24 October 2013 Leaves
I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Captain Povey has the Admiral round to make an inspection. Admiralty want their money worth out of the Island crew, some hope. Priceless
Sort the books, tidy up give the brass goblets away
We watch Hancock its not too bad
Scrabble today Mary wins get just under 400, though perhaps I will win tomorrow.
Mother Antonia Brenner
Mother Antonia Brenner was a twice-divorced socialite who renounced Hollywood glitz to live as a nun in a Mexican prison
‘Madre Antonia’ in the chapel at the La Mesa prison in Tijuana Photo: AP
6:30PM BST 23 Oct 2013
Mother Antonia Brenner, who has died aged 86, was a twice-divorced former Hollywood socialite and mother of seven who, in 1977, gave away most of her possessions, put on a homemade nun’s habit and went to live in a Mexican prison.
At first the Roman Catholic Church declined to give her its support; indeed for many years, as a divorcée she had been unable to take Holy Communion. Nothing daunted, she left her home in Ventura, California, packed in her job, made her vows in private and moved into a bunk in the women’s wing of La Mesa Tijuana, a prison housing 7,500 male and 500 female prisoners, later moving to her own 10-by-10-ft concrete cell.
La Mesa was a notorious hellhole where rich drug lords ruled the roost while hundreds of their poorer brethren lived in the cold and squalor amid rats and raw sewage, with no beds, food or even lavatory paper unless their relatives brought supplies. Brutalised prison guards contributed to the misery, mistreating the mentally ill and administering cruel interrogations.
Over the next 30 years “Madre Antonia”, as she came to be known, transformed the atmosphere. Armed with a Bible, a Spanish dictionary and her own unassailable moral authority, she waded into riots and gun battles; shamed prison authorities into improving conditions and brought human rights violations to the attention of newspapers.
16 May 2013
02 May 2013
12 Aug 2011
‘Madre Antonia’ with a statue of St Paul outside the La Mesa prison chapel (AP)
She persuaded doctors and dentists to hold free clinics, got local bakers to donate bread to supplement the meagre prison rations, rescued lavatories from junk yards and insisted on their being installed, prayed with prisoners and guards and got to know their families. She taught offenders to acknowledge they had done wrong, and many would later testify that her example had persuaded them to mend their ways.
She also took on the Mexican legal system, raising money to pay fines to keep petty offenders out of prison and accompanying inmates to court in order to force judges to justify the wildly different sentences they handed out to rich and poor. One Tijuana judge acknowledged that she had convinced him that class should not be a factor in the administration of justice.
After a year her service came to the attention of the ecclesiastical authorities, and 18 months into her ministry the Bishop of Tijuana, Juan Jesus Posadas, made her an auxiliary Mercedarian, an order which works among prisoners. Subsequently her work came to the attention of Pope John Paul II who gave her his blessing. In 1991 Mother Teresa visited Tijuana to see her work.
In 1997 Antonia began the process of forming the Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour, a religious community of women who serve the poor and downtrodden. She bought a house near the prison to serve as a refuge for women leaving the prison, for women and children visiting family members, and women and children in Tijuana for cancer treatment. In 2003 the community, many of them older women who had been turned away by other religious communities because of their age, was formally accepted by the Bishop of Tijuana.
The second of three children, she was born Mary Clarke on December 1 1926 in Los Angeles, to Irish immigrant parents. Her mother died when she was pregnant with her fourth child, leaving her 24-year-old husband to raise his children on his own.
During the Depression he struggled to keep food on the table, but in Mary’s teenage years he became a successful businessman, supplying carbon paper and other office items, and moved his family to a luxurious new home in Beverly Hills, where neighbours included Hedy Lamarr, John Barrymore and Dinah Shore. Weekends were spent at a beach house overlooking the Pacific and, as she moved into the Hollywood social scene, Mary Clarke’s wardrobe filled with mink coats and ball gowns.
Yet her father never allowed his children to forget their duty to the less fortunate and with her father’s encouragement she became involved in projects to send medical supplies to people in need in Africa, India, Korea, the Philippines and South America.
A vivacious and attractive blonde, Mary had no shortage of male admirers, and at the age of 19 she married a former serviceman. They had three children (one of whom predeceased her), but her husband’s addiction to gambling left the family in debt. Five years later she divorced him and went to work to support her children. In 1950 she married Carl Brenner, with whom she had five more children. When her father died in 1956, she took over his business. All the time she continued to do charity work.
In 1965 she accompanied a priest on a mission to deliver medicine and other supplies to Tijuana, Mexico, where they ended up at La Mesa prison. She was so haunted by the plight of the inmates, she could not stop thinking about them. “When it was cold, I wondered if the men were warm; when it was raining, if they had shelter,” she recalled in an interview in 1982. She began visiting the prison on a regular basis, bringing in carloads of medicine, food and clothes, and attending to the material and spiritual needs of both inmates and guards.
From early on in her second marriage Mary Brenner realised that she and her husband had little in common, and as time went by they lived almost completely separate lives. By 1966 she had come to believe that her prison work was her true vocation, inspired by a dream in which she was a prisoner awaiting execution and Christ came to take her place. In 1970 she closed her father’s business and two years later divorced her husband.
In 2005 Mother Antonia was the subject of a book, The Prison Angel, by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan.
She remained in regular contact with her seven children, who survive her.
Mother Antonia Brenner, born December 1 1926, died October 17 2013
Your report (Dyke’s panel breaches goodwill around FA future, Sport, 22 October) on the progress of Greg Dyke’s football commission highlights its two problems: it has been attacked for the lack of ethnic diversity in its membership; and also for its concentration on the lack of homegrown players in the English game. A few hundred yards away from Dyke’s office at Wembley stadium, Paul Lawrence, football coach for the past 20 years at Copland community school, has very different problems. He teaches in one of the most ethnically diverse schools in the country and has developed the talents of at least 20 homegrown players who have gone on to make a living out of the game, the latest and most notable among them being Raheem Sterling, the 18-year-old striker from the English national squad that has just qualified for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Greg Dyke has four years in which to sort out his problems; Paul Lawrence, however, has only eight weeks. For unless Brent council and Copland school recognise their mistake and decide to reverse their decision, Paul, along with 31 other support staff at Copland, will be sacked at Christmas, part of a cost-cutting axing of staff aimed at making the school more financially attractive to an academy chain.
Until then, Paul, as the FA head’s Wembley neighbour and drawing on his 20 years’ knowledge and experience of producing homegrown players, would certainly be happy to provide some helpful advice in sorting out Greg’s two little challenges. It’s unclear as yet, though, where help is going to come from to sort out Paul’s rather larger headache, if indeed it ever does.
Name and address supplied
I write to outline my genuine concern about the way in which Tanya Gold has written an article on your Comment pages (Start of the panto season, 23 October). Ms Gold has not bothered to ask me for my version of events, and the article is highly aggressive. As I have informed the media already, I asked the gentleman begging, who had asked me for money, what he was doing to get a job as his situation was very bad and disturbing to see. He told me he had numeracy and literacy problems. I suggested to him that the Department for Work and Pensions has free programmes on offer to help people in his position to improve these skills and ultimately to help him back to work. The gentleman declined my support in this matter and did not wish to have any information sent to him. I therefore left him to continue with what he was doing. The Guardian newspaper seriously lets journalism down by not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.
Daniel Kawczynski MP
Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham
That Wellington academy’s governors offered its then principal a £20,000 bonus “for good performance” weeks before GCSE grades that the Department for Education said “were not good enough” exemplifies all the problems associated with academies and performance-related pay (‘You stand up when I enter the room’, 22 October). Tristram Hunt’s backing of free schools was bad enough, but his support for PRP (Shadow minister backs rewards for teachers, 19 October) will have dashed the hopes of thousands of teachers for improvement and fairness in an education system under Labour.
It is blatantly unfair to reward the head for a school’s improvement, when he or she is already generously paid far more than the classroom teacher, and when the learning of the “improved students” took place under the auspices of many different teachers. Should an A-level teacher with 10 A* pupils be rewarded when someone else was the reason for the students’ determination to succeed, another teacher of the same subject was the “inspiration” lower down the school, or that the student’s real improvement resulted from teaching in primary school? Also, the Wellington example shows that the judgment of the governors who decide on PRP is often questionable.
• Re Tristram Hunt’s declaration of support for performance-related pay, have he and his advisers not acquainted themselves with the plethora of evidence on “performativity” in education, and the great harm it does to everyone involved, not least the children themselves? Many of us in education had hoped that the dark Blairite days of pandering to every rightwing populist educational agenda and prejudice imaginable were long since gone, but apparently not. I hope Dr Hunt and Ed Miliband realise that if his party continues to espouse bankrupt, evidence-lite Tory ideologies like this one, they will lose many thousands of teachers’ votes at the next election.
Dr Richard House
University of Winchester
The problem of younger lonely people (Aditya Chakrabortty, G2, 22 October), notably those living alone in their own house or flat, has resulted from the philosophy that every individual must buy a house as soon as possible.
In previous generations, ie my own, in the skilled working class, we didn’t leave home until we married. I was not aware that my friends and cousins were unhappy living in the family home, however crowded, or that they all longed to get away and live alone. It was very pleasant after work to come back to a good meal, clothes nicely laundered and put away, and a chance to tell your family what you had been doing during the day. We were, of course, spoilt. But our parents would have been puzzled and hurt had we left for no apparent good reason. As it happens (although there are always exceptions), we liked our parents and were happy at home. When we married, most of us lived in bedsits and then started to save for a house.
The current urge to buy as soon as possible means thousands of singles are saddled with a mortgage as soon as they start work, they have the responsibility of maintaining a property, and many are lonely. Also, their single occupation of family sized houses must have contributed to the housing shortage.
Of course, I was young before the advent of the sexual revolution. Unbelievable as it may seem to younger generations, most of us did our courting in coffee bars, theatre galleries and front parlours. We were seldom alone for long. For most of us, sex came after marriage.
• If Jeremy Hunt were actually concerned about loneliness, rather than simply trying to duck the costs it places on the National Health Service, he would not be supporting discrimination against the lonely in the tax system.
Tax allowances for married couples will shift part of the burden of taxation to the unmarried, including the widowed and those who’ve never found a partner. Society sends a lot of subtle messages to single people that they’re unwanted, and excludes them in various ways. Now it’s going to be official.
• Claiming that it is the young who suffer more than the old from the loneliness resulting from our economic model is a race to the bottom. The intelligent response to the problem of loneliness and isolation of people in general is the creation of intentional communities often called cohousing. Jeremy Hunt should be speaking to Eric Pickles, who should be speaking to local planners.
• Michael Peel (Letters, 23 October) cites the loss of evening classes, libraries and lunch clubs run by local authorities as a factor in increasing loneliness. What about the total demise of adult education run by universities as a result of (sad to say) Labour’s funding policies? Daytime and evening classes not only provided social networks for many older people but undoubtedly helped them to keep their brains working as well. They were also much cheaper to provide than mental health and social services.
Anne Liddon (@AnneLiddon)
Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear
You report (23 October) the unseemly tiff between Theresa May and Norman Baker on who deserves the credit for the demise of the government’s campaign aimed at illegal immigrants. Neither does. The credit belongs with the Advertising Standards Authority, which, by upholding my complaint against the advert, prevented the government from re-running the ads, even if it wanted to.
House of Lords
• You report that John Major’s call for a windfall tax on the energy companies’ excess profits would “fund extra support for the millions of people he said face a choice between eating or heating his homes this winter” (Report, 23 October). How many homes does Major have? What makes him think others might be willing to pay for heating them? And as for eating them, are they made of gingerbread? Could the Great British Bake Off be the solution to our housing crisis?
• I was so looking forward to a Steve Bell cartoon celebrating the reawakening of John Major. Underpants are go!
Toby Wood (@TobyWoody)
• With reference to the letter (23 October) regarding World Tripe Day – is the estimate of a 0.07% increase in people aged under 85 who are not repulsed by eating tripe a little “tongue in cheek”?
Brighouse, West Yorkshire
• So is World Tripe Day? It is also UN Day. The United Nations Association exists to support the UN and ensure that less time is wasted on tripe and hot air. See http://www.una.org.uk.
Church Stretton, Shropshire
• Some of us can say it all in 140 characters (Letters, 23 October) but choose to do so only on occasions such as this. Viva Guardian letters!
• Will the Vatican cricket team be playing their home games at Lourdes (Lord’s prayer: Vatican’s cricketing challenge, 23 October)?
Market Drayton, Shropshire
How disappointing to read that senior doctors from the Royal College of GPs and the Family Doctor Association are claiming that plans to provide access to their care on 365 days are unachievable (GPs condemn open all hours surgery plans, 19 October). A range of excuses such as lack of continuity of care, lack of sufficient GPs and lack of resources has been produced. None of this has any credibility. In terms of resources, if patients wish to be seen by a health service they will find one. A&E may not be appropriate, but it is always resourced. Some resources can be moved to primary care, if there is the will.
Turning to their other objections, it is not long ago that Tony Blair was on the same page that David Cameron is on today. In 2008/09, every PCT was required to commission at least one GP-led health centre to provide primary care for 365 days of the year from 8am to 8pm. I work as a part-time GP in one of these where a team of nurse practitioners deals effectively with the vast majority of patients attending for “urgent” care and manages the chronic diseases. This leaves the GPs relatively free to deal with more complex problems.
Research suggests that nurses can deliver as high-quality care as GPs in the areas of preventive health, chronic diseases and minor illness. Why is there no mention of the role of these professionals by my esteemed leaders? I couldn’t possibly comment. I do know that in the second decade of the 21st century it is easier for patients to do their shopping and get their hair done than it is to attend to their urgent medical needs. This is detrimental to the public health. Services could be rearranged for the benefit of patients with minimal inconvenience to providers. What are we waiting for?
• In an ideal world patients would perhaps have access to their GP at anytime. Unfortunately we do not have an ideal world. Many GPs are already working 12-hour days, with much of our time (both clinical and administrative) spent dealing with the consequences of failed political initiatives, failure of appropriate regulation, decimation of local voluntary sector support agencies and NHS bureaucracy. The UK remains blighted by a persisting health gap. Even David Cameron’s most loyal acolytes are aware that much of this relates to underlying social issues that (at least for the moment) GPs cannot be held responsible for. I am not aware of any evidence that longer opening hours will have an impact on this health gap.
Even if not moved by the moral perspective, Cameron must be aware of the related economic disadvantages of the persisting gap. Surely the large amount of funding required to increase opening hours nationally should be diverted to well-thought-out local initiatives to reduce the health divide? If and when progress is made on this, assuming yet more funds are available, then by all means look at ways of increasing access. Perhaps less votes in this approach so I will not be holding my breath,however if David Cameron or Jeremy Hunt would like some patients for truly representative focus groups I would be happy to make enquiries locally.
Dr David Supple
• I am a GP in a small practice of 3,300 patents and 90% of my patients’ primary care contacts occur in the 54 hours my surgery is open. Most of our contacts are with patients with chronic diseases, the elderly, children and those too sick to work. The worried well and those who are able to work are a very small part of our workload and can usually be accommodated in the hours we work. Mr Cameron’s proposal to extend our opening hours by 60% to accommodate the latter group would be a terrible waste of scarce resources. I would not expect an increase in 60% of work and the result could only be that the same number of patient contacts would be spread over a longer time, leading to a drastic reduction in productivity.
What is required is 24-hour access to GP-type services where patients are seen with access to their GP record, by doctors who understand how to cope with complex psychosocial problems and who will not expose them to unnecessary investigations or hospital admission. These could be GPs and the training GPs who are already working in urgent care, out of hours and A&E departments.
• Why don’t we set up more places in medical schools to train doctors, as well-qualified students are turned away, with roughly 10 applying for every place? If Cuba can train enough doctors to top the world in patient-doctor ratio at 170:1, why, in 2007, were we 37th at 440:1, behind the US with 390:1 and Ireland with 360:1? Perhaps, also, more medical students could be encouraged to go where the greatest need is, ie general practice or A&E.
The true colours of this “all in it together” Government are finally being exposed.
They impose a pay freeze on public-sector workers, insist on less-than-inflation pay rises for our valued health service staff, and threaten to take even those away.
They drive workers into part-time and zero-hours contracts and claim this as a success in reducing unemployment. At the same time, they fail to address the issues of tax loopholes costing the Exchequer billions, and vote to keep their generous and unjustified expenses and above-inflation pay rises.
How can we respect our politicians when they behave with such hypocrisy? No wonder people are less satisfied with politicians than they are with loan sharks and estate agents.
We need a new political era, based on something other than self-interest.
Pete Rowberry, Saxmundham, Suffolk
Yet again, you report companies dodging tax via a British tax haven. Why don’t we sell these territories, and make some money for the British public, instead of these territories increasing the tax burden on the British public?
The Channel Islands could join France, Gibraltar Spain, and the Caribbean islands the USA. The Isle of Man would join the UK. Subject to transitional arrangements for residents of these places, why do we not close these tax havens as soon as possible?
Richard Maples, Salisbury
My blood boils at the naked class interest of this government. With tax cuts for the rich – in a recession where they have got yet richer – and corporation tax being practically voluntary for many who trade here, mortality figures expose the truth about life in modern Britain.
In Glasgow’s poorest part, male life expectancy is 53 years, whereas it is 82 in the wealthiest area.
Now, after clobbering social housing tenants with bedroom taxes, Jeremy Hunt slams foreign NHS-users over what are trivial sums in the context of how much the City made from the Royal Mail privatisation.
Howard Pilott, Lewes, East Sussex
Control the press by law reform
To suggest, as Nigel Farage does (“No to Leveson!”, 21 October), that ordinary people can use the courts and defamation law to make the press behave is ridiculous. Even in these days of no-win-no-fee litigation there is still a substantial risk of the plaintiff being left with an unacceptably large bill to pay.
The courts would be a good way of controlling the press, but a few changes are needed. First, we need a proper privacy law. Second, we need a system of legal aid for this type of case. Third, we need a system of preliminary hearings to ensure that frivolous and vexatious cases do not get to court. And fourth, we need to follow the Americans, to some extent, in extending the use of exemplary damages.
If these changes were made, the effect would be exactly what most people are looking for, and the system would be free from political interference.
Some readers will recall an incident 30 or more years ago when an “expert” employee of one of the major newspapers said in public that his job was not to tell the truth but to sell newspapers.
As demonstrated by the Leveson Inquiry, that is still the attitude of many newspaper people today. They don’t care if they wreck lives, businesses or marriages, as long as they sell their papers.
Maresfield, East Sussex
Pictures of West Bank violence
Ben Lynfield (“West Bank simmers as Palestinian anger builds in face of occupation”, 19 October) detailed the escalation of violence in the West Bank recently, during which three Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists, and a nine-year-old girl was injured.
The latest incident involved a Palestinian driving a tractor into an army base and attempting to run over a soldier. However, the accompanying photos, on a double spread, misrepresent both the content of the piece itself and the reality on the ground. Six of the seven photographs portray a simplistic, one-sided Palestinian narrative.
In one photo, we see a man holding the picture of his relative, who committed the terror attack. Missing are any photos of the Israeli victims or their grieving families. Thus, a balanced portrayal of the events is also, unfortunately, missing.
Yiftah Curiel, Spokesperson, Embassy of Israel, London W8
Forget a freeze, go for carbon tax
Will we ever have politicians who think things through? If you announce a price freeze for energy suppliers some time in the future, you can expect everyone to establish as high a price as possible before it comes into effect.
If you then implement a price freeze, you will either lock in a high level of profitability or concede defeat if market prices for energy make it unsustainable.
If you tell everyone to change supplier, you are simply moving customers to the last company to increase its prices. Let’s bite the bullet and have a carbon tax.
Jon Hawksley, London EC1
Further to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s intervention regarding astronomical fuel pricing, there is far too much hand-wringing at British Gas that reducing executive pay would make no difference in the grand scheme of things.
On the contrary, were the chief executive of Centrica, Sam Laidlaw, to distribute his windfall of £2m (from bonuses, not salary!) between 20,000 shivering, penniless pensioners, each of the latter would receive £100.
Godfrey H Holmes, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Not waste but food fit for pigs
A few years ago, I peered into the waste bins behind the Co-op in my local village. I saw plastic bags full of bread, fruit and vegetables.
I wrote to the Co-op and obtained an agreement that I could collect this waste food, which was destined for landfill. I have a few rare-breed Tamworth pigs whose food bills had recently risen hugely. So since then, my sows and their offspring have feasted on all sorts of plain and fancy breads, vegetables and fruit, perfectly legally. So long as they don’t have any meat or cooked food, all is well.
Mind you, those salads in plastic bags are a bit of a pain – more plastic than food – but the plastic gets recycled through my council collection, so I reckon I and my pigs are doing the best we can for the environment in our small way.
Sparsholt Down, Wantage, Oxfordshire
Millions spent on Madeleine
I hope someone can explain why the police are spending £5m of UK taxpayers’ money on the search for Madeleine McCann.
Six years have passed since this tragedy happened, and however sad her disappearance/abduction was, it seems an inordinate amount to spend on this one inquiry, not to mention Crimewatch on BBC last week.
Does this indicate that all children who disappear in strange circumstances will have this amount of money spent on efforts to trace them?
Or is it just that the parents of Madeleine McCann have friends in high places, eg the Prime Minister?
Penny Proudlock, Fleet, Hampshire
Belief in culling born of ignorance
Janet Devoy (“This English thing about badgers”, 18 October) insists that “top predators”, such as badgers, must be culled. This public belief that wildlife numbers are regulated only by direct killing is baffling to scientists – as if within-species competition over territory and food resources, competition with other carnivores, weather, quality of habitat and, yes, disease have no impact.
And it is the same with prey species such as hedgehogs. Top-down effects from predators might be much less significant than bottom-up effects from habitat loss and pesticides. It is concerning to say the least that the British public so readily underestimates the complexity of ecosystems.
Adele Brand, Caterham, Surrey
The real scandal of Plebgate
Andrew Mitchell admits to swearing at police officers. It seems that the officers involved lied about the incident. Both parties behaved badly.
Such misdemeanours should be publicly aired. But at a time of austerity is it really necessary for the airing to waste quite so much public money?
Susan Alexander, Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire
Is it coincidence that the supermarkets that are growing – Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s (report, 23 October) – are the ones that don’t inflict piped music on their customers?
Bob Carlisle, London SE18
Our job is to be educators, not border guards
We write as academics concerned with the way in which the rhetoric over security is undermining the university as a place of learning and open discussion (“Is this really necessary? Universities introduce fingerprinting for international students”, 21 October).
The latest move by the universities of Sunderland and Ulster, singling out international students to give fingerprints to prove their attendance at lectures, is reprehensible and to be condemned in the strongest terms.
As academics, we have a duty of care towards all our students, and such policies undermine that relationship. We call on the universities of Sunderland and Ulster to withdraw the use of this system, and for all other universities to take seriously their commitment to equitable treatment of all their students.
We also call on the Government to stop putting pressure on universities to enact such immigration policies. This damages the international reputation of UK higher education at all institutions. We are educators, not border guards.
Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick
John Holmwood, University of Nottingham
Chris Rossdale, City University, London
Anupama Ranawana, University of Aberdeen
Robbie Shilliam, Queen Mary, University of London
Hannah Jones, University of Warwick
Cecily Jones, University of Warwick/Independent researcher
Adam Barker, Independent academic
Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University
10. Sonia McKay, London Metropolitan University
11. Mark Cresswell, Durham University
12. Steve French, Keele University
13. Malcolm J. W. Povey, University of Leeds
14. Alan Warde, University of Manchester
15. Aaron Winter, University of Abertay
16. Alexandra Kokoli, Middlesex University
17. Andrew Sayer, Lancaster University
18. Bev Skeggs, Goldsmiths, University of London
19. Dennis Leech, University of Warwick
20. Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow
21. Myriam Salama-Carr, University of Salford
22. Cath Lambert, University of Warwick
23. Steve Jefferys, London Metropolitan University
24. Gavin Brown, University of Leicester
25. Cristian Serdean, De Montfort University
26. David McCallam, University of Sheffield
27. Claudia Marquesmartin, University of Aberdeen
28. Sarah Annes Brown, Anglia Ruskin University
29. James Elliott, University of Oxford
30. Mark Toogood, University of Central Lancashire
31. Marci Green, University of Wolverhampton
32. Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster
33. Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University
34. Catherine Baker, University of Hull
35. Michael Lewis, University of the West of England
36. Mark Campbell, London Metropolitan University
37. Dr Jacob Copeman, University of Edinburgh
38. Luke Martell, University of Sussex
39. Rosa Vasilaki, University of Bristol
40. Daniel Chernilo, Loughborough University
41. Jo Grady, university of Leicester
42. Kate Tunstall, University of Oxford
43. Kathleen O’Donnell, Oxford Brookes University
44. William McEvoy, University of Sussex
45. Emma Mason, University of Warwick
46. Michael Bailey, University of Essex
47. Anne Barron, London School of Economics and Political Science
48. Colin Wright, University of Nottingham
49. Meera Sabaratnam, SOAS, University of London
50. Kevin Sanders, University of Huddersfield
51. Deana Rankin, Royal Holloway, University of London.
52. Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham
53. Christine Achinger, University of Warwick
54. Catriona Kelly, University of Oxford
55. Adam Kaasa, London School of Economics and Political Science
56. Katherine Ibbett, UCL
57. John Parkinson, University of Warwick
58. Charlie Louth, University of Oxford
59. Alexander Smith, University of Warwick
60. Clive Gabay, Queen Mary, University of London
61. Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, University of Bath
62. Naomi Eilan, University of Warwick
63. Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths, University of London
64. Malcolm MacLean, University of Gloucestershire
65. Anna Strhan, University of Kent at Canterbury
66. Angela Last, University of Glasgow
67. Jonathan S. Davies, De Montfort University
68. Hazel Conley, Queen Mary College, University of London
69. Des Freedman, Goldsmiths College, University of London
70. Jeffery R. Webber, Queen Mary College, University of London
71. Jan Culik, University of Glasgow
72. Jenny Pickerill, University of Leicester
73. Daniel Orrells, University of Warwick
74. Ayça Çubukçu, London School of Economics and Political Science
75. Matthew Donoghue, Oxford Brookes University
76. Patrick Ainley, University of Greenwich
77. Suzanne Hall, London School of Economics and Political Science
78. Lee Jones, Queen Mary College, University of London
79. Michael Loughlin, Manchester Metropolitan University
80. Barry Smart, University of Portsmouth
81. Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London
82. Alain Viala, University of Oxford
83. Rick Jones, University of Leeds
84. Hilde C. Stephansen, The Open University
85. Helen Swift, University of Oxford
86. Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh
87. Marika Sherwood, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London
88. Geoff Williams, UCL
89. John MacInnes, University of Edinburgh
90. Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick
91. Paul Bagguley, University of Leeds
92. Victoria Blake, University of Leeds
93. Uri Gordon, Loughborough University
94. Brenda Johnston, University of Southampton
95. Srila Roy, University of Nottingham
96. Lynne Pettinger, University of Essex
97. Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University
98. Rachael Dobson, Kingston University
99. David Owen, University of Southampton
100. Bahar Baser, University of Warwick
101. Bob Brecher, University of Brighton
102. Jo Littler, City University, London
103. Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham
104. Nick Clark, London Metropolitan University
105. Anna Kemp, Queen Mary, London University
106. Michael S. Northcott, University of Edinburgh
107. William Outhwaite, Newcastle University
108. Deborah Lynn Steinberg, University of Warwick
109. Alpesh Maisuria, University of East London
110. Philip Moriarty, University of Nottingham
111. Derek Sayer, Lancaster University
112. Raphael Salkie, University of Brighton
113. Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow
114. Mick Carpenter, University of Warwick
115. Katherine Angel, Queen Mary, University of London
116. Philip Grant, University of Edinburgh
117. Ronald Mendel, University of Northampton
118. Bronislaw Szerszynski, Lancaster University
119. Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University
120. Pablo Schyfter, The University of Edinburgh
121. Cassie Earl, Manchester Metropolitan University
122. Emma Carmel, University of Bath
123. Roger Jeffery, University of Edinburgh
124. Patricia Jeffery, University of Edinburgh
125. Michael Rosie, Sociology, university of Edinburgh
126. Jeff Hearn, University of Huddersfield
127. Anamik Saha, University of Leeds
128. Karim MurjI, The Open University
129. Doreen Crawford De Montfort University
130. Joe Deville, Goldsmiths, University of London
131. Sara Ahmed, Goldsmiths, University of London
132. Kay Peggs, University of Portsmouth
133. Caroline Warman, Jesus College, Oxford
134. Stuart Hodkinson, University of Leeds
135. Mikko Kuisma, Oxford Brookes University
136. Les Back, Goldsmiths, University of London
137. John Baker, University of Westminster
138. Marian Mayer, Bournemouth University
139. Steve Garner, Open University
140. Chris Jones, Liverpool John Moores University
141. Max Farrar, Leeds Met University
142. Khursheed Wadia, University of Warwick
143. Bahadur Najak, Durham University
144. Richard Hall, De Montfort University
145. Isobel Urquhart, University of Cambridge
146. Susan A J Stuart, University of Glasgow
147. Gavin Williams, St Peter’s College, Oxford University
148. Kate Hardy, University of Leeds
149. Will Davies, University of Warwick
150. Colette Fagan, University of Manchester
151. Hannah Lewis, University of Leeds
152. Saer Maty Ba, Independent Academic
153. Bernard Sufrin, Oxford University
154. Aylwyn Walsh: University of Lincoln
155. Lauren Tooker, University of Warwick
156. Andy Danford, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England
157. Jason Hart, University of Bath
158. Siobhan McGrath, Lancaster University
159. Charles Brown, University of Westminster
160. Madeleine Davis, Queen Mary, University of London
161. Tony Side, Middlesex University
162. David Evans, St Mary’s University College
163. Jason Tucker, University of Bath
164. Anne-Marie Kramer, University of Nottingham
165. Nickie Charles, University of Warwick
166. John T. Gilmore, University of Warwick
167. Stephen Williams, Worcester College, University of Oxford
168. Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex
169. Viviana Ramirez, University of Bath
170. Peter Cressey, University of Bath
171. Emma Jackson, University of Glasgow
172. Dženeta Karabegović, University of Warwick
173. Mette Louise Berg, University of Oxford
174. Shahnaz Akhter, University of Warwick
175. Diana Paton, Newcastle University
176. Maja Savevska, University of Warwick
177. Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster
178. Gary Hazeldine, Birmingham City University
179. Judith Bara, Queen Mary University of London
180. Roberta Mulas, University of Warwick
181. Ima Jackson, Glasgow Caledonian University
182. Graham Smith, University of Northampton
183. Christine Gledhill, University of Sunderland
184. Joyce Canaan, Birmingham City University
185. Mark Addis, Birmingham City University
186. Claudia Baldoli, Newcastle University
187. Xavier Guégan, Newcastle University.
188. Naaz Rashid, University of Manchester
189. Carlos Frade, University of Salford
190. Jill Steans, University of Birmingham
191. Ross Abbinnett, University of Birmingham
192. Simona Pino, University of Warwick
193. Lisa Tilley, University of Warwick
194. Neelam Srivastava, Newcastle University
195. Christalla Yakinthou, University of Birmingham
196. Franck Düvell, University of Oxford
197. Laura Jenkins, University of Birmingham
198. Felix Robin Schulz, Newcastle University
199. Tessa Wright, Queen Mary, University of London
200. Oscar Garza, University of Bath
201. Robin Cohen, University of Oxford
202. Beatrice Godwin, University of Bath
203. Laura Povoledo, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England
204. Christian Karner, University of Nottingham
205. Nick Mai, London Metropolitan University
206. John Clarke, Open University
207. Sarah Campbell, Newcastle University
208. Rachel Lara Cohen, City University London
209. Andrew Wells, Independent Academic
210. Deema Kaneff, University of Birmingham
211. Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham
212. Kevin McSorley, University of Portsmouth
213. Julie Ryan, Manchester Metropolitan University
214. Maddie Breeze, University of Edinburgh
215. Nicola Clarke, Newcastle University
216. Luke Yates, University of Manchester
217. Georgie Wemyss, University of East London
218. Anneliese Dodds, Aston University
219. Tom Vickers, Northumbria University
220. Bryce Evans, Liverpool Hope University
221. Ben Jackson, Oxford University
222. Ipek Demir, University of Leicester
223. Clare Madge, University of Leicester
224. Parvati Raghuram, Open University
225. Veit Schwab, University of Warwick
226. Stephen Jones, University of Bristol
227. Duncan Harcus, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University
228. Elizabeth B Silva, Open University
229. Robert Fine, University of Warwick
230. Peter Fletcher, Keele University
231. Lena Karamanidou, City University London
232. Vicky Margree, University of Brighton
233. Martin Farr, Newcastle University
234. Alice Mah, University of Warwick
235. Bahadir Çeliktemur, University of Warwick
236. Esther Bott, University of Nottingham
237. Stephen Kemp, University of Edinburgh
238. Marijn Nieuwenhuis, University of Warwick
239. Marisol Sandoval, City University London
240. Laura Harvey, Brunel University
241. Matt Kranke, University of Warwick
242. Seref Kavak, Keele University
243. Sarah Burton, Goldsmiths College, University of London
244. Darya Malyutina, UCL
245. Dave Featherstone, University of Glasgow
246. Benjamin Houston, Newcastle University
247. Elisa Lopez Lucia, University of Warwick
248. Maja Cederberg, Oxford Brookes University
249. Laura Prazeres, Royal Holloway, University of London
250. Daniel Fitzpatrick, UCL
251. Tracey Warren, University of Nottingham
252. Melissa Fernandez Arrigoitia, LSE
253. Robert Cowley, University of Westminster
254. Ibrahim Sirkeci, Regent’s University London
255. Guillermo M., Goldsmiths College
256. Simon Bradford, Brunel University
257. Rowland Atkinson, University of York
258. Jennifer Fraser, Birkbeck College
259. Elizabeth Dowler, University of Warwick
260. Stephen Ashe, University of Stirling
261. Jo Halliday, Goldsmiths College London
262. Marika Mura, University of Warwick
263. Liz Bondi, University of Edinburgh
264. Simon Cross, Nottingham Trent University
265. Tim Lang, City University London
266. Sian Lucas, University of Salford
267. Kim Allen, Manchester Metropolitan University
268. Gail Davidge, Manchester Metropolitan University
269. Sarah Goler, University of Warwick
270. Sanoj Tulachan, University of Warwick
271. Aggie Hirst, City University London
272. Rachna Leveque, University College London
273. Jim Lusted, University of Northampton
274. Samiksha Sehrawat, Newcastle University
275. Leah Bassel, University of Leicester
276. Derek Averre, University of Birmingham
277. Sarah Lamble, Birkbeck College, University of London
278. Liza Schuster, City University London
279. Misato Matsuoka, University of Warwick
280. Benoit Dutilleul, University of the West of England
A Royal Commission would bring clarity to the function of the police and would examine whether the structure and staffing was adequate to those needs
Sir, The comment piece by David Davis (Oct 23) carried the usual attack on policing standards and integrity. Mr Davis is right in calling for a Royal Commission on policing, something that would be welcomed by many within the service but, I suspect, for different reasons than those given by him. The Commission would bring clarity to the function of the police within a modern society and would examine whether the structure and staffing was adequate to those needs. It would also examine the issues raised by many within the media, and by Mr Davis, in a truly unbiased, thorough way.
Mr Davis gives an account of police misconduct spanning some 40 years or so in an effort to substantiate his calls for “root-and-branch reform”. If we want to make an examination of the past we could talk of people such as Yvonne Fletcher, Jane Arbuthnot, Keith Blakelock and many other officers who have given their lives in service. We could talk about the 300 officers who were killed and a further 9,000 who were injured, some grievously, in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. We can also talk of misconduct, which is real and undermines public confidence, but any examination must be based on the whole picture, not on convenient snapshots.
(Retired police sergeant)
West Bridgford, Notts
Sir, One way of cleaning up the police force and restoring it to its former reputation, quite apart from Mr Davis’s suggestion, is to require a far higher standard of education for new recruits, and to stop the police investigating their own misdemeanours. Such misdemeanours should be investigated by an independent panel from outside the police force. This should have the power to compel the relevant police force to dismiss offenders with complete loss of their pension rights.
Seaford, E Sussex
Sir, Mr Davis says police should wear head cameras to record all contact with the public. Head cameras have been used by many forces for several years and act as an incredibly useful tool for evidence and intelligence gathering. It should be clarified, however, that police officers are highly accountable for their actions — GPS tracking, static and mobile CCTV and video equipment in police cars all play an important part in ensuring incidents are recorded professionally and transparently. We do not tolerate corrupt officers in the police service; the vast majority of officers conduct themselves with the utmost honesty and integrity.
Mr Davis cites as a solution for the problems in the service the establishment of a Royal Commission on policing. We agree — and have been calling for one since 1999.
Vice-chairman, Police Federation of England and Wales
The US immigration security routines were waived for me because I’m over 75 — is that ageism or should I be thankful?
Sir, At Boston passport control recently everyone’s fingerprints were taken except mine. I was excluded because of my age. Leaving from New York airport all shoes had to be removed unless over 75. At 82 should I be shouting “ageism” or be thankful?
Sir. Alas, I think Mr Cashman (letter Oct 21) is wrong about Chesterton’s remark on entering the US. It was Gilbert Harding who yielded to temptation and said yes when asked if he intended to overthrow the Government. His response, “Sole purpose of visit”, was made at the US consulate in Toronto. He was arrested on arrival.
As a governor of a comprehensive school in the 1980s, I often witnessed the inefficient workings of local government
Sir, As a governor of a comprehensive school in the 1980s I witnessed a typical example of the workings of local government (letters, Oct 18, 21
Rotting bike shed. Plans for a replacement: wooden with corrugated iron roof; within budget. Iron roof not acceptable. Wooden structure not in keeping. To be built in brick. Design unattractive. Tiled roof proposed. Education officers suggest enlarging it to make secure space for lawnmowers, etc. Planning permission needed.
Whole project so far over budget that plans scrapped.
High winds finally demolish existing shed. Too expensive to replace. No new bike shed — the original reasonably priced design lost in the files.
Why have antibacterial properties of copper and copper-alloy door handles not been widely adopted in public washrooms?
Sir, It is disappointing that the proven antibacterial properties of copper and copper-alloy door handles have not been widely adopted in public washrooms (letters, Oct 18 & 23).
How do you cook Welsh cakes? The Great British Bake-Off quiz didn’t tell us the answer but I have a relative in the know
Sir, You did not give an answer to Q14 of your Great British Bake-off quiz (Oct 22): How do you cook Welsh cakes? Having learnt in the land of my father-in-law from the man himself, I speak with almost native authority. Ignore a) b) and c); the right method is d) on an iron skillet.
SIR – I had a choice of two essay subjects in my Magdalen entrance exam in 1950. One was: “A man standing at some distance from you is said to appear smaller than his actual size. How near must he approach in order to appear his actual size?” The other was: “How do you tie your necktie?” Unsure whether the tie in the second question was bow or traditional, and thus in danger of appearing sartorially untutored, I went for the first. It seemed to satisfy the examiners’ quirks.
SIR – “Have you seen the Principal yet?” said my tutor at my Oxford interview. “Talk about Scott; the Principal likes Scott.”
Somehow I managed to get into Oxford without Sir Walter riding to the rescue.
Rev Roger Holmes
SIR – The go-ahead for the Hinkley Point nuclear power station is a long-overdue endorsement of the Government’s mixed-energy-source policy, with its commitment to 57 per cent British content. But we also need a commitment to British manufacturing. Nearly 60 per cent of nuclear build is civil engineering (concrete, roads, tunnels, etc.). Unless a large proportion of this goes to British companies, we will miss a rare opportunity to revitalise British manufacturing.
The precedents are not promising. In off-shore wind, Britain has built many of the largest facilities in the world, but with less than 20 per cent of British-manufactured content. The loss is not just of British content in British facilities, but also of export opportunities for manufacturers. Britain should not be just a flat-pack assembly shop for imported manufactured components.
Ernie Richardson and Paul Strzelecki
Nuclear Capital Partners
SIR – Nuclear power stations depend upon inputs of rocks containing uranium, which occurs in small amounts in ores – chiefly uraninite, pitchblende, carnotite and coffinite. These ores are a finite resource which are costly to extract and transport and do not exist in commercial quantities in Britain. Has this fact been taken into account in the costing?
Dr D E Earl
SIR – We are told this development is a source of carbon-free and green electricity, hence we should welcome it. Uranium mining and the separation of the fissile 235 isotope from the inert 238 are very energy-intensive processes. As we deplete the more abundant ores, the process will become more difficult and energy-intensive. Has anyone considered the carbon input required before we generate our “green” nuclear energy?
SIR – You reported that offshore wind farms were to get £155 per megawatt hour. As these farms generate only for 30 per cent of the time, £92.50 for nuclear generation, which delivers for about 80 per cent of the time, sounds rather good value.
SIR – Had more MPs come from business, engineering and scientific backgrounds than from law and the media, would we have dithered to the extent of now needing the French and Chinese to build a nuclear power station for which Britain was a one-time pioneer?
SIR – Perhaps the Government will now have the courage to tell Angela Merkel that until Hinkley Point is commissioned we will continue to run our coal-fired plants.
A battalion for the chop
SIR – The public comments by General Sir Nick Houghton, the Chief of the Defence Staff, in which he raises the disbandment of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, require a response.
This is not a “Victorian” rant of the “Save the Blankshires” sort that Whitehall finds so tedious; and so easy to dismiss. The politically driven decision to cut the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers makes no military or financial sense.
A mass of evidence, of the sort I know the Chief of the Defence Staff respects, points to a flawed decision. The Fusiliers – part of a sustainable Queens’ Division – could recruit abundant English volunteers from this nation’s multi-cultural communities.
So why is an effective unit being culled? It has no Royal Household patronage. Its demise will not bring Joanna Lumley on to the steps of the Ministry of Defence. It recruits from the heart of England, so there is no lobbying by Ulster Unionists or those who fear politically a Scottish backlash.
Politics dictate military strategy, but politicians can re-examine decisions. Do the Chief of the Defence Staff and his Secretary of State believe it right to recruit from Kathmandu or Kildare rather than Bury or Birmingham?
When a democracy takes the grave decision to use force of arms, should the sons and daughters of the electorate not go out to fight?
The Prime Minister saw the battalion in Bury. He will have noted its community support: the bustling multi-ethnic towns of Bury, Heywood and Middleton came to a halt to pay respects to Fusilier Lee Rigby. This is what the jargon of “sustainability” looks like: a community that cares enough about its Regiment for local men to join it.
Months after the flow of recruits was turned off to prepare for disbandment, the battalion is a stronger unit than many that were spared for political reasons. Manning figures for the British infantry make troubling reading and the disbandment of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers will make a bad situation worse.
The Chief of the Defence Staff bridges military and political worlds. Now that he has brought the battalion to public attention, I trust he will lay out the facts of effectiveness and sustainability in his direct Yorkshire way.
The battalion is due to disband in August 2014. There is just time for the MoD and Downing Street to think again.
Lt Gen (retd) Sir Paul Newton
SIR – I was educated in the Forties and Fifties in state primary and grammar schools. My excellent primary school head was an unqualified teacher and, in all probability, most of my grammar school teachers were, too.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, who insists that teachers in free schools should be trained, might not be aware that until 1972 there was no requirement for university graduates to be trained. They automatically attained qualified status by virtue of their academic education.
Having taught alongside many such people, I doubt them to be inferior to my own teacher-trained ability to impart knowledge.
Dr M O Thomas
Filling in silence
SIR – Peter Franklin wants a silent helicopter.
Oh, for a silent dentists’ drill, or – even better – a laser machine as used in eye surgery.
SIR – A year ago, on a visit to Britain, my son needed to see a GP in Exeter. Upon producing his European Health Insurance Card, the staff at the surgery appeared puzzled as to how to process the card. I have never seen the charge on my itemised medical insurance bill in the Netherlands. In effect the NHS decided not to collect the money they were entitled to.
The NHS’s problem with collecting money from foreign nationals may be largely due to NHS incompetence and only a small part due to foreign nationals not wanting to pay.
SIR – In Canada in the summer I badly damaged my finger and thumb. Before being allowed into the emergency room I was charged $563 on my credit card. After sewing me up, the doctor debited another $231 for the treatment. If the “nice” Canadians can devise a rigid method of charging people not entitled to free medical treatment, why can’t we?
Sick of sequels
SIR – I note that Jane Austen’s novels are being rewritten to bring them into the modern world.
Recently we have seen James Bond, Hercule Poirot and Bertie Wooster re‑appearing in sequels. It is all very well the owners of these literary estates approving and even encouraging sequels but would Fleming, Christie or Wodehouse have approved of their characters being revived for financial gain?
When The Willows in Winter appeared as a sequel to my favourite book, I swore then never to own or read such a thing.
SIR – How glad I was to see the “Crucifixus” from Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle picked as one of Ivan Hewett’s Classic 50. I bought the recently released EMI recording of the mass earlier this year. Having sung parts of it as a teenager, I remembered it being rather good but, 35 years on, I’ve been completely entranced by its beauty.
It’s been on my brain all through a recent trip round Italy and even made the low-cost airline bearable.
Bishops sharing a cell in the Tower of London
SIR – Yesterday, at the Tower of London, we, as Bishop of London and Archbishop of Westminster, knelt in prayer together. Using prayers written by St Thomas More, we prayed in his place of imprisonment, and descended to the crypt of the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula where his headless body was left after his execution in 1535.
It may seem remarkable that a bishop of the Church of England and a Roman Catholic bishop should pray together in the crypt of St Thomas More. As Chancellor and friend to Henry VIII, he died because, faithful to the See of Rome, he could not recognise Henry as Supreme Head on earth of the Church in England.
We rejoice that many wounds dividing Catholics and Anglicans have been healed. Wounds still remain. This is why we prayed that our unity may be deepened.
We also remembered in silent prayer all who suffered because of sincerely held convictions during religious conflicts of the 16th century. The Tower of London authorities intend to put greater emphasis on this period, and we believe this will bring Christians closer. So we strongly support the appeal to restore the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula and the crypt housing the tomb of St Thomas More. The appeal sees the launch of the 1535 Society, to promote understanding of the role in history of Thomas More and other Christians who died in pursuit of religious beliefs. Its members will contribute to the restoration of the chapel and the crypt.
We must never forget our past if we want to walk wisely into the future. Hence the importance of preserving this shrine, to remind us of the dangers of religious intolerance and to recall men and women of faith to the primacy of love for God, which leads to love of neighbour.
Rt Rev Richard Chartres
Bishop of London
Most Rev Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
Sir, – Several commentators have claimed that medical cards are awarded on the basis of income. While it may suit the Government and the HSE to give this impression, income is not the only factor that must be taken into consideration in deciding entitlement to a medical card.
Under the Health Act 1970, a person is entitled to a medical card if, he or she is “unable, without undue hardship, to arrange general practitioner medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependents”. Leaving aside the harsh poor-law language of the legislation, it is clear that the HSE must also take into account the medical condition of an applicant and whether his or her income is sufficient to secure medical care to treat that condition “without undue hardship”.
We can continue to argue about how much hardship people should endure before they secure medical care, or we could decide to move as quickly as possible to universal access to general medical care, a decision that every western European country took at least a generation ago. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – As a father of three young children, I find the universal medical card slightly ludicrous. It strikes me that it would make more sense to give each child four visits in the year. This would cover the vast majority of our needs. After this people should pay according to their means (paying from €5 to €60). The savings should be used to ensure that people, with serious, prolonged and certified medical needs would get all the care they need. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – Your correspondent Kenneth O’Galligan, (October 22nd) bemoans the fact that his entitlement to a medical card, being 70 years and older, will reduce from the current gross income figure of €1,200 to €900 per week, a reduction of 25 per cent, while a single person’s equivalent will reduce by 16.67 per cent from €600 to €500. He wonders if this differential might be unconstitutional.
If he were to look at the HSE website he would see that the current figures for over 70s is, as he describes. The income limit for others are as follows: Married couples up to 65, €266.50 per week. Married couples from 66 to 69 it is €298 per week. Therefore, a couple up to 65 can have an income of €266.50 currently, where over-70s can have €1,200. Even when it reduces to €900 it will be over 337 per cent more than for a couple aged up to 65.
Similarly, a couple aged from 66 to 69 can have an income of €298, so the new reduced over-70s rate will still be over 300 per cent more than for a couple aged 69.
May I suggest that Mr O’Galligan thank his lucky stars that he has such an income and might consider writing to the relevant ministers to address the far greater inequalities at the bottom of the income ladder? – Is mise.
SEÁN O KIERSEY,
Kill Abbey, Deansgrange,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.
Sir, – If only you could have published the letter from Senator David Norris (October 23rd) before the recent referendum to abolish the Seanad, then surely the result would have been a resounding Yes. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Roy Keane states that Alex Ferguson does not know “the meaning of the word loyalty” (SportsWednesday, October 23rd). I cannot help but think of Saipan, pots, and kettles. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Your article regarding Randox diagnostic deal with Mexico is interesting (Business + Innovation, October 21st).
In particular the quote by Dr Peter FitzGerald, managing director of Randox Teoranta: “Of course it is not just about economic growth and job creation, most important to us is the fact that our technology, researched and developed in Ireland, will contribute to earlier diagnosis, more accurate treatment and better outcomes for patients in Mexico, as well as reducing the burden on the country’s health service.”
Minister for Health James Reilly might do well to go on a junket to Mexico – they seem to have it solved. – Yours, etc,
Fortmary Park, Limerick.
Sir, – When President Michael D Higgins told Mexico that Ireland is emerging from its economic crisis steadily and with determination, did he utter a qualifying rider about our health, educational and other social policy crises? – Yours,etc,
* I enjoyed Mary Kenny’s article regarding the way that things that once seemed outdated spring back into vogue with such regularity, that it surprises me that people don’t stop to think first.
Also in this section
The Untouchables – a true story of Irish politics
Let’s finally leave our sordid ‘history’ behind
Another Budget to shield the comfortable
And I do agree that in the 60s the sheer volume of what Dubliners referred to as ‘culchie vandalism’ of their fair city knew no bounds, with Georgian buildings that gave the city its character torn down like Christmas decorations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, only with more venom.
However, I cannot agree that Charles Haughey was interested in restoring the character of our capital city, and believe much of his so-called interest in the arts or his passing fad for architectural appreciation had more to do with his ‘acting the Squire’ of the manor, so to speak, (a bit like Mrs Bucket in ‘Keeping up Appearances’), along with his trips to France and his shopping sprees for 70 punts-a-pop Charvet shirts. But to imagine that man had any altruistic motives other than his own promotion in doing anything, is touching . . . touching the fantastic.
The wanton destruction in the 60s of the Harcourt Street rail line to the south of Dublin (I remember as a child travelling with my mother on it and it was as fine an example of 19th Century architecture as you could find anywhere) – came under Mr Haughey and Mr Blaney, and no doubt Mr Boland and Co’s Anglophobic wrecking balls . . . about the only kind any of them had, if the truth be told.
So too the block of concrete commonly known as ‘Der Bunker’ by Dubliners – a squat in all its dumb glory – like some enormous concrete breeze block public lavatory, blocking out the natural view of Christchurch from the river Liffey.
And last, but by no means least, the horror statue of ‘Thomas Davis’ which doubles as a toilet and a bubble bath at times, but mostly is used by birds to relieve themselves on its head – which is now covered with enough guano to fertilise a large plot in the Phoenix Park.
Next time you’re around College Green take a look at it. It defies description.
I would suggest that it should be taken down and either Bertie Ahern’s or Brian Cowen’s statues erected instead on the same spot with the same usage by the birds of both as latrines.
* A then future British prime minister walked into Terence MacSwiney’s funeral during its London stage.
The Mayor of Stepney, Major Clement Attlee, in his civic regalia, was one of many representatives of London Boroughs, who paid their respects to the late lord mayor of Cork. A brief memoir carries a photo of Attlee at the funeral, which was led by a guard of honour from Cork No 1 Brigade IRA in full uniform.
The planned Dublin stage of the funeral was thwarted when MacSwiney’s siblings were forced from their train at Holyhead, and the lord mayor’s remains seized and sent separately by sea directly to Cork following the intervention of Sir Henry Wilson.
Dail Eireann’s agent in London, Art O Briain, paid for transportation to Dublin, and his receipt, recently discovered, was remarked on in another paper.
Perhaps some enterprising researcher will establish whether he got a refund. Perhaps the refund, plus interest, is still owing to the Irish State’s coffers and Mr Noonan might persuade Mr Osborne, a professed friend of Ireland, to cough up? In these austere days, every little helps.
Palmers Green, London
GONE TO THE DOGS
* I would like to respond to the comment column by Sinead Moriarty in your paper.
It is very disappointing to read a very one-sided argument regarding dogs. It is a fact that a dog’s personality is developed from birth by the treatment and training it receives from its owner or handler. It is unfortunate that a few cases of attacks on people degrade the joy and usefulness that dogs bring to humans.
Maybe Sinead should educate her children on the positive attributes of canines by showing them news of dogs finding people trapped under rubble after an earthquake, leading people across roads, or detecting bombs and drugs.
I wonder has Sinead ever heard of a guide dog attacking somebody. Not likely. It’s the dog owners, in my opinion, that need to be regulated, not the dogs themselves.
Damien Mc Clurg
Temple Bar, Dublin 2
* Intuitively, Paul Horan’s (Irish Independent, October 17) case for annual health checks for all the population makes sense. However, when the evidence is examined the rationale does not stand up to critical analysis.
The Cochrane Library, which produces internationally recognised systematic reviews, in 2012 reviewed universal annual health checks and found they do not affect death rates, illness or hospitalisations compared with usual care. It has been postulated that this poor result is because higher-risk patients are less likely to attend for routine health checks than healthier patients. However, when higher-risk patients attend their regular primary care practitioner, they are targeted for opportunistic screening.
There are many down sides to unnecessary health checks. There is the cost of diverting medics away from usual healthcare. Also, there is the potential for over-investigation, over-diagnosing of inconsequential, asymptomatic illness and possible over-treatment. This can expose the patient to a risk of harm with no potential benefit, but the healthcare system benefits via increased unnecessary activity.
Dr William Behan
Walkinstown, Dublin 12
* I turned 66 on Saturday and was asked if I was going to march on Dail Eireann with the “Grey Brigade”.
As I stooped to pick up my bus pass, which arrived the previous day, I thought of all those worse off than me – countless young people trapped on the property ladder, the homeless who sleep rough, the families that rely on St Vincent de Paul or the Capuchins for a meal every day, the children that are subject to abuse within the “safety” of their home.
Here I am with €230 dropping into my account each week like clockwork, with no mortgage to worry about, and my wife looking forward to a similar amount. So I have to suffer some financial hardship! So what! It’s nothing compared to those less fortunate than myself.
So, I politely made my excuse for not marching and went back to my painting. But not before I put a euro in a jar. If I do this daily, and live for three more years, my children won’t have to worry about a death grant.
* Kevin Bailey raised his genuine concern about emigration and job numbers in his letter on October 22. He wrote about how his daughter, currently in part-time employment, is Australia-bound next week.
Mr Bailey outlined that the creation of 30,000 jobs in the last year were, in his opinion, the same positions as those left vacant by the 31,250 people who left the country last year while holding positions of employment. This is not the case.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the number of people in employment has risen by 33,800 in the last year (1,836,100 to 1,869,900). The majority of these are full-time (21,600). These are additional jobs.
It is horrible to be out of work, but people need to know there is hope for jobs in the future.
Damien English TD
Chairperson Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation