit from being with their mothers. Children need physical contact which is now often denied in nurseries.
I was a teacher but when we had our children in the 1980s I chose to be a stay-at-home mother as my income would only just cover the cost of childcare and many people still find that this is the case. I thoroughly enjoyed those years and our now grown-up children say how pleased they are that I was at home with them.
The Government seems determined to penalise families where one chooses to stay at home to look after the children, firstly with the cut in child benefit and now excluding them from the childcare vouchers. Bringing up the next generation is a very important job and mothers should be encouraged and rewarded not patronised for fulfilling this role. It is better for the children and for society.
Sir, Of course looking after one’s children full time is a lifestyle choice for women. So is getting a paid job, beat-boxing at the Edinburgh Festival, being a heroin junkie or the Lady Chancellor of the Exchequer. From a political perspective, what should matter is how beneficial for society these various “choices” are. Here a careful study might possibly reveal that looking after one’s children does more for the future of Britain than being a professional politician.
Sir, The argument that George Osborne is somehow discriminating against stay-at-home parents with his new online childcare vouchers scheme entirely misses the point of this important step forward in parental choice. The scheme represents a huge stride in the right direction, putting funding for children’s education and childcare directly into parents’ hands and bypassing local authorities that have shown themselves to be partial. Parents are being given an opportunity to choose, not only whether or not they work, but also the setting for their children’s development. This principle should be extended to cover the whole of a child’s education to the age of 16.
Chief Executive, Independent Association of Prep Schools
The Foundling Museum should be allowed to continue to flourishas it has in recent years, and the collection should be properly protected
Sir, We are increasingly concerned about the future of the Foundling Museum. Much of its nationally significant collection, which includes works donated by Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough, is owned by the childcare charity Coram. As Coram’s charitable objectives do not include caring for art, a separate charity — the Foundling Museum — was set up in 2002 to ensure the future of the collection for the nation.
The plan was for the museum to purchase the collection from Coram over time. Many arts funding bodies have since donated to help the Foundling to achieve this. However, Coram has recently changed the museum’s articles, dismissed its independent trustees and consolidated its accounts into its own, casting doubt over its commitment to the plan.
These actions give much cause for concern. The museum has flourished in recent years, both in telling the story of Thomas Coram and the foundling children, and as an important art and heritage museum on the wider cultural scene.
We call upon the Attorney-General and Charity Commissioners to review recent events, and upon Coram to abide by any recommendations that they may make. It is vital that the collection should be properly protected in perpetuity and that the museum be allowed to continue as a thriving, independent organisation, as originally envisaged.
Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director, Art Fund; Sir Paul Ruddock, Chair, V&A; Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate; Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair, British Council; Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Christopher Le Brun, President, Royal Academy of Arts; Dr Charles Saumarez Smith, CEO, Royal Academy of Arts; Professor Christopher Brown, Director, Ashmolean Museum; Michael Craig-Martin, Artist; Alison Myners, Chair, ICA; Julia Peyton Jones, Director, Serpentine Gallery
These days, although Justices of the Supreme Court are styled as Lord or Lady, they are not offered a life peerage on appointment
Sir, Mr Peel (letter, Aug 5) suggests that Justices of the Supreme Court continue to receive life peerages.
Since the court opened in October 2009 no justice has been offered a life peerage on appointment. Under a warrant signed by the Queen in 2010, every justice of the Supreme Court is styled as Lord or Lady, but this is a courtesy title which does not include a peerage.
Those who were previously Lords of Appeal in Ordinary (“Law Lords”) retain their peerage but are unable to sit and vote in the House of Lords for the duration of their judicial service.
Chief Executive, United Kingdom Supreme Court
Dog owners should have to provide a demonstration of their ability to control a dog in a public place before being allowed to keep one
Sir, Richard Ford summarises the report that killer-dog owners may face life in jail (Aug 6), but it is very much a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Given that prevention is better than cure, I would suggest a pre-emptive strike. People who wish to drive vehicles that can kill first have to demonstrate their ability to be in control of the vehicle. Should there not be a similar approach to dog ownership whereby owners, or walkers, have to demonstrate their ability to control their dog in public places? Those who cannot do this then attend courses with their dogs with a view to being awarded a certificate and a badge that can be attached to the dog’s collar.
I would go so far as to suggest that, until both dog and owner/walker are competent together, restrictions be introduced as to the freedom allowed the dog in public.
It is already difficult and stressful enough to bring a claim against an employer, without adding a fee of £1,200 on top of this
Sir, The introduction of fees of up to £1,200 will seriously affect the ability of an employee to bring a legitimate claim of unfair treatment against their employer (report, July 29). The law already allows vexatious claims to be rejected by the tribunal itself when a claim is first submitted. Many cases are settled by arbitration before they reach the courts. Furthermore, if the case does go to court and the claimant loses the case, the employer can claim costs.
Bringing a claim is stressful and difficult, particularly for a claimant who cannot afford a lawyer. A prohibitive fee will mean that safeguarding the employment rights, particularly of low paid or part-time workers, will no longer be a viable option.
SIR – Sunder Katwala (Comment, August 2) asked which anniversary the Scots should remember. In 2013, the answer ought to be obvious, if embarrassing: Flodden Field, fought 500 years ago on September 9, 1513. On that day the Scots had every advantage of numbers, position and logistics. But they ran into a scraped-together English army and were cut to bits. King James IV was killed on the field, along with a majority of the Scots nobility and thousands of their followers.
Alex Salmond, the First Minister, ought to go and have a look at the dignified memorial on the site, which reads: “To the brave of both sides”.
Buckland Newton, Dorset
SIR – Over the next 12 months, the anniversaries of Flodden, Bannockburn (June 24, 1314) and the outbreak of the First World War (July 28, 1914) will take place. The first and the last were unwise foreign invasions designed to help France and Belgium, both of which could have been avoided. Believing England defenceless, James IV of Scotland underestimated the absent Henry VIII’s Spanish queen, Catherine of Aragon, and his annihilation ended the golden age of the Scottish renaissance. The First World War was a monstrous conflict which destroyed Europe and created the conditions for Nazism and Stalinism, so jingoistic celebrations are hardly appropriate.
Bannockburn will see Alex Salmond waving his saltire, but that was more the result of the incompetent Edward II contriving to lose than a well-deserved victory for the Scots.
Dr John Cameron
St Andrews, Fife
SIR – Nick Herbert, the Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, is right to highlight growing concerns in rural England about the impact that fracking may have on our matchless countryside (report, August 5). Part of the problem, as he says, is that a lack of clear information leads to “fear of the unknown”. Local suspicions are reinforced by the insensitive and gung-ho approach of some ministers.
For fracking to win any support, first, the Government must make clear that shale gas exploitation is a temporary measure to ensure fuel security and reduce the use of coal. In the longer term, we must move away from dependency on fossil fuels.
Secondly, if fracking is to happen, a transparent and democratic planning process must direct it to the least damaging locations. Tough regulations must minimise its long-term and short-term impact on the landscape, water resources and local people; and the industry must ensure adequate compensation for any damage caused, as well as meet demanding restoration conditions. The countryside has always provided us with fuel, but with fracking we must proceed with caution. The decisions we take now could have a huge impact both on the beauty and tranquillity of rural England, and on Britain’s ability to meet our climate-change commitments.
Campaign to Protect Rural England
A battle anniversary for Alex Salmond to forget
06 Aug 2013
SIR – Fears about fracking by local residents are natural. Why doesn’t the Government promise free gas for five years, and a favourable negotiated rate after that, to all households within a five-mile radius of a drilling head? If local people had something to gain, they might accept it.
North Berwick, East Lothian
SIR – It is not fracking tests that are “spreading fear through the countryside”.
The only fear that is spreading comes from the agitators who are distorting any chance of having a rational debate.
They will ultimately fail as alternative sources of energy have to be found whether we like it or not.
Wolverhampton, West Midlands
SIR – Last week, returning to my favourite corner of Perthshire, I found that the hills surrounding it were covered with windmills. It had been a centuries-old habitat for adders, and more than 100 died in the construction. Once the rotors started to turn, birds began to be killed. The local landowner has stopped maintaining the land, living on his subsidy cheques instead.
One fracking borehole would produce more energy than the entire wind farm, would disturb far less countryside, and kill no wildlife. Unfortunately, Perthshire has no known shale gas potential.
SIR – As a grandmother of six, I am dismayed at George Osborne’s offer of financial help only for those mothers with pre-school children who want to “work and get on in life” (report, August 5).
