9 November 2013 Printers

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Troutbridge is being refitted an all the tools are going missing. Could Pertwee have anything to do with it? Priceless.
Quiet day post books old printers picked up
Scrabble today Mary wins but gets under 400. Perhaps I’ll win tomorrow.


John Cole – Obituary
John Cole, the BBC’s political editor, won widespread respect for his impartiality despite his loathing for Mrs Thatcher’s policies

John Cole 
1:18PM GMT 08 Nov 2013
John Cole, the BBC’s former political editor, who has died aged 85, set the political agenda during the Thatcher years, when his mangled Ulster accent, square glasses and unfashionable herringbone coat made him an instantly recognisable figure on the nation’s television screens.
The sight of Cole outside No 10 or on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament was a guarantee of compelling and incisive political analysis. Honourable, hard-working and well-informed, he aimed to provide “politics for grown-ups”, and he had an enviable knack of exuding authority without being pompous or obscure.
He refused to get caught up in gossipy personality politics and had to be prodded into reporting the sex scandals which rocked Mrs Thatcher’s administration. Yet he always kept ahead of the game, because he was trusted to be fair and because his analysis was always rooted in an understanding of the fundamental political issues.
Cole’s idiosyncratic style and Ulster brogue won him his own unintelligible puppet on Spitting Image, and he was guyed in Private Eye’s “Hondootedly” column. He was irritated by the satire, confessing that he regarded himself as “a pretty serious journalist. I didn’t want to turn into a buffoon.” Nor was he amused when, after a report in which he had used the phrase “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”, his colleague David Dimbleby turned to the viewers and said: “That last bit was in French.”
But this slightly prickly, humourless quality was also the key to Cole’s success as a journalist. Entirely free of cynicism himself, and detesting the quality in others, he subscribed to the unfashionable theory that politicians enter politics for honourable and idealistic reasons, and he approached them and their performance in those terms.
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As a consequence, he was trusted by politicians right across the spectrum. Mrs Thatcher singled him out for her first interview after the Brighton bomb — and in 1990 he was the first to break the news of her imminent downfall; the first to predict that John Major would be Prime Minister; and the first to predict (again correctly) that Major’s challenger, Michael Heseltine, would be appointed Environment Secretary in the new administration.
Cole’s performance during the crisis won him the Royal Television Society’s journalist of the year award. At one point he jokingly remarked that he was thinking of going ex-directory so that he did not have to take calls from cabinet ministers asking him what was going on.
Even delegates to the Tory Party Conference had a soft spot for Cole. Yet ironically, had they known his true political views, they would have had all their prejudices about the Corporation confirmed. For behind his rigorous impartiality there beat an “Old” Labour heart — one colleague described him as the “last of the Stalinists”. He was a man who would, as he once confessed, have closed down Oxford and Cambridge and abolished the House of Lords.

John Cole and his wife, Madge (DESMOND O’NEILL FEATURES)
Cole was a model of politeness when he interviewed Mrs Thatcher, but — as he confessed after his retirement — he found it hard to remain impartial, as he detested everything she stood for: what he saw as her lack of concern for the poor, her “enamelled certitude” and “immanent sense of being right”. In one interview conducted after he had retired from the BBC, he named her as the worst Prime Minister Britain had ever had. That he was able to separate the personal from the professional indicated a modesty and intellectual integrity of a kind which few political pundits have achieved before or since.

When Cole retired from the BBC in 1992, it was John Major who gave perhaps the most perceptive assessment of his career: “Politicians like him, they trust him and when he presents policies, there is one thing he does that few others have ever managed to do properly. That is to set out the background to the decision and the constraints that politicians face. I think that’s earned him very high admiration.”
John Morrison Cole was born in Antrim Road, north Belfast, on November 23 1927 into a Protestant Unionist family. His father owned a small electrical business. His upbringing was Presbyterian and colleagues felt that this was the key to his character. David Wilson, a BBC producer who worked with Cole, described him as “a very moral man, upright in a rather old-fashioned way. He isn’t a table-banging Paisleyite, he’s much more like Cromwell: ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”’
Cole never distanced himself from Northern Ireland and would become irritated with English friends who dismissed the Irish as a lot of warring tribes. He himself favoured the union and internment, and disliked the Anglo-Irish treaty, though he rejected narrow sectarianism and despised discrimination. But as with all his political reporting, he was careful to maintain a strict impartiality, giving due weight to both sides of the sectarian divide.
Cole was educated at the Belfast Royal Academy, but left at 17 to become a cub reporter on the Belfast Telegraph, where he cut his journalistic teeth reporting the agriculture estimates at the old assembly at Stormont.

John Cole (back row, left) with BBC colleagues (BBC)
He had his first political scoop aged 21 when he was sent to the border to interview the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, on his way back from holiday in Co Sligo: “There was another young reporter there, but he was just doing a holiday story — asking the Attlees what they’d been doing… So [Attlee] was rather taken by surprise when I pulled out a cutting from a London paper which said that he was going to end partition and have a unified Ireland. This was news to Attlee, who denied it. ‘Get your notebook out, young man,’ he said to me. There and then he dictated his denial, in perfect paragraphs. I phoned it across, word for word, and it made the front page.”
The scoop convinced Cole that his future lay at Westminster, and in 1956 he took a job as a reporter, then labour correspondent, for The Guardian. In 1960 he won an award for Scoop of the Year after picking up a rumour that Alf Robens, a possible Labour leader, was going to be made chairman of the Coal Board by the Tories. No one in the trade union movement or the Labour Party believed it — not even Harold Wilson — but it turned out to be true.
Cole worked his way up to deputy editor, then, after being pipped for the editorship, took the same position at The Observer before Lonhro bought the paper in 1981. Cole gave evidence against Tiny Rowland at the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and, when the bid was cleared, Rowland extended an ironic hand of friendship: “He fixed me with those icy blue eyes of his and said slowly ‘I shall look forward to working with you.’ I knew I wouldn’t last.”
Cole was saved the indignity of touting round for a new job when, the following morning, the BBC rang to see whether he would be interested in the job of political editor. He took it like a shot.
In political interviews, Cole always played it straight, neither bullying nor sycophantic, a tactic which yielded a number of scoops. When he interviewed Mrs Thatcher after she had called the 1987 election, she was burying him in statistics when he saw “a chink for an old man to ask a woman no longer in the first flush of youth whether this would be her last election. She replied, ‘Oh no, I intend to go on and on and on.’” He saw her human side. In The Thatcher Years (1987) he wrote: “I heard of one occasion when she breezed into a meeting, slapped a file on the table and said to the assembling ministers, ‘I’m in a dreadful hurry this morning. I’ve only really got time to explode.’”
When Cole formally retired from the BBC in 1992, it was to mournful headlines. In retirement he wrote his memoirs, As it Seemed to Me (1995), in which he chronicled what politicians he knew had said or done over the years and developed the theme that the arrival of Mrs Thatcher marked the point at which pragmatic politics had given way to dogma. Disappointingly, however, he revealed little of himself. He continued to make regular appearances on television and radio, and in 2001 wrote a novel, A Clouded Peace, set in Northern Ireland.
Cole remained untouched by celebrity and lived a modest, frugal life. He avoided showbusiness parties, worked hard and continued to live in the pebble-dash house at Claygate, Surrey, that he had bought in 1956. People in the street would often take him for the weather man Ian McCaskill and, when asked what the weather would be, he would usually reply that it would be “sunny with a slight risk of showers”.
Typically, John Cole refused a CBE when it was offered in 1993.
He married, in 1956, Madge Williamson, who survives him with their four sons.
John Cole, born November 23 1927, died November 7 2013


Simon Jenkins supports the British version of the “cult of the individual” by promoting the idea of elected mayors in cities (Russell Brand’s new politics is here already – in our cities, 8 November). The idea of charismatic leaders can sound attractive, particularly at times of political disillusionment, but we should devolve power downwards not upwards. If we only look upwards for salvation, we can end up falling on our faces.
Derek Heptinstall
Broadstairs, Kent
• Our daughter took A-levels in maths, physics, chemistry and English literature at the local comprehensive school (Polly Toynbee, 5 November). Now a hospital doctor, she loves theatre, film and books. There should be more to life than passing exams.
Veronica Piekosz
Northallerton, North Yorkshire
• I support the sentiment expressed by Joe Haynes (Letters, 8 November) and I too have forgotten all the Latin I had to learn. However, for another perspective, I have also forgotten the words of Shakespeare while retaining the algebra, trigonometry and calculus taught to me. The works of Newton, Liebniz and Gauss helped shape my life – as with Shakespeare, the quality of young people’s learning depends crucially on the quality with which they are taught.
Gordon Milloy
• Your praise of AP McCoy’s achievement in reaching 4000 winners (In praise of…, 8 November) missed out that he is a celebrated son of Moneyglass, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland where his family still lives. Alongside the golfers Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell, his sporting prowess is celebrated by all communities in a divided place.
Bob Osborne
• To buy a Twitter share you need $26 in your hand (Report, 8 November), which was the same amount Lou Reed paid for his fix in I’m Waiting for the Man.
Mike Crabtree
• No Easter eggs yet (Letters, 8 November)? Islington Sainsbury’s has hot cross buns.
Ken Baldry

Not only is the older generation now to blame for the country’s dire economic situation, the expensive housing market, cluttering up the NHS by not expiring quickly, and being a burden on the welfare state by claiming pensions and benefits, it appears that Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue, feels that elderly women trying to be fashionable are “slightly ridiculous and absolutely hideous” (When fashion ends at 30, G2, 5 November). This is the final cruelty in the drip-feed process of blaming a certain group for society’s ills, which are due to the failure of government policies. A first-year sociology student could see what lies behind all this rhetoric. Now we are ugly women as well.
I am a member of Ewell Court Women’s Institute in Epsom. As we meet in the afternoon, we have many older members. We had our seventh anniversary lunch last week and all our members made a special effort to dress well. These women have lived full lives – as matrons, nurses, lawyers, psychologists, businesswomen, teachers, librarians, an antiques expert, carers, mature students, taking part in the war effort, poets, writers, singers; divorced and widowed, surviving on their own, brilliant cooks and seamstresses; those who brought up children to be decent citizens, no mean feat. Our disabled members are valued for their help, not patronised. We, or our husbands, got up in the morning, went to work and paid our National Insurance contributions for our future care. We are not leeches, nor “hideous”.
At a seminar I heard Paul Burstow MP speaking on the care of an ageing population. I pointed out that my mother, who left school at 14, and was not an economist, had told me that as I was born at the end of the war, there would be lots of elderly people when I became old. When I asked why successive governments had done nothing to prepare, he said no government would legislate for the future as they would lose an election. My kind mother did not tell me I would end up looking revolting. We are inviting Miss Shulman to our January meeting in the hope that she can explain her thinking. I doubt if she will come.
Carole Brookman
Vice-president, Ewell Court WI

On 9-10 November 1938, Nazi stormtroopers led a wave of violent attacks on Jewish people and property throughout Germany and Austria, which the Nazis had annexed. During these pogroms, 91 Jews were killed, thousands were taken from their homes and incarcerated in concentration camps, 267 synagogues were destroyed, and some 7,500 Jewish-owned shops were smashed and looted. The Kristallnacht pogroms presaged attempts to remove Jews from German life completely.
Many Jews left hurriedly to seek refuge in friendly countries, including Britain, but Britain was already in the grip of an “aliens scare”. Newspaper headlines declared: “Alien Jews pouring in”, and claimed that “Refugees get jobs, Britons get dole”. The media accused Jewish asylum seekers of “overrunning the country”. Despite wide public revulsion at the violence of Kristallnacht, powerful elements in British politics and business continued to admire Hitler and the Nazi regime.
Seventy-five years after Kristallnacht, racists and fascists inspired by the Nazis continue to attack minorities in Europe. In Hungary neo-fascists target Gypsies and Jews. In Greece Golden Dawn members and supporters brutally attack migrants and political opponents. Here in Britain, minority communities, especially Muslims, have been targeted in an atmosphere that is increasingly hostile towards migrants and refugees.
Mindful of this history, we are equally alarmed at continuing fascist violence and the toxic sentiments expressed by many politicians and much of the media against migrants, asylum seekers, Gypsies and Travellers. We stand shoulder to shoulder with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their efforts to live here in freedom and safety, to contribute to society and be treated as equals. As Jews we stand together with all communities seeking to combat racism and fascism here and elsewhere.
David Rosenberg Jewish Socialist magazine
Emeritus professor Frank Land 1939 refugee and Kristallnacht witness
Ralph Land Kristallnacht witness
Lord (Alf) Dubs
Margaret Hodge MP
David Winnick MP
Edie Friedman Executive director, Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Gerry Gable Editor, Searchlight magazine
Rabbi Barbara Borts
Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah
Rabbi Howard Cooper
Dr Ros Merkin Writer & director, Suitcase 1938
Sheila Melzak Clinical director, Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile
Dr Jennifer Langer Director, Exiled Writers Ink
Judge Laurence Brass Treasurer, Board of Deputies of British Jews
Moris Farhi
Miriam Margolyes
Bernard Kops Playwright and poet
Michael Rosen Broadcaster and poet

