Doctor and dishwasher

31 October 2013 Doctor and Dishwasher

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Heather wants Leslie to name the date of their marriage. Priceless
See the doctors not too bad dish washer repair man comes
We watch Hancock its not too bad
Scrabble today Mary wins get just under 400, though perhaps I will win tomorrow.

Obituary:

Jean Weston
Jean Weston was a House of Worth model whose tall, slim figure suited the postwar fashion revolution launched by Dior

Jean Weston modelling a Worth evening dress for Queen Mary 
5:50PM GMT 30 Oct 2013
Comments
Jean Weston, who has died aged 83, was better known, in the immediate post-war years, as “Rowlande”, one of the leading models at the House of Worth.
She was 17 when, in 1947, she joined the famous fashion house at £3.8s per week. Earlier the same year Christian Dior had taken the fashion world by storm with a collection of glamorous designs characterised by small, nipped-in waists and full skirts falling below mid-calf length, which became known as the “New Look”.
At 5ft 9in tall, weighing 7½ stone and with an 18in waist, Jean had the ideal figure for the new style and, as one of Worth’s six permanent models working in London, was quickly propelled into the limelight, appearing at both catwalk shows and in private showings to Worth’s regular clients.
For every season each of Worth’s models had her own collection of outfits, each individually named. At any one time “Rowlande” had 14 different outfits, which would take between four and six weeks to make and were divided into three groups: Day, Evening and Cocktail. She had three pairs of shoes (supplied by Rayne of London), one to suit each group.

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Jean Weston in a Worth ballgown
Many of Jean’s private clients were titled or famous, and there was great competition between them to ensure that they were dressed in the latest Worth outfit. One of her outfits — a chiffon dress called “Damask Rose” — caused a buying frenzy after the actress Valerie Hobson wore it in public. A three-quarter-length dress with a ruched design and no seams, it became one of Worth’s best sellers.
Jean Weston recalled that managing the day’s appointment book was a job that required diplomatic skills of the highest order. Worth’s London premises in Grosvenor Street featured private cubicles for the girls to model for their regular clients; and sales assistants were expected to ensure that clients were assigned cubicles away from each other to ensure their privacy and avoid embarrassment. On one occasion Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, visited on the same day as her husband’s (the 11th Duke’s) previous wife and his current mistress. Jean’s other clients included Raine McCorquodale (later Countess Spencer) and Lady Mountbatten.
Many of the Worth models were themselves members of the aristocracy, and some were quite put out when Jean was invited to St James’s Palace to model for the then Queen Elizabeth, her mother-in-law Queen Mary, and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

Jean Weston modelling a Worth suit for Queen Mary
Three months after starting work at Worth, Jean was approached by Hardy Amies, who offered her a salary rise. When the financial director at Worth heard about it he immediately put up her salary to £5 a week. Although she continued to work for Worth until 1951, at larger events she would often model creations by other designers, such as Norman Hartnell, Molyneaux, Amies and Paquin.
The daughter of a commercial property landlord and manager, she was born Jean Roland Farrant on January 11 1930 and grew up in Ealing, west London. She was educated locally at Haberdasher’s School, Ealing, and at St Augustines Priory, where she was captain of the tennis and netball teams.
After leaving school she enrolled, aged 17, at the Lucy Clayton finishing school, where the principal suggested she should pursue a career in modelling and sent her to see Victor Stieble of Jacqmar. While Stieble acknowledged her potential, he felt that she was too young for his designs. Instead he introduced her to Madame Elspeth Champcommunal, the head designer at Worth, who happened to be looking for a young model to replace one who had just left.
In 1951 Jean married Major Hugh Bruce, a Royal Marines officer who had spent most of the war in Colditz after being captured while defending Calais in 1940. Shortly after their wedding, Jean was invited to model at the Cannes Film Festival, but her husband felt that it would not be appropriate for the wife of an officer.
She never modelled again, though she kept her figure and good looks throughout her life. She continued to insist on being glamorously dressed for every occasion, whether it be a ball, the gardening or the housework — which she performed to the accompaniment of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. A perennial flirt, she enjoyed competing with her daughters at social events and was delighted when, aged 80 and attending a funeral of an old family friend with two of her daughters, she was mistaken for their sister.
After her husband’s death in 2003, in 2005 Jean married, secondly, John Weston MC, an old friend and comrade-in-arms of her first husband who had supported her after he suffered a stroke.
He survives her with the son and three daughters of her first marriage.
Jean Weston, born January 11 1930, died October 13 2013

Guardian:

Families should not need to move to gain excellent autism teaching and ABA is not the only or necessarily the best approach (Report, 29 October). All children should be able to get the kind of education and services they need to develop and thrive wherever they live in the UK. Enabling our children and young people to be happy and to learn, and supporting families to manage in their communities, is what matters. It does cost money, though, and the focus should be on what we are losing in the current climate as local supports are destroyed and good state schools are starved of cash.
Liza Dresner
Director, Resources for Autism
• As anyone lucky enough to be born in Yorkshire will proudly tell you (What’s so chuffing great about Yorkshire? G2, 30 October), there are only three types of people in this world: Yorkshire people; those who wish to be Yorkshire people; and those with no ambition at all.
Duncan Lister
Dewsbury, West Yorkshire
• When did the word “electric” change from being an adjective to being a noun, as in “gas and electric are becoming more expensive”?
Patricia Lowe
Lymm, Cheshire
• Every elderly person should be introduced to Facebook. Confined as I am, I get much pleasure in following the lives of young relatives – and enjoying cosy chats with old friends. Laptops on the NHS, I say!
Ann Tate (aged 82)
Leeds
• Having just returned from that country, I note one curious fact you missed about Uruguay (Shortcuts, G2, 23 October): duelling is allowed provided that both parties are registered blood donors.
David Craig
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
• I’m surprised no one has replied to the query asking if still picking strawberries and sweet peas now was a record (Letters, 28 October). Despite last night’s frost, and St Jude’s storm, I just picked sweet peas, a courgette and a generous handful of raspberries – that’s why they’re called “autumn bliss”. Any advance on this?
Jill Bennett
St Albans, Hertfordshire

We are gravely concerned at the possibility that annual data on child mortality rates in the UK, including the number of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, unexplained infant deaths and deaths from injuries and suicide, will no longer be published. This poses a real threat to improving the health of our children, particularly given that the UK has one of the worst child-mortality rates in Europe. Without this data we won’t know why children in the UK are dying. If we don’t know that, we can’t develop interventions to prevent these deaths. And without annual data, we won’t know whether any steps that are being taken are having a positive effect. The cost of producing each data set is said to be between £10,000 and £50,000 a year; a small price to pay for an invaluable measure of child health.
Dr Hilary Cass, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Francine Bates, Chief executive, The Lullaby Trust, Peter Wanless, Chief executive, NSPCC, Dr Hilary Emery, Chief executive, National Children’s Bureau, Jane van Zyl, Deputy chief executive, Sands, Andy Cole, Chief executive, Bliss, Katrina Phillips, Chief executive, Child Accident Prevention Trust

Simon Jenkins (Comment, 30 October) is spot on in identifying London as the soft underbelly of the HS2 case. Given the housing bubble, how much more than the £5bn estimated for Camden will compensation cost? This alone could drive a coach and horses through the supposed £42bn maximum. Why has nobody suggested longer trains as a way of increasing capacity? The cost of extending platforms would be negligible. Another way is to run slower (not faster) trains. They need less braking distance and hence more can be slotted into a given length of track.
Stan Zetie
Birmingham
• If HS2 is so important to connect Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, might it not be more appropriate to link these cities first? London doesn’t need more trains or lines. The original HS2 was to be centred on linking to a hub at Heathrow, which still makes more sense.
Derek Wyatt
London
• I note that one arm of the government has stopped the repeat entry of candidates for GCSE exams to “increase rigour”. The proponents of HS2 have just submitted their fifth submission to correct earlier errors in calculation. Should the government accept this?
Geoff Fagence
Oakham, Rutland
• Many would agree with Simon Jenkins that there are more urgent priorities for the HS2 billions. First and foremost, all our major cities need light rail or metro systems. Then, most or all of the rail network should be electrified and passenger and freight capacity expanded. Unfortunately, that money diverted from HS2 would simply go to something unsustainable, like our fast-expanding road-building programme – utter madness in a world which very urgently needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.
Jon Reeds
London
• If HS2 is such a good way of increasing capacity, should we ease congestion on the M1 and M6 by building a new “super motorway” with no upper speed limit, few access points and access restricted to cars capable of cruising at 120mph?
Jon Bell
Machynlleth, Powys
• I detect a bit of nimby, plus a hangover from a previous anti-public transport bias. I would like an expert to calculate what it would cost to build a six-lane motorway from London to Manchester/Leeds, compared to HS2. I don’t think motorways were rejected because they would drain prosperity from the north.
Tim Baynes
Kendal , Cumbria
• Using 150-year-old technology can never be justified: steel wheels on steel tracks. The only way to go is with magnetic levitation (maglev), a technology that has already been proven in Japan and China.
David Hurry
Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex
• Why will the construction of HS2 take so very long? The construction of TGV routes in France took a fraction of the time estimated for HS2.
David Craig
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
• HS2? More like H2S.
Dr George Duckworth
Burley-in-Wharfedale, West Yorkshire

We are all Sussex University professors who wish to signal our support for the industrial action being taken by UCU, Unite and Unison today. We support industrial action over a 13% real-terms pay cut since 2008, with staff having been offered just 1% this year by the university employers’ association. The squeeze on staff pay comes at a time when pay and benefits for university leaders increased, on average, by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors hitting almost £250,000; at Sussex, that figure hits £280,000. As higher-paid members of the university, we support the claims of our lower-paid colleagues.
We support the strike because universities have acquired over £1bn in surpluses as their staff’s salaries have fallen. At Sussex, the university had a financial surplus of £13.7m in 2012. Students now face greatly increased fees and staff work harder to provide more contact time and a better student experience. But none of this increased revenue is passed on to staff, despite the evidence that rewarding staff appropriately increases the quality of education for students.
We support the strike on behalf of all university workers from the lowest-paid upwards – our porters, cleaners and low-paid clerical, technical and administrative staff – and on behalf of women colleagues for whom the gender pay gap means unequal pay for equal work. We support the strike in protest at greatly increasing inequality across the UK. Company shareholders, investors and the highest-paid members of staff see their salaries grow significantly, while those of lower-paid staff fall to the point where people struggle to pay utility bills and afford food, whose prices are rising far faster than pay. There is a trend of increasing inequality in the UK since the 1970s, so the gap between rich and poor is as great as at any time since the 1930s.
Jane Cowan Professor of Anthropology
Rupert Brown Professor of Social Psychology
Ben Rogaly Professor of Geography
Filippo Osella Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies
Mick Dunford Professor of Economic Geography
Pete Newell Professor of International Relations
Dai Stephens Research Professor in Psychology
Mario Novelli Professor in the Political Economy of Education
Dominic Kniveton Professor of Climate Science and Society
Cynthia Weber Professor of International Relations
Jenny Rusted Professor of Experimental Psychology
Zoltan Dienes Professor in Experimental Psychology
JoAnn McGregor Professor of Geography
Justin Rosenberg Professor of International Relations
Andrea Cornwall Professor of Anthropology and Development
Luke Martell Professor of Sociology
Mark Hindmarsh Professor of Theoretical Physics
Máiréad Dunne Professor of International Education
Maya Unnithan Professor of Anthropology
Beate Jahn Professor of International Relations
Nick Royle Professor of English
Raminder Kaur Professor of Anthropology
Jenny Bourne Taylor Professor of English
Sally Munt Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies
Sally Jane Norman Professor of Performance Technologies
Valerie Hey Professor of Education

The transport minister’s constant repetition – to boost the HS2 project – that the Olympics and HS1 were delivered within budget is disingenuous to say the least (Report, 20 October), since it deliberately fails to distinguish between the original and final budgets. All projects throughout history have always been delivered within the final budget – that is a truism. But the real question is, how many of them were delivered within the original budget? Almost none. The original Olympics budget was £2bn, the final budget was £10bn. The HS1 project has left a public debt of £4.8bn (according to the public accounts committee), and its predictions of passenger numbers were woefully over-optimistic. From past history we can therefore be supremely confident that the final budget for HS2 will be at least £100bn. Its supporters are no doubt relying on the certainty that once the project is under way and costs are soaring, there is no way that any government can pull the plug on the project when countless billions have already been spent.
One hundred billion pounds to save a few minutes on the journey to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds? A monumental folly. If the people of those cities want so badly to save those few minutes, why don’t they pay for HS2 out of their own coffers, not out of ours? It would only cost them about £25,000 per household, which could easily be spread over many years or decades.
Charles Rowe
Wantage, Oxfordshire
• Instead of rubbishing HS2, John Harris should promote extra connections to the proposed high-speed network (Comment, 28 October). Even with just the first section open, there will be train journeys that use both the new track and the current network, for instance from London to Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. But an extra connection near the new Birmingham Curzon Street station would allow his West Country train to call at Birmingham New Street, then join the high-speed network to Manchester airport and Manchester Piccadilly, both of which connect to his Stockport destination. This is called modernising the network.
At some stage a second high-speed line to London, from Nottingham via Leicester, will probably be needed. We should also plan a fast cross-Pennine line, to join the northern city centres, and high-speed lines from Cardiff and Bristol merging, and then splitting again towards Birmingham and west London. There needs to be passive provision in the HS2 plans to allow, at modest cost, this wider high-speed network to develop in the decades ahead. Any short-termist Labour party amendment to the HS2 bill should not be allowed to screw that up.
John Cox
London
• No doubt we should be grateful that, despite its callous disregard of the need for jobs and public spending in the north, the government is deeply protective of our leisure time. Suddenly, when it comes to making a “business case” for HS2, weekend disruption on the existing north-south lines is more important than the destruction of farmland and historic landscapes, new noise pollution and a £42bn bill. The government should stop worrying about us – we’re used to weekend line closures already, for “essential maintenance” ie the struggle to keep an ageing infrastructure going during years of underinvestment
Taking 4½ hours to get from London to Newcastle via Sleaford, or being tipped out of the train at Doncaster to get on a replacement bus pounding up the A1, are not ideal ways to spend one’s Sunday evenings, but if the result is three fully functioning and modernised north-south lines, rather than one hugely expensive white elephant, I’d choose the weekend disruption.
Sue Ward
Newcastle upon Tyne
• HS2 is about much more than speedy links between UK cities, important though these are. I am disappointed that Guardian commentators ignore wider debates concerning the triple bottom line. HS2’s direct economic impacts are critical, but so are potential social and environmental impacts – aspects of critical importance in progressive thought. We’ve lost the plot if the HS2 debate reduces to whingeing about London’s overcrowded stations. The point is that HS2, managed well, becomes an opportunity for other cities to benefit from some of the high-level employment and capacity currently causing problems in London. And surely those cities’ hinter-regions have enough warning now to manoeuvre advantageously too.
What about the reductions in road casualties, better air quality and carbon savings if more people use trains? The claim that HS2 is only for the rich is also ridiculous; I use the north-west intercity route several times a month and am not remotely wealthy – I buy my tickets online cheaply in good time. Why are we confusing silly ticketing and pricing now with potential for positive change in years to come?
Maybe more data is required before a final decision is made, but I am surprised Guardian writers have glossed over an ideal chance to explore the cost benefits of things that, in the direct in-your-pocket sense, money cannot buy. Where’s the vision?
Hilary Burrage
Liverpool
• I don’t remember anything like the campaign against HS2 taking place when HS1 was planned. There was, I recall, some opposition from people along the proposed route, on cost and environmental grounds, and a TV programme about the blight and uncertainty caused to those whose homes were close to it, but nothing to approach this vilification. Perhaps John Harris has never had the pleasure of sitting on a Virgin train which, because it had set off a little late from Euston, had to wait for every slow local train using the same overcrowded line. On what evidence does he say HS2 would provide “services for which there is no obvious demand”? If HS2 is used as an excuse for not investing in local services, should we not be doing both?
Moreover, your front page (Weekend rail closures for up to 14 years if HS2 is scrapped, 28 October) illustrates the difficulties of the alternatives. I can only conclude that many regard the saving of the odd 15 minutes on a journey to Paris, as being of greater importance than saving an hour on a journey to Manchester. Perhaps they should, in all conscience, eschew catching Eurostar on their next trip and use the older slower services all the way to Paris/Brussels/wherever.
Bill Sharrod
Coniston, Cumbria

Did you hear the joke about the African kids living in grinding poverty? Ok, so comedy and global development may not seem like the most obvious companions, but humour can be the best way to engage people with difficult, and sometimes controversial, social issues.
A video produced by a group of Indian stand-up comics satirising people who blame women for sexual assault recently went viral. The rapes in Delhi and Mumbai has meant that many Indians are starting to protest their outrage about the way women are treated in India.
Women have been blamed for dressing ‘provocatively’, for travelling at night alone, for working late, for being seen in the company of men – for pretty much anything really – and this is the point of the video, in which women talking directly to camera admonish those who blame men, saying instead “It’s my fault”.
G Khamba, one of the Indian comedians behind the video, said that comedy “provides an easy way in” to difficult subjects. “People tend to get put off when you’re talking about a social issue in a preachy or a top-down way.”
Whatever social message a comedian intends to send though, it must obey the first rule of comedy: be funny.
This year, a Bill and Melinda Gates initiative called Stand up planet: the revolution will be hilarious, has been filming comedians from around the world who give a better insight into their lives than any policy document could hope to do.
Though the documentary is yet to premiere, in a Youtube video, one South African comedian says: “I hate my teeth. Even though they are white minority of my body, they still get the best treatment,” hitting home about racial tensions in 10 seconds.
Watching comedy from non-Western countries humanises the subjects of development in a way that nothing else does. It makes people in the West realise that problems like sexual assault, hunger, and disease don’t just happen to some unknown face in South Africa or India. And empathy really is the first step in engaging with any issue on global development.
Priya Shetty in Brighton
Global health journalist
Comedy in development isn’t just appropriate, it’s vital
Comedy and satire are incredibly powerful tools. They allow us to deal with issues sometimes too hard to think about face on. We ask ourselves: is this true? Is this the reality? Can something this ridiculous or bad really be happening? That is the true power of comedy.
The satirical video about rape in India ‘It’s your fault’ probably caused more people to rethink their values and this situation than any amount of campaigning would do. It has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube – do you think any organisational campaign video could achieve that much?
Comedy like this makes us face our fears, we break through taboos, we say and hear things that people try to hide. Using humour gives people back control, it gives them a place to speak about issues and talk about problems in a way that feels comfortable. And as such, comedy is not only an appropriate tool to use in development, it is a vital one – one that can help break down those barriers we dare not talk about. One that gives a voice back to those who can’t talk. One that helps us deal with situations too hard to believe.
Emily Barker in Brussels

Independent:

I was disappointed, and rather shocked, to find that the responses to the hideous death of the innocent Bijan Ebrahimi (letter, and article by Frank Furedi, 30 October) were in terms of hysteria about paedophilia.
That was, of course, a major factor, but so must have been the constant vilification of immigrants and disabled people touted by the Government and screamed out from some tabloids. We are not encouraged to learn about or understand our disabled neighbours, but are repeatedly urged to view them as layabouts and frauds.
There is even a surprising difference between being falsely accused of being a paedophile and being falsely accused of being a benefit cheat. The former may be preferable, because in the latter case, regardless of your innocence, the DWP have decreed you must lose your benefits immediately and cannot get them back until you have been reassessed, possibly under more stringent rules and after a lengthy wait.
Many disabled people, just like Mr Ebrahimi, do not have visible impairments and are extremely vulnerable to false accusations. Our culture is encouraging every kind of vigilante and lynch-mob mentality and we will all be the worse for it.
Merry Cross
Reading
As your report said (29 October), a typical British murder driven by ignorance, stupidity, misinformation, prejudice and thuggery. Pity the oddball or quiet person living in one of these unforgiving, rapacious and violent alpha-male estates that exist all over this sad, heartless country. Pity us all.
Ronan Breslin
Glasgow
Strange logic  of the energy markets
I could not believe one of the answers from one of the power company executives appearing before MPs on Tuesday: “The mobile phone companies are making far larger profits than we are.”
You can buy mobile phones at stupid inflated prices, but you can also buy cheap versions at low cost. You do not have to buy a mobile phone, but you have to have energy supplies or you freeze to death. What kind of ivory towers are these executives living in? 
I am afraid Government can no longer sit back. When the cost of living is dropping prices must be held to protect British citizens.
Robin G Howard
Margate, Kent
I fail to understand how utility companies can compete other than by price and service differences – 240 volts at my plug is the same product whoever provides it; similarly with pure water and gas.
Product differentiation is the only real basis for competition. Hence, these services should be run as a national operation with managers judged on private industry performance levels and not the less demanding standards of the Civil Service.
Eric V Evans
Dorchester, Dorset
 
In Holland, my mother-in-law tells me that her gas and electric bills have been reduced. Perhaps they have their own supply there that’s not dependent on the same market as ours.
How is it that other countries’ governments can invest in and run their own and our gas, electric, water and train services at a profit, whereas our government can’t even run ours? Maybe I’m too stupid to understand it all….
Kate aan de Wiel
London SE21
Having received from British Gas their letter advising of the latest gas price increase, I calculated what my last quarterly bill would have been at the new terms. To check my calculation, I rang the 0800 number. At the outset I was told the wait was 15 minutes, it turned out to be 35.
Eventually, with some help from me, the assistant confirmed my calculation. Her initial effort, from her chart, was to say my bill would have been almost 150 per cent more than I paid. In actual fact the increase is 17.6 per cent, bad enough and some way above the 8.6 per cent mentioned as typical in BG’s letter.
During the conversation, I was told the tariff shown in the letter was the only one available to all British Gas customers. The one way I could save anything would be to pay by direct debit. Apparently, prompt payment and dual fuel discounts are now banned by the regulator. Incidentally, the assistant who provided this information was in Cape Town.
Is this the competitive, efficient, privatised energy industry we were promised by Thatcher?
Tony Smith
Woking, Surrey
Anyone who believes we all have some right to shirt-sleeve warmth through the winter hasn’t grasped that the age of cheap fossil fuels is over. The debate about keeping fuel bills down underscores the tension between sustainability (long-term) and democracy (short-term). It takes grown-up leadership to reconcile these, by spelling out tough truths.
I am 72 and do not heat my house, except for guests. The appropriate technology for staying warm is to heat only that air actually in contact with one’s skin, by means of thermal clothing.
If astronauts can stay comfortable in the near absolute zero of space by wearing hi-tech clothes, we could easily put up with cold weather if we applied our technology to the challenge, rather than dismiss it all as “putting on a jumper”.
The winter fuel allowance is misapplied. It should be a winter clothing allowance.
Roger Martin
Upper Coxley, Somerset
Remembrance hijacked
How sickening to see David Cameron using the launch of this year’s Poppy Appeal as a photo opportunity – one shudders at the thought of what next year’s First World War “commemorations” might hold for us.
My grandfathers both fought in the First World War trenches. I wear a poppy each year on behalf of them for the comrades they knew who suffered and died. I do not do it because I support British troops fighting wars overseas – and that is a distinction the idea of the beautiful blonde “Poppy Girls” fails to make. It is about commemorating the sufferings on all sides.
In the last few years one has sensed a desire by politicians to take over the national remembrance for their own political purposes, to establish a subtle link to ongoing conflicts in an attempt to somehow legitimise them.
This year I shall not be buying a poppy in protest – I am certain it is what my grandfathers would wish.
Nigel Cubbage
Merstham, Surrey
All responsible for quality care
Your editorial “Social care: The continuing disgrace of our care homes” (18 October) is right to ask questions about the role of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) through successive scandals (Winterbourne View, Mid-Staffordshire, Orchid View).
As you noted, CQC has not had sufficient resources to do the job expected of it; I am not convinced, however, that an “aggressive culture” is what we want. Don’t we want knowledgeable inspectors who can support well-motivated services to do better, as well as challenge poor practice?
However, regulation and inspection can never be completely relied upon to keep people safe. While regulatory failings surely played a part in these scandals, pointing the finger at CQC allows us to take our eyes off the responsibilities we all have – as friends, relatives and employees – to question poor practice when we see it. Having people who know and care about you involved in your life is the best safeguard.
Alison Giraud-Saunders
Brill, Buckinghamshire
Scapegoat for death of Baby P
It was interesting to read about Ed Balls’s “outrage” at the pay-off to Sharon Shoesmith, Haringey Council’s former Head of Children’s Services. Had Ed Balls not authorised Ms Shoesmith’s unlawful dismissal, one suspects such a pay out would not have been made.
At the time, it seemed clear that Ms Shoesmith was being made the scapegoat for the systemic failures that led to Baby P’s tragic death. I am keen to learn more about what lessons have been learnt by Haringey Council and other local authorities since then.
The Court of Appeal’s decision confirms that Ms Shoesmith was unfairly dismissed. Instead of looking for a scapegoat, the Government and Haringey should have initiated a proper, transparent investigation that would have led to the appropriate disciplinary sanctions for the relevant people.
Shah Qureshi
Head of Employment Law, Bindmans LLP, London WC1
Charming side  of Lou Reed
Like many others, Sir Tom Stoppard felt intimidated by Lou Reed’s brittle persona (“Anti-hero of the Czech underground”, 30 October). My experience was different.
In 2007 and again the next year, I was one of a small group of young singers from the New London Children’s Choir who toured Europe with Reed when he revived his controversial Berlin album to widespread acclaim. He was the very model of charm and politeness. It must have been the yoga, which he often had us perform with him on airport transfer buses, much to the surprise of our fellow travellers.
Elly Brindle
London SW6
Bullying press must be curbed
I am bitterly disappointed to see The Independent’s vociferous objections to the negotiated compromise proposals for press “regulation” (leading article, 29 October). As I understand it, the proposals as they stand will not prevent the press investigating wrongdoing or speaking on issues of importance.  What it should do is provide some sort of redress for those innocents bullied and libelled in the name of “public interest”.
I read The Independent because I respect it, but its whingeing over this issue is fast eroding that respect.
Sara Neill
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Dogs that attack other animals
While Blue Cross supports an increase in penalties for irresponsible dog owners (“Owners of dogs that kill to face longer prison sentences”, 30 October), more action is needed on out-of-control dogs. This includes dealing with dog attacks on other animals.
A dog that injures or kills another pet should be a cause for concern. Allowing or encouraging such behaviour towards a cat, a horse, or another dog is antisocial behaviour and should be considered in this legislation.
Rachel Cunningham
Blue Cross pet charity
Burford, Oxfordshire
 