The Chancellor is implying that mothers who prefer to stay at home to care for their offspring are lazy. Instead, he might consider that such mothers feel that to give their children the best chance to “get on in life” they should remain at home with them. With retirement age set to advance towards 70, there will be plenty of time for these mothers to return to the workplace.
Shouldn’t the Chancellor reward these mothers (as in Germany) for their contribution in rearing their children?
SIR – George Osborne’s proposal to give child-care vouchers to working families earning up to £300,000 demonstrates the madness of the benefits system.
The social security system was intended to provide a safety net for people who fell on hard times. This has evolved into a recycling system where taxpayers are being over-taxed, and then given some of their money back in the form of a benefit.
In my case, I receive a “free” television licence, winter fuel allowance, a £10 Christmas present, and a bus pass. I wonder what else the political parties will offer me for my vote at the next election.
SIR – Child-care vouchers are just a cynical way of pressurising mothers to go back to work so as to increase the tax intake, while at the same time politicians posture about supporting families.
Such action will enable politicians to continue to buy popularity without facing the consequences of their actions.
D M Watkins
SIR – Lynton Crosby, David Cameron’s campaign chief, has drawn up plans to unmask potential racists and paedophiles in Ukip (report, August 5). He might find that Ukip does the same to the Tories. I bet there could be a few potential racists and paedophiles in their ranks, and possibly in all the parties.
Still, if you can’t shoot the message, why not shoot the messenger?
SIR – Boris Johnson (Comment, August 5), who participated in the RideLondon 100 cycle event at the weekend, is right about the Surrey countryside.
Those of us who live in the Surrey Hills enjoy our delightful pubs and places selling cream teas, to say nothing of the farm shops and our beautiful churches. Sadly, however, at least three of our village churches were unable to hold a service on Sunday. And many of the pubs and village shops either had to close or had very few lunchtime visitors.
The road closures led to a considerable loss of income to many local businesses.
Abinger Common, Surrey
SIR – I watched the cycling event around London and Surrey over the weekend, but I thought it was a little inauthentic.
A hundred miles without any roadworks or potholes? Boris Johnson should come to East London and Essex next year, and he will see how real cyclists manage.
SIR – Since Spain is intent on persecuting innocent people in its attempt to renege on the Treaty of Utrecht, it may be safer for British holidaymakers to avoid that country (report, August 5). It is also worth recalling that, in preventing Queen Sophia from attending our Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, the Spanish government insulted our sovereign, and consequently our nation.
Presumably these acts have been initiated by inexperienced politicians seeking to further their careers. The British Government will probably limit its response to diplomatic talk and, since both countries are EU member states, we may even have to support a Spanish bail-out.
Individuals may show their displeasure not only by avoiding holidays in Spain, but also by boycotting Spanish products – no great hardship, since there are many agreeable alternatives.
SIR – Spain is taking illegal action against Gibraltar but it seems to have forgotten Ceuta, a similar relic of the past.
Spain must be breaking every rule in the EU book but will Brussels take action? We can all watch with our pens poised over our voting slips.
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall
SIR – There is much discussion about the number of peers in the House of Lords (Letters, August 5). The key problem is that the population of Britain is 62 million, for which there are 763 members of the House of Lords, and 650 MPs. The population of America is 313 million, and for this there are 100 senators, and 435 elected members in the House of Representatives.
A G Sellens
Old Bursledon, Hampshire
Tuning into Norfolk
SIR – What the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge need when they take up residence in Norfolk, apart from coffee and a nursery full of Roald Dahl stories, is round-the-clock BBC Radio Norfolk.
It gives up-to-date political views, lots of phone-ins featuring the lovely, soporific Norfolk accent, and general tips on what is really important to everyday life. The royal couple would even get advice from the resident gardening expert, Thunderfairy, on how to plant the Miliband apple tree.
Red trousers? They’re better than faded jeans
SIR – Whatever some people may think about red trousers (report, August 1) they, and those in yellow and other colours, are a lot better than the ubiquitous, often faded and tatty blue jeans worn by so many people who ought to know better.
SIR – The first time I took my youngest daughter to Twickenham I told her that, if she got lost, she would be able to spot my red corduroys in the crowd.
I had to revise this plan when she gently pointed out that everyone else seemed to have had the same idea as Daddy.
SIR – I wear my red trousers for totally practical reasons. I attend a weekly golf club lunch, and sit next to a gentleman who regularly knocks over his glass of red wine into my lap.
Nationally, the number of hand written letters is in sharp decline, but in a small terraced house in south west London it’s on the rise.
My four, nearly five year-old, daughter has to write a thank-you letter for every present she gets.
It is a slow, painful process – cartoons, her My Little Pony set or colouring books are far more appealing than a pencil and a thank-you note (even if it is one strewn with fairies or princesses).
I could write the letter for her in 30 seconds, and believe me, it is very tempting to do so; but it’s a way to make sure she understands that someone has gone to the trouble to buy her a gift.
Once all the protestations, complaints and “why do I have to” comments are over, she realises it doesn’t take long to write one sentence and her name.
Done, in the post and I know, particularly grandparents, hugely appreciate it – there’s no beating a letter, particularly one written by a child; its personal and requires effort.
This is why it is sad that, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the number of letters being sent is expected to decline from the 13.8 billion sent today, to 8.3 billion in 2023.
Perhaps, the reason I am so in favour of hand written missives is because I’m deputy letters editor at The Daily Telegraph.
But we also corroborate the national trend – the number of letters received each day has dramatically fallen.
We used to get about 200 handwritten letters; now its roughly 50 – there are still some which arrive written in green ink or even on a type writer, but the ease and speed of email means that the number of daily responses to news stories has soared.
While the number of long letters is falling, many people still send cards or short notes, according to a report published by the Royal Mail Group.
One person to take advantage of this trend is Julie Bell, who owns a company called Die Stamped Stationery, which sells letters, cards and envelopes using traditional hand engraved copper and steel.
She has ended up buying the factory that makes her stationary – it is one of only a handful of factories left that can produce stationary using this old fashioned method.
Even beautiful stationary struggles to compete with the popularity of email, Facebook and Twitter. But we must not allow the art of letter writing to become obsolete.
It would be a great shame not to be able to keep for posterity’s sake a thank you note written in a four year-old’s hand – with its wonderful irregular letters, and lines that go up and down like mountains, and giant sized kisses at the end.
You can’t replicate that easily in an email or a tweet.
Sir, – Timmy Dooley TD (Home News, August 6th) has called for more intervention from Government to resolve the Dublin Bus strike. I wonder precisely what would Deputy Dooley propose in this vein? I haven’t heard any viable alternative proposal to resolve the dispute emanating from the Opposition parties. A Fianna Fáil attitude from the past would have been to keep throwing more money from the taxpayer until the problem disappeared. That might have been more tolerated by the public during the “A lot done, more to do” years, but it simply won’t do now. – Yours, etc,
Goatstown, Dublin 14.
Sir, – In the 1970s a big banner regularly seen on Hill 16 during the All Ireland Championships read: “Barney Rock strikes faster than CIÉ”. Things haven’t changed much with some trade unions! – Yours, etc,
A chara, – I find the tone of some of Leo Varadkar’s comments regarding Dublin Bus to be offensive, quite frankly. It is disgraceful enough that he tries to lay the blame for hypothetical job losses at the feet of Dublin Bus drivers. However, his assertion that the “taxpayer has no more to give Dublin Bus” (Home News, August 6th) is both comical and disturbing.
All the companies in the CIÉ group form part of our public transport network, a network which serves all the people of Ireland, and not just those who live along profitable routes. Yet Mr Varadkar seems determined to cut the public subvention to our public transport providers. Perhaps that is because the Government believes it is more important to use our taxes to pay back those who made bad investments in our banks, or maybe this privatisation by stealth is just part of this Government’s ideology.
Either way, it would take just a fraction of the money our Government has paid out to bondholders to keep our public transport network funded through its current difficulties, yet the Minister for Transport would apparently rather see that burden borne by the workers who have already taken a cut to their take home pay.
On a personal level, I’m a proud to see a group of workers willing to stand up not only for themselves, but also for the families they feed from their wages, and who won’t just quietly roll over while six-figured-salaried executives and ministers tell them they earn too much. – Is mise,
Lismore Road, Dublin 12.
Sir, – Is the bus strike a fitting commemoration of the 1913 Lockout, both starting in August? If so, who is the modern day James Larkin or William Martin Murphy? – Yours, etc,
Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W.
A chara, – Everybody knows this Dublin Bus strike will not go on forever, so why did the relevant stakeholders not end it on Sunday with a mutual agreement? Already this is a vicious circle, because the longer this strike continues the greater the losses, not just financial, for Dublin Bus, and hence the deeper the cuts that will need to be implemented, to the detriment of staff. J Paul Getty’s formula for success comes to mind: “Rise early, work hard, strike oil.” – Is mise,
Rathgar, Dublin 6.
A chara, – I’m delighted that Timmy Dooley paid attention in his “Politics 101” class.
The workers at Dublin Bus were barely at the picket line before he appeared in the national media, demanding Leo Varadkar personally resolve the strike. Once involved, any negative developments could then be blamed on the Minister and calls for his resignation could quickly follow.
Of course, were the Minister to announce he was going to intervene, Mr Dooley would appear in the media criticising the Minister for interfering, blaming him for any negative developments and, no doubt, calling for his resignation. New politics indeed. – Is mise,
Richmond Park Road,
A chara, – Could the Army stand in while the Dublin Bus dispute is ongoing? – Is mise,
Sir, – The recent proposal by Dublin City Council to introduce levies on vacant sites in the city are indeed much needed, given the number of spaces that are currently both a wasted opportunity for development, and an eyesore.
However, given the lack of suggestion from the council as to where the financial backing for the development of these sites will come, it would seem logical that the present owners of these sites will resort to the cheapest option available to them to avoid incurring financial penalty: surface car parks.
As identified by Olivia Kelly (Home News, August 5th), the council views this as “a poor use of central sites”, but if this is to remain within the boundaries of any legislation brought forward, it will make sense for land owners to turn their properties into car parks to hold on to their land without being fined. While many commuters may view a sudden increase in the number of parking spaces available in the city as a positive (particularly at a time when our public transport system is up on blocks), an increase in the number of vehicles on the city’s roads is a reversal of the strides made to reduce this, for the benefit of the population and the environment, in recent years.
If the council is to in any way improve the state of these vacant premises, the incentive must be in place to develop the sites with more capital than the cost of some tarmac and a high-vis jacket. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The list of foreign fund managers and investors snapping up prime Irish commercial properties at distressed prices continues to make the headlines in your property and business pages.
The majority of these transactions are being carried out on behalf of Nama, the property subsidiary of the Irish State, with the Irish taxpayer subsidising the vastly discounted prices. It is a very short-sighted policy by the State and Nama, to allow the fire sales of these prestigious properties to continue. For example, could Nama be run in tandem with the State pension fund, thereby ensuring, before it is too late, that the cream of these properties remains in the ownership of the State? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It is most regrettable that Joe Brolly personalised his criticism of how Gaelic football is currently being played (Sport, August 6th). His general comment that the end does not justify the means employed to get there is most surely a proposition that cannot be faulted, more particularly given the GAA’s promotion of the concept of “respect”.
It is a proposition which should command respect in the wider context of Irish society. The pursuit of wealth at the expense of community interests motivated banks and individuals and has created an uncaring and divided and financially and morally bankrupt society.
Every means at their disposal are now being used by those who made selfish and misconceived investments in the Irish property market to avoid suffering any financial loss and to continue with their ostentatious and extravagant lifestyles.
It must be remembered that the means employed to attain an end result determines the quality of that result. Do we really want our children to grow up seeking to attain success at any cost? Is success really that important? Is participation not the core value we should seek to instil? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Your Front page (August 5th) had a charming photograph of An Taoiseach, resplendent in Mayo tie, high-fiving “a jubilant Mayo fan”.
The jubilant young Mayo fan is sporting a Donegal cap and jacket and holding a Donegal flag. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Bernard Carroll (August 6th) makes the point that very little per annum (€10 million) will be saved by the Government’s water-metering scheme, which will cost €539 million.
This begs the question about motivation and who is gaining from the scheme; and who is paying? For example, who is supplying the meters and at what profit to themselves – and where will the profits be spent? Will the taxpayer be obliged to pay over time for the meter and also pay VAT? How much does the Government plan to take from us in VAT on meters we don’t really want and which actually save very little in terms of percentage water usage and cost of provision? Is this not a stealth tax and a nice little bit of business for the meter supplier? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In discussing her new project in which actresses tell the stories of women who have had abortion, Liz Dunphy claims Youth Defence’s “Better Answer” campaign “was judgmental and an attempt to make anyone who had had an abortion feel shame and hurt” (Home News, August 6th). As one of five young women involved in the creative team who designed this campaign, I know for a fact that this is untrue. It is, however, the kind of unfounded assertion which is now expected against any pro-life project which successfully engages the public.
