26 September 2013 Tired

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble they are to take some globetrotters to the Antarctic, of course Leslie gets losts and ends up in the equator. Priceless.
After too busy days I have a rest buy house insurance
We watch Dads army v good.
Scrabble today I win and gets under over 400. perhaps Mary might win tomorrow.


Anthony Lawrence
Anthony Lawrence, who has died aged 101, was a BBC foreign correspondent of an old but distinguished school.

Anthony Lawrence Photo: BBC
6:11PM BST 25 Sep 2013
Although Lawrence flirted with television, he was first and foremost a radio, or, as he would have politely preferred, a wireless broadcaster. For two decades he was the voice of the BBC in the Far East, first in Singapore and then, definitively, in Hong Kong.
He was the least pushy or self-publicising of men and partly because of this he never achieved the fame of such colleagues as Alastair Cooke, yet he was as consummate a professional as any of his generation. With a voice that was classless in the best possible way, a judgment that was shrewd and always scrupulously well-informed, and an uncanny ability to speak fluently and at exactly the length required without apparent benefit of notes, he was for years the pre-eminent journalistic authority on south-east Asia and China.
Throughout his career he was offered more obviously glamorous postings in Europe and North America. But he always politely declined, arguing that it was ridiculous to “appoint an ignoramus to a foreign post and then replace him with another ignoramus a year later”. Instead, like his formidable friend and sparring partner, The Daily Telegraph’s Clare Hollingworth, he stayed in Hong Kong long after his retirement and the end of British rule, becoming doyen of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and a unique source of wisdom about the strange and to him endlessly fascinating city that he had come to love and to regard as home.
Anthony John Lawrence was born on August 12 1912 in Wimbledon, south-west London, one of five children. His grandfather had worked for the Manchester Guardian and one of his uncles was political correspondent of the Daily Mail.
After King’s College School, Wimbledon, he went straight into local newspapers, working as a reporter in various parts of Greater London until shortly after the outbreak of war in 1939, when he enlisted in the Army and served for the duration – ending up as a captain in the Royal Artillery.
He married and then, shortly after D-Day, transferred to France. There he ordered his company to bolster flagging French morale by saluting all French uniformed personnel as smartly as possible. His men, taking him literally, spent several days snappily saluting every French postman who moved. “I don’t suppose it did any harm,” he commented laconically.
Back in England his pregnant wife, Sylvia, unnerved by renewed bombing of the capital, moved into a shelter for expectant mothers. Shortly afterwards Lawrence received a telegram. The shelter had received a direct hit: “I had lost them both.”
After fighting through France he found himself in Germany where his experience in newspapers led to his being assigned to the British Army’s Information Control Unit, which effectively acted as midwife at the birth of the post-war German press. Based mainly in Hamburg and Lübeck he was instrumental in helping German journalists found the influential weekly Die Zeit. It was here too that he met and married a young German girl, Irmgard Noll.
“The French and Belgians were not happy about this at all,” Lawrence recalled in an interview recently. “They asked why I couldn’t find someone in one of the other countries. The simple truth is I fell in love with her.”
After being demobbed in early 1946 Lawrence joined the BBC and spent 10 years working for the World Service, becoming a supervising editor with responsibility for such programmes as. In 1956 he suddenly felt that, as he put it: “I could do the reporting job just as well as the chaps I was editing” and was consequently offered a post as the Corporation’s man in Singapore. At first, having no knowledge or experience of the East, he was reluctant to go, but his wife, never entirely at ease in England, was keen to explore new horizons and his young son, Alexander, acquiesced provided he could have a monkey as a pet.
After a year Lawrence had developed what was to become a lifelong affection for Asia. There were always, he believed, riveting stories to be told about this part of the world, but they were often stories that developed slowly and to interpret them properly required time and tenacity. An early example of this was the emergence of Singapore’s leader, Lee Kuan Yew, who was at first regarded by most British people as an out and out communist. Lawrence was one of the first to recognise that he was nothing of the sort.
In 1960 the BBC decided to move its base from Singapore to Hong Kong and Lawrence accepted the transfer with enthusiasm. For the next 15 years he was the head of the Far East bureau and reported virtually everything that happened in those turbulent years. This included riots and rebellions in Singapore, Malaya and Indonesia; the British atomic test at Christmas Island; the rise of Japan from its crippling wartime defeat and, most dramatically, the Vietnam War. A Reuters colleague recalled a particularly hairy day involving much dangerous helicopter travel not long after the killing of the photographer, Larry Burrows. “I’m getting a bit old for this sort of thing,” said Lawrence. He was 58 years old at the time and much the oldest person on the battlefield.
Nearer his own doorstep he became a frequent visitor to mainland China, though it took him some years to obtain permission to enter the country and he claimed never to have learned more than some two hundred words of Mandarin.
It was typical of his sceptical nature that he should have been able to tell something approaching the truth about Chairman Mao’s vaunted “Great Leap Forward” and the disastrous famine that followed from 1958 to 1961. He also cast a beady eye on the so-called Cultural Revolution that scarred China from 1966 to 1976. Then in 1997 he came out of retirement to play a prominent part in the reporting of the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese Government.
Yet though he was a fine reporter and interpreter of great events he was almost more at home explaining the arcane mysteries of real life among ordinary Hong Kong folk. He and Irmgard, who was fluent in Mandarin, made many Chinese friends, and Lawrence was able to write and broadcast sympathetically and knowledgeably about what it was like to live in cramped and crowded conditions in a high-rise tenement or to be summarily sacked from one’s job without any compensation.
Apart from his broadcasting he wrote several books including Foreign Correspondent (1972), about his family’s first years in Singapore, and The Fragrant Chinese (1993), which sought to explain the Chinese of modern Hong Kong to western readers. He also lectured widely and continued to take an interest in social and political events of all kinds. Until his death he was an active chairman of the Hong Kong branch of International Social Service, which helps refugees from across Asia who flee to Hong Kong.
Even in his nineties he marched with hundreds of thousands in sweltering heat to protest against the post-British government’s attempts to introduce legislation limiting freedom of expression. He also spoke memorably — and as usual without notes — to a rapt audience at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in order to explain why, despite his advanced age, he had finally decided to spend his final years in his beloved Hong Kong rather than the Britain of his birth and upbringing.
Anthony Lawrence was appointed OBE this year.
Irmgard died in 2001. Their son also predeceased him.
Anthony Lawrence born August 12 1912, died September 24 2013


Simon Jenkins makes a lot of sense in his destruction of the argument made by the three major political parties for retaining and renewing Trident (This £100bn Armageddon weapon won’t make us safer, 25 September).
If only he had seen the light when he edited London’s Evening Standard in the late 1970s and the Times in the early 1990s, and thundered against Trident then too.
But it is not only British senior politicians who suffer cognitive dissonance over nuclear weapons of mass destruction: good for us; bad for them.
US president Barack Obama told the United Nations on Tuesday that the US was “determined to prevent” Iran from “developing a nuclear weapon”. Yet Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told the gathered world leaders and top diplomats that nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction had “no place in Iran’s security and defence doctrine”.
President Obama also stressed his wider opposition to nuclear WMDs in the Middle East, saying: “We will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction … We reject the development of nuclear weapons that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region and undermine the global nonproliferation regime.”
Obama failed to mention that Israel already has some 200 nuclear warheads, and missiles to deliver them across the region. Why was this?
Dr David Lowry
Former director, European Proliferation Information Centre
• Simon Jenkins’s well-constructed blast against successive British politicians’ obsession with retaining a nuclear weapons capability missed one essential point. If Britain gave up the bomb it would leave France as the sole European nuclear power. Now, I’m not suggesting that this would leave the entire continent having to live in the shadow of a Gallic parapluie nucléaire – but the Daily Mail might …
Gavin Greenwood
Director, Allan & Associates

Why does Giles Fraser (The west is in thrall to Kantian ideals of personal freedom, 21 September) have to back Iris Murdoch’s strange suggestion that Immanuel Kant is to blame for launching 20th-century egoism?
The passage in Kant of which she complained merely says that we can’t judge somebody else’s actions – can’t even judge them favourably, not even when that somebody is Christ – unless we already have our own conscience and our own moral sensibilities in working order.
If you’ve no idea at all what is right and wrong, then this subject is closed to you. There is no suggestion here that praising somebody means that we are “setting ourselves up in judgment” on them. The trouble arises, I think, from the current confusion over the whole idea of “moral judgment” as necessarily involving red robes, wigs and hypocrisy. If it did, human society would have had to close down long ago.
Mary Midgley
Newcastle upon Tyne
• Giles Fraser makes a powerful point when he argues that “when we seek freedom from the things that bind us together, then we are not free. We are lost”. He rightly distinguishes between achieved and ascribed identity. 
I too benefited by achieving upward occupational and educational mobility. But we must never forget that such ascribed achievement is only experienced by a small minority. It is shaped by a narrow version of equality of opportunity in a society notable for glaring inequalities of treatment, wealth, income and the exercise of power.
A significant reduction of these inequalities is a prerequisite if we are to achieve social solidarity and value the ties which bind us all together.
Michael Somerton
• Giles Fraser states that Immanuel Kant was a man “with arguably the most boring personal life of any philosopher who ever existed”. In fact, as Manfred Kuehn’s 2001 biography shows, Kant was a highly sociable individual. He enjoyed convivial company and good food and wine, and he had a wide range of friends, including a number of women, though he never married.
True, he worked long hours teaching and writing, but the idea that he led a dull and boring life has become an oft-repeated myth. Supporting rationality and science as well as individual autonomy, as Kant did, did not mean he was unaware of the benefits of community and social ties.
But the “things that bind us together”, as Fraser puts it, can also be the source of irrational beliefs and intercommunal conflict, as the history of religion amply demonstrates. Individuality can have negative consequences to be sure, but so, too, can a “nurturing community”.
Michael Bury
Emeritus professor of sociology, Royal Holloway, London
• Giles Fraser is confusing Immanuel Kant with Ayn Rand. His categorical imperative – “always act in such a way that you can also will that the maxim of your action should become a universal law” – is not the principle of an individualist for whom “loyalties are a temporary convenience”.
Kevin Hilliard

We support the campaign by Action for Palestinian Children to ensure the rights of Palestinian children are upheld in accordance with international human rights treaties and international law.
We call on Israel to implement these recommendations: 1) An end to Israel’s nighttime raids and shackling of Palestinian children; 2) Audio-visual recordings of all interrogations; 3) Parents given the right to be present during questioning and the child’s right to access to a lawyer before their interrogation respected; 4) An end to the transfer of children to prisons inside Israel in breach of article 76 of the fourth Geneva convention; 5) An end to the use of solitary confinement.
We call on Israel to implement all recommendations made in the independent report Children in Military Custody.
Geoffrey Bindman QC
Caryl Churchill
William Dalrymple
Owen Jones
Elizabeth Laird
Ken Loach
Maxine Peake
Kika Markham
Bella Freud
Michael Rosen
Mark Rylance
Ahdaf Soueif
Alf Dubs
Glenys Kinnock
Jenny Tonge
Peter Bottomley MP
Richard Burden MP
Sandra Osborne MP
Lisa Nandy MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Grahame Morris MP
Katy Clark MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Prof Hilary Rose
Prof Steven Rose
Dr Nur Masalha
Karma Nabulsi
Dr Ghada Karmi
Antoine Zahlan
Dr Salman Abu Sitta
Dr Hilary Wise
Prof Kamel Hawwash
Dr John Yandell
Frances O’Grady
Len McCluskey
Mark Serwotka
Dave Prentis
Christine Blower
Mick Whelan
Bob Crow
Paul Kenny
Steve Gillan
Bob Monks
Ian Lawrence
Ronnie Draper
Sally Hunt
Michelle Stanistreet
Matt Wrack
Larry Flanagan
Christine Payne
Manuel Cortes
Billy Hayes
Rodney Bickerstaffe
Keith Sonnet
Kevin Courtney
Max Hyde
Mary Compton
John Austin
Roy Bailey
Victoria Brittain
Tony Graham
Rev David Haslam
Rev Canon Garth Hewitt
Betty Hunter
Bruce Kent
Hugh Lanning
Martin Linton
Jeremy Moodey
Chris Rose
Peter Tatchell
Kiri Tunks
Diana Neslen
Julie Bourne
Sarah Ker
Alex Kenny
Glyn Secker
Maisie Carter
Jenny Flintoft
Gill Swain
Martin Lynch
Steve Bell
Diane Hutchinson
Sue Plater
Paul Thomson
Maha Rahwanji
Yasmin Latif
Louise Regan
Pete Bevis
Maggie Bevis
Ivan Wels
Ruth Hooper
Dave Clinch
Liz Clinch
Guy Shennan
Orlando Hill
Sabrina Rahman
Kate Parsley
Bruce Mackenzie
J Normaschild
Penny Leach
Sue Owen
Natasha Posner
Katrina Thornton
Veronica Plowden
Dennis O’Malley
Sami Ramadani
John Lloyd
Ellen Graubart
Louise Ashworth
Darienne Hemington
Monica Brady
Carola Towle
Yukiko Hosomi
Martin Francis
Brian Durrans
Trilby Roberts
Zahra Asif
Jack White
Dr Rob Tunbridge
James Gibb
Martin Powell-Davies
Holly Smith
Sylvia Cohen
Colin McKean
Brenda Gaillie
Mark Kelly
Robert Lugg
Terry Conway
Eddie Wilde
Rachel Cheeseman

Given that the bedroom tax is about reducing the billions spent on housing benefit, it is rarely mentioned that very substantial beneficiaries are those private landlords content to charge claimants sky-high rents knowing the tab will be picked up by the taxpayer (Society, 25 September). The amount of housing benefit paid to private landlords will rise this year from £7.9bn to £9.4bn. Rent controls – abandoned under Margaret Thatcher – would curb this unremitting rake-off. They work well in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, and they are about to be introduced in France. Why not here?
Patrick O’Brien
• Could it be possible that we have some tin left in Cornwall (Why is Apple being evasive about where it buys its tin?, 24 September)? And maybe other places in the UK with similar geology? Then perhaps we could mine it responsibly: after all, we used to be quite good at mining.
Helen Rees
• The shift in the role of the curator – from custodian of a collection to creative supremo – is the real issue (Letters, 24 September). Increasingly, artists seem to be included in exhibitions merely to service some overarching curatorial thesis.
Seamus Staunton
• In the 1950s, in north London, life began at 15 (No, 25 is not the new 18, 25 September). As with all of my school friends who started work then, my mother took the £1 note out of my wage packet for housekeeping, leaving me the rest – about 18 shillings (90p) – for entertainment and clothes. From then on I was considered a grownup.
Charles Cronin
• First I read a letter from Alex Orr. Then I saw a mention of David Orr in the letter from Bob Baker. And finally there was a reference to Deborah Orr in the letter from Waldemar Januszczak. All on 24 September. Is this some kind of coup? Or are they just trying to get their Orr in?
Mike Walton
• I notice that my emails sent to the Guardian do not get an automatic acknowledgment, as in the past. Is that because they are going to GCHQ first?
Trevor Preston
Rye, East Sussex

A Labour campaign concentrating merely on living standards will be shallow, unimaginative, expedient and stuck in the same old discourse of postwar British politics (Miliband fires up faithful with assault on fuel giants, 25 September). It will ignore the desperate need for a framework of critique and policy to challenge and reform the structures of the inequality which is undermining democracy and intensifying health, economic, environmental and social problems.
An understanding of inequality and an account of its ramifications should be the spine of Labour’s strategy, informing its positions on every issue, for example housing, taxation, child care, education, health, food, social services, welfare, role of trade unions and constitutional change. Positions grounded in explicit analyses of inequality, challenging conventional wisdoms, will move debates away from blaming victims. It’s obvious that Labour needs to be “for” something. In the recession and its aftermath inequalities could hardly be clearer. So, will Labour waste the opportunity this crisis offers finally to take on inequality?
John Roberts
Dursley, Gloucestershire
• As a relatively frequent critic of Ed Miliband and Labour policy, I think his pledge to freeze energy prices is a cracker. It means that privatisation was wrong from the start. All that has happened is that we now have half-a-dozen private firms, all with highly paid executives and shareholders to keep happy, running a system which used to run by civil servants, just as efficiently and at a lower cost.
What should have been “liberated” was the ability for new companies to provide energy to the national system, if they could do so at a lower price. I don’t expect we will see nationalisation on any agenda, but hopefully this move will bring some balance back to the energy business.
Now how about railways, water and the rest?
David Reed
• Ed Miliband could not have picked a better topic to kick off a debate on the future of our economy. Energy is where Britain can tackle serious economic problems at the same time as social ones. There is a growing community energy industry in this country where neighbours are collaborating, creating jobs and growing their social capital as well as economic power. There are social investors helping them flourish.
Recent research suggests that community energy could grow to 89 times its current size if existing barriers were lowered. There is much to learn from the way other countries whose companies own our energy providers are developing their own community energy and renewables at a fast pace, while the UK suffers.
This debate cannot be about big state versus big business, but about big problems versus big opportunities. The energy market is a perfect illustration of how economic and social policy can and must be mutually reinforcing in 21st-century Britain.
Ed Mayo
Co-operatives UK
Peter Hobrook
Social Enterprise UK
Cliff Prior
Victor Adebowale
Turning Point
Steve Wyler
Andrew Croft
Alastair Wilson
The School for Social Entrepreneurs
Celia Richardson
Social Economy Alliance
• It was an impressive speech – but in reality complete tosh. If Ed Milliband ever makes prime minister and attempts to deliver on this headline-grabbing promise, he will spend the rest of that parliament trying to pick up the pieces of an energy system that is already almost broken and will inevitably collapse under this ill-researched piece of political posturing. In this he will fail (since no government in the past three decades has done anything significant to improve our energy infrastructure) and subsequent governments will be haunted by the mess left behind, just as the British people are haunted by the financial shambles left behind by New Labour.
We are trying to break away from fossil fuels, but we have failed to replace nuclear power plants at a rate appropriate to the phasing out of the earlier stations. Renewable power (particularly wind turbines) has proved to be more politically motivated hot air than solid power-generating sense. And Labour was forced to pour money into the banking system to prevent its complete collapse – money which could have been spent on energy research and on modernising our energy infrastructure.
John S Parris
Haresfield, Gloucestershire
• If nothing else, the threat of the power companies to turn the lights off in the face of price controls illustrates anew precisely why energy should be owned and controlled by the state. Natural monopolies, as exemplified here by power generation and distribution, should never be in private hands – the risk of blackmail is just too high.
Alistair Richardson
• At the age of 92, I have been longing for the kind of speech which Ed Miliband gave on Tuesday, as policies based on real socialist principles are, at last, made clear. Ten years ago, Blair’s policies caused me to leave the Labour party; Miliband has encouraged me to rejoin. I hope many other of your readers do the same.
Martin Sheldon
• Red Ed? Don’t make me laugh! Red Ed would have taken the gas and electricity companies back into public ownership rather than reining in their obscene profits for a couple of years.
Alan Wright
Worthing, West Sussex
• I’m not a man of violence but I have to admit I took enormous vicarious pleasure from seeing Steve Bell’s cartoon depiction of Ed Miliband rise up Charles Atlas-style to dob David Cameron straight in the middle of his repellently smooth and smug pink face, something I feel like doing every time I see him on TV. It perfectly caught the feeling of liberation that the Labour leader’s spirited speech created, making it seem possible that – at last – a real fightback is possible against this ghastly, overbearing Tory-led coalition, on behalf of “weaklings” everywhere.
Giles Oakley

The survey mentioned in the recent blog on how businesses no longer see NGOs as being agenda setters in development seems highly predictable and simplistic. CEOs see themselves as good guys (don’t we all), but to characterise them as “stuck on a plateau of good intentions” is quite frankly laughable. Most businesses are there to make profit for shareholders and no more. They have to be incentivised and regulated to ensure they will produce outcomes that are good for society as a whole.
Sustainability to CEOs will mean many different things depending on the market and the individual. Sustained profitability and having a monopoly is what most of them aspire to. Of course innovation and entrepreneurship are useful in delivering solutions and vibrancy to an economy but in a world where we are asked to deify CEOs and entrepreneurs, perhaps we should take a step back and ask whose interests they act in. After all, profit-driven companies are at the forefront in keeping poor people poor by driving down wages and reducing the size of the public sector by avoiding tax.
Martin Norris
Global health project manager in Glasgow, Scotland
Balanced development needs multi-sectoral input
To me, it is clear corporate businesses and the private sector want to take over the third sector. After all, the more control they have over how the world develops, the better it is for them!
But real, balanced development needs multi-sectoral input. It’s crucial to facilitate to the self-mobilisation of grassroots groups and communities to develop in a way that suits them, and this means creating a sustainable model which promotes integrity, transparency and accountability on both sides. In my eyes, multi-national corporations and private businesses rarely have a genuine interest in what is best for people in developing countries. And please understand, ‘genuine’ in the sense that their words and promises become their actions! We all know that anyone can promise anything, but doing is what matters.
It is unfair to expect a developing country to speedily plunge itself into a business-orientated world. We may be moving to mass globalisation, but developing populations will struggle to comprehend how to utilise new services. Uncontrolled money flows will create further corruption and greed. Poverty is one of the lowest considerations for corporate social responsibility projects, and I wonder if they [corporations] really believe that their involvement in developing will reduce poverty, and help those at grassroot levels.
Annie Perez
Research fellow working for an NGO in Delhi, India
Businesses can’t build relationships with communities like NGOs can
In east Asia, soft power relations help to build connections between communities and development groups. Strong and trusting relationships are important building blocks for development and precursors for doing business. NGOs are better positioned to deliver soft power than businesses, because businesses see their overall responsibilities as being to maintain their bottom line and keep their shareholders happy.
How do developing countries see the role of businesses in development? Have they been asked?
Charles Howie



As Ed Miliband has raised the spectre of regulatory risk, the cost of capital will rise — which means higher prices
Sir, Thanks to Ed Miliband price rises in the energy sector will now be bigger and earlier than they otherwise would have been (reports, Sept 25). Here are three reasons why:
1. Since he has now raised the spectre of regulatory risk, the cost of capital in the industry will rise, and that will have to be passed on to consumers. In the longer term, investment will be reduced and this will lead to tighter market conditions and hence higher commodity prices.
2. The only rational response from suppliers will be to raise prices by more than they otherwise would before the election to carry them through the proposed 20-month freeze. If a freeze is implemented, there will be a massive price rise as soon as it is over.
3. During the freeze the impact on smaller energy suppliers will be much harder felt and the level of competition in the market will drop.
Bill Bullen
Managing Director, Utilita

Sir, If anyone doubted how unsuited Labour is to run the economy, Mr Miliband’s idea to hold energy costs cannot possibly be credible. Britain imports most of its energy and no government can control worldwide prices. The energy companies generate wealth and pay dividends to millions of investors, directly and through their pension funds. Such state theft of private assets will leave many people poorer. The last person to leave will not have to turn off the lights. With no investment in energy infrastructure, they will have to find their way out by torchlight.
Steve Devereux
Beuste, France

Sir, The response to Ed Miliband’s speech has concentrated on the effect of an energy price cap on investment and security of supply, but it will be wider. It seems Labour will return to seeing profit as immoral, whereas those of us in the private sector see profitable businesses as essential to our future welfare as pensioners, unlike public sector pensioners whose income in retirement is insulated from any failure of government economic policy. Miliband’s “one nation” looks likely to split into the haves in the public sector and the have-nots in the private sector just as it did under the last Labour governments.
Neil Bryson
Sychnant Pass Road, Conwy

Sir, It’s very hard to get a sensible discussion on fiscal policy going right now. Perhaps Keynesian economics was always too paradoxical to impress the plain men and women who write Times leaders on the subject (“Labour and Responsibility”, Sept 24). In their world view, Labour’s modest spending pledges — notably on childcare — would, if implemented, “draw money from business”. They do not realise that government spending only draws money away from business if the economy’s resources are fully employed, which is patently not true today.
In face of heavy unemployment, extra government spending draws money towards business by creating additional purchasing power for people to buy goods and services. But I expect this is a paradox too far for our current opinion leaders.
Professor Lord Skidelsky
House of Lords

Sir, What about all those of us who have oil-fired central heating? Has Ed Miliband forgotten us in his pledge to freeze energy prices?
Andrew Hooker
Towcester, Northants

A Save the Children report says that as many as 10.5 million men, women and children in Syria desperately need food aid to survive
Sir, What is lost in the debate on Syria is the devastating hunger and malnutrition that is claiming the lives of children in the war-torn country. A Save the Children report says that as many as 10.5 million people need food aid to survive.
The Syrian Government is not allowing access to all the areas in need of aid. The UN Security Council should be pressing the Government to allow this access to reach many starving people. Funding also has to be increased for aid agencies. This is the biggest humanitarian mission of our time.
The international community is obviously failing miserably to bring an end to this war. But until such time we should at least be doing a better job providing the humanitarian aid that is going to be needed for years to come. The food production system in Syria has been destroyed by the war. The Syrian people clearly have another enemy to fight in hunger and malnutrition.
William Lambers
Cincinnati, Ohio


During the last Ice Age, the temperature rose far more and far faster than any of the forecasts made today for the next 100 years
Sir, It is rarely mentioned that the last Ice Age ended only 10,000 years ago, before which eastern England was joined to Jutland, and the North Sea did not exist. The temperature rose far more, and far faster, than any of the forecasts made today for the next 100 years, and sea levels by hundreds of feet, not a few inches. Man’s carbon emissions were clearly not to blame.
Earth’s history has been punctuated by periods of extreme heat, and extreme cold, caused by external influences. Quite apart from whether the current “global warming” is stoppable, the concern many people have is the waste of huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, which will have no effect, while countries such as China and India continue to belch out increasing quantities of carbon.
Rupert Godfrey
Stert, Wilts

The Assisted Dying Bill tabled in the House of Lords does contain adequate specific safeguards to prevent coercion
Sir, Baroness Grey-Thompson is wrong when she states that the Assisted Dying Bill I have tabled in the House of Lords does not contain any specific safeguards to prevent coercion (Thunderer, Sept 23). The Bill provides that two doctors must separately examine the patient and their medical records and independently decide whether they are satisfied that the patient is terminally ill (with a prognosis of six months or less), has mental capacity, is fully informed of all their end-of-life care options, and is making a voluntary and informed decision without pressure.
Currently, for those who seek an assisted suicide, for example by travelling to Switzerland, there are no safeguards. Any investigation of the independence of the patient’s decision-making occurs after they have died.
The Bill clearly defines terminal illness, and only dying, mentally competent people would be eligible for an assisted death. It is my own firm belief that a change in the law to allow assistance to die for non-terminally ill disabled people would not be appropriate now, or ever.
The purpose of the Bill is the antithesis of devaluing some people’s lives. It is to allow people to make an informed decision about how they would like to die when their death is imminent and inevitable. The question that opponents of change have yet to answer is: for those suffering at present and taking matters into their own hands, is it better to turn a blind eye, or rather to try and reach a consensus on a more compassionate and safeguarded approach?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC
House of Lords

