Hospital

3 September 2013 Hospital

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Pertwee is buying rounds in the pub. Wheree is he getting the money. The wardroom silver isn’t missing. He’s putting washers in the slot machine. Alas its changed to decimal currency. Priceless.
Off to hospital longish wait new neds plus a sleeping pill I hope it works.
We watch Dads army v good.
Scrabble today Mary wins and get just under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.

Obituary:

The Rt Rev Roy Davies
The Right Reverend Roy Davies, who has died aged 79, was Bishop of Llandaff from 1985 to 1999 and spent his entire ministry within the Anglican Church in Wales.

The Rt Rev Roy Davies 
12:05PM BST 01 Sep 2013
Davies was a committed high churchman of a style now much less common — expressed in a deeply sacramental spirituality, attention to prayer and a great love of people.
Humility and jollity made an attractive combination, so he was much loved wherever he served and widely recognised as an influence for good in Cardiff during his years as its bishop.
In a changing society and Church, Davies’s attachment to Catholic tradition called for increasing courage, since he stood against the tide of much popular opinion. His appointment to Llandaff, while not unexpected, was not, however, welcomed in the diocese by those who felt the need for reform.
This became particularly evident when the issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood rose high on the Church’s agenda. During the 1970s he had voted in the Church of Wales’s governing body for a motion declaring there to be fundamental objections to women priests, and in 1994 he was one of just two bishops who voted against a proposal that women should be ordained.
The fact that this proposal did not gain the two-thirds majority required for its implementation caused considerable unhappiness, and Davies was subjected to much hostile, hurtful criticism. In 1996, however, he changed his mind and seconded a motion calling for the ordination of women. This now aroused the hostility of his previous supporters and, all in all, the issue clouded much of his episcopate. None the less, he ordained some women and strongly supported them in their ministries.
Roy Thomas Davies was born on January 31 1934 at Llangennech in Carmarthenshire, the son of a factory worker. The family attended church, and Roy won a scholarship to Llanelli Boys’ Grammar School, followed by another to St David’s College, Lampeter, where he took a degree in Welsh — this being the language in which he had been nurtured. Then, as was common at the time with ordination candidates, he went on to Jesus College, Oxford, to read Theology.
During the final year of his training at the high church St Stephen’s House, Oxford, he completed a BLitt, then began what was to become a lifelong pastoral ministry, as curate of St Paul’s church, Llanelli. He was there for five years before serving from 1964 to 1967 as vicar of Llanafan. He then went to Aberystwyth as chaplain to the Anglican students at what was then a University College of Wales.
Davies’s ability to relate to young people was reinforced by a remarkable gift for remembering names — a characteristic of his entire ministry — and during his six years at Aberystwyth he encouraged many vocations to Holy Orders.
He was then required for wider service in the Church as secretary of its Provincial Council for Mission and Unity. The years 1973-79 were a time when hopes for Church unity were still high and, while longing for unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics, he encouraged collaboration between all the churches in the struggling communities of the Welsh valleys. He was also particularly concerned that the Welsh language should continue to be used in church services where appropriate.
In retirement he found great happiness in ministering in Welsh-speaking villages and sometimes conducted much-valued retreats.
He requested that there should be no eulogy at his funeral service in the church of the parish to which he had retired, neither should there be a memorial service in Llandaff Cathedral. He was unmarried.
The Rt Rev Roy Davies, born January 31 1934, died August 7 2013

Guardian:

Jon Harris rightly expresses concern about the demeanour and approach of far too many of our “leaders” to the vote on intervention in Syria last week (Westminster’s posturing elite can’t engage the public, 2 September). Disturbing “messianic-style” leadership (à la Tony Blair) and schoolboy humour (à la David Cameron) have no place in these circumstances – or in any circumstances of serious government decision-making.
What is needed is careful attention to appropriate process (as with Green MP Caroline Lucas calling for MPs to be able to read the full version of the attorney general’s legal opinion on launching an attack) and an honest, sober assessment of the legal, UN-based way forward – as Caroline was also suggesting in focusing on the role of diplomacy and the international criminal court.
The demeanour of the media debate after the vote reflects the inappropriate tenor of too much of the Commons debate, with Lord Ashdown being notable for his inaccurate shrillness.
It is clear that the majority who voted against the government’s motion emphatically do not believe that Britain should do nothing or stand idly by. On the contrary, the Green party, and many others, believe there is now an urgent need to increase aid to Syria’s neighbours to help them support the refugees forced to flee their homes. And we must be straining every sinew to try to find non-military solutions through regional, international and UN diplomatic routes.
Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green party
• You are quite right that the mood is “not never again” but “not now, not again, not like this” (Editorial, 31 August). The proposed limited strike would harm people and make no difference to the regime. It is likely that Assad instigated the gas attack; it is certain that the regime dropped an incendiary bomb on a school.
Our response should be to arrest Assad and his top colleagues, imprison them in The Hague to await trial, get the UN to make the Arab League form an interim government in Syria and charge them to write a constitution acceptable to all factions. Any faction that would not co-operate should leave. Negotiations would be hard and take many months; they should include a decision about the place of religion in politics.
The interim government should also be charged with keeping order and assisting rebuilding, it should report to the UN every six months and be pressured to get on with it. The actual arrests would probably require the SAS, and if it became necessary the Assads could be shot.
Evelyn Adey
Athelington, Suffolk
•  It is a grim irony that news of the Chilcot inquiry’s delay has been drowned out by the drumbeats of a new war in the Middle East. An attack on Syria would – as with Iraq – have no UN mandate and no legal justification. Our politicians must learn the lessons of our recent bloody history in the region. Now more than ever, the delay of the Chilcot inquiry is a gross abdication of responsibility.
If it had not been kicked into the long grass, the inquiry could have played a constructive part in informing the debate around Syria. It was supposed to shed light on how the UK was dragged into an illegal war in Iraq, on spurious grounds, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. But without scrutiny of these issues – of war crimes and dodgy dossiers – we are doomed to make the same mistakes.
Dr Kate Hudson
General secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
• Just as the madness of war is contagious, so too is the sanity of peace. The courageous decision of the House of Commons to support the will of the people despite the loud beating of the drums of war is already having major consequences. Within days the US government paused in its rush to commit an act of war against Syria.
Now the French are rethinking their belligerent stance. The historic decision of 8/29 is the antidote to 9/11. This points the way to putting the “Great” back into Great Britain. Let the House of Commons carry on as it has now started and express the will of the people in the matters of nuclear weapons, nuclear power and the arms trade.
Jim McCluskey
Twickenham, Middlesex
• ”You have to realise that after Iraq nobody trusts any of us,” Ed Miliband reportedly told David Cameron and Nick Clegg in their recent discussion on Syria (Labour forces Cameron to make tactical retreat, 29 August). As it was the anti-Iraq war movement that played such a crucial role in highlighting the Blair government’s deceit over Iraq, those who marched through London on 15 February 2003 – often derided for wasting their time – now know that they played a central role in stopping Britain’s involvement in another war 10 years later.
Ian Sinclair
Author, The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003
• A point ignored in all media coverage: the Labour amendment, opposed by all Conservatives (and I think all Lib Dems), while expressed in different words, effectively meant the same as the government’s motion. It said that there should be no military attack until the report of the inspectors had been given to the UN security council and discussed there, and a vote held, that anything done should be legal, and that there would have to be a further vote in the Commons before any British forces could be involved.
Kevin McGrath
Harlow, Essex
•  The heroes of this vote are still unsung; they are neither Cameron nor Miliband but the Conservative and Lib Dem MPs who defied the whip. Most of the people I know outside politics have no idea how difficult it is to defy the whip. But what I would like to know is why this particular vote was whipped at all; this has not yet been justified to us.
Cllr Juliet Solomon
Lib Dem, Haringey council

Ofgem’s decision requiring suppliers to introduce standing charges for all energy tariffs is not a “disastrous setback” for fuel poverty as claimed by Anne Thomas of the Highlands and Islands Green party (Letters, 30 August).
Prior to our reforms, suppliers could structure their tariffs in various ways. Some had standing charges, others had complex multi-tier tariffs where consumers were charged a rate that fell the more they used. As a result it was hard for consumers to make meaningful comparisons between offers. So, to deliver the simplicity we know consumers want, we are requiring suppliers to have only one structure for tariffs – a standing charge with a unit rate. This will make comparisons far easier.
A standing charge is just a way of recovering overheads that are unrelated to energy use. However, there is nothing in our reforms that stops suppliers setting the standing charge at zero. Some suppliers are doing this, and if there is consumer demand for such tariffs we would expect this to continue.
Maxine Frerk
Partner, retail markets and research, Ofgem

Let us by all means celebrate the emergence of “fourth-wave” feminism (Soft power, 31 August). However, the success of online sites such as Mumsnet in articulating the views of mothers is nothing new. The history of housewives’ organisations, for example the Women’s Institutes and Townswomen’s Guilds, demonstrates that mothers have long been able to campaign on a range of issues important to them. These groups were successful in demanding reforms such as flexible working hours, state support for mothers, and access to good health services. Let us therefore acknowledge continuity in the campaigning activities of mothers rather than suggest we are in the midst of a “quiet revolution”.
Dr Caitríona Beaumont
London South Bank University
•  Peter Bradshaw’s comment that the film Plein Soleil (1960) has “dated a good deal” now that we are in the “era of forensic investigation, CCTV and Google Images” (Review, G2, 30 August) opens up a whole new way of looking at film . Is he really suggesting that we look at movies (and by implication any other media) from any period solely in the circumstances of today? This suggests that we are so embedded in the current moment in a cat-like way that we find it difficult to undertake either willing suspension of disbelief or have the imagination to place ourselves in other times.
John McAuley
Sheffield
•  (I think) Simon Hoggart (31 August) is wrong to credit George Melly with coining the term jobsworth. I’m (almost) certain it was songwriter Jeremy Taylor. I first heard him sing it in a recording from 1972 but I’m (pretty) sure he wrote it some years earlier.
Allan Wilcox
Nant Peris, Gwynedd
• A Guardian memory stick (Diary, 28 August)! Now there’s something I’d happily shell out for. How about a limited edition? Could become an icon of real openness and true transparency.
Rev Peter Phillips
Swansea
• How ironic that the very day I decide to explore how to block cold calling (Report, 30 August), I get a call from BT trying to sell me something!
Janet Ramsay
Brighton

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is proposing that first-time voting should be made compulsory, yet other voting should remain voluntary (Fines proposed for abstaining in first election, 26 August). Whatever the pros and cons of compulsory voting, the IPPR is wrong to propose a two-tier voting system, with voting being compulsory for some and not for others. All voters should be given the same status.
Labour is supposed to be interested in the IPPR report, with a view to attaching the notion to its proposal for votes at 16. This would make things even worse. How can we treat 16-year-olds as adults and give them the vote, then say because they are not really adults they will be forced into using their first vote? Talk about crossed messages.
Let us have votes at 16, with electoral registration for 15-year-olds in schools, where they can have courses about voting and democracy.
Schools, colleges and universities can then be used as a means of updating registers. For those who have left educational institutions, a proactive re-registration system can be put in place. This would track and catch up with people as they move, and advertising could also be used to alert them to the need to re-register. If Wonga can use the media to sell its dangerous services, then the state can do it for a worthy purpose. If the state adopted relevant legislation, it could oblige the media to run its adverts for free. Electoral returning officers could also be funded to arrange for door-to-door canvassing to encourage re-registration. All registration should remain compulsory, with the numbers fined starting to match up to the numbers of non-registrations.
But we should treat everyone in the same way. Not forced voting for some, and it not mattering for others.
My preference is for all voting to be voluntary. It is up to political parties, individual candidates, political activists and the media to start interesting people in politics and to show that it can have real meaning for people’s lives. As the Labour party is advocating votes at 16, it has a special responsibility on this matter.
Harry Barnes
Labour MP 1987-2005
•  Although I don’t support voting rights for the under-18s, the option of voting for “none of the above” would make for interesting elections – what if “none of the above” has the most votes? A byelection? Also, would this box be available to everyone, or only those with compulsory votes? How about “no suitable policies” as well, to give politicians a real idea of what people think?
Martin Smith
Guildford
•  With Labour committed to lowering the voting age from 18 to 16, and the Institute for Public Policy Research recommending that voting be compulsory for first-time voters, it is evident that 16-year-olds are considered mature and responsible enough to make wise decisions. Surely the next step must be to consider 16-year-olds mature and responsible enough to drink alcohol, lower the legal drinking age from 18 to 16, and impose fines if they refuse to participate. The jump in alcohol sales would help boost the economy.
Derek Winstanley
Wigan

Independent:

The government has yet to provide a straightforward and convincing answer to the all-important question: would British military intervention in the Syrian civil war be legal?
One country can use military force against another in self-defence, but this does not apply here. One country can militarily intervene in another country’s affairs, which would otherwise amount to an act of war, if the United Nations sanctions this course. This sanction is obtained from the Security Council, but is subject to the permanent members’ power of veto (which would currently be exercised by Russia and China).
Dapo Akande, a respected international lawyer at Oxford University, suggests that the UN General Assembly might have the power to authorise the use of force if its Security Council was not willing to.
As far as I am aware, no tenet of international law authorises a country to take aggressive military action against another country on humanitarian grounds alone. If it were otherwise, absurd consequences could flow. For example, Syria could have militarily intervened in Northern Ireland as a result of the British soldiers’ alleged misconduct towards innocent civilians on Bloody Sunday.
David Ashton, Shipbourne, Kent
I agree with Diane Brace (letter, 31 August) that we shall now not be taking part in killing any Syrians. No, we shall leave such activity to Assad and his thugs, who do it so much better.
Sadly neither shall we be making any attempt to save them from one of the worst warfare atrocities, namely death by chemical weapons. The Geneva Protocol banning such weapons was drawn up in 1925, with Britain one of the first signatories. Now we have refused to join the coalition to enforce that ban.
A sad day for Britain, yes, but thank God for President Obama – and France.
Stuart Russell, Cirencester
Amid all the arguments over whether and in what circumstances military action against Syria might be in accordance with international law, do not forget that there is at present no means of definitively answering the question. There should be an international court to reach a judgment on which everyone could rely.
Richard Laming, London NW2
The fanatics who planned 9/11 believed that they would gain revenge if they killed people in the West, even though their victims had had no influence over their grievances. Bush and Blair believed that they would gain revenge for 9/11 if they killed innocent Iraqis even though they knew those Iraqis had no influence over what had happened on 9/11.
Now some believe that we would gain revenge for those chemical attacks, if we killed conscripts and civilians in Syria who we know had no influence over such attacks. 
Brian Christley, Abergele, Conwy
Regardless of personal politics and the personal aims of the Prime Minister, I am simply glad to live where I live in the world, where the voice of Parliament is listened to and acted upon. The special relationship between Parliament and the people outweighs any special relationship with the US.
John Patrick, Thame, Oxfordshire
Your correspondents who share the “shame” felt by Paddy Ashdown that the UK “white feather brigade” has stopped them bombing yet another Arab country should join the old warhorse in forming their own brigade, and go fight in Syria.
Peter McKenna, Liverpool
Drop pointless badger cull and go for a vaccine
The National Farmers Union is pouring all its effort into promoting and trying to justify the badger cull; a policy that science shows will, at best, have a marginal beneficial effect on the incidence of cattle TB, whilst dividing communities and giving farmers a very bad press.
The union could get the public behind it if it accepted the science and lobbied the Government to develop and deploy a cattle vaccine as a matter of urgency. I’m sure many organisations would support this action. 
This must be achievable technically, as vaccines exist already for humans and badgers. The cost, I imagine, would also be very much less than currently deployed in compensating farmers for the ineffective policy of culling infected cattle. It just needs a determined effort to overcome the red tape of acceptability.
This policy would have winners all round. Let’s join together and put an end to culling cattle and badgers.
Dr Clive Mowforth, Dursley, Gloucestershire
It seems quite extraordinary to me that the badger cull is proceeding alongside measures that should have been in place many years ago. Since introducing tighter bio-security, restricting cattle movement, and improving testing methods the incidence of bTB has fallen, and will no doubt continue to do so.
By insisting on the slaughter of badgers, Owen Paterson will no doubt claim victory on the back of other measures already in place. No one will ever know if this hitherto protected species is involved in the spread of the disease. It is not a viable scientific experiment.
Jill Deane, Staveley, Cumbria
Back to a future of maritime power
Having just returned from another south-coast air show, I realise once again that we British excel at rebuilding old Second World War aircraft such as the Lancaster, Spitfire and Swordfish.
I know we are a poor country, and cannot afford supersonic fighters like the French navy’s Dassault Rafale, but we cannot allow our two new aircraft carriers to put to sea with no aircraft at all. Whilst we still have the plans, and the know-how, we should set about building at least two squadrons of Swordfish, to be ready for action when the carriers are commissioned. 
We may not be able to match French or American fire power at sea, but we will, at least, be more than a match for Indian Ocean pirates.
D Waddington, Ringwood, Hampshire
Atos needs some facts
The Government is discriminating against people with disabilities, including Parkinson’s disease, as a result of entirely unacceptable ignorance. Appointing an agency such as Atos to make life-changing decisions about people, giving them neither the knowledge or information necessary to make  correct judgements is entirely unacceptable.
As a specialist physiotherapist in Parkinson’s, I know that many of my patients’ anxiety levels, already heightened as a symptom of Parkinson’s, are alarmingly threatened by suggestions of benefits being removed. Symptoms of Parkinson’s commonly fluctuate, and medication can wear off, causing sudden changes in mobility and ability to carry out activities of daily living.
Atos needs to accept that it is making wrong decisions based on inappropriate information, and seek guidance from medical experts.
Fiona Lindop, Duffield, Derbyshire
The schools parents choose
The finding of a survey that half of parents would opt to send their children to state schools even if money was no object (report, 28 August) does not tell us much. It would be more informative to judge the actions of those already in that position.
Top bankers, Premier League footballers, successful company directors, chief executives of councils, quangos and big charities are a diverse bunch. What proportion of these opt for the state system? 
Admittedly, those of modest means who find their circumstances change dramatically may be different. Can anyone provide the relevant statistics for lottery winners?
Rupert Fast, Esher, Surrey
Make things, like the Germans
John Rentoul’s article of 28 August was largely about the inadvisability of investing in HS2, and I find myself in agreement with much of what he has to say. However, his references to banking and manufacturing are simplistic.
To say that we are “good at banking” defies the mountain of evidence that has been built up since 2008. Mismanagement at the Co-operative Bank has added to the mismanagement, and worse, at almost all of the British banks.
Rentoul argues that as it is cheaper to make things in the Far East, all manufacturing should be based there. Tell that to the Germans. They understand the importance of manufacturing to their economy. They have a better balanced economy than does Britain and they are the powerhouse of the wider European economy.
I suggest Mr Rentoul make a study of the German economy. He might then find some of the answers that he apparently seeks, especially to the unhealthy economic dominance of London and the South-east.
Roger Barstow Frost, Burnley, Lancashire
Frost/Kennedy
Presumably, the BBC will mark the 50th anniversary of President John F Kennedy’s assassination on 22 November 1963. It would be a fine gesture to broadcast the superb That Was The Week That Was programme which David Frost and the rest of that brilliant team put together in 24 hours, a copy of which is, I believe, preserved in the Library of Congress, such was their admiration.
John Birkett, St Andrews
Gove’s puzzle
Michael Gove has been most troubled recently about the number of times some students retake exams. Now he is insisting that those who have failed to achieve Grade C in English and maths should study them further and, presumably, retake the exams until they achieve the necessary standard. How does he square this circle?!
David Downing, Wimborne, Dorset
Help for the Bard
The revision of Romeo and Juliet by Julian Fellowes reminded me of the 1929 Hollywood production of the Taming of the Shrew, which lists in the credits – “The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare – With additional dialogue by Sam Taylor”.
Peter Evans, Walton on Thames,  Surrey

Times:
Sir, Harry Gilbertson (letter, Aug 31) suggests the question of intervention in Syria revolves around the breaking (or not) of international law. This is more of a consideration for the UN which, with Russia and China on Assad’s side, seems less likely to intervene. The stance of these nations on the matter may be the result of more statesmanlike thinking: Assad’s regime is not pretty but it is not so threatening to the Western world as the junta formed from a revolutionary cocktail of Muslim brotherhood and al-Qaeda might be. When deploying our forces surely the question of what is best for Britain and her people in the long-term bears consideration. I for one am proud that our system of democracy has spoken, that we are not blundering into another war without full insight and closing strategy, and proud to be British.
George Tetley
Grampound, Cornwall
Sir, As leaders of a Christian country President Obama and members of Congress ought to consider whether a missile strike on Syria would satisfy the conditions for a “just war”.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “All citizens and governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war.” However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defence, once all peace efforts have failed.
“The strict conditions for legitimate defence by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy.”
The damage inflicted by the aggressor must be lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils graver than the evil to be eliminated.
Peter Pugsley
Tiverton, Devon
Sir, While war in Syria rages there is little discussion about what happens when the fighting stops. If Assad is overthrown it looks likely that a bloody internecine war will break out between the rebel groups, and the surrounding countries will be drawn into a morass of sectarian warfare.
The hapless UN Security Council should now be working on a mutual solution to how Syria could be rebuilt and governed. The massive suffering that every country represented on the council is witnessing should be sufficient motivation to put factional interests aside and find some common humanitarian way forward.
Alan Chapman
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Sir, The UN Mandate for Responsibility to Protect (R2P) should surely be activated now in what you call a situation of “delaying tactics” by Western powers (leading article, Sept 2).
Is it also not time for the Arab League and other Middle Eastern nations to show stronger leadership in providing positive alternatives to negotiating ways forward which can avert a bloodbath for their people?
R2P is best interpreted as an advocacy of humanitarian intervention, and in this British people can take pride through their support of Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières and aid charities which support the suffering Syrians instead of adding to their slaughter.
Yvonne Joan Craig
London WC1

Companies expect a return on their investment, but health services have to know that the benefit to patients justifies the price
Sir, Ian King (Business Commentary, Aug 30) says that unless NICE stops restricting access to drugs because they are too expensive or they have too many harmful side effects for patients, the pharmaceutical industry will stop developing drugs in the UK.
I suspect that the research and clinical environment here holds too many advantages for companies to do that, though it is certainly the case that there is a global market for life sciences R&D, and the UK has to compete hard to win its share.
Mr King quotes Jonathan Emms, the managing director of Pfizer in the UK, who says that it costs £1.2bn to bring a new medicine to patients. Although this number seems to go up each time it’s estimated, it clearly is expensive to develop new drugs.
Companies are entitled to expect a return on their investment, but health services have to be confident that the the extra benefit to patients justifies the price. It mostly does so, though sometimes at a stretch. If we are not sure, we have to say so, in the interests of all those of us who expect the NHS to apply its resources equitably across all of the demands we make of it.
NICE is, quite properly, scrutinised closely on its decisions and the methods we use to arrive at them. We have changed and improved over the decade and more that we have been advising the NHS. We are not perfect, but we are respected throughout the world for the quality of our work.
If it really does cost £1.2bn to develop a new drug, the question the pharmaceutical industry must be able to answer is this: are you absolutely confident that it needs to?
Andrew Dillon
Chief Executive, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

‘The first responsibility for ensuring that a child has an effective education is with the parents’
Sir, It is not better-off parents who are favoured by faith schools (“Faith schools ‘favour better-off parents who can plan ahead’” Aug 31) but their children, like any children whose parents can plan ahead. No one suggests that all parents should plan ahead and be better off and so the state is left to educate the progeny of improvident and indifferent parents. Not unreasonably, caring parents do not want their children’s chances of an effective education spoilt by the influence of children whose parents have not prepared them for school.
You report the assertion by Pavan Dhaliwal of the British Humanist Association that state-funded schools should not turn away children because of their parents’ faith or lack thereof. It is equally wrong that state-funded schools should have to be responsible for children whose parents have not prepared them for school.
The first responsibility for ensuring that a child has an effective education is with the parents. Education needs to start well before a child is old enough to attend school. Parents should be held to account for their children far more than is now the case.
Tony Blair outlawed the interviewing of parents by school governors as part of the allocation of school places.
At The Oratory School, the state-funded faith school to which he sent his sons, the governors maintained that such interviews, designed to establish that the aims and concerns of the parents would not conflict with those of the school, were the bedrock of that school’s outstanding reputation. A condition of any school receiving state-funding should be that, if at all possible, both parents of any child should be interviewed by governors before the offer of a place is made. Parents would have a clear signal that dumping a child on a state school was no longer an option and the work of all state schools would be much enhanced. And the likes of Tony Blair, Nick Clegg and Diane Abbott would no longer need to avoid the schools they provide for other people’s children.
Peter Inson
Headmaster, Twyford C of E High School 1995-98

‘In 1909 the young Adolf Hitler arrived in Vienna. In 1914 he could be seen in the crowd in the capital, cheering the decision to go to war’
Sir, Roger Boyes’ interesting review of Simon Winder’s Danubia (Saturday Review, Aug 31) concludes: “In 1909 the young Adolf Hitler arrived in Vienna. In 1914 he could be seen in the crowd in the capital, cheering the decision to go to war.”
However, Hitler left Vienna in May 1913 for Munich. The photograph Mr Boyes refers to was of Hitler in the crowd at the Odeonsplatz Munich greeting the proclamation of war on August 2, 1914.
Dr Alastair Noble
Senior Lecturer, Defence and International Affairs, RMA Sandhurst

It would be better if councils gave an opt-in tickbox rather than the other way around, for permission to sell their details
Sir, Councils do not sell voters’ addresses out of choice (“Voters’ addresses sold by councils for as little as £5”, Sept 2). The sale and charge of the edited register is a right contained in the Representation of the People Regulations (2001).
Currently, inclusion on the edited version is automatic unless the occupant ticks a box on the form to opt out. It would be far better for a reversal of that option so that residents are automatically excluded unless they tick a box requesting inclusion.
Cllr Clarence Barrett
Upminster, Essex

Telegraph:

SIR – Nick Boles’s plan for building more bungalows (report, August 27) presumes older people want to move into them. He can count me and my wife out for the following reasons:
We like our house and have spent a lot of time and money getting it and the garden to the way we like it. The new estates are unlikely to have the facilities we have here. We have nice neighbours with young children who brighten the place up, and we don’t want to listen to the aches and pains of new neighbours. Furthermore, there are the costs of estate agents’ fees, legal fees, stamp duty and removal charges to consider. Those receiving benefits could lose them if the money left over takes them over the threshold. We need the bedrooms when our family come to visit, and going up and down the stairs every day keeps us fit.
Les Sharp
Hersham, Surrey
SIR – David Cameron’s dented ego will seem unimportant when he reflects that the Commons vote gives the British Government greater international credibility than military strikes would ever have achieved. Mr Cameron is now able to face the United Nations as the leader of a demonstrably effective democracy. What a lesson to Assad, and more importantly to Putin, who can scarcely claim to represent the views of their people.
Now the Prime Minister’s task is to solidify international opinion against the tyranny and inhumanity in Syria, indicting those responsible and agreeing concerted peaceful action. Let us hope that the United Nations also reflects as it confronts its last chance to regain credibility.
Neil McLellan
Birmingham
SIR – David Cameron has no need to feel humiliated. He governs in a democracy, and as such, it was the right thing to consult Parliament on such a potentially important and divisive issue. It is interesting that Barack Obama has followed suit. He saw what happened in Britain and realised that such controversial action by him could not be justified without similarly consulting Congress. His announcement has vindicated David Cameron’s actions.
Rachel Mason
Seaton, Devon
Related Articles
We don’t want to move into new bungalows
02 Sep 2013
SIR – The Prime Minister appears to presume that Parliament’s will is forever tied to the mast of passivity. But if the facts change sufficiently, should not Parliament be enabled to change its mind?
We already have greater clarity of evidence as to Assad’s guilt from the intelligence summarised by the US Secretary of State. What further degree of horror inflicted on the Syrian people will persuade those bitten over Iraq that failings then do not necessitate failure now?
Simon Marshall
Bath, Somerset
SIR – Gone are the days when an arrogant MP could assume that being representative of their constituency was carte blanche for following their own conscience at the expense of the collective view.
David Gray
Corfe Mullen, Dorset
SIR – Colonel Rayner (Letters, August 31) points out that evil prospers while good men do nothing. He omits the supplementary, that it prospers even more when they do the wrong thing.
John Forrester
Edinburgh
SIR – Where was the response, either for or against, from Baroness Ashton, the EU Foreign Affairs High Representative, on Syria? Why has the EU got a Foreign Affairs agency at all? It doesn’t have a coordinated voice – just a gleaming new palace and a full staff of newly appointed Eurocrats.
Don Anderson
London SW19
Britain’s infrastructure
SIR – The 2012 Olympic Games proved a calling-card to the world for the UK’s engineering expertise. Now is the time to capitalise on this opportunity to create leading-edge infrastructure to help secure Britain’s economic future.
Tough decisions on airports and railways must not be delayed to the next generation while our overseas rivals build for the future. Creating a succession of projects across the UK is an essential means to this end and by redeploying expertise and equipment as projects are completed we can achieve best value for money.
The existence of this model in Europe is one reason why costings are lower there, and we should learn from this. The controversy over HS2 is clouding the key issue: Britain needs better infrastructure.
The question should not be “if” we build, but “what” and “where” to ensure we create a positive environment for growth.
Alderman Roger Gifford
Lord Mayor of the City of London
London EC4
Anti-fracking laws
SIR – Ambrose Evans Pritchard (Business, August 22) notes that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is putting much money and effort into getting anti-fracking ordinances written into EU law. The reason for this is obvious: if the EU became self sufficient in oil and gas at one third of the price Russia currently sells it, it would be a mortal blow to Putin’s superpower ambitions.
Throughout the Cold War the Soviet Union funded the “useful idiots” of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in an attempt to undermine Europe’s political will. Is it too fanciful to ask whether Putin’s Russia isn’t funding the anti-fracking groups for a similar purpose?
John Hay-Heddle
Nottingham
SIR – David Aston (Letters, August 21) didn’t say which part of the now defunct Selby Coalfield is an eyesore. As an ex-miner, I know where the mines were, but remnants cannot be seen from the main roads – unlike a wind farm, which is visible for 10 miles.
Geoff Wright
Scawthorpe, Doncaster
Hospital hotels
SIR – Many patients who require hospital treatment such as dialysis, radiotherapy and chemotherapy do not need to be inpatients but do need to stay near their hospital (“NHS putting thousands of its hospital patients in 4-star hotels”, report, August 30).
Charities can help. At the Royal London Hospital, The Marie Celeste Samaritan Society has provided hotel-like accommodation for 32 years, enabling almost 30,000 patients and relatives to stay on site without cost to the hospital or NHS.
Andrew Paris FRCS
Chairman, The Marie Celeste Samaritan Society
The Royal London Hospital
Lost and found
SIR – Vicki Woods (Comment, August 31) writes of the frustrations and expense of mislaying car keys. In 1970, in London, I carelessly locked my keys inside my car. I walked to the nearby police station for help and 20 minutes later a friendly policeman arrived with a vast bunch of keys.
He opened my car door in seconds and, in case I was careless again, kindly showed me how to open the sliding windows of my mini, using a coat hanger.
That’s what I call service.
Colin Henderson
Cranleigh, Surrey
Weeding pupils
SIR – Tom Rowley’s article (Features, August 30) on sacked sixth formers illustrates a gaping hole in the usefulness of school league tables. What value is a school that scores on the backs of able students while dismissing those it has been unable to teach adequately?
A school should be judged on its ability to teach. Sacking students who fail is an admission of failure on the part of the school. Parents need such weaknesses to be reflected in the league tables.
Michael Pickett
Twyford, Berkshire
SIR – You quote the headmaster at a highly selective school as saying: “We shoot a few just to encourage the others”. This shallow and self-centred view represents an abject abdication of fundamental pedagogical responsibilities. The headmaster obviously took a wrong professional turn in 1992 when both the Premier League and school league tables were created.
He would be far better off trying to manage a football team. In fact, why not go the whole hog and introduce a transfer system, complete with agents, fees and bonuses, allowing pupils to be traded from one school to another?
Rob Roberts
Southsea, Hampshire
Face the facts
SIR – I am not surprised that the young are growing up clueless about basic facts about food (report, August 30). Some years ago I was invigilating a GCSE Food Technology exam at a secondary school. One of the questions put to the class was to design a container for a coeliac meal on an aircraft. Surely knowledge of basic food and cooking would have been far more helpful?
Charmian Dick
Shepperton, Middlesex
Hedgerows’ bounty
SIR – This year looks like being a bumper time for the fruits of the hedgerows. My little freezer is already half full with the ingredients for my hedgerow jelly which I make each year. I gather blackberries, gooseberries, red and blackcurrants, sloes, elderberries, rose hips and haws, crab apples, quinces and plums.
I boil the lot up in batches, strain the juices and make a jelly, which I then bottle. It is delicious on my oatcakes at breakfast. And all is free and full of vitamins – God’s bounty in the hedgerows.
Sid Davies
Bramhall, Cheshire
The solution to bovine TB lies with vaccination
SIR – Economics and science are not in favour of the badger cull (Leading article, August 27). To the contrary, a cull is expensive and will not work, as discovered by Professor John Krebs, now Lord Krebs.
Years of scientific study by Oxford University at Wytham Woods showed that killing badgers breaks their family systems, and infected badgers that escape a cull are likely to carry disease to new areas.
The cull might succeed if all badgers are eliminated, but destruction might have to be undertaken of other creatures shown to carry bovine TB. Farmers need cattle to be free from TB. The solution is to vaccinate cattle, as was done successfully with humans. Taxpayers’ money should go towards developing that vaccine.
Dr Derek E Earl
Kingsbridge, Devon
SIR – I fear that the animal rights campaigners who are trying to prevent a badger cull may inadvertently be guilty of great cruelty. By constantly patrolling the area to scare badgers into hiding, they are in danger of disrupting their feeding at a crucial time of year.
It is important for badgers to be laying down fat in the autumn, before the long, hungry months of winter. Constant disturbance of the type that we have seen recently on television will prevent them from doing this, not to mention causing them to suffer stress, which is often linked to increases in tuberculosis.
If this is kept up by protesters for the next six weeks, I suspect that there will be an increase in badger mortality this winter.
Alison Espie
Aboyne, Aberdeenshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – I met Seamus Heaney in the 1960s, when I was an undergraduate of Queen’s University, Belfast. Over the years I bumped into him the odd time in Dublin and he always made the time to stop and chat. The last time I saw him I asked what he was up to. His exact reply was: “Ah, just fiddling about.” We could all learn from his humility. – Yours, etc,
ROSEMARY GRAHAM,
Muldowney Court,
Malahide, Co Dublin.
Sir, – In 2005 I was writing a book about the 1975 sectarian murders of Sean Farmer and Colm McCartney, a cousin of Seamus Heaney’s. With a degree of trepidation I wrote to Seamus asking whether he would agree to be interviewed, in particular about his poetic treatments of the killings. His response and the kindness he subsequently showed towards me were both unforgettable and humbling. After meeting me at the Dart station he took me to his home, poured himself a large bowl of cornflakes, sprinkled them liberally with sugar, and began to talk. The hours that followed were, and are, something to treasure. – Yours, etc,
DES FAHY,
Rosetta Avenue, Belfast.
Sir, – In 1974 I started work in RTÉ as a producer, radio. One of my first assignments was a series of half-hour programmes called Personal Choice scheduled for Sunday night listening. Guests were invited to choose their personal likes in music, poetry, prose. One such was Seamus Heaney: a young man who had recently come to live in a Wicklow cottage with his wife, Marie. To write in solitude, doubtless, unhindered. He had left behind him at Queen’s University, Belfast, a secure career. To make a living writing poetry, I wondered. Needless to say, he performed in studio with hardly a hitch and his personal choice was well received when broadcast that summer. How did I find him? Quiet, unassuming, humble with a wry sense of humour. At the reception area in the Radio Centre we shook hands and I wished him good luck. I turned away, wondering would he make it! – Yours, etc,
SEAN WALSH,
Achill Road,
Drumcondra, Dublin 9.
Sir, – Anthony Jordan (September 2nd) is incorrect in claiming Seamus Heaney as a Sandymount man on the basis of residence. The late poet’s house is in the part of Strand Road that is in Merrion, not Sandymount. – Yours, etc,
CHARLES LYSAGHT,
Strand Road,
Merrion,
Dublin 4.
Sir, – The squat pen rests. – Yours, etc,
PETER GUNNING,
Laurel Court,
Midleton,
Co Cork.
Sir, – When I heard of the untimely death of Seamus Heaney my immediate reaction was one of shock and loss. John Kelly said on the Myles Dungan show, “I will miss his voice”. So will I. In the midst of our political, economic and social morass, he was a beacon of hope. A giant with a quiet humility and a penetrating sense of humour. A rare Irishman for us to be truly proud of. – Yours, etc,
GERRY de BRIT,
Killinick, Wexford.
Sir, – Some years ago, at Listowel Writers’ Week, Seamus Heaney gave a genuine Bellaghy laugh when I told him the following true story. A friend of mine owned a shop at the junction of Hawkins Street and Poolbeg Street, in Dublin. One day the Nobel laureate went in and made a purchase. When he left the following dialogue took place between the shopkeeper and his young female shop assistant, Shopkeper: That was Seamus Heaney. Shop assistant Seamus who? Shopkeeper: Do you reaLacken,
Blessington, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – Seamus Heaney is our true Filíocht – the giver of tales, capturing memories across divides. His words trembling like a tuning fork, poised and accurately tuneful, hitting that note that we quietly take home, to covet.  I believe he spoke for us, offering images we could grasp of ourselves, when history and media worked as spin-doctors to tell different tales.  He told it as it was.  No holes barred.  He invited us to look closer into our own wells, into our own brickyards, and to be startled by “a rat slapping across my reflection”.
I believe, we are fortunate to have had this humble ambassador offer us gifts, through his words, of our present, our past.  Words, like touchstones, reaching for a sense of home.
It is wonderful that a poet is recognised in their lifetime I grew up in an era where the poets I studied in school for the most part were already dead!
Our Government should create a Filíocht na hÉireann in his honour and celebrate the beauty of poetry and his contribution to our wonderful oral tradition in telling tales through rhyme.  No better time.  No greater man to honour. – Yours, etc,
ORLA KENNEDY,
Newpark Road,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.
Sir, – While acknowledging the passing of the poet Seamus Heaney which was given extensive coverage on RTÉ’s Six One news on August 30th, methinks that the eulogies went a bit far when placing the Derry poet in same company as Joyce,Yeats and Shaw. – Yours, etc,
DEREK HENRY CARR,
Harcourt Terrace,
Dublin 2 .
Sir, – We have lost Seamus Heaney to the very earth about which he spoke so eloquently. Unlike his  young  brother Christopher, whose life’s journey was measured in feet, Seamus’s can be measured in miles – thousands of them – all invariably leading back to his native county of Derry even in death.
His earthy words transcended and crossed all  borders – both physical  and religious.In my mind’s eye he sits among those other poets born out of the bleak northern soil – Yeats, McGahern, Mac Neice, Kavanagh and Goldsmith – strange but interesting bedfellows indeed. – Yours, etc,
AIDAN HAMPSON,
Whitethorn Rise,
Artane,
Dublin.
Sir, – On the death of John Millington Synge, Yeats wrote of “the best labourer dead, and all the sheaves to bind”.
In the past days we bade farewell to one of our best labourers. Throughout the country others labour at kitchen tables, in libraries, in workshops and studios. Local historians dig out and preserve stories of the Irish collective, for love of the work alone. Drama students cobble funds together to stage productions, fuelled by creativity and the confidence of youth. As Seamus Heaney is mourned, it is worth considering the status of the humanities in Ireland. What is the value put upon them – not by those who labour within such disciplines – but by the custodians of our culture, heritage, education?
We cannot measure or quantify in man hours and money the true benefit to a nation of human thought and discourse. History and hope will not rhyme for those generations to whom the subject of history is denied in the early years of secondary school. Universities should not fall to CEO-like management, which considers the value of academic endeavour by the per capita research endowments it creates.
lise that is like if James Joyce came into the shop? Shop assistant: James who? – Yours, etc,
Lacken,
Blessington, Co Wicklow.
Sir, – Seamus Heaney is our true Filíocht – the giver of tales, capturing memories across divides. His words trembling like a tuning fork, poised and accurately tuneful, hitting that note that we quietly take home, to covet.  I believe he spoke for us, offering images we could grasp of ourselves, when history and media worked as spin-doctors to tell different tales.  He told it as it was.  No holes barred.  He invited us to look closer into our own wells, into our own brickyards, and to be startled by “a rat slapping across my reflection”.
I believe, we are fortunate to have had this humble ambassador offer us gifts, through his words, of our present, our past.  Words, like touchstones, reaching for a sense of home.
It is wonderful that a poet is recognised in their lifetime I grew up in an era where the poets I studied in school for the most part were already dead!
Our Government should create a Filíocht na hÉireann in his honour and celebrate the beauty of poetry and his contribution to our wonderful oral tradition in telling tales through rhyme.  No better time.  No greater man to honour. – Yours, etc,
ORLA KENNEDY,
Newpark Road,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.
Sir, – While acknowledging the passing of the poet Seamus Heaney which was given extensive coverage on RTÉ’s Six One news on August 30th, methinks that the eulogies went a bit far when placing the Derry poet in same company as Joyce,Yeats and Shaw. – Yours, etc,
DEREK HENRY CARR,
Harcourt Terrace,
Dublin 2 .
Sir, – We have lost Seamus Heaney to the very earth about which he spoke so eloquently. Unlike his  young  brother Christopher, whose life’s journey was measured in feet, Seamus’s can be measured in miles – thousands of them – all invariably leading back to his native county of Derry even in death.
His earthy words transcended and crossed all  borders – both physical  and religious.In my mind’s eye he sits among those other poets born out of the bleak northern soil – Yeats, McGahern, Mac Neice, Kavanagh and Goldsmith – strange but interesting bedfellows indeed. – Yours, etc,
AIDAN HAMPSON,
Whitethorn Rise,
Artane,
Dublin.
Sir, – On the death of John Millington Synge, Yeats wrote of “the best labourer dead, and all the sheaves to bind”.
In the past days we bade farewell to one of our best labourers. Throughout the country others labour at kitchen tables, in libraries, in workshops and studios. Local historians dig out and preserve stories of the Irish collective, for love of the work alone. Drama students cobble funds together to stage productions, fuelled by creativity and the confidence of youth. As Seamus Heaney is mourned, it is worth considering the status of the humanities in Ireland. What is the value put upon them – not by those who labour within such disciplines – but by the custodians of our culture, heritage, education?
We cannot measure or quantify in man hours and money the true benefit to a nation of human thought and discourse. History and hope will not rhyme for those generations to whom the subject of history is denied in the early years of secondary school. Universities should not fall to CEO-like management, which considers the value of academic endeavour by the per capita research endowments it creates.
We are in danger in this country of witnessing – to paraphrase Yeats – the fools’ triumph. Vigorous, creative, argumentative, independent thought is beyond price. It gives a nation its character. It needs to be cultivated by the agencies of the State, not deprived of nourishment, or the spaces in which it might grow. This is our nation, our heritage, our intellectual future.
When will we ensure that the short-sighted fools do not triumph? – Yours, etc,
KAREN McDONNELL,
Ballyvaughan,
Co Clare.
Sir, – Seamus Heaney, a poet, a Nobel Laureate, but he always wore his roots. “Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it”. – Yours, etc,
MAUREEN DALY,
Tudor Lawns,
Foxrock,
Dublin 18.
Sir, – He went gently into that dark night. – Yours etc,
JIM GAMMONS,
Murmod,
Virginia, Co Cavan.
A chara, – On Friday when I heard on the car radio that he had died, I pulled over, and wept with a strange gasping sob, as if part of a larger convulsion that swept the planet as news of the poet’s death spread.
Later in the afternoon I met a neighbour and asked if he had heard that Seamus Heaney had died. “Seamus who? Was he a neighbour? Should I know him?”
He told me a joke from Mrs Brown’s Boys, which he thought hilarious.
I started to sob again, he thought at the joke, but I, at the loss of a voice that had spoken of the separateness of the human condition. “Since there is no map which draws the line he knows he must have crossed.” (The Haw Lantern, 1987). – Is mise,
S O’ FLOINN,
Skehard Road,
Cork.
Sir, – I greatly appreciated Fintan O’Toole’s tribute to Seamus Heaney (Front page, August 31st), especially his articulation of the gratitude which so many feel towards this great man/poet. Seamus Heaney did indeed help us plot a way through the darkness of what we call “The Troubles”, not least by rescuing language from all the propagandists who attempted to appropriate it and reduce him and us to the prison of tribal chants or fearful silence.
I would respectfully offer an additional observation: Heaney reinstated the validity of rural life as a fit subject for modern poetry and redefined the public image of the modern artist. This earthy, kind, generous, unaffected person, and the charity of his poems, was completely at odds with the tortured, angst-ridden persona of those afflicted with, or indulging in, a post-modern sensibility; artists whose work seems to know little of humour or compassion beyond the dark, cynical snigger – a supposedly necessary “style” if one is to have one’s work validated as relevant and therefore worthwhile. He resisted this type of confinement too.
Fintan O’Toole finishes his moving piece by referring to Seamus Heaney’s grace, a most appropriate word in light of the many undeserved blessings which he has bestowed on us. The blessings of his words will go on, like his Blackbird of Glanmore, “filling the stillness with life”. – Yours, etc,
EAMON SHEPPARD,
Foxes Grove,
Shankill,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – Fergal Davis (Opinion, August 29th) seems to confuse assessing the perceived benefit of having an upper chamber with what it actually does. The Seanad has limited powers and is a gross affront to democracy. It is stuffed with the outputs of grubby campaigning among councils and a motley crew of abject failures (failed candidates for the Dáil and Seanad), eccentrics, the obligatory nationalist/unionist and the odd “dahling” from the arts or NGO space. In addition to this, we are treated to the genteel wisdom of the NUI and TCD Senators. Collectively, by virtue of standing for these repugnant seats, the university senators disgrace themselves.
It is important to separate out the debate on what we can do to improve our Dáil and its ability to challenge the executive and scrutinise legislation from what if anything the Seanad can actually do. It would seem patently obvious that allocating additional powers and enhanced autonomy to the Dáil and its members would in one sweep remove any basis for an argument for retaining the current or a reformed Seanad.
I am tempted to take a somewhat longer view of things than the reactionary tone of much of the debate about this proposal. There may be greater overreach by the executive in the short term but where that happens, it will by necessity be tempered in the fullness of time. Even the risks presented by such an overreach are an insufficient argument for retaining it. The Seanad couldn’t and didn’t stop the bank guarantee, the largest single instance of executive overreach in real if not legal terms in our State’s history. Therefore, it should quite simply go. The Dáil is quite capable, with relatively modest reform, of doing whatever it is that proponents of the Seanad say it does.
In democratic terms, the Seanad is bankrupt, an elitist entity that is utterly beyond redemption and despoils the most basic understanding of equality, republicanism and our supposed universal franchise. – Yours, etc,
ROSS McCARTHY,
Ardinagh Great,
Ballymitty, Co Wexford.

Sir, – Contrary to any doubt cast by your columnist Noel Whelan (Opinion, August 31st), Nessa Childers MEP announced on July 24th that she will seek re-election to the European Parliament next year as an Independent candidate. This fact has been reported by The Irish Times and extensively in other media, thus making your columnist’s comment all the more inexplicable and damaging. – Yours, etc,
LIAM CAHILL,
Local Assistant with Nessa
Childers MEP,

Sir, – Donal Mac Polin (August 31st) seems aghast that a newspaper should publish people’s views and comments: how dare it! I wish to welcome Mr Mac Polin to independent media, offered for free (by choice) on the internet and beamed by my broadband company directly to my cave in exchange for many shekels. If Mr Rabbitte wants to tax the internet at €160, so be it, let the Dinosaur wars begin. – Yours, etc,
JOHN MAYBERRY
Vevay Road,
Bray,

Irish Independent:

* “There is no one more sorry than I about what happened.” A truly unsolicited statement from Brian Cowen. What is it that happened? And why be sorry?
Also in this section
Creighton’s ‘brass neck’ astonishes
Church vs Sinn Fein
A truly remarkable man
Just about everyone in the country could utter that statement. Some could probably even do it without empathy. We are all very sorry about what happened. But we didn’t make the decisions that caused ‘what happened’. Or did we, through our democratic voting system? We are where we are, aren’t we? Going forward?!
Nero should, hypothetically, be sorry and held to account for the fumbling he did while Rome burned. Responsible individuals here should be sorry and be held to account in Ireland for the fumbling they did while the bankers did not burn. More importantly the present Government should stop fumbling now while people are being burned.
The people of Ireland cannot take more stress and strain from more charges, tolls, excises, levies, tariffs, licence fees, duties and other taxes just to keep them in their roles.
It cannot continue – house tax and non-principle private residence tax; water tax; septic tank tax; television licence tax; value added tax tax; car tax; pay as you earn tax; capital gains tax; pay related insurance tax; deposit interest retention tax; stamp duty tax; bank card and cheque tax; capital acquisitions tax; corporation tax; discretionary trust tax; carbon tax; tobacco tax; alcohol tax; universal social charge tax, should I go on attacking a tax?
Maybe some of us would prefer to have some more cavemen and cavewomen living in the country along with the iPadmen rather than the free and easy gombeenmen who wrecked our homeland and our means of living.
The should-be ostracised erstwhile aficionados of the gombeenmen who, with their priviliged careers, benefited from the country’s financial rise and massive collapse are still living off the bodies of the living humans who can’t afford to leave and are too overwhelmed to fight back in this once-upon-a-time land of saints and scholars.
Michael Finan
Glencar, Co Sligo
ANY ROOM ON LIFEBOAT?
* It is nice to know that the captain of our little ship of State regrets running her up on the rocks.
But it would be a bit more convincing if he and all the other ‘crew’ members involved would, even now, agree to share a little more of the emergency supplies and empty spaces in their luxury lifeboat with all the unfortunate and (financially) half-drowned ‘passengers’ still left struggling in the water . . .
George Mac Donald
Gorey, Co Wexford
* Taoiseach Brian Cowen has admitted ‘as Gaeilge’ that his government had no Plan B. We all know now that the previous incumbent didn’t even have a Plan A!
K Nolan
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim
A TRUE GENIUS
* True genius: So seldom do we see one, and yet can be so sure.
Seamus Heaney RIP.
Owen Davin
Rockshire Road, Waterford
* On the last day of August, the day after Seamus Heaney died, I was at hurling training. There must have been 100 people there, five-year-olds to teenagers, many parents and mentors. Nobody mentioned his name.
There was talk of the club lotto, All-Ireland hurling tickets, the weather, attire, a seven-year-old wanted to know when the emigrant free-taker was returning. Patrick Kavanagh wrote, “Gods make their own importance”.
Joseph Mackey
Glasson, Athlone
* I once told Seamus Heaney that I regarded him as the second Sandymount-man to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He chuckled and said in his countryman’s way: “I never thought of it that way.”
Anthony J Jordan
Sandymount, Dublin 4
RESPECT FOR WORKERS
* Jim Larkin must surely be turning in his grave at the comments of ‘Labour’ Party Junior Minister Alex White, clapping himself and his party colleagues on the back for making ‘stark choices’ while mass unemployment, unpayable debt, forced emigration and a refusal to transform the system that created the crisis prevail.
It is clear that, 100 years after the 1913 Dublin Lockout, capitalism still behaves with the same contempt for workers’ rights.
The only difference between then and now is the Labour movement’s collusion in protecting corporate profit and the profit system, and treating people like a commodity.
The 1913 Lockout was not the biggest defeat of organised labour in Irish history. That thrashing has happened by stealth, with the gradual and, ultimately, abject betrayal by the Labour Party of our working people, the unemployed, pensioners and the poverty-stricken.
There is no doubt that ‘Big Jim’ would have been horrified at the antics of a Labour Party that hacks away at hard-earned workers’ rights; that stands over a situation whereby workers who worked all their lives are forced to occupy their workplaces to achieve justice in relation to their redundancy payments and those seeking redress for unfair dismissal at the Employment Appeals Tribunal have an average wait of over a year.
A Labour Party that has acknowledged the increasing use of unpaid internships and zero-hour contracts but has done nothing to protect and support workers who are being taken advantage of.
In short, a Labour Party that has done more to wipe out union representation in Ireland than William Martin Murphy could ever have dreamed of.
John Halligan TD
Leinster House, Dublin 2
DECISIONS, DECISIONS
* My dearest wife is in a pickle, RTE has told us her beloved Sean O’Rourke will take to the radio in what was Pat Kenny’s slot at 10am and then we have Pat’s first show on Newstalk at the same time.
Decisions, decisions.
Paul Doran
Dublin
OUR ENLIGHTENED LAWS
* According to David Quinn, unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law of (his) god (Irish Independent, August 30).
This logic means that laws on divorce, contraception, homosexuality and the recently introduced law on abortion are all unjust laws.
Fortunately, we live in an age where enlightened civil law enjoys precedence over all gods.
Anthony Sheridan
Cobh, Co Cork
* David Quinn must be corrected for stating that Abraham Lincoln would profoundly disagree with strict adherence to civil law rather than invocation of some ‘higher law’ when faced with moral quandaries.
In fact it was Lincoln’s secretary of state, WH Seward, who first invoked a ‘higher law’ inspired by the ‘creator of the universe’ in his anti-slavery presidential campaign speeches rather than the pragmatic Lincoln who held fast to the US constitution in his efforts to end slavery without fragmentation of a fragile union.
Perhaps Mr Quinn was mistaken or perhaps he just delivered a Quinnspin!
Travis Gleasure
Tralee, Co Kerry
Irish Independent

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