Sawing

14 September 2013 Sawing

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Pertwee and co are in trouble with the admiral for sinking his barge. Bgut were the Admirals lost at sea Surely not. Priceless.
Mr S turns up and we saw up the oak tree so sad
We watch Dads army v good.
Scrabble today Mary wins and gets just under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.

Obituary:

4. es
Jack Moore
Jack Moore, who has died aged 89, was a leading nuclear scientist who became director of Britain’s Fast Reactor programme in the 1970s; in 1957 he was the first to raise the alarm when a fire broke out in a nuclear reactor at Windscale in Cumbria.

Image 1 of 2
The Steam Generating Heavy Water reactor at Winfrith in Dorset which was built on time and within budget 
6:18PM BST 12 Sep 2013
Moore joined the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) at Harwell after the war, and was there in 1954 when the AERE was incorporated into the newly-formed United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) .
He established a reputation as a “problem solver” and was part of a team that used Teflon to reduce friction in uranium centrifuge machines (which could not use oil for lubrication), by developing methods of sticking the then-new material to metal parts.
From Harwell, Moore moved to the uranium enrichment plant at Capenhurst, Cheshire, and was then transferred to Windscale, the nuclear reactor plant in Cumbria. He was there on October 10 1957 when an accident occurred which is now seen as the worst in British nuclear history — and it was he who raised the alarm by phoning the plant’s deputy general manager, Tom Touhy, to tell him that the core of the Unit 1 reactor had caught fire.
The fire, which led to a release of radioactive material that spread across Britain and Europe, had been caused by a failure properly to control the temperature of the graphite moderator within the Windscale No 1 pile, and for the next 48 hours Moore and his colleagues had no sleep as they battled to contain the blaze. The fire was eventually extinguished with water and by restricting the air flow .
In the late 1960s Moore returned to the UKAEA headquarters at Risley and was appointed director of the Steam Generating Heavy Water Reactor (SGHWR) project. The reactor, at Winfrith in Dorset, came on stream in 1967 and was built on time and within budget, despite the efforts of a saboteur who had poured mercury into the reactor core just before start-up. Moore helped with devising a way to enter the reactor core to clean up every last trace of the mercury.
He went on to become director of the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) programme — a technology which was hailed as the gateway to centuries of cheap electricity. However, although Moore and his team created a fully functioning operational reactor — a PFR with a capacity of 270 megawatts was built at Dounreay and reached full power in 1977 — successive governments failed to commit to large-scale production, and in 1980 Moore resigned in frustration.
One of three children, Jack Moore was born on Christmas Day 1923 and brought up in Salford, Manchester. His father was a successful butcher who owned one of the first motor vehicles in the area — a delivery van. Jack attended Salford Grammar School, but left aged 16 to take up a job with an insurance company in Manchester. Realising that a conventional office job was not for him, he persuaded his father to ask his old headmaster to allow him to return to school, in order to study for university entrance.
He gained a place at Manchester University where, due to wartime contingencies, he took an accelerated course in Physics, specialising in radar. After graduation he served as a radar officer in various Royal Navy ships, including the battleship Renown.
After demob he returned to Manchester University to do a PhD, then began working for Lucas Electronics before taking a job with the Ministry of Supply. In 1947 his division became the AERE (Atomic Energy Research Establishment) based at Harwell.
After his resignation from the UKAEA Moore moved to Switzerland to help establish the nuclear consulting branch of the engineering firm Motor Columbus. He continued to work as a consultant after retirement.
A keen walker, climber and skier, Moore eventually retired to Cumbria.
He married, in 1948, Hazel Partington, who survives him with their daughter and two sons.
Jack Moore, born Christmas Day 1923, died August 8 2013

Guardian:

With only a couple of pages between your article on food banks (Emergency rations, G2, 12 September) and Angela Hartnett’s recipe for a midweek supper of stuffed bream with sautéed potatoes, “perhaps with a nice chicory salad on the side”, you highlight once again, if not intentionally, the divide between those who have and those who do not in this so-called civilised society of ours.
Mary Sutcliffe
Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire
• If recent growth in the UK economy (Army of estate agents signals homes bubble, 12 September) derives from a temporary fix, is it more accurate to say it is in remission, rather than recovery?
Bryn Jones
Bath
• It is no exaggeration to say that we have become a nation of estate agents. Here in Highgate, we now have 11 estate agents which take up 17 shop fronts.
Peter Draper
London
• As the Lib Dem conference gets underway (Report, 13 September) and Nick Clegg’s leadership is again in question, there is surely only one option left open to him: to grow a beard. This would distinguish him immediately from clean-shaven David Cameron, appeal to traditional Liberal values and, with luck, mean that many of his enemies didn’t recognise him.
Keith Flett
London
• Brian Smith would like to know which bit of the New Testament celebrates a “deeply wonderful” display of military might (Letters, 12 September). I suggest he have a look at Revelation 14. That’s the bit where the Son of Man returns with his “terrible swift sword” to “trample out the grapes of wrath” (the Battle Hymn of the Republic paraphrases it better than I can). When the Son of Man has finished treading the “winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God”, the blood that flows from the press forms a lake 200 miles long and deep as a horse’s bridle. Wonderful indeed.
Robin Headlam Wells
London
• I see that the pope has acquired a Renault 4 (Pope, my ride, 12 September). Shouldn’t it be a Papal Fiat?
Percival Turnbull
Barnard Castle, Durham

Fred Pearce (US and UK accused of ‘squeezing life out of’ Ascension Island, 12 September) misrepresents the government’s position. The claim that Britain is uprooting families to make way for a US military base is bewildering: there has been a US airfield on the island for over 70 years. And Ascension has always operated as a workplace. All of those coming to the island do so on short-term contracts, which they sign in full knowledge that their presence on the island is conditional on their employment and there is no right of permanent abode.
There are solid reasons for this. Ascension has extremely limited infrastructure. It would be vastly expensive to convert the island from a place of work to one of permanent residence. It would, for instance, require provision to be made for elderly care, pensions, and an expanded public service and legal system. This would place enormous burden on the taxpayer and would still not guarantee a viable permanent community given the remoteness, small size, and largely barren nature of Ascension. There is no intention of squeezing life out of Ascension, but it is true that the number of people working there may fluctuate. It is precisely to retain this flexibility that the government does not have any expectation that it will artificially sustain a permanent community on Ascension.
Colin Wells
Administrator, Ascension Island
• Ascension islanders are being deprived of their property and livelihoods; MPs make record expenses claims and the Royal Mail sell-off will provide a bonanza for banks, lawyers and PR firms. Thomas Jefferson’s maxim has been turned on its head: government exists for the governors, not the governed.
John Bailey
St Albans, Hertfordshire