Blair’s legacy
In the interview on pages 12 and 13 of Tuesday’s Independent we read that Tony Blair is now advising 20 countries. On page 17 the headline for Patrick Cockburn’s piece is “As Syria disintegrates, so too does Iraq”. Enough said?
Brian Mitchell

Times:

It is not justice when a judge abstains from praising men’s virtues — and abstains from condemning men’s vices
Sir, In response to Sir James Munby (“Our courts are no longer Christian, says top judge”, Oct 30), while I agree that faith should not be the foundation of morality, it is obvious who profits and who loses by the precept of moral agnosticism (the idea that one must never pass moral judgments on others). To pronounce moral judgment is an enormous objective and responsibility. A judge should possess an unimpeachable character and unbreached integrity. It is not justice or equal treatment that is granted to men when a judge abstains from praising men’s virtues and abstains from condemning men’s vices.
D. S. A. Murray
Dorking, Surrey

Sir, You suggest that the President of the Family Division’s remark that judges should not “weigh one religion against another” is a recent development. As long ago as 1862, in the case of Thornton v Howe, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Romilly, remarked that, “I am of the opinion that the Court of Chancery makes no distinction between one sort of religion and another . . . Neither does the Court, in this respect, make any distinction between one sect and another.” This principle was subsequently applied in other cases, notably those concerning Scientology.
Howard Self
Macclesfield, Cheshire

Sir, The British judicial system, enshrined in Magna Carta, upholds the rule of law, property ownership and trial by jury as statutes mandated by the sovereign and the Bible. With our society becoming increasingly secular and pluralistic, it is imperative that we firmly adhere to our millennia-old Christian values and norms which underpin our social and moral structures and constitute the basic elements of social conservatism.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, wrote in Truth and Tolerance (2004) about cultural relativism which sanctions degeneration, decadence and disintegration of reason and asked whether one should reject the conception of pluralism which reflects moral relativism.
Sam Banik
London N10

Sir, Sir James Munby is mistaken in saying, “Happily for us the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals . . . we sit as secular judges”. He contradicts himself when he goes on to say that all tenets are entitled to respect provided they are . . . “not immoral”.
At her coronation the Queen swore an oath that she would to the utmost of her power maintain in the United Kingdom “the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law . . . the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England”.
In the 2011 census 59 per cent gave the Christian religion as their affiliation. Parliament has not seen fit to disestablish the Church of England. It is for the legislature, not the judicature, to make fundamental changes in our country’s legal policy if it thinks it right to do so.
Francis Bennion
Retired Parliamentary Counsel
Budleigh Salterton, Devon

Even though rail services are nearly back to normal after the recent storm, passengers may still advised not to travel
Sir, Andrew Dow (letter, Oct 29) ought to be aware that the failures of rail privatisation are not unknown to the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). Yesterday morning’s National Rail Enquiries website (part of ATOC) proclaimed “First Capital Connect are expecting to run a near normal service. Passengers are advised not to travel”.
Stephen Briggs
Litlington, Herts

Two outstanding people, both natives of Bradford, have been omitted from the list of Yorkshire’s cultural icons
Sir, The writer of your third leader (“The Majesty of Bridlington”, Oct 29) omitted two outstanding names from the list of Yorkshire’s cultural icons, Fred and Jack, both native Bradfordians. I refer to Delius and J. B. Priestley.
Just rubbing it in.
Keith Copland
Baildon, W Yorks

Does Oliver Kamm believes the works in the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut should be sent home?
Sir, I very much enjoyed a visit to the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, and was impressed by the size and quality of the collection. However, as Oliver Kamm believes “the Marbles should go back home to Athens” (Oct 29)’ he would presumably argue that this whole collection should be shipped back to Britain. The return this year of the Walpole paintings to Houghton (though temporary) shows what a dramatic impact this would have on many houses open to the public and galleries the length and breadth of the country. Though perhaps Mr Kamm would have wanted the Walpole collection to have gone straight back to Italy and other countries in which the works were created.
Alan Toop
London SW3

The proposal that Royal Collection of Art should permanently be sent on tour around the country is foolish and dangerous
Sir, It would be hard to imagine a more misguided and potentially destructive proposal than urging that the Royal Collection of Art should permanently be sent on tour around the country (letter, Oct 30).
Moving works of art is risky and is frequently found (if not always admitted) to have been injurious. Renoir’s large masterpiece The Umbrellas is, for legal reasons, shuttled between the national galleries of London and Dublin. Its conservation records show that the first cracking of paint was suffered along the line of a horizontal supporting bar on the stretcher frame, against which the canvas vibrated during travels.
Because of the increased risks (estimated by insurers to be six times as great) when moving works of art around, pictures are often “conserved” prior to their travels. These treatments themselves can constitute a hazard. When The Umbrellas received its first cleaning the paint suffered further massive cracking and actual losses.
Since the National Portrait Gallery began sending Laura Knight’s Self-portrait with Model on tours of provincial galleries the picture has undergone frequent conservation treatments for cracking and flaking paint. Viscount Dunluce, when head of conservation at the Tate Gallery (1975-1995), wisely noted that pictures are made to hang on walls and not to be shuttled around on lorries.
Michael Daley
Director, ArtWatch UK

Ed Balls said the payment to Sharon Shoesmith “leaves a bad taste in the mouth”. But it is partly his fault
Sir, Ed Balls yesterday told BBC radio that the reported £600,000 compensation payment to Sharon Shoesmith “leaves a bad taste in the mouth”. Many would agree that Ms Shoesmith might honourably have taken responsibility and resigned over the Baby P scandal, and that if she had not resigned she ought to have been dismissed, after due process had been observed. H er dismissal, though, was so badly botched by Haringey Council and the then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families that the Court of Appeal awarded her compensation.
The figure of £600,000 is shockingly high, but what really “leaves a bad taste in the mouth” is that the Secretary of State was Mr Balls himself. Ms Shoesmith is getting this payment because Mr Balls failed to follow the law. Is he now seeking to question the authority of the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, who held that Ms Shoesmith was entitled to compensation precisely because Mr Balls and Haringey dismissed her without the natural justice that exists for the protection of all employees? If fair procedure had been used, and employment law observed, Ms Shoesmith could and should have been dismissed without this new cost to the public purse.
Jonathan Morgan
Fellow in Law, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Telegraph:

SIR – As you report in your leading article, a fox has broken into the Tower of London and killed two of the ravens, bringing the country perilously close to disaster. As legend has it, any fewer than six ravens and the Tower will fall, and the kingdom with it.
However, a yeoman warder told us last week on a guided tour that there are in fact “usually nine held in the Tower; the six required by Charles II and three spare – not that we’re superstitious or anything”.
Thus, despite having sadly lost two, we still have one spare. We can breathe a little more easily for now. That is, until Mr Fox gets in again.
David R Stearne
Eythorne, Kent

Irish Times:

Sir, – Recovering our economic independence has become a bit of a mantra from the Government. It is also a myth.
Reaching the magical 3 per cent deficit is not the end of our obligations under Lisbon and the Fiscal Compact. We are obliged to bring our debt to GDP ratio down to 60 per cent and to work towards a balanced budget.
Either a buoyant international economy will allow us grow our way towards those goals, or we will be stuck in the rut of further cuts and tax increases.
The precautionary line of credit from the troika is a sensible insurance policy in the event the world economy doesn’t come to our rescue. I can’t see that any conditions attached will be much different from what we will have to do in any case to meet our targets. We will have to have our budget reviewed and approved in either case.
It would be better if Minister for Finance Michael Noonan would stop the macho rhetoric about regaining our economic sovereignty and opt for the insurance of a precautionary line of credit. He has no right to gamble on international recovery at our expense. – Yours, etc,
VINCENT MURPHY,
Sir, – Buried in the Department of Education and Skills website there is a statement in relation to apprenticeships. Essentially, from 2014 onwards, the onus is placed on apprentices to directly pay the institutes of technology for their tuition.
Previously this fee was paid by the government.
Some of these fees could run as high as €1,890 per student.
Apprentices already pay “part registration fees” for their time on campus and this will add to the economic burden on some of these young people. In addition, given that apprentices will now be paying registration and tuition fees to the institutes while the CAO first-time applicant pays only registration fees this is grossly unfair.
This type of action shows the Minister’s lack of regard for vocational training in the State.
Moreover, the covert manner of its publication leaves me with a worrying feeling in respect of the future of apprenticeships in the State. – Yours, etc,
PAUL GOREY, Med BSc,

Sir, – “Blueprint for a smarter society” is a great article by Fintan O’Toole (Weekend Review, October 26th). It has always struck me as a huge paradox that we use a top-down centralised hierarchical system of government, when we have a community-based culture most European countries must envy.
Our politicians seek power, when what they really should be doing is seeking to leave a legacy for the generations to come. Instead, they use the resources of the State to retain power, all the time claiming to be “looking after” their constituents.
If it is any consolation, the same complaints can be heard by people across the western world. This short-term power craving over long-term planning is failing people now, and storing up huge problems for the future.
Real change will never come from the top down, but rather from the still-strong grass roots. Perhaps The Irish Times might like to take the next step and help organise/sponsor a conference for a community-centred Ireland. – Yours, etc,
GERRY KELLY,
Orwell Gardens,

Sir, – Irene Crawley, director of the Hope project, based in Dublin, states long-term methadone use is a form of State-sponsored social control (Home News, October 21st). Presumably the same could be said about any form of public health service, as well as welfare payments, governmental support of education, etc.  However, the specific criticism of methadone treatment attributed Ms Crawley is difficult to reconcile with the evidence – or with pragmatism.
To start with the latter, one can only wonder what alternative hope (or Hope!) she would offer to the almost 9,000 current recipients of methadone maintenance in Ireland, and the thousands more who want it, need it, and may well die without it. As for evidence, it’s unequivocal:  opiate addiction is a chronic condition which, to date, we can treat but simply do not know how to cure (the same is true of alcoholism). It’s also a condition where relapse is the rule rather than the exception when treatment – any treatment – ends. 
It is not dissimilar from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. And yet few would criticise the management of these diseases because the vast majority of patients are unwilling or unable to become “drug-free” through behavioral change, such as rigid adherence to a prescribed diet and exercise regimen. For sure, supporters should express their pride and admiration of Hope, and applaud its contribution to the well-being of its successful clients. Denigrating other types of care, however, discredits their advocacy. – Yours, etc,
ROBERT NEWMAN,  MD,  

First published: Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 01:09

   
Sir, – The explorer, Henry Morton Stanley, once cut off his dog’s tail, cooked it and fed it to him. A suitable metaphor to describe the most recent Budget. – Yours, etc,
SEAN McNALLY,
Chemin du Gaz,

Sir, – Brian O’Reilly (October 28th) would probably find that his personal tax liability would increase hugely if he moved from the US to almost anywhere else.
Interestingly, if I was a resident of Ireland last year, my take home pay would have been slightly higher than it was here in Australia (assuming the same income). On the other hand, it would have been lower if I lived in the UK.
In my opinion, these comparisons are more useful than Mr O’Reilly’s, as Australia, Ireland and the UK all have relatively similar healthcare, education and social welfare systems.
Those with low incomes are unquestionably better off almost anywhere in the developed world other than the US. In fact, even middle-class families would probably be better paying more tax rather than having to save upwards of $100,000 for each child’s college fees. – Yours, etc,
JACK NORTHWOOD,

Sir, – “Dubliners face water cuts due to problems at treatment plant” (Front page, October 30th). How ironical! Just as we face the imposition of a water tax, masquerading as payment for the treatment of water, the authorities responsible for the provision of treated water in the greater Dublin area are shown to be incapable of providing such a service! – Yours, etc,
ADRIAN J ENGLISH,
Kilcolman Court,
Glenageary, Co Dublin.
Sir, – An excess of raw material causing a shortage of product. Well done, Dublin City Council (Home News, October 30th). – Yours, etc,
CONAN DOYLE,
Pococke Lower, Kilkenny.

Sir, – The reported death of Australian runner Albie Thomas (Sport, October 30th) brought back memories of that wonderful evening in August 1958. With hundreds of others, I queued outside the Carlton Cinema for the special buses to Santry Stadium. The buzz of excitement was added to by Billy Morton who exhorted us by loudhailer to “Kindly infiltrate up to the back of the terrace”. We did and soon 20,000 sardines roared home the five athletes who magically broke the four-minute mile barrier. What a privilege it was to be there on such a historic occasion.
By the end of the evening Billy was out again with his loudhailer appealing to us not to damage his beloved track by bringing home matchboxes full of souvenir cinders. I was too busy chasing the “Famous Five” for their autographs – and was successful on all counts. I was 16 years old and it was, to quote Lou Reed, “a perfect day”. God rest you, Albie. – Yours, etc,
JOHN QUINN,
Stradbally North,
First published: Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 01:05

   
A chara,  – Last Sunday, I left Ireland after a two-week holiday to return to Denmark, my home for the last four years. Saying goodbye to my family is inevitably always a tearful affair, but when going though the security check, one of the airport personnel took one look at my face, looked me in the eye and asked a very simple question, “Did you just say goodbye?”. This prompted a fresh flood of tears while she very gently and calmly helped me sort out my bags, buggy and young daughter, talking to me all the while until she could see I’d managed to get myself a little more together. Then she wished me well on my journey home and sent one emigrant on her way with a lighter tread. 
The security check at Dublin Airport can be the most pitifully lonely place as an emigrant; you’re surrounded by people excited to be leaving the country on holiday, looking forward to leaving those shores and yet you stand there, absurdly queuing with laptops and liquids in hand while your heart is breaking, and all you want to do is turn around and run back to the family you’ve just said goodbye to. Those few moments grace that she bestowed on me reminded me that I wasn’t alone. 
Don’t ever underestimate the impact a gesture or a word can have on someone’s day – I don’t even know her name but I’ll always remember what she did for me that day. – Is mise,
TRÍONA SØRENSEN
Ladby Longvej,

Sir, – In the ongoing search for a reform of Irish democracy, a key element which has not been questioned is the multi-party system. It injures democracy in three ways. It allows party managers to dictate the voting decisions of TDs and, in cases of disobedience, to limit the nonconformists’ contributions to the Dáil.
In general elections, political parties, interested only in winning Dáil seats, induce the electors to choose representatives on grounds of party affiliation rather than personal qualities. At the same time, in Ireland, as indeed in other European countries, the parties have lost the role and utility which they originally possessed by representing ideological differences that were substantially present in the electorate. All the parties now claim to hold in varying degrees more or less the same values and to be pursuing more or less the same objectives. Political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution.
Getting rid of them would not require a referendum; it could be done by enacting a law defining Dáil and Seanad as unitary bodies undivided by formal party affiliation. Imagine the parties replaced by the entire adult citizen body acting as a single “party” to elect the Dáil. The Dáil, as hitherto, would elect the taoiseach who would appoint the government. That, combined with devolution of substantial powers and functions to local authorities, would constitute for our democracy a clean break and an invigorating fresh start. – Yours, etc,
Dr DESMOND FENNELL,
Sydney Parade Avenue,

Sir, – Roman Catholic ascendancy and in particular the Ne Temere marriage decree were largely responsible for the narrow parochialism of the Church of Ireland in Dublin and elsewhere during most of the last century. There was the constant fear that the loss of children to the Roman Catholic faith as the result of a mixed marriage would eventually lead to the annihilation of Protestantism in the South of Ireland. Therefore “circle the wagons”, avoid any social or political involvement which might lead to a mixed marriage or branded as an enemy of Holy Catholic Ireland, Irish and Catholic being synonymous.
I well remember my mother’s warning: “Keep off religion and politics or you’ll get us all burnt out”. Thankfully things have now changed and we should welcome and seize the opportunity to have done with religious segregation and participate fully in public and political life, North and South, as Archbishop Jackson rightly emphasised at the Dublin Synod. – Yours, etc,
Very Revd VICTOR G
GRIFFIN,
(Dean of St Patrick’s
1969-1991),

Sir, – The figure of St Patrick has been interpreted and reinterpreted throughout Irish history. Your recent article (Sarah McDonald, Opinion, October 29th) concerning Revd Marcus Losack’s theory on the saint’s Breton origins is one more. Far from being the man of mystery, described by Marcus Losack, Patrick’s context is broadly understood by the many scholars who have worked on the saint, his writings and his missionary activities.
These allow us to identify Patrick as a Romano-Briton (a person of British origin who was culturally influenced by Roman society) from western Britain; he is not Breton.
The place-name evidence, adduced by Marcus Losack, does not carry any historical weight. Patrick’s own writings clearly identify him as British and his earliest biographers, writing in the seventh century, follow this lead.
The idea of a Breton Patrick is nothing new, however. It features in non-Irish works from the ninth or tenth-century, at which point the cult of the saint had spread beyond Ireland leading to renewed speculation. This was facilitated by the linguistic confusion whereby Britannia could refer to Britain or Brittany, similar to the confusion which existed between Scotia as either Ireland or Scotland. However, this speculation, written several hundred years after Patrick’s writings, should not supercede the saint’s own testimony. After all, he was in the best position to know where his home was located!
Fortunately, Patrick’s work is now more accessible than ever. I would urge readers to visit the excellent Confessio website, hosted by the Royal Irish Academy. It can be found at http://www.confessio.ie. There, Patrick can be read in his own words; it is worth taking him at them. – Yours, etc,
Dr ELVA JOHNSTON,
School of History and
Archives,
UCD, Belfield,
Dublin 4.
A chara, – As a proud Irishman I was disconcerted to hear my five-year-old son recently tell me that we didn’t live in Ireland, we lived in Northern Ireland. A fact gleaned from his (rationed) Playstation football activities. Joe Coy’s letter (October 29th) reinforced this obsession with terminology.
Recent events in Belfast reinforce the value of symbols and terminology in Irish life. I perceive the current state in Southern Ireland (including the island’s most northern part) as the Republic of Ireland. The Ireland referred to in the Constitution is the island which we as an Irish nation wish to see (peacefully and with consent) politically reunited.
I am not a legal expert, but I do not believe the will of the Irish people is for the people of the north east six counties to be refused the privilege of describing themselves as Irish or saying they are from “Ireland”. – Yours, etc,
PAUL O’NEILL,

Irish Independent:

* I was sitting at a table in Ionad Cois Locha Dun Luiche, sipping a cup of sugarless coffee. A friendly greeting by a tourist who sat down beside me got me in the mood for talking. Your man began telling me how he had come up from Dublin to have a look at the scenery.
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This fellow was a proper Yank – from Montana or Minnesota. He told me he was a farmer who owned eight quarters. I hadn’t a clue what he was on about until he saw the blank expression on my face. “You guys over here have farms,” he says, “but we have what’s called quarters, and each one of my quarters has 150 acres”. Well Byjasus, that put me firmly in my quarter. How could you argue with a man who had a farm the size of Donegal? And, to make it that bit more insane to me, it was only a sideline as he had many more fish in the pan. He bends down, and takes out three different iPads from a briefcase and opens one up.
I was mesmerised as he went on to show me his “quarters”, zooming in to show me a massive tractor ploughing land that would take all day to walk from one end of the furrow to the next.
He gave me a grand tour of the inside of his houses via the iPad. He showed me some of the pictures he had taken in his travels around Donegal. One of a crow taking off with a sausage discarded from some litter lout’s takeaway that was almost too big to allow take-off.
But my ears really pricked up when he said that his main reason for coming to Ireland was to attend a meeting in Dublin with a government estate agency! I was beginning to form the opinion that he was a real crackpot until it dawned on me that what he was referring to in actual fact, was NAMA. He advised me that if I had a few million dollars, I should start buying as there were real bargains to be had . “I don’t understand your Government,” he says. “If they had any business acumen, they would buy all this property cheaply as a future investment with taxpayers’ money and make it work for the benefit of the people, instead of giving money away to financial speculating bailout programmes.” I was really beginning to warm to this crazy man because of the simplicity he attached to the invest-and-return policy.
He looks at his watch, then takes out a fat wallet and extracts a business card from it and hands it to me, saying: “If you want to see a really big tractor, come and visit.”
J Woods
Dun na nGall
BLOOD FROM A TURNIP
* I love the irony of the new water advertisement. We are told that water is our most precious resource, naturally of course, after our people, the Irish people.
And by God are the Irish people some resource. The common or garden ‘mark one’ version pays off debts not incurred by them after developers, bankers and politicians went on an orgy.
In addition, they are also now compelled to pay a house tax to sate the greed of the unsecured bondholders.
Naturally enough, they take one on the chin so that the various gas, oil and electricity moguls make a healthy profit.
They also pay for the removal of their own refuse and upkeep of their own estates because the county councils who operate at the pace of a frozen glacier haven’t taken them into their charge yet.
Now if you are unfortunate enough to have to call the fire brigade, they also charge. Why? Maybe to pay the lump sum and pension of the various county managers who earn more than the leader of the free world.
Worse, as happened in Galway where some unfortunates went into a church to pray to St Anthony. On coming out, they found their cars clamped and had to pay cash to get them released. My, my . . . don’t think St Anthony would approve of that.
I now await the next miracle of this Government and that is doing what has, up to now, been impossible. The best brains in the world have failed to extract blood from a stone or a turnip.
I predict that before the next Budget, this Government will have achieved what everyone else has failed to do – and that is to extract blood from those two soulless objects. Mother Angela will be impressed indeed.
John Cuffe
Meath
PACK OF SCHOOLCHILDREN
* ‘Every person to their own job’ was the old criteria – provided, of course, they had the professional qualifications or necessary skills. When it comes to top people in government, ‘merely running a country’, there are many contradictions.
To explain, in a nutshell, it is irresistible not to quote Deputy Stephen Donnelly’s recent statistics on the four members of the Economic Management Council – Kenny, Gilmore, Noonan and Howlin.
“Four men, average age: 62; average income: €180,000; accumulated time in Dail: 120 years; and accumulated time in the private sector: zero. Professional training for all four: ‘teacher’. When I look at that group, I see an old guard and an old way of thinking.” And there wasn’t a female in sight!
I simply say: “God help them and us.” Is it any wonder our country is lopsided?
After the Budget, we had the wealthy and upper crust, as ever, heaving and weaving the balance of power; while the middle class and vulnerable sectors were treated like a pack of schoolchildren.
James Gleeson
Thurles, Co Tipperary
CANADA, ONE WAY PLEASE
* With the passing of the new Social Welfare Bill, Ireland has reached a new juncture. We now have a situation where an 18 year old can have the full weight of the law thrown at them, but when it comes to social support, we, as a nation, only throw little more than half of that which is deemed acceptably necessary for more mature adults.We have created, in my opinion, a second-class fiscal citizen. Are we saying to families that, now more ever, you are going to keep paying for your children?
Yes, Michael Noonan may have lost his medical card in the Budget, but his grandchildren, or indeed, given his age, his greatgrandchildren (if he has any), be they under the age of five, will be entitled to one, regardless of circumstance. So some children win and some lose.
Isn’t it somehow ironic that the kids that lose now are the very ones that do so because they have just turned an age when they are meant to stop being children and start being an adult part of our bright new post-bailout future? One-way ticket to Canada anyone?
Dermot Ryan
Attymon, Athenry, Co Galway
DROP KICKING BOD
* The Friday night appearance of Warren Gatland, British and Irish Lions rugby coach, on the Late Late Show, only serves to show the vacuity of press and media questioning on any topic. It’s amazing what people can get away with using a bit of charm on the media who only seem interested in filling paper space or air time.
Gatland’s most controversial decision during the Australian rugby tour was the dropping of Brian O’Driscoll for the deciding third and final test.
Though Gatland was apparently vindicated by the victory of the Lions in the third and final test, he has never explained exactly why O’Driscoll got the chop. Such soft soap as “Brian was disappointed” and “it was the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my coaching career” are all he’s come up with when asked.
It’s now a couple of months since the last Australian test and in all that time no press or media person has put Gatland under real pressure to properly answer the question.
Isn’t it about time somebody did?
Liam Cooke
Dublin 17
Irish Independent

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