For the record, the pro-life awareness messages were inspired by women who had undergone abortion, and in particular by one mother who said that after her abortion, she felt as if her own life, as well as that of her unborn child, was torn apart. The experiences of these women should not be airbrushed out of the debate, and neither should the fact that abortion ends a baby’s life be ignored, however inconvenient that may be for abortion campaigners.
It is to be hoped that The Irish Times will give the same publicity to projects featuring the stories of mothers who have chosen life for their children, or the experiences of women hurt by abortion. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Despite David M Abrahamson’s claim to the contrary (August 3rd), Hilary Minch (August 2nd) is quite correct in noting that no Israeli government has offered to cease settlement building as an inducement to Palestinians to enter into negotiations: The 10-month “freeze” offered in September 2009 was to exclude some 3,000 units already approved for construction in the West Bank and did not apply at all to East Jerusalem, where settlements are typically preceded by the eviction of Palestinian residents and the destruction of their homes. All such actions, it should hardly be necessary to mention, are entirely in breach of international law. – Yours, etc,
Lower Rathmines Road,
Sir, – Frank McDonald certainly pulls no punches in his attack on Israel (“Israel peace talks an exercise in deceit”, World View, August 3rd). He supports his view by quoting the UN Human Rights Council. Unfortunately, when it comes to Israel this “human rights” body is a kangaroo court comprised as it is of such human rights champions as Botswana (re. treatment of the Bushmen), Congo, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, etc.
The UAE recently sentenced Norwegian woman Marte Dalelv (World News, July 22nd) to 16 months in jail for reporting that she was raped in Dubai.
Frank McDonald complains, “It’s all about maps and facts on the ground” for Israel. There are 13.7 million Jews in the world of which six million live in Israel, a tiny country that has a land area similar to that of Munster. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, of which, at least 130 million live in the five countries adjacent to Israel. With so many Muslim states hostile (to put it mildly) to Israel’s very existence how can Israel not be worried about “maps and facts on the ground”? – Yours, etc,
Sir,- It was with great sadness that I read your Editorial (“Adieu baguette?”, August 3rd) in which you report on the declining number of bakeries (boulangeries) in France over the past 60 years. You conclude that these are worrying times for both the bakers and the people of France. However, France still has more than 500 bakeries per million citizens, while here in Ireland we have about 40 per million citizens. This poses the question – what are they worried about? – Yours, etc,
Baking Academy of Ireland,
Sir, – Your social diarists (Weekend Review, August 3rd) told readers, “Blur spoiled their Irish fans on Thursday by performing their only British Isles concert of the year outside an overcast Imma at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin.”
Is The Irish Times reverting to its empire and unionist roots? – Yours, etc ,
* It is hard to escape the conclusion that those leading the Dublin Bus strike are blindly stuck in an intra-union 1970s’ timewarp when their predecessors could bully the public with impunity because there was little alternative to the state services across an inefficient city road network.
Also in this section
Blame the State for laundries, not the nuns
If walls could talk
Parents have to take responsibility
Public expectations were very modest then, and access to car ownership was an elusive luxury. The spectacle of recurring strikes, alleviated by a skeleton service provided by army trucks during peak commuting times, was a recurring feature of a dysfunctional and undeserved lifestyle in Dublin during the black and white television era.
But the omnipotence that bus drivers enjoyed then is considerably diluted.
There are myriad options available, and the road network is vastly improved. Average fares on Dublin Bus services have increased by 25pc since 2009, while the Consumer Price Index increased by only 4.2 percentage points, but the number of annual passenger journeys promptly fell by 20pc – conclusive evidence that bus travel is extremely price-sensitive. Dublin Bus revenue from advertising coincidentally fell by 17pc.
Added to that, unemployment in Dublin has risen from 8.9pc at the beginning of 2009 to 11.3pc in the middle of 2013, and today there are 25,000 fewer in employment in Dublin than in early 2009.
Therefore, the longer this Dublin Bus strike continues, the more compelling and urgent will become the demand from Dubliners for a reliable, efficient, modern, streamlined city bus service, characterised by value for money – perhaps an innovative type of suburban Ryanair or London Bus alternative.
The public’s tolerance of self-serving vested interests has a very short fuse, especially when the public are so grossly inconvenienced.
The resounding success of Dublin Bikes shows just how adaptable Dublin commuters are and how openly they embrace innovation when interesting and attractive choices are offered to them.
Glenageary, Co Dublin
ON YOUR BIKE, LEO
* Transport Minister Leo Varadkar recently stated publicly that the majority of road users are law-abiding.
This was particularly in relation to bicycle users, even though there is a suggestion that new rules for cyclists will be introduced before Christmas, permitting on-the-spot fines by gardai.
Either Mr Varadkar is delusional or, as I suspect, he is practising the beloved pastime of politicians of being selective with reporting information.
Within 200 metres of the Dail, there is abundant evidence of the general behaviour of cyclists: cycling through pedestrians on St Stephen’s Green’s footpaths and in Nassau Street, cycling the wrong way on one-way streets, expecting pedestrians to be telepathic in predicting where bicycles are going to appear from and the almost universal ignoring of traffic lights.
Every day I see cyclists ignoring the pedestrian lights outside the Kildare Street entrance to the Dail while gardai look every which other way. The miracle of the cyclist: invisible on one-way streets and at traffic lights, but pedestrian when cycling on the footpath and invulnerably protected when in vehicular traffic.
Gardai must start challenging cyclists behaving in an anti-social or unsafe manner.
IT’S A BANANA REPUBLIC
* I refer to the highly commendable article by Dearbhail McDonald (Irish Independent, August 1), wherein all is said graphically in the last paragraph.
At a time when we are still sending thousands to jail every year for non-payment of fines and debts, is it any wonder that we shrug our shoulders at the two-tier system of justice that operates in this so-called republic? Or should I say, banana republic?
In the 2016 centenary celebrations of the Uprising, after the reading of the Proclamation, there should also be read out a proclamation of all of those Irish patriot politicians and public figures who since 1922 have been unable to resist the temptation of a few bob.
Let there be read out also the names of those other financial institutions, plus the Regulator and developers who in the 21st Century have collectively and without any conscience enslaved their fellow citizens.
Inept governments, inept governance, inept judiciary, inept central bank, inept police force. But of their ilk in Europe, all who serve Ireland in those roles are among the highest paid.
As I said, banana republic.
Four Mile House, Roscommon
PRICES A REAL SICKENER
* I am just back from a visit to western France, during which family members required visits to a doctor and dentist.
The charges bear comparison with what would be levied in Ireland.
Private GP practice consultation: France €21; Dublin €50 to €60.
Dentist (consultation, X-ray and extraction): France €41; Dublin about €130.
Don’t think the troika isn’t aware of these alarming differences. No wonder they won’t give us some slack.
NOT SO CRAZY NOW
* Those who regarded conspiracy theorists as crazies must surely have to rethink their position in light of recent events. Bradley Manning, who correctly and bravely exposed US war crimes, has been jailed for the rest of his life, whereas the military personnel who carried out these war crimes have not been prosecuted and have continued their military careers as though nothing untoward has happened.
Edward Snowden exposed the practice whereby government authorities intercept the private electronic and voice communications of ordinary citizens, violating the right to privacy and free speech. Rather than admit abject failure and a firm commitment to resolve this unwarranted intrusion into people’s private lives, the Obama regime has directed all of its venom at Snowden.
Once again, the message is loud and clear – the whistleblower is the problem, not the crimes revealed.
We all know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, but the drums are still beating for war against Iran because of its mythical nuclear weapons.
This is the New World Order, folks.
O’CONNOR SHOULD QUIT
* The reckless comment by SIPTU president Jack O’Connor at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal and reported in your paper (August 3), comparing AIB CEO David Duffy with a Nazi propagandist, highlights Mr O’Connor’s unsuitability for a job in which major public speeches inevitably receive scrutiny by the media and may influence the general public.
Obviously, he was not branding Mr Duffy a Nazi, but the disproportionate comment and Mr O’Connor’s subsequent defence of it create the association in the minds of various people between the communicated conception some banks have of “strategic defaulting” and Nazi propaganda methods.
Mr O’Connor would set a good example by resigning his presidency.
Tralee, Co Kerry