You report (9 September) that campaigners fear the government’s centenary programme will present the first world war as “something glorious”. May I reassure them that this is very much not the case. The government’s view is now – and always has been – that the centenary is cause for commemoration, not celebration. In addition to remembrance, it is an opportunity to explore the causes, conduct and consequences of the defining event in our modern history and I hope all of us will feel able to engage in it.
Dr Andrew Murrison MP
Prime Minister’s special representative for the centenary of the first world war
• We should not forget the No Conscription Fellowship in 1914-18, of which my father and his friends, Bertrand Russell and Fenner Brockway, were members, and went to prison for their actions.
Michael Barratt Brown
London

For Kenneth Grange (G2, September) to claim to have “designed” the Intercity 125 train is being economical with the truth. This train was designed by a team of design engineers at the Railway Technical Centre, Derby. All that Kenneth Grange did was to restyle the front end, which may have sexed it up a bit but did nothing to affect the performance. The warning yellow front end was already standard practice on British Rail. The Intercity 125 (or HST as we knew it) was indeed designed and built in two years as a stop-gap until the Advanced Passenger Train entered service and the fact that it is still operating express passenger services nearly 40 years later is an enormous tribute to the design team responsible. Some stop-gap! I was a member of that team, with the responsibility to design and stress the body structure of the power cars at either end of the train.
John Harris
Belper, Derbyshire
• Kenneth Grange was not a railwayman and may be forgiven his misconceptions about the Intercity 125 and APT trains. The Intercity 125 project was developed as a result of concern among motive-power engineers that the more advanced APT would not deliver the desired improved performance as cheaply or as quickly as one developed from current diesel practice. In the event they were right – but also terribly wrong. The 125 is one of British Rail’s success stories, delivering high performance and passenger comfort for nearly 40 years.
The APT, when it ran, excelled everything that had previously been achieved on Britain’s railways, but was entirely unreliable and soon taken out of service. Additional funding and patience might have made it a success, but both were in short supply. The success of the Intercity 125 meant that the former Great Western main lines were not electrified until now, 30 years after they should have been, and at a cost greatly in excess of 1970s prices. As for the yellow warning patch on the front of the locomotive, this had already been introduced.back in the 1960s. What Mr Grange did was to make it part of the overall livery; very successfully as it happens.
Les Summers
Kidlington, Oxfordshire
• Philip Meldrum is right to point out the high projected costs of HS2 per km relative to other high-speed rail schemes (Letters, 13 September). The old Marx-inspired method of “follow the money” to explain why a project is being pushed forward by government and big business when it is demonstrably based on false or untested assumptions, suggests we should be asking the following. Exactly who will own this project? Who will be paying the costs? Who will get the available profits? Why are the obvious benefits of upgrading existing lines and facilities all over the country ignored?
Leslie Sklair
Emeritus professor of sociology, LSE

Michael Rosen’s comment “some of us have waited more than 50 years for Labour to discover the spirit of 1945, and it’s never happened” (John Harris, G2, 10 September) made me shudder and gasp with relief. Shudder, because as a woman I wouldn’t want to go back to 1945; relief because we can’t! I’ve been a member of a trade union for 40 years. Trade Unions need to look at their own track record on transparency and equality, particularly when it comes to gender equality. I’ve found male attitudes within some unions to be at the least neanderthal and at worst criminally offensive when it comes to acknowledging women and the role they play in society. Sexual orientation and race are also issues unions appear to struggle with.
Illustration by Gary Kempston
Where were the unions in 1945 when the women who had worked the factories and the land were shooed back to the kitchen? Where were the unions in backing equal pay for jobs 30 years ago when women were paid about a third less than men for the same work? Some of these issues have only been resolved in the last 10 years and some are still outstanding. Trade unions by and large have been run for men by men. Look at the union leaders attacking Ed Miliband for proposing changes to enhance transparency and the relationship with Labour which may coincidentally reduce the power of the union leaders – almost all male.
Unions will, if they are being honest, admit there is considerable work to be done. TUC leader Frances O’Grady has suggested both sides put these “issues behind them” – in effect, behave like grown ups. I doubt the Bob Crows, Len McCluskeys etc will heed her – after all, she is a woman. I gave up my Labour membership because of the Iraq war and Tony Blair. Ed Miliband is for me a leader moving in the right direction and I will be rejoining the party. There may, I hope, be many others who make the same choice.
Margaret Metcalfe
Newark, Nottinghamshire
• For the past four decades the Green party has provided the alternative voice not only of the left but of British politics in general. People say we need a party that openly opposes the bedroom tax, austerity and the EDL, and fights against the dismantlement of our publicly funded hospitals. These are all causes the Green party is fighting every day, whether at local level in councils, at Westminster or in the European parliament. Moreover, the Green party has consistently worked to put the ecological crisis at the heart of the political debate in this country and ensure any vision for a fairer future must be one that is environmentally sustainable.
Not only does the Green party have the policies to fight the coalition and Labour, it also has the infrastructure. The party has established links with NGOs and campaign organisations as well as 139 local councillors of its own, two members in the London assembly, two MEPs, one MP and, most recently, a member to be appointed to the House of Lords. Before pushing for the growth of Left Unity into a fully fledged political party, we would urge people to consider the alternative message that the Green party offers: a message that is growing in strength and numbers.
Natalie Bennett Leader, Green party of England and Wales, Jenny Jones Green London assembly member, Darren Johnson Green London assembly member, Jean Lambert Green party MEP for London
• Most attempts to create a new party for the left have come from disillusioned Trotskyists like Ken Loach and Rosen. But unless they understand why such groups have failed to achieve any kind of unity on the left, the idea of yet another party of “left unity” will remain just another small sect and experience an early death. Unity has to mean a wide degree of tolerance, an end to any single group trying to dominate or take over and connecting with ordinary working people. Most of us on the left live in our own ghettos and don’t realise that the vast majority of people do not willingly embrace revolutionary rhetoric or abstract utopian demands – they will only support change that promises them security and decent wages.
Faced with increased political apathy, particularly among young people, creating a new party is a Herculean task. Such a party could only emerge from a mass movement and would have to include the big unions. The example of the successful People’s Assembly could point the way.
John Green
London

Independent:

ts have already cut rural incomes and services with something resembling derangement. The Agricultural Wages Board has been abolished; the disappearance of everything from libraries to bus services has been horrific. And now, the Royal Mail is to be privatised.
If Ed Miliband were to announce that the next Labour government would reverse this privatisation, then not only would he sweep the countryside that both Coalition parties have abandoned, but he would also stop that privatisation, since no buyer would take the risk.
No section of society is more excluded from the national conversation than the rural working class. Let that wrong begin to be righted. When safe Labour seats first emerged in the 1920s, they were mostly in rural areas. The solid Labour vote here in County Durham, while Tyneside and Teesside were much harder nuts to crack, has always had several parallels around the country. The Conservatives and what are now the Liberal Democrats have never had their imagined ancestral right to represent the countryside in Parliament. But even if they had, they would now have lost any such claim.
David Lindsay, Lanchester, Co Durham
The Government might try to reassure those living in the less populated parts of the UK that they will still pay the same price for a stamp as those living in cities. Will there be any safeguard, however, against a commercial operator making fewer deliveries to such places: every three days, for example, to save money?
Phil Mason, Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Could somebody point out where in the Conservative or Lib Dem manifesto the privatisation of Royal Mail was promised?
The Tories push on with their dogmatic intention to sell off the people’s assets to feather the nests of their chums, and in consequence destroy great institutions developed over centuries. No wonder the people do not trust politicians.
Tony Chabot, Birmingham
I wonder what Her Majesty thinks about the Royal Mail privatisation.
David Ridge, London N19
Will abused girls speak up after this?
Juries in criminal trials have to be certain “beyond reasonable doubt”. Where the only evidence is one person’s word against another’s (common in rape and sexual assault), it is of course right that – as in the Le Vell case – they don’t convict if they have any doubts.
However, the outpouring of venom in mainstream and social media against the girl in this case, through the instant assumption that she deliberately lied to destroy him through malice or revenge, is shocking. It is based on not a shred of evidence of any convincing motive: not a shred, particularly given the circumstances of the original disclosures in 2011.
We therefore have to step back and recognise why such a judgment is instantly made, and that it comes from very longstanding prejudice that women and girls, especially teenage girls, lie about sexual assault and scheme against upstanding men.
I would like the many unthinking bigots who have rushed to judgement – who might one day be on a jury themselves – to consider why any teenage girl who has suffered abuse and reads their opinions would bother to come forward now: much less endure months or years of the investigative and court process.
Dr Sarah Nelson, Edinburgh
The tragedy of Shylock
It is interesting to see what different interpretations of The Merchant of Venice your readers have; those of Clive Swift and Vanessa Martin (letters, 13 September) reflect mine. From my first reading of the play  as a teenager I thought it was a tragedy with the cruelly treated Shylock at its core.
Poor Shylock. The great speech Shakespeare gave him which includes “If you prick us, do we not bleed” informed my attitude to others for life. It is a lesson to all who read it. Howard Jacobson, please leave it alone. I don’t see how you can better it.
Jan Cook, South Nutfield, Surrey
I wonder if any of your correspondents saw the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Merchant of Venice in which Venice became Vegas and every character was a chancer.
The play begins with an account of Antonio’s speculations, Bassanio takes a gamble and risks his friend’s life, and Jessica’s elopement does not look so romantic when she hangs around to “gild” herself with more ducats. When looked at through a cynic’s eyes, even the well-known “quality of mercy” speech can seem tawdry.
In a world where self-interest rules, Shylock’s actions do not stand out as in any way different.
Christina Jones, Retford, Nottinghamshire
Disgusting trade in armaments
You report the underhand attempt to market certain items used for the violent restraint of individuals at the current arms fair in London (“Traders marketed shackles and electric batons illegally at London weapons fair”, 12 September). Caroline Lucas is to be congratulated for forcing the issue by raising it in Parliament.
You placed the article on the opposite page to one touching on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Does this not serve to emphasise that it is high time to recognise that the entire business of manufacturing and marketing all armaments is disgusting, and that Britain should be ashamed in profiting from it?
A starting point would be to stop using the deceitful nomenclature of “defence and security” and be honest that the masters of war who are reaping their fortunes from death and destruction operate on a basis of immorality and inhumanity no better than that which you report from Syria.
Dr Jonathan Punt, Wysall, Nottinghamshire
One family, two names
I was surprised, and a little disappointed, by the three printed responses (Letters, 12 September) to Rosie Millard’s article regarding married women choosing to retain their surnames. Your correspondents claimed that a single surname for a household unites the family, or that double-barrelled surnames are the only option for any children. On what grounds?
When I married my husband 35 years ago I had no intention of changing my surname (yes, of course it was my father’s) as I felt very strongly that I would be giving up a part of my identity. Not aspiring to double-barrelled names, we agreed that any children would take their father’s surname.
Despite having two surnames within our household, we are a strong, close and happy family. Goodness, however did that happen? Perhaps there was more to it than a name?
I wonder what those three correspondents would say to a family where there are children from different parents, for whatever reason, who therefore have different surnames from other household members. I hope they would not consider them to be disadvantaged or their households to be fractured.
Beryl Wall, London W2
NHS money destroyed
This week my doctor discovered that I had become allergic to a certain type of antibiotic pill, gave me a prescription for a replacement pack of pills and told me to take the originals to my pharmacist for disposal.
I saw the assistant throw the old pills into a box with other discarded medicines. She told me they all had to be destroyed. As all my pills were encased in individual bubbles, I wonder why all this NHS money should go to an incinerator.
Surely, millions of unneeded drugs destined for a furnace somewhere, could be diverted for the treatment of people in deprived countries.
Similarly, a few months ago I bought eyedrops for my wife at another pharmacy, 10 minutes later found the same brand at half the price at a local supermarket, and took the former back to the chemist, who refused a refund on the grounds the original bottle would have to be destroyed, in case I had tampered with it – yet the original seal was untouched.
Terry Duncan, Bridlington, East Yorkshire
Try not to be so nasty, Mr Shapps
The Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps, is highly indignant that the (invited) UN special rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik, criticised the “bedroom tax” as causing “great stress and anxiety to very vulnerable people” – even though she has hundreds of letters stating that this is a fact.
I also see that Mr Shapps has a history of pretending to be other people. Could I suggest that Mr Shapps (even though he is the chairman of the “nasty party”) plays a role as a compassionate person. One day he may make it.
John Wright, Kendal Cumbria
Nursing now
Mary Dejevsky makes some good points about health checks (Notebook, 12 September), but her article is marred by the disservice which she does to the nursing profession. Two years ago I underwent a sigmoidoscopy, a procedure which was carried out by a nurse. Mary Dejevsky needs to catch up with the way the nursing profession has developed over the last 20 years.
John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire
Bike delight
For those of us who might loosely call ourselves the Easy Rider generation Fabio Reggiani’s 16ft chopper motorcycle (12 September) is a delight and a hoot. Though sadly since the original film we have now lost Dennis Hopper, perhaps Peter Fonda could be tempted out of retirement for Easy Rider II, with the Incredible Hulk as his new riding companion.
Matthew Hisbent, Oxford
Secret revealed
I’d like to thank Paul Taylor for revealing the plot of The Secret Agent in his review (12 September). He has saved me the trouble of attending the play to find out what happens. I suspect those involved with the production, and those who have booked tickets, will feel somewhat differently.
Tim Wilson, London N4
Discovery
We need to organise a collection quickly. Sarah Hughes (Last Night’s Viewing, 13 September) claimed that Birmingham is said to be the least glamorous area on Earth. It is imperative that this woman experiences some travel fast, to widen her limited horizons.
Carole Lewis, Solihull, West Midlands

Times:

The ratios of staffing levels compared with the US; the spread of septicaemia and pneumonia; and the difficulty of getting a GP appointment
Sir, Professor Sir Brian Jarman’s findings (“Alarm over ‘high’ death rate in English hospitals”, Sept 12) can in large part be explained by the differences in Registered Nurse (RN) staffing levels. The substantive body of evidence shows a clear relationship between RN-to-patient ratios and the complications mentioned. This risk of adverse events rises rapidly when the RN looks after more than four or five patients per day shift. A 1:8 ratio represents the “danger level” where staffing becomes unsafe.
A recent international survey on RN staffing and outcomes shows that in the US the overall ratio of RNs to patients was 1:5.3, while in England it was 1:8.6. In some wards in English hospitals the ratio was 1:11. Some may try to dismiss these findings as reflecting overall hospital ratios rather than day-to-day ratios at ward level. However, even in a major tertiary hospital with high staffing and lower than expected mortality, there was a significant association between mortality and patients’ exposure to understaffed shifts.
Professor Jennifer Hunt, FRCN
Cambridge

Sir, Despite the excellent reputation of Professor Sir Brian Jarman, his conclusions regarding deaths from septicaemia and pneumonia must be investigated further for three reasons. First, World Health Organisation and UN data show that life expectancy for males and females in the UK is about 18 months longer than it is in the US. Second, about 50 million Americans have no health insurance and sometimes receive only basic medical care. Third, is Professor Jarman certain that the US figures are representative of all hospitals and not just the best? In other words, isn’t it more likely that the large differences described are due to under-reporting from the US?
Professor J. Meirion Thomas
London SW3

Sir, I am convinced that a major contributory factor to the appalling rate of hospital deaths is the very poor standard of contamination control in NHS operating theatres. Other countries (including France, Switzerland and Russia) have strictly enforceable quantitative standards for the quality of the air, which is required to be filtered through bacteria-retentive filters, that is delivered to operating theatres and other hospital areas. These standards also state requirements for the protective clothing to be worn by staff in theatre. We have nothing like this in this country. It is high time we did.
John Sharp, FRSC
Woodley. Berks

Sir, What now needs to be examined is the arrangement, peculiar to the UK, whereby a patient with a serious illness — yet who is still mobile — gets to a doctor. This is undoubtedly a significant contributor to the final medical outcome, especially in the elderly.
For someone taken ill at home access to a GP can be difficult: too often the patient has to accept an appointment a few days hence. The situation is worse at the weekend, with the out-of-hours service. The patient therefore has the choice of either attending A&E, with a long waiting time, or leaving the matter until Monday morning in the hope that a timely appointment is available. Many elderly patients take the latter course and when they eventually see a doctor are in a worse medical condition.
Julian Neely, FRCS
(General surgeon, ret’d)
Horsham, W Sussex

Answers to some questions raised by John Redwood in this paper are answered by someone who has read the White Paper
Sir, If I were still involved in the teaching of young and aspiring diplomats I would use John Redwood’s “open letter” to William Hague as a case study in the special pleading against which they should be on their guard (“Is the Foreign Office fighting for Britain?”, Sept 12).
Mr Redwood says that “the reader is alerted to the over-arching bias of the exercise in the first sentence [unspecified]: ‘Membership of the EU is in the UK’s national interests’. ” He knows perfectly well that it is the first operative sentence in the White Paper presented to Parliament to launch the exercise (Cm 8415, July, 2012). The detail which follows it provides the conclusive answer to his complaints.
Two examples will suffice. Mr Redwood says “the FCO should start with an honest catalogue of all the powers the EU now enjoys”. That is precisely what Annex A provides. He asks “why have the voices that disagree been given so little attention?” The answer is because they have evidently failed to respond to the pressing invitation to comment extended in the White Paper — for the first time by any government — to all who feel they have an interest in the matter.
I cannot believe that Mr Redwood, with his great ministerial and parliamentary experience, has not read the White Paper. Does he assume that no one else has? To the extent, though, that his article stimulates interest in the Balance of Competence Review, it can be of benefit.
Sir Peter Marshall
London W11

Facial expression is an important element for the jury to include when deliberating about the evidence that has been heard
Sir, Judge Peter Murphy had a difficult decision to make on the face veil (report, Sept 13). I disagree with the defence counsel’s view that the jury would be able to make a judgment based on the defendant’s answers and body language despite the veil. Facial expression, in my opinion, can be more important. I have met hundreds of people in my career, and their facial expressions give me more understanding of what they are thinking than body language, which just adds to the overall picture.
Anthony J. Carr
Birmingham

Sir, Susan Meek, for the defendant, quotes Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Perhaps she should have read more of the Koran: nowhere does it specifically demand that a woman’s face be covered.
Brian Hughes
Swansea

The spinal curvature cannot be accepted as conclusive evidence that the deceased had such a deformity in life
Sir, May I add my doubts regarding the bones found in Leicester (letter, Sept 12)? The C-shaped curvature of the spine in the published photo of the skeleton does not have the appearance of a structural “hump back” as seen in clinical practice, and neither the grossly angled position of the head nor the less than anatomical distribution of the limb bones appear to have disturbed commentators who attributed such significance to the spine. The appearance of the skeleton may be a consequence of throwing a body into a hole in the ground. The spinal curvature cannot be accepted as conclusive evidence that the deceased had such a deformity in life.
The bones — if indeed they are those of the king— do not confirm that he had the deformity that seems to have escaped comment during his life but which was evident to Tudor and other subsequent commentators.
Michael H. Young
(Consultant orthopaedic surgeon, ret’d) Cardiff

‘Scofield used his beautiful voice not for the purpose of manipulatively selling his part but to woo his lines so that their intensity and sense were made available’
Sir, Power of vocal projection, congenial or otherwise to an audience (letters, Sept 10 & 12), does not define Paul Scofield’s work as an actor. I was lucky enough to see him as Harry in T. S. Eliot’s Family Reunion (directed by Peter Brook, Phoenix Theatre), Richard in Shakespeare’s Richard II (Lyric, Hammersmith), Don Pedro in Shakespeare’s M uch Ado About Nothing (Phoenix) and Clive Root in Graham Greene’s The Complaisant Lover (Globe, Shaftesbury Avenue), the last three productions directed by John Gielgud. I was impressed by the way in which Scofield used his beautiful voice not for the purpose of manipulatively selling his part but to woo his lines so that their intensity and sense were made available.
David Day
Ackworth, W Yorks

Telegraph:

SIR – I write with regard to the idiotic scheme to cover the country with expensive poppies (report, September 12).
Are the proponents aware that farmers spend enormous amounts of money every year to eliminate poppies? They are free-seeding and among the thirstiest of weeds, and reduce crop yields substantially. It is enough that we wear the poppy in November, without growing them.
Will Barclay
Boxted, Essex
SIR – You report that the Peace Pledge Union has been awarded almost £100,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund in order to raise awareness of the role of conscientious objectors during the First World War (September 12).
Why do they deserve it? Some conscientious objectors, no doubt, were genuinely being true to their faith. But many were cowardly and unpatriotic. My father lost a leg in the First World War. I served in the Navy during the Second.

Sir Jeremy Chance Bt
Criccieth, Caernarfonshire
SIR – The Lottery might consider helping the hundreds of Memorial Halls across the country that were built after the First World War, and which have served successive generations. They still provide a focus for local communities and activities.
Many of these buildings are in need of repair and maintenance.
Barry Martin
Bolton, Lancashire

SIR – Delaying the school starting age (Letters, September 12) isn’t about dumbing down. I live in France where our children started formal education at the age of six – before then they attended nursery school and learnt a lot through play. By the age of six, they were more than ready to learn to read and write and they did so in a very short space of time – three months. As a result, they went on to benefit from their future education and enjoy the pleasures of reading for fun.
Many, if not most, children who start to learn to read and write formally before then often aren’t ready for it and find it difficult. Worse still, they get discouraged and put off learning. This inevitably has enormous (and potentially disastrous) consequences for everything in their future education and, indeed, lives.
Giles Nevill
Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, France
SIR – This latest misguided advice from the academics would only exacerbate the problem of the last few decades, whereby our once excellent education system has been systematically dumbed down and teachers hamstrung by bureaucracy.
I am horrified at the way our children have been underestimated. It is an insult to their intelligence and a disservice to the future of this country.
Related Articles
A poppy-growing scheme would affect farmers
13 Sep 2013
Sue Suter
Northampton
SIR – I am puzzled as to how, for many generations, we produced the vast quantity and quality of well-adjusted, hard-working and imaginative people who built and maintained the country we have today.
There is a wise, not too often forgotten dictum: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Michael Bacon
Farnham, Surrey
SIR – It is widely acknowledged that English independent schools are among the finest in the world, and many of those, including the one I have led for more than two decades, begin educating young children from the age of three. They judiciously blend focused play, exploration and formal teaching to enable children aged three to five to develop enquiring minds and acquire essential skills in numeracy and literacy. Play is learning, but it is not the only effective and appropriate way to educate young children.
John Tranmer
Leeds, West Yorkshire
SIR – I am amazed that such a learned group of academics would condemn those from poor backgrounds to two more years in an environment which, it is claimed, handicaps children academically.
George Allin
Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
SIR – I thought the trouble we were having with state education was not “too much too soon” but “too little too late”.
Stella Ray Snow
Brecon
Compromise on Syria
SIR – The Commons’ vote on Syria, regardless of its wisdom or otherwise, proved one point: that the “small island” still wields considerable influence over the course of international affairs.
As for current diplomatic efforts by great powers, an agreement to get Assad out of the equation without destroying Syria’s state infrastructure may be an acceptable second-best solution. The compromise will not serve justice, but should stop bloodshed, prevent extremism and still be a warning to other dictators.
Hamid Elyassi
London E14
SIR – The public method of debating whether or not the West should bomb the Syrian government is the most fanciful way of making these important decisions, and has allowed the Assad regime to prepare for any attack. But there may be another opportunity to undertake air strikes, when the Syrian government is weakening or in exceptional circumstances.
If strikes do then take place, it should be done without Parliamentary/Congressional votes, without heavy public debate and without warning.
Kieran Bailey
Bristol
Changing banks
SIR – Andrea Leadsom MP (Letters, September 12) considers “seven-day switching” of bank accounts to be hugely bureaucratic and believes it may deter new competitors from entering the market.
Others might describe the timescale as “prudent”, given the complexities of modern bank accounts (current accounts, savings accounts, plastic cards, cheque books, standing orders, etc.). The switch must be done safely and accurately, complying with all current legislation and transferring the relationship from the old to the new bank.
Transfer of bank accounts is very different from changing your mobile phone provider and it is worrying that a member of the treasury select committee should think otherwise. Cannot the committee say “job well done”, and move on to other initiatives that might even be supportive to our banks?
Stuart O’Nions
Sevenoaks, Kent
Abortion furore
SIR – One of the striking features of the current furore about “gender selection” has been the silence of feminists. Why aren’t they up in arms about this blatant discrimination against the female sex?
The answer is simple. The only logical reason for opposing this gender selection is that the victims are human beings. But if unborn girls are human beings, so are unborn boys.
Professor J J Scarisbrick
National Chairman, LIFE
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Northern wisdom
SIR – In South Yorkshire, the use of thee and thou can define social status. An older man, if addressed as thou by his son, could reply: “Dunt thee thou me, thee thou them as thous thissen”. Translations available from your nearest Yorkshireman.
Mike Taylor
Chichester, West Sussex
When cliché strikes
SIR – Why does tragedy always strike a sleepy village or a close-knit community?
Diana Broun
Wendlebury, Oxfordshire
Lobbying Bill
SIR – We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement that certain parts of the Lobbying Bill require a rethink (Comment, September 11). However, the Government has yet to recognise that it will not deliver its central aim of increasing transparency in the lobbying industry.
Its proposals are too narrow and would require just a minority of professional lobbyists in Britain to register. Only around one in five work for consultancies.
The Bill must be withdrawn or radically amended. We urge the Government to work towards a universal statutory register of lobbyists, which is what the lobbying industry and the public deserve.
Francis Ingham
Public Relations Consultants Association
London SW1
Raw liver ban
SIR – Lord Tebbit’s article about the ban on raw liver in the Lords (Features, September 11) reminds me, as a former artisan cheesemaker, of the struggles we had in the Nineties over the 87 different varieties of listeria, only three of which were known by scientists to be harmful.
Rodney Whitworth
Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk
SIR – Our family doctor advised my mother to give me ox liver when I was a child. It should be seared on the outside and pink within. Overcooked liver is just indigestible leather.
Beatrice Baxter
Ilford, Essex
SIR – From the mid-Twenties, raw liver was used to keep patients with pernicious anaemia alive. The Anaemias (1938) instructs: “The meat in the diet should be served rare without the addition of fat. It is best for the patient to eat raw liver (200 grams per day)”. The book also gives instruction on how to prepare “liver drink”. Using grape juice “seems to disguise the liver taste better than other juices”.
Martyn Hooper
Bridgend, Glamorgan
Fishy business
SIR – I experienced plastic notes (Letters, September 12) on the Isle of Man during a business trip some 17 years ago. I found the texture either sticky or slippery.
This was presumably caused by the previous custodian eating a doughnut or fish and chips.
A R G Mindelsohn
London W6
Musicians play best when moving to the music
SIR – Jane Cullinan (Letters, September 10) wishes that musicians would keep still when they are playing.
As a regular performer, I can speak from experience. Music does not only consist of notes. It has other characteristics, in particular rhythm and dynamics. When you know your part fully and like the piece it is much easier to play it expressively and accurately if you don’t bother to read the dots.
While moving in time may not be considered by some people to be proper, a great many audiences like it, as I have witnessed by seeing them tap their feet and sway in time themselves.
A video of any half-decent orchestra shows that the best performances are those in which everybody moves in time with the music. Try looking at a few performances of Ravel’s Bolero being played by various orchestras and decide for yourself which is the best.
Hugh Harris
London SE5
SIR – Jane Cullinan doesn’t like it when musicians “point their instruments at the ceiling”. I find it difficult to point my bassoon any other way than up.
Paul Mitchell
Ockbrook, Derbyshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – There are three limbs to our elected democratic governance system, all more or less unchanged in over 70 years. 1. The presidency. 2. Seanad Éireann. 3. Dáil Éireann. They are three interactive parts fulfilling different roles and with different levels of power.
It is wrong to judge one element as defective, expensive and unnecessary without assessing the remaining elements.
Abolishing the Seanad will save less than reforms, reduction in numbers and allied costs made to the Dáil.
(The Seanad does need reform but, more comprehensively, so does the Dáil. Changing the Seanad electorate is the most needed change.)
Seek better roads to be followed by both Houses of the Oireachtas before simply abolishing one without any examination of the bicameral system.
It is frightening to see one of the elective elements of our democracy being abolished with little or no public discussion for or against the proposal. We deserve to be asked: “Reform” or “Abolish”. Not being so asked suggests a No vote. – Yours, etc,
SEÁN STEWART,
Lower Salthill,
Galway.
Sir, – The Constitution is a contract between the State and its citizens. Like any contract, there are provisions which relate to events we hope will never happen. Many of these relate to governments over-stepping their power. These provisions will only prove to be useful when we need them. It may not have happened in our short-lived Republic, and indeed we might imagine it never will. Yet our founders saw good reason for such protections when setting up our Constitution. The Seanad, as a check on the government of the day, is one such protection.
We are being told by the current Government that we don’t need this protection ostensibly so as to save money. It’s a paltry amount in terms of what our Government spends, and from which they have not even yet made public the costs of actually holding the referendum.
When we will have need for these provisions in the Constitution, we will not be given the chance to put them back in. Abuse of power is made all the easier when a government can reduce the judiciary’s pay or if they no longer have an upper house as a check on their power.
The current Government is tinkering away with our Constitution at an alarming rate. A referendum to abolish the Seanad rather than giving us the option of reform is not just short-sighted, but a dereliction of duty. At worst, it is an underhand removal of some of the core protections inherent in our Constitution. – Yours, etc,
FRANCIS COLL,
Dodderbank,
Milltown, Dublin 14.
Sir, – Barry Walsh (September 12th) lists 14 present and past distinguished senators. He uses their names to justify the retention of the Seanad and states, “What strikes you immediately is the sheer impact which they collectively had on our society and our politics”.
Without relisting all the names, one has to agree that indeed, they were people of some achievement. Nevertheless, on closer scrutiny, one immediately sees that nearly all these people made their contribution to the country throughout their lives, in their chosen fields of activity, and long before their elevation to the Seanad. Their appointments to the Seanad were, primarily, in recognition of their undoubted contribution. But the real benefits to our society resulted from their lifelong work and not, as Mr Walsh suggests, from their membership of the Seanad. Like the House of Lords, there is something of the Elysian Fields about our Senate. – Yours, etc,
LIAM MURRAY,
Kelston,
Foxrock,
Dublin 18.

Sir, – Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter’s article on a court of appeal is more or less uncontroversial (Opinion, September 11th). It is well appreciated that he has to “sell” a court of appeal in advance of the referendum and doesn’t necessarily, in light of that task, want to cloud the issue by referring to other steps that could take pressure off the Supreme Court.
It is nevertheless disappointing that there is not at least the briefest reference to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as arbitration and mediation. I write inter alia as a member, in London, of the board of management of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators – as such my focus and Mr Shatter’s may differ. Nevertheless, ADR can stop cases entering the court lists and, where appropriate, can take out of the court system some of the appeals that might otherwise go on to be heard by the court of appeal or Supreme Court. – Yours, etc,
ARRAN DOWLING-

Sir, – I agree entirely with the sentiment expressed by Sr Eileen Linehan (September 12th). I have read Fr Tony Flannery’s recently published book A Question of Conscience and it read more like a James Bond movie in which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome acted in a manner reminiscent of the KGB or CIA, with unidentified correspondence, etc. It was simply bullying behaviour, aside altogether as to whether Fr Flannery was in order or not .
But why are concerned Catholics not free to voice their concern? Surely we have a moral and spiritual duty to speak out and how better than to join in solidarity with either the Association of Catholic Priests or the recently formed Association of Catholic Clergy in attempting to bring about reform? It is time both laity and religious faced up to the fear engendered by the hierarchy and say enough is enough , it is time for reform that will embrace honesty, love, compassion and forgiveness . And it is time for us to tell Fr Flannery and his silenced colleagues that they are not alone. The church, as the late Cardinal Martini remarked, is pompous , bureaucratic and 200years behind the times . Pope Francis is a ray of hope for us all. – Yours, etc,
SEAN O’SULLIVAN,
Sutton Park,
Dublin 13.
Sir, – A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. That is why the Catholic Church tries to maintain control over what its priests preach and write about.
Priests such as Fr Flannery, Fr Sean Fagan and many others are a threat to the authority and control of the Catholic Church, hence the need for silencing and censoring. The church has to appear to be unchanging and infallible, so any discussion, disagreement, or dissent among priests or theologians has to be repressed.
A new low has now been reached, as Veritas, which is owned by the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, has banned Fr Flannery’s book from its shelves. – Yours, etc,
NUALA O’DRISCOLL,
Renvyle,

Sir, – Tamboran’s fracking evangelist Dr Tony Bazley (September 12th) reassures us that all is well in frackland – there a is a “full listing” of fracking toxins on fracfocus.org. Of course, he forgot to mention that an independent study published in April of this year by Harvard University’s Environmental Law Program concluded that this unofficial fig-leaf site has “failed as a compliance tool”. Meantime, the infamous “Halliburton Loophole” (US legislation that exempts fracking from certain sections of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and the Clean Water Act of 1972) remains firmly in place.
It’s also telling that Mr Bazley failed to repeat his claim of earlier this year that Tamboran “does not intend to use chemicals” in its frack holes. This contradicted the earlier disclosure by Dr Bazley’s gaffe-prone colleague Mr Moorman, that there would be a “whole truckload of stuff going down” with their fracking fluid. Mr Moorman has since left the company.
Not that disclosure makes any difference. We already know that the 40,000 gallons of toxins needed per frack include around 600 deadly toxins, including formaldehyde, mercury and radium. Much of this death-sludge remains underground, beside or in our aquifers. The rest – the backwash – is dumped as toxic sludge in politically-unimportant locations. Think Leitrim, think Fermanagh – 12,000 miles away from Dr Bazley.
SEÁN Mac CANN,

Sir, – So, the Kerry Branch of the Vinters Federation of Ireland wants parents to take their teenagers to the pub to teach them to drink (Front page, September 13th). Presumably this would include any reluctant teenagers who might prefer to remain teetotal.
We have another problem drug in our society, namely tobacco. Perhaps now the tobacco companies will follow the vinters’ example and ask parents to encourage their teenagers to smoke sensibly? – Yours, etc,
MARTIN MELAUGH,

   
Sir, – Your article “Dublin traffic plan could be gridlocked” (September 13th), continues your earlier coverage (September 9th) of our draft study on possible future scenarios for Dublin city centre transport.
I wish to clarify that the National Transport Authority did not publish this study. It is still a working document and we are now starting, in liaison with Dublin City Council, to carry out a detailed technical impact assessment of the proposals in order to develop a workable, balanced solution for the city.
Seeking wider feedback on a working paper too early in the process generally either raises concerns or heightens expectations. The final set of proposals will be published when the technical assessment is complete, and feedback will sought from the public at that stage.
The authority puts much material into the public domain for consideration and we also publish a considerable amount documentation on our website – traffic and travel data, policy proposals, bus and rail company performance reports, our board minutes, financial statements, etc, all of which can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.nationaltransport.ie.
When we publish proposals for the city centre we look forward to hearing the views of the public and we can engage in discussion at that stage. Just for the record, the draft study does protect access to city car parks. – Yours, etc,
GERRY MURPHY,

Sir, – It was most helpful of The Irish Times to print a front page portrait of three teenage girls screaming as they got State exam results. In no way whatsoever might such publication upset those who did not do so well and it is inconceivable that such a picture might feed the hype that surrounds State exams in Ireland because there is enough of that already. – Yours, etc,
CHRISTIAN MORRIS,
Claremont Road,

Sir, – Patrick Honohan (Opinion, September 10th), the governor of the Central Bank, believes the current externally imposed austerity should not be seen as externally imposed “austerity”.
Can the governor suggest a treatment for the common inability to distinguish between austerity and “austerity”? – Yours, etc,
Dr JOHN DOHERTY,
Operngasse,

Sir, – I must take issue with Declan Coleman (September 13th) when he asks that your Lehman supplement (September 12th) should be compulsory reading for all third-level first year economic students, in the hope that they will learn from the mistakes of their elders.
Surely this is asking too much? This is not the first time the financial sector has collapsed, nor should it be called a one-off crisis of the current system. More importantly, it shows the contradictions of capitalism which has been shown to be so cyclical in its nature. May I be so bold as to suggest that universities discuss alternative economic theory? – Yours, etc,
PAUL DORAN,
Monastery Walk,
Clondalkin, Dublin 22.
Sir, – Under the headline “They saw it coming” (Lehman Effect supplement, September 12th), David McWilliams is credited with advising then minister for finance Brian Lenihan, on September 16th, 2008, to issue a limited bank guarantee.
However, on 28th September 2008, Mr McWilliams published a lengthy article in the Sunday Business Post recommending a blanket bank guarantee, which excluded bank shareholders but included all other creditors, including depositors and bondholders. There were no pre-conditions or caveats. In that article, Mr McWilliams claimed that not only would it not cost the state any money as it would never be called on, but it could also generate revenue as the banks might be charged for the guarantee.
The bank guarantee proposed in that article mirrored precisely the nature of the blanket guarantee issued a couple of days later by the Irish Government with, as we now know, disastrous consequences for the country.
What’s curious is how an economist who had cried wolf for several years about a property bubble could then turn around and recommend such a blanket bank guarantee. If he was right about the property bubble, then it would be inevitable that the banks funding it were going to be in deep trouble.
If there is to be a Dáil committee investigation into the circumstances surrounding the bank guarantee, then Mr McWilliams should be one of the first witnesses called to testify before it. – Yours, etc,
PETER MOLLOY,
Haddington Park,
Glenageary, Co Dublin.

Irish Independent:

* Now most of the Irish sports media, and top commentators such as Eamon Dumphy and, to some extent, Jonny Giles can gloat over the dismissal of Trapattoni, a very costly national football coach for the last four years, following pressure from all sides, primarily from the fans fraternity in Ireland.
Also in this section
Personal insolvency is only for the pros
Decision to keep school is correct
It’s time to praise, not criticise, our first ministers
As a former longstanding correspondent from Ireland for Italian sports papers, I have witnessed the ups and downs of the Republic of Ireland, especially before and after the Charlton era.
If it is true that every town in Ireland should have a statue dedicated to big Jack for his triple achievements from 1988 to 1994, it is also true that ever since, with the exception of Mick McCarthy and Brian Kerr’s tenures, the Republic of Ireland did slide down into insignificance until Trapattoni took over. This is something that the Irish fans fraternity, which is notoriously a ruthless judge of the national team’s affairs, has forgotten in Ireland’s case.
Under Trapattoni, in spite of the language barrier, his supposed stubbornness in terms of players selection, I saw the boys in green capable of passing the ball in a way that was rare under Charlton who solely believed in speed and long balls. There have been some matches played under Trapattoni’s time which showed all the seeds of high-class football. Thanks to this quantifiable, qualitative improvement in the game, the Republic of Ireland got very close to qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, had it not been for the disgraceful Henry’s handiwork, and got in amongst the greats in the 2012 European championship. If Trapattoni’s luck ran out, as some cynical observers would like to put it, it is hardly his fault really. The point is that, having finally found reasonably good young players to nurture for better things to come, the more urgent matter of qualifying for 2014 wrong-footed him as it didn’t allow him enough time to put the team to a more timely test. Lastly and foremostly, the players Trapattoni had to work and produce results with were and still are not the ultimate in terms of skill required for major international competitions.
Players of the calibre of Liam Brady, Paul McGrath or Roy Keane and very few others are in short supply these days.
Having said this, I am curious to see the miracles which the likes of Martin O’Neill, as the mooted new manager, will perform.
Concetto La Malfa
Dublin 4
TRAP – THE OVERACHIEVER
* Ireland has no professional football league worthy of the name and the world’s self-appointed ‘greatest football fans’ have no interest in their ‘real’ local teams. The majority of Irish football supporters wear an English premiership football team jersey underneath the green jersey of their nation. The country has no world-class players. It relies on a foreign country to develop what decent players it does have, the majority of which are not good enough for the Premiership. But notwithstanding all of this, there is still a mythology which pervades the press and the media that all that is needed is yet another manager and everything will be all right.
When one considers the above, Trapattoni actually overachieved and did what any sensible manager would have done in cutting the suit according to his cloth. And to cap it all, we have to listen to the disaster that was Brian Kerr criticise Trapattoni who literally speaks a different footballing language from the man whose years of studying his manuals took him no further than the Faroe Islands!
Derek Ross
Blessington, Co Wicklow
SIMPLY NAUSEATING, JIM
* Can Jim fix it for me? Since hearing Jim Stafford’s words of wisdom on Mary Wilson’s ‘Drivetime’ (September 9, 2013 concerning Personal Insolvency criteria), I have been suffering a professional and perhaps existential crisis.
Jim said: “In practice, the PIP (Personal Insolvency Practitioner) will also have to assess the type of house that might be needed for a professional person such as a solicitor, accountant or a hospital consultant as opposed to a house that’s needed by someone who is in the PAYE sector for example, so that, as a PIP, I would be making a very strong case, for example, that a solicitor should have a bigger house that accords with his professional status in society so his neighbours and clients can see that, yes, this person is a good solicitor who is living in a good house etc.”
My problem is that I live in a relatively modest (well by Jim’s standards it is terribly modest) non-trophy semi-detached house with a small garden. Jim is a clever man, he must be, he knows how the professional classes (whatever the hell that means) should live, how they think and what their clients expect. So in the interests of protecting my clients from being represented by an inadequate semi-d dweller, I propose to go to my bank and ask them for a few million euro to buy a trophy house.
And Yes, I do resent your comments Jim. I resent them because they cast a slur on decent, hardworking people, be they PAYE, self-employed, unemployed or members of the “professional class” who do their best to pay their debts and cut their cloth according to their means. They also ascribe a toxic set of values, along with a nauseating sense of entitlement, to professionals, which most do not hold. I read the apology on your website. Unfortunately, the horse has bolted and we all now know what you (and apparently your clients) think of the “little people”.
Maurice Dockrell
Blackrock, Co Dublin
ONE OF US HAS GOT TO GO
* This week the Dublin Civic Trust is hosting a conference to celebrate the heritage of our five Georgian Squares, Mountjoy and Parnell on the north side and Merrion, Fitzwilliam and Stephen’s Green on the south side. However, the suggestion that these once great squares could, with investment and care, stand comparison with the likes of Amsterdam’s MuseumPlein or London’s Exhibition Road, fall wide of the mark when you consider Merrion Square. It’s probably closer to London’s Victoria, with the volume of double decker buses that have turned it into a glorified parking lot.
As a regular visitor, I can vouch for the fact that the oasis of tranquility that is Merrion Square Park has been disrupted by the incessant revving up of engines, while the scents of the many beautiful flowers are overwhelmed by the reek of diesel.
The never-ending gaudy queue of Dublin Bus’s yellow and blue dominates the entire southside of the square, ruining the excellent vistas of the Pepper Canister Church, the Georgian facades of the square itself and the view of nearby Leinster House (the building, not its inhabitants!). As one of the most famous residents of the square, resplendent in his green smoking jacket, trimmed in crimson, might opine of this vulgar intrusion – “One or other of us has got to go!”
Mark Lawler
Kilmainham, Dublin 8
PAYING FOR THE SEANAD
* It is difficult to argue that the Seanad is fit for purpose when the only purpose it seems to serve is as a pecuniary-advantaged bolthole for declining or aspiring members of the Dail; it certainly does not augment the country’s democracy.
The danger is that once the Seanad is abolished, governments will surreptitiously resort to employing former (or aspiring) senators as ‘special departmental advisers’.
At least whilst they are in the Seanad, we have a chance of seeing what salaries and expenses they are receiving.
But perhaps we are missing a trick. A slogan of settlers in North America 250 years ago was ‘no taxation without representation’; surely it is equally valid to proclaim that there should be ‘no representation without taxation’, so perhaps the elite entitled to elect senators should pay for the democratic privilege they are enjoying by way of an income tax surcharge of, say, 5pc?
Roger A Blackburn
Co Dublin
Irish Independent

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