For James Bond to think about choosing a Jensen FF to replace his old, much-loved Bentley is entirely apt
Sir, Mr Grimsdale’s “shocked” reaction (letter, Sept 24) at my choice of a Jensen FF for James Bond to drive in my novel Solo is a little overwrought. Despite its American engine, the Jensen is one of the classic British marques. Also, Bond did admire some American cars himself (Felix Leiter’s Cord, for example, in Live and Let Die) and, even more tellingly, Ian Fleming himself was the proud owner of a Ford Thunderbird and a Studebaker Avanti. For Bond to think about choosing a Jensen to replace his old, much-loved Bentley is entirely apt.
William Boyd
London SW3


SIR – I was saddened to learn that York is replacing the historic cobbles in King’s Square with modern paving (“Historic cobbled path being ripped up to help disabled”, report, September 20) and hope this will not encourage Norwich to look at those in its equally renowned Elm Hill.
I was pleased, however, to be reminded of York’s snickelways. These are all the more enjoyable if you explore them with a copy of Mark Jones’s delightful book A Walk around the Snickelways of York in hand. As a Sussex man, it’s difficult not to call these alleyways “twittens”. I expect many other regional names have been coined for them.
Peter Saunders
Salisbury, Wiltshire

SIR – The formula of a party conference speech goes like this: tax reduction (for some) + tax increase (for others) = increased spending (on some) + decreased spending (on others). In other words, the deck chairs are switched around in the hope that as many beneficiaries of the formula as possible can sit on them and will be grateful at the ballot box for the opportunity to do so.
Never once is the more imaginative formula applied: tax reduction (for all) + debt repayment = reduction of the cost of government. Unfortunately, the idea of reducing the cost of government is unpalatable to ministers and civil servants, whose very jobs would be in the line of fire.
Nicholas Nelson
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
SIR – The “jobs guarantee” for the young by Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, is an unaffordable socialist gimmick.
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Taking a walk through the snickelways of York
25 Sep 2013
Over a million private-sector jobs have been created without it. Yet Labour still wants to spend public money to cut unemployment because by that method the party retains control. The Conservatives, meanwhile, want lower taxes and less regulation. Only the latter is sustainable.
Kieran Bailey
SIR – Ed Miliband is now proposing to help small businesses by reducing the amount that they pay in business rates, yet he also proposes to increase the national minimum wage. Surely this is a tax on employment, so how does he consider that small businesses will be any better off? The man hasn’t a clue about business and I wouldn’t trust him to run a bath, let alone the country.
Nick Cudmore
Grimoldby, Lincolnshire
SIR – Ed Miliband’s pledge to scrap the benefit cut nicknamed the “bedroom tax” is a cheap ploy aimed at capturing desperate people’s votes at the next election. This particular cut was both necessary and unavoidable.
The Government has the unpleasant task of delivering unpleasant economic medicine – but deliver it, it must, and will. Mr Miliband is not fit to become First Lord of the Treasury.
Dominic Shelmerdine
London W8
SIR – Ed Balls proposes to increase the silly and unjustified tax on banks.
It is ordinary people who pay this tax: the employees, customers and shareholders, while the people at whom the tax is aimed are able to dodge it.
Alexander Hopkinson-Woolley
Bembridge, Isle of Wight
SIR – Listening to Ed Miliband’s speech, it was easy to take oneself back to Sheffield and imagine one was hearing the noble Lord Kinnock all over again.
Geoff Eley
Dunmow, Essex
Combating extremists
SIR – After yet another outrage committed by supporters of al-Qaeda, on this occasion in Kenya, it is time for society and Muslims to think carefully about what is happening.
Western society, so hated by al-Qaeda, continues to be tolerant towards those of the Muslim faith, through its equality laws and the behaviour of most non-Muslim people. The tolerance is based on the knowledge that the Muslim faith, practised correctly according to the Koran, is as much a loving and peaceful faith as is Christianity, and the al-Qaeda extremists are not “normal” Muslims.
But even tolerant people are getting close to the end of their patience as atrocities continue to increase around the world – often with British extremists involved, as in Kenya. The risk is that moderate people in countries such as Britain and America will start to turn against ordinary Muslims, in spite of equality legislation designed to prevent such behaviour.
If the populations of Western countries are to continue to respect Islam, then the Imams and Muslim leaders across the world need to solve what is essentially their own problem. They must root out the extremists in their midst and expel them. Time is running out.
Andrew Robinson
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Trusting the BBC
SIR – John Ware’s claim that the BBC Trust is responsible for the BBC’s difficulties over the past year doesn’t withstand serious scrutiny (Comment, September 23). The BBC’s Charter hands the job of operational management of the BBC, including decisions about pay and severance pay, to the Executive Board, not the Trust.
None the less, I recognise that people expect better from the BBC, and that they want action, not excuses, about who is responsible for what. That’s why we are working with Tony Hall, the new director-general, to re-examine the relationship between the Trust and the Executive Board, so that it is clearer, and able to provide more effective oversight of the way the licence fee is spent.
Anthony Fry
BBC Trustee
London W1
Neat, but not so smart
SIR – Comments regarding the standards of student attire (Letters, September 24) remind me that the members of the (unsuccessful) 1969 Aberdeen University Challenge team received some solace from a letter in the local paper which noted that “perhaps Aberdeen didn’t win – but at least they were all neatly dressed”.
I seem to recall that we all wore ties.
Stewart Kidd
Wilburton, Cambridgeshire
Hold on a minute
SIR – Forget listening to Mozart while on hold (report, September 24). I rang one of Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants in Bray some months ago to book a table.
When put on hold, I was delighted to hear Alan Bennett reading from Alice in Wonderland. When I inquired about this, I was told Mr Blumenthal was in an “out of this world” phase.
Emily Say
Burnham, Buckinghamshire
SIR – The hold music for TalkTalk used to be Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, which included the line, “We could be holding on for ever.”
It has since been changed.
Michael King Macdona
High school lesson
SIR – I share Boris Johnson’s dismay about the abolition of grammar schools (Comment, September 23), resulting in a decline in opportunity for able children from less advantaged backgrounds.
As Mayor of London, has Mr Johnson considered the example of New York, which, as a city, has for many years provided three outstanding grammar schools for its residents? The three schools – Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and Brooklyn Tech – attract pupils from all backgrounds, have outstanding results, and send many of their pupils on to elite universities.
Why not have the same in London?
Professor Carla Munoz Slaughter
London SW7
Army travel costs
SIR – Captain Levison Wood (Letters, September 24) is mistaken about the costs to the Ministry of Defence of duty travel for Armed Forces personnel. The discount HM Forces railcard can only be used for non-duty (leisure) travel. Commuting between home and place of duty is not allowed.
Duty travel expenses have always been claimed at the full rate. However, Reserve Forces personnel are eligible for the railcard during periods of full-time service of at least three months, but as with their Regular counterparts, for leisure travel only, which is subject to restrictions similar to other railcards.
Col J M C Watson (retd)
Welford, Berkshire
Stage name inspiration
SIR – John Goulding (Letters, September 24) is not quite correct when he says that Nosmo King got his name from a sign in the London Underground. There were swing doors to the auditorium of the London Palladium. On the left hand was written “NO SMO”, and on the right hand side “KING”.
Adrian Holloway
Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire
Finding double yolkers
SIR – The odds against finding six double yolk eggs in one box apparently are a trillion to one (report, September 24). As a poultry farmer, I would have retired a good deal sooner had I placed a bet. Double yolk eggs are easily recognised because they are almost always laid by young pullets when they first start laying.
Brian Griffiths
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Lay King Richard to rest in Westminster Abbey
SIR – The most appropriate location for the burial of Richard III is Westminster Abbey. After the rebuilding of the Abbey under Henry III, the church became a royal necropolis. Apart from Henry himself, several of his successors had their tombs there, grouped around the shrine of the great royal saint Edward the Confessor.
In the past, dishonoured kings have been disinterred and moved to locations of greater dignity. The unlucky Richard II was initially buried at King’s Langley, Hertfordshire, before Henry V transferred him to Westminster to lie next to his wife, Anne of Bohemia. Richard III himself moved the body of the deposed Henry VI to St George’s, Windsor, where he lay opposite his old rival Edward IV.
Westminster Abbey is the traditional burial place of England’s medieval kings and Richard III deserves to be laid to rest among them. Henry VII, Richard’s opponent and successor, was buried there. Furthermore, Anne Neville, his first wife, was buried in the abbey in 1485 and the king is recorded as having publicly wept at her funeral. Reuniting husband and wife in death would also be a kindness.
Jeremy Goldsmith
Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire
SIR – Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, had his heart buried in Melrose Abbey and the remainder of his body at Dunfermline Abbey. Richard III, his sixth cousin four times removed, could solve the current dispute by having the ribs closest to his heart buried in York and the remainder of his skeleton buried in Leicester. As he is reputed to have loved York and been loved by its citizens, the Plantagenet descendants may be content with this symbolism.
W F Hogarth
Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancashire
SIR – Put him back in that car park – an appropriately humiliating resting place for a tyrannical infanticide. Thank heavens Henry Tudor won at Bosworth and ended the Middle Ages. We haven’t looked back.
Bill Walden-Jones
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire

Irish Times:
Sir, – Many have rightly pointed out how the inclusion in the first Senate of unionists – not just Protestants – eased that community’s transition from the UK to the Irish Free State. Such a generous allocation was vital given the leaching of Protestants whose flight was being hastened by events like the Dunmanway massacre of April 1922.
In later generations, and after the 1937 Constitution, the existence of the three Trinity College seats, in particular, enabled the election of differing minorities, not just Protestants but secular liberals, a prime example being Owen Sheehy Skeffington. These were voices very rarely heard in the Dáil, it being the chamber elected through party and by popular vote. They were probably unelectable, yet vital.
The university senators perform a similar role to this day, outwith the discipline of the whips. Maybe they are and were an elite, but then without elites we would have very little art or architecture.
Those university senators were joined over more recent years by a series of Northern Ireland people amongst the taoiseach’s nominees like John Robb, Gordon Wilson and Maurice Hayes (and in one instance by Sam McAughtry, the Belfast writer and journalist who was elected off a panel). The non-nationalists appointed were Ulster voices from the partitioned part of Ireland. Their presence was proper, indeed necessary given the Articles 2 and 3 claim on the six counties.
As the Constitution now states, “It is the firm will of the Irish nation, in harmony and friendship, to unite all the people who share the territory of the island of Ireland, in all the diversity of their identities and traditions”, such a presence remains necessary.
I have or had an interest, being an unsuccessful candidate for a Dublin University seat in 2011. Other dissenting voices need a platform in the Oireachtas, be they from declining or unfashionable groups like Roman Catholics, or non-statists, conservatives, iconoclasts whose opinion is still beyond the pale, or those with ideas as yet unheard of. The continuation of Seanad Éireann will give Ireland a chance to hear what it may not want to hear. – Yours, etc,
Mount Prospect Park,
Sir, – Des O’Malley (Opinion, September 25th) asks: “Who could say any chamber that contains Mick Wallace, Ming Flanagan, Peter Mathews, Shane Ross, Pearse Doherty, Leo Varadkar and Joe Higgins is in need of a supplement because we don’t have “enough different voices on the national stage” (as Éamon Ryan argued (Opinion, September 5th)?” A woman might. – Yours, etc,
Wilton Place, Dublin 2.
Sir, – Shortly after the convening of the present Senate I heard one of the Taoiseach’s nominees being interviewed on radio. The Senator was asked if, in view of the parlous state of the national finances, it might be a good idea to forego the generous expenses allowance. Flushed with success at landing in the Senate without the messy business of having to get elected, the Senator replied: “I will not. I have a child to put through college.” All at once, the lofty claims that have been made for the upper house evaporated like dew on a summer morn.
The scales fell from my eyes and I saw the institution for what it really is – a clever wheeze to get me and my fellow-taxpayers to pay the college fees of the Senator’s offspring. Having long ago abandoned all hope of climbing on board this particular gravy train myself, I have decided to vote for its abolition in the referendum and will be encouraging my family and friends to do likewise. I may be a spoilsport. But I’m damned if I will be taken for an idiot. – Yours, etc,
Abbey Terrace,
Howth, Dublin 13.

Sir, – The Government is posing two propositions in the court of appeal referendum, but it is not allowing the electorate to vote separately on each of them. It wants to establish a court of appeal and it wants to allow each Supreme Court justice hearing a constitutional case to publish his, or her, opinion.
The second proposition would eliminate the Article in the Constitution which excludes the possibility of each justice publishing a separate opinion in relation to the constitutional review of a law. There are vital safeguards in the existing procedure which have secured the independence, prestige and authority of the court. Decisions have been clear, final and unambiguous, based on solid legal principles and public understanding.
The proposed change could have serious unintended consequences if the personality and personal ambition of each justice were to overshadow the decision being made. Public confusion could ensue and the spectacle of deep disagreement being aired in public could undermine public confidence in the entire court system. Individual opinions about the Constitution could also be hijacked by powerful vested interests. We might even see the spectacle of judicial decisions being subsequently measured in opinion polls, reducing the stature of Supreme Court deliberations to that of a bland popularity contest.
Opinion polls indicate that public understanding of the underlying issues in the court of appeal referendum is appallingly low. This is not surprising as the Government has failed to define a clear purpose for changing the “one judgement rule”. But it also reflects very badly on the capacity of the Referendum Commission to educate the public.
We could well rue the day if personalised judicial decisions about the interpretation of the Constitution were to be reduced to the status of a children’s beauty pageant. – Yours, etc,
Bellevue Avenue,

Sir, – In the past, whenever a president delivered a prepared speech on a matter that concerned national policy it had added significance because it was assumed to be given with the prior authority and advice of the government as specified under Article 13.9: The powers and functions conferred on the President by this Constitution shall be exercisable and performable by him [sic] only on the advice of the Government . . .”.
Can we take it then that the views President Higgins expressed in his DCU speech were endorsed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and therefore represent the Government’s outlook? – Yours, etc,
Moyclare Close,
Baldoyle, Dublin 13.
Sir, – One of the reasons neo-liberal ideology has remained largely unchallenged in many parts of the public arena, despite its catastrophic results, is that people, including politicians, who set the agenda have been beneficiaries of policies which have seen an enormous widening of the pay gap between people at the top and the bottom. The presidency is an example; media panjandrums another.
President Higgins has put neo-liberalism on the agenda. Desmond FitzGerald (September 25th) is right: either the presidential lifestyle is trimmed, or the incumbent is not in a position to criticise neo-liberalism with credibility.
There is a precedent. President De Gaulle used to pay the electricity bill for the Elysée Palace for the time after 6pm when the workers there had gone home. – Yours, etc,
Ceannt Fort,
Mount Brown,
Sir, – I am but one of the many Tyrone GAA supporters at the end of their proverbial tether regarding unfair and unjustified reporting on Tyrone (and Ulster) teams by various southern media outlets, including The Irish Times. The report by Gavin Cummiskey on the All-Ireland minor final between Tyrone and Mayo (SportsMonday, September 23rd) again highlights the issue; sports reporting which is aimed not so much at accurate analysis, more on justifying and reinforcing existing prejudices. Thus in one paragraph of the report the allegation that Tyrone’s Frank Burns “fouled with the subtlety of a veteran Ulster-born defender” was immediately linked in the next sentence with the reference that Tyrone player, Daire Gallagher “dropped deep as they attempted to put the squeeze on Mayo’s flowing approach”. What interpretation can be put on this reference, other than that it was innuendo seeking to also implicate Daire Gallagher in unfair play, even though no evidence whatsoever was provided for such an allegation?
As for the accusation that Tyrone forward Conor Mc Kenna “aggressively attempted to clip two Mayo defenders” after he had scored a second-half goal, your reporter appears to have been the only observer who interpreted what the player did in this way. Cummiskey’s analysis is made all the more strange by his quotation from the Mayo manager, Enda Gilvarry, who sportingly and accurately acknowledged what was clear fact to any reasonable observer; that “both teams were fouling”. This reportage is a particularly pernicious variant of the partitionism evident in certain sections of the media. It should be abandoned in favour of the facts. – Yours, etc,
John Street,
Omagh, Co Tyrone.

Sir, – With regard to Harry Willianson’s inquiry (September 23rd) about the Battle of Clontarf Millennial Anniversary, in fact there are many groups planning events around Ireland, including in Killaloe (birthplace of Brian Boru)  and Armagh (Brian’s final resting place).  In Clontarf, community groups are working with Dublin City Council to commemorate this important event in Irish history.  The full programme will be launched shortly and will commence this autumn, leading to a culmination of events at Easter 2014. – Yours, etc,
Clontarf 2014 Committee,
Dollymount Park,
Clontarf, Dublin 3.
Sir, – While I did once share the fear of Harry Williamson (September 23rd) that, amid the noise of other commemorations, the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf next April might be forgotten, may I reassure him? There are indeed commemorations planned and I would like to invite him to join us in Trinity College on April 11th-12th, where a major historical conference will be held on the subject, open to all the public and entirely free of charge (tcd.ie/history/clontarf). – Yours, etc,
Professor of Medieval

Sir, – Patrick Rigney of the Dalcassian Wines and Spirits Company gives a good lashing to those anti-Arthur’s Day “vested interests” groups whose agenda he decries. It would seem from his letter that alcohol consumption linked to Arthur’s Day has beneficial economic effects on his industry. Indeed, from the picture he paints, every Arthurian participant is a responsible drinker and possibly even a tourist. Much like Arthur, this is a myth.
If everyone had a single pint or two then the economic impact cited would be fairly negligible to Mr Rigney’s monetary interests.  Sadly Irish people drink to excess.
We may not all be falling over fighting in the gutter, but the “few pints” or the “glass of wine with food” is rarely actually that. It is not responsible to drink every or most nights. It is not responsible to binge drink (more than four units/ two pints/ two glasses of wine per session). Pretending that an occasion promoting a culture of drinking, in a society pathologically incapable of ethanol moderation, is something very much not to be welcomed. The job creation benefits are unimportant where said jobs are dependent on health endangering behaviours.
My vested interest, for clarity’s sake, is the health of the many not the wealth of the few. – Yours, etc,
Beechwood Court,
Co Dublin.
Sir, – Arthur’s Day might become the catalyst to change our relationship with drink. Drinking any way other than sensibly is unacceptable at every level. The costs are too high. Arthur has given us a green light to open that can of worms – we could begin to pay heed for the first time. The game is up. Cheers Arthur. – Yours, etc,
Glasthule Road,
Co Dublin.

Sir, – May I ask why beautiful Grafton Street is being paved grey? Isn’t Dublin grey enough already?
By the way, wouldn’t it be a good idea for shops in Grafton Street to exclusively use small vans for deliveries, and not the large trucks that likely have destroyed the pavement in the first place? – Yours, etc,
Lower Kevin Street,
Dublin 8.

Sir, – Barry O’Halloran (Business, September 13th) states “The co-ops control the quotas in each of their regions and determine what an individual farmer’s share will be”. John McManus (Business, September 16th), further writes that farmers had “extra quota allocated to them by the bigger co-ops – which has strings attached”. These statements are incorrect and fundamentally misrepresent the operation of European milk quota regulations in Ireland.
Co-ops do not control quotas which are an EU-wide constraint on milk production. The quota system is regulated by national legislation and audited by the Department of Agriculture and the EU. Milk quotas are the property of individual farmers who, as correctly stated, can take their quota and move it to another milk buyer on giving three months’ notice. The department also operates milk quota trading schemes where farmers can trade quotas among themselves, within co-op regions, but independently of the co-op.
McManus also asserted co-ops contrive to run a two-tier pricing structure (between branded and own-brand milk) to exploit the consumer. This is not only incorrect, it is unfair.
Own brand milk forms a growing market sector. But co-ops don’t control selling prices for milk; retailers do.
Co-ops have invested heavily in developing their brands, innovations in packaging, enhanced nutritional benefits, and in certified quality systems. This creates choice and value for the consumer and supports investment and jobs in rural areas. It also adds cost to their production process.
McManus accepts that, on the basis of National Milk Agency statistics, the farmer receives only about 33 per cent of the final retail price. We also know, from published accounts, that dairy co-operatives struggle to deliver a profit margin of 1-3 per cent. That suggests strongly that retailers enjoy substantial margins and there is a lack of competition in the retail sector.
As regards price differentials between own-brand and branded milk, own-brand milk is cheaper. It is packed, often by co-ops or other processors at the behest of the multiples. It is a basic product which makes no contribution to investment, to innovation, or to the quality systems operated by the co-ops which have no influence over the price at which it is offered.
McManus further suggests farmers accept a poorer milk price in return for a dividend or share value growth. The principal objective of dairy co-operatives is to ensure members receive the highest milk price the market can return. The issue of dividend or share value appreciation is not a factor in most dairy co-ops as shares have a nominal value, normally €1, and are redeemed at par on retirement.
Finally, milk supply from Northern Ireland has increased by 51 per cent or 671 million litres since 1993, due to the transfer of unused milk quota into Northern Ireland from Britain. Over 70 per cent of this increase has been exported into the Republic for processing and for liquid (consumer) milk. More than a quarter of total liquid milk consumption in the Republic is now milk produced in Northern Ireland – over 150 million litres annually.
In the Republic, farmers are constrained to produce milk within the national quota of just over five billion litres, about 10 per cent of which is used for liquid consumer milk. If southern farmers produce over the quota, then they pay an EU superlevy fine of 28 cent for every litre that they produce over their individual quota.
The Irish Times is right in one respect. There are challenges in the liquid milk market. The problem, however, does not lie with the margins being retained by either the farmer or the co-op. – Yours, etc,
Chief Executive,
Irish Co-operative

Irish Independent:

The country is still bleeding money due to day-to-day spending which is increasing a debt we cannot inflate away by printing money. At a stretch, the deal can be called savings, but it’s savings in the same way as “Buy this TV, it was €900 and now it’s €600 save €300”. There is no €300 savings, there is only €600 expenditure.
Also in this section
Taxes and charges driving our family away
History repeating itself
Men of 1916 unmandated
Borrowing for investment is one thing, but borrowing for day-to-day expenditure is picking up a hand grenade and pulling the pin on yourself. “Growth” that requires borrowing of €1bn a month that must be repaid later is not growth. It is an accounting trick that will crucify us later.
Burning the bondholders is not an answer. It did not happen when it should have prior to the banking guarantee and now it is sovereign debt we cannot default on without severe penalties – certainly we will not be able to borrow the money to keep paying daily expenses.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan should continue with the budget adjustment be it through reform of services to eliminate redundant roles, welfare reform to eliminate the “welfare trap” etc.
Then, maybe some day, we won’t rely on international lenders just to keep the country open.
Mel Gorman
* The recent decision by the 17,000 members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) to reject the Haddington Road proposals must be seen as a very pragmatic one.
Teachers were offered a straight choice: cram extra work into an already overloaded schedule or accept another pay cut. It is not surprising that they opted for the latter.
OECD reports show that Irish second-level teachers spend more time teaching their students than their counterparts in the majority of other countries, and that they work with the largest class sizes in Europe.
Teachers have papered over the cracks in our under-funded educational system for decades by voluntarily carrying out work that is the role of support staff in most other European countries.
By twice rejecting the Croke Park 2/Haddington Road proposals, ASTI teachers have, to some extent, protected both their working conditions and the quality of the education that they provide to their students. The Government, through draconian legislation, has also secured the savings it wanted.
While not ideal, many teachers can accept this situation. No industrial action is necessary unless the Government makes a further move.
Kevin P McCarthy (ASTI member)
Killarney, Co Kerry
* The rebellious behaviour of secondary school teachers mirrors the adolescent behaviour of the young adults they teach.
Martin Walsh
Claregalway, Co Galway
SEANAD 1970S TO 1990S
* The arguments used in the Seanad referendum campaign seem, to me, to be increasingly irrelevant. For example, the notion that Seanad Eireann should be a watchdog, or a bulwark against government excesses, is not reflected in the Constitution, which rather provides for the complementary roles of Dail and Seanad in processing legislation.
Allowing for roseate-tinted nostalgia, my own experience of the Seanad from the late 1970s to the early 1990s is one of constructive co-operation with the government of the day, especially where bills were initiated in the House on educational, cultural and social matters.
The informed and harmonious debate in the spring of 1991 on the Environmental Protection Agency Bill, introduced by Mary Harney, showed the Seanad at its best, entirely free of party rancour, and this was warmly acknowledged at the time by the Minister.
John A Murphy (Independent senator, 1977-1983, 1987-1992)
Douglas Road, Cork.
* In response to the “Upstream battle” letter (Irish Independent, September 24), Mr Kelly suggests that the employment and value projections put forward by BIM for the proposed salmon farm in Galway are inaccurate.
A recently completed study from the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (NOFIMA) estimated that every 5,000 tonnes of production from salmon farms from the country’s Troms region generated 635 man-labour years. As another example, a salmon farming company in Ireland, which produced in the region of 10,000 tonnes in 2011, directly employed almost 280 people. So BIM’s projected 500 jobs, both on-farm and in downstream activities for a unit producing 15,000 tonnes per annum is, if anything, conservative.
With regard to the projected value of the harvest, the bulk of Irish farmed salmon is certified organic, and Irish salmon farmers lead the way internationally in this regard. As a result, our salmon harvest enjoys a premium in the market place and, at today’s prices, 15,000 tonnes of organic certified salmon would actually be worth much more than the €102m in BIM’s estimates.
Mr. Kelly appears to believe that BIM’s planned farm would pose a risk to angling tourism. BIM has been supporting coastal fishing communities for more than 60 years, and would not engage in development which was not environmentally sound.
Jason Whooley
Chief executive, BIM
* It can be deduced from the September 4 report in the Irish Independent, “Agreement with US will ‘open door’ in adoption process”, that there is strong demand from Irish couples to adopt children from foreign countries due to a lack of Irish children available for adoption.
Upon reading the article, I was reminded of the regrettable number of Irish people who travel to Britain each year for an abortion, usually for social reasons. It strikes me that it would be enormously helpful to those Irish couples, searching far and wide for children to adopt, if Irish persons travelling to Britain each year for abortions were to instead opt to put their unwanted children up for adoption rather than abortion.
John B Reid
Monkstown, Co Dublin
* There has been a lot of criticism levelled at the health service in recent times. I feel obliged to share my recent experience at the A&E in St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin.
Upon arrival, I was immediately checked in by an extremely pleasant and knowledgeable receptionist. She advised me that I would be seen by a nurse in five minutes. Seven minutes later I was being seen by a nurse who was equally pleasant and caring. Ten minutes later, I was being examined by a doctor.
Subsequently, I had to go through various procedures in different departments. At no stage was my waiting time more than 10 minutes. I also have to add that my condition was less than critical, I think.
The system worked very well for me, and all the people whom I met during the process are to be congratulated for doing such a wonderful and professional job.
Kevin C Murphy
Foxrock Wood, Dublin 18
* How refreshingly honest for Bono to admit that “U2 is in total harmony with our Government’s philosophy”.
That philosophy: “Austerity for the many – impunity for a few” could be the basis for a song.
Dr John Doherty
Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal
Irish Independent


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