I don’t doubt that John Sawers is correct when he states re the Snowden leaks “It is clear our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee. Al-Qaida is lapping it up” (British spy chiefs vent fury at leaks, 8 November). Doubtless they also lapped up the revelations of British involvement in extraordinary rendition, security service participation in torture of detainees, and the unlawful killings documented during the Al-Sweady inquiry. However, if our security services consistently traduce the values they claim to defend, the responsibility for any benefit accruing to al-Qaida lies with the security forces, not with those who expose their actions and their hypocrisy. It’s clear Sawers and his ilk use secrecy to commit grotesque abuses of the principles they purport to uphold. Little wonder they fear exposure.
Nick Moss
• The Guardian has done an excellent job of bringing the Snowden revelations into the public arena, such that meaningful debate can take place about what we are willing to tolerate as a society. This and many other actions by government are excused on the basis that they are required to stop terrorist attacks on our country. I think it is time for an equally open debate about why this threat exists. What are we doing that people are willing to risk or even give up their lives to stop? Let’s ask the people we are afraid of to explain why they hate us so much. The truth may be uncomfortable, but at least we can discuss more effective ways of getting to the root causes of the problem.
Jim Pettman
Anglars-Juillac, France
• Your leader (8 November) makes the point that assassination “only works if there are no consequences [for the assassins]”. A point well illustrated by the ongoing use of drones as blunt instruments of assassination by people who make precisely that assumption.
Jon Bell
Machynlleth, Powys
• According to the heads of our intelligence services, al-Qaida and its subsidiary organisations were completely unaware of how their communications were accessed by the agencies until the publication of Edward Snowden’s leaks. Obviously Frederick Forsyth’s latest work is not available in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen etc.
Brian Hartigan
Banstead, Surrey
• Who would readers most prefer to be deeply involved in the nation’s security: Lobban, Parker and Sawers, or Greenwald, Rusbridger and Snowden? The Guardian should hang its head in shame at the way it has tried to vilify our security personnel and beatify the leakers.
Robert Carlin
• My wife, who grew up in communist Poland, said watching the three heads at the parliamentary committee reminded her of the nonsense she would hear from Polish government officials. The only difference is the language.
Dominic Tkaczyk
Welwyn, Hertfordshire
• The spooks’ appearance before Malcolm Rifkind’s committee was akin to facing underarm bowling in the nets. In future they should appear before Margaret Hodge’s committee, where she leads with a range of fast bowling and googlies more suited to these slippery characters.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon
• It beggars belief that while most government services are mired in waste and incompetence – from the MoD to universal credit, from the Border Agency to the NHS – the secret services, alone, sail serenely above it all, unsullied and unique. They never make a mistake, never put a foot wrong and, of course, are never subject to proper public scrutiny.
Ian Martin
Falmouth, Cornwall
• Now we’ve seen the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, it is ironic that in the 1930s people fleeing persecution in Germany came to Britain. Today people take refuge in Germany to avoid prosecution in Britain. How times have changed in 80 years.
LJS Lesley


I have stopped wearing poppies myself now that they’ve become a routine rather than an expression of real feeling. But I disagree with Robert Fisk (8 November) in his indiscriminate lashing out at the symbolism.
I remember my boyhood in the 1930s, when the presence of the Great War was still palpable, and remember too the depth of feeling that accompanied Armistice Day and the wearing of the poppies. It wasn’t militaristic or born of hate: it was a profound, overwhelming feeling of the enormity of what had happened and an almost inexpressible sense of grief, in which those who had been personally involved (including my very unwarlike father) shared.
I deplore Fisk’s characterisation of John McCrae as a warmonger. He was a frontline doctor, who would have seen more than enough of the dreadful results of what was going on. Yes, he did say in his poem “take up our quarrel with the foe”.  He, like most others must have seen the foe as an evil that must be stopped.
Despite plenty of revisionist speculation, it did then and does now seem pretty clear that Germany intended the conquest and domination of France and was prepared to use massive force and brutal tactics to achieve it. Yes, there’s an easy target in the failures of pre-war diplomacy, but what would Robert Fisk have done when the event actually occurred: rolled over and purred?
His essay, for once, seems more spleen than thought.
John Tippler
Spalding, Lincolnshire
How mistaken Robert Fisk – usually so reliable and worth reading on Middle Eastern affairs – is in his article “Poppycock”. While fully entitled to his own opinion as to why the wearing of poppies makes him see red, the way he tries to justify this opinion is at fault.
McCrae is not  demanding further human sacrifice in his poem; he is mourning the death of  a close friend and hoping that his death will not have been in vain, which is something very different.
Sassoon may have called the Menin Gate that “sepulchre of crime”, but in “Aftermath” in 1919 he also urged us to “Look up and swear by the slain of the war that you’ll never forget”.
The wearing of the poppy is not a glorification of war, nor is it in any way a “mourning of the end of the British empire”; it is an aide-memoire to remind us of the horrors of war, to honour those who have died, and to be grateful that, among other things, Robert Fisk and I have the freedom to put our feelings into public print.
David Du Croz
Marlborough, Wiltshire
I wear a poppy every year at this time; but not in jingoistic glorification, nor in mourning for lost empire. I recently received a cardboard poppy, with the invitation to write a thought on it. My words were: “Remember all who went – some willingly, some because their governments told them to – and never returned. Remember those who came back, changed forever. Remember all from all nations who fell; victims of war’s monstrous appetite.” I use this time to reflect upon all people, military and civilian, who die, or suffer, or grieve because of conflicts everywhere.
As well as obtaining a new poppy each year, I also wear one that I have had since 1980, shortly before my father died. He served in Flanders, a mere boy in 1918, never speaking of his experience with much nostalgia. I wear it to remember him, one individual among countless millions.
I hope that Mr Fisk will not think too unkindly of me for wearing poppies, which have never reminded me of “our duty to kill more human beings”.
Eryl Williams
Cromer, Norfolk
Surely Robert Fisk’s wrath is misdirected. Poppy Day is only a flag day, if a rather special one, raising money for a good cause – the British Legion. What is offensive, and gets more offensive every year, as the phenomenon gets more and more conspicuous, is the phalanx of oafs, lickspittles and careerists at the BBC, in Parliament, and in Whitehall, who march forward two weeks before Remembrance Sunday sporting poppies in the buttonholes of their uniform suits. Nobody can believe in their sincerity; they insult every private citizen.
Hugh Brogan
Probation service under threat
As former probation officers we are writing to express our dismay at the dismemberment of the service proposed in the Offender Rehabilitation Bill, which will receive its second reading in the Commons on Monday 11 November.
Probation in England and Wales has recently celebrated a centenary of selfless and effective service to the community. To remove up to 250,000 of its cases and auction them off to an untried consortium of commercial interests and voluntary bodies is in our view to take a reckless gamble with public safety and to put at risk the prospects for personal change and reform which lie at the heart of what probation is and does.
Professor Robert Canton
De Montfort University, Leicester
Dr Philip Priestley
Professor Peter Raynor
Swansea University
Professor Paul Senior
Sheffield Hallam University
Professor David Smith
Professor Maurice Vanstone
Professor Anne Worrall
Keele University
Some ‘school leaders’ are not up to the job
Ofsted boss Michael Wilshaw misses two vital points in encouraging school heads to get a better disciplinary grip on their teaching staff (report, 8 November).
Primarily, that the most successful schools, from Eton and Westminster to those liberal Scandinavian state hothouses we keep hearing about – and notwithstanding the hierarchical structures that are of course essential in any place of education – tend to conduct their business in a collegiate rather than quasi-military fashion, with their teachers enjoying levels of professional autonomy and involvement in decision-making processes that are in keeping with their expertise, qualifications, experience and social standing.
Second, that placing enhanced institutional power in the hands of “school leaders” is all fine and dandy in a system where the vast majority of those managers are at least very good at what they do, rather than the mixture of over-promoted, second-rate chancers and borderline charlatans currently running at least a sizeable minority of British schools.
Terry Wood
London N1
No justice for Magnitsky
I first asked David Cameron to raise the Sergei Magnitsky case with Vladimir Putin in the Commons in 2010 (Andy McSmith diary, 6 November). This was followed by an appeal to William Hague in 2011 to adopt a UK Justice for Magnitsky Act banning his killers from entering the UK or having assets here.
Numerous appeals by MPs of all parties have followed and it was good to read that Dominic Raab continues the campaign. But the plain fact is that this UK Government is not going to follow the example of the US Congress and President Obama and tell President Putin that his functionaries involved in the atrocious death in agony of Sergei Magnitsky are not welcome in the UK.
Top Tories don’t talk about freedom any more if money is to be made.
Dr Denis MacShane
London SW1
Birds may sing – but we must never forget
There is a poetic and beautiful idea that birds don’t sing at Auschwitz/Birkenau. It ought to be true but, having just returned from there, I have to report that this story is myth. The ground ought to transmit the memory of such incalculable suffering through the vibration of its atoms, but it doesn’t.
And it’s because the story is myth that we need to keep going there to witness and report. The truly wonderful Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman, who spoke at many hundreds of Anti Nazi League meetings, is gone so it’s down to (the very inadequate) us to bear  that witness.
No historical revisionist will tell me this is manufactured history.
We must bear witness.
John Lockwood
Leamington Spa
Vanity plates spell danger
That was a thought-provoking piece by Mary Dejevsky (8 November) about number plates. Not only is useful geographical information now hard to find, but some plates distort or upend letter shapes and spacings so as to approximate more closely to their owners’ names or favourite words. Have there been any prosecutions of people who put personal vanity above making the identity of potentially lethal machines clearly evident?
Michael McCarthy
London W13
What kind of voter am I?
In “Big data” (8 November), I could not identify the segment of the electorate that would apply to me. This is the segment for voters who despise politicians who try to manipulate others; voters who can see through trite, vacuous soundbites; and voters who want politicians with principles that are not modified by every focus-group finding.
Phil Wood
Greater Mancheste


This is a disease of the NHS, all groups being responsible at some time for taking the ‘easy’ option of burying or moving on the problem
Sir, As a former Health Authority chief executive of 21 years experience I am fascinated by the tribal nature of the debate on whistleblowing (report, Nov 5, and letters, Nov 6, 7 & 8). When I first became a district general manager in 1985 I was appalled by cases in which the whistleblower was pilloried by the medical establishment or told not to worry because the problematic junior was “moving on” in a few weeks.
In time responsibilities shifted from regional medical officers to health trust CEOs, and in the case of GPs to primary care trust CEOs. Some issues were tackled but old habits die hard, and defending the indefensible once again became normal among all groups of staff, or at least enough of those groups to deter proper action.
Now we find managers being pilloried even where the CEO is himself a doctor, as in Chelmsford. The chairman of the Care Quality Commission, David Prior, is correct to ask “where were the doctors at Stafford Hospital?” — or indeed any other professional group, particularly those with corporate responsibilty as directors. The point is that this is not a disease of management but rather a disease of the NHS, all groups being responsible at one time or another for taking the “easy” option of burying or moving on the problem.
The solution requires a systemic cultural change with real leadership from all levels and professions, including our political leaders.Alan BurnsNassington, Northants
Sir, Dr Andrew Bamji’s letter (Nov 6) reflects the views of many who, of necessity, remain silent. I too have held presidential positions to represent my profession. Like Dr Bamji I have experienced intimidation, threats and censure from hospital managers. The latter can, with a one-line reference, compromise not only a consultant’s career but the chance of a comfortable retirement.
With such a culture dominant in the NHS, how can a seamless, co-ordinated, caring service exist? If one stands up one quickly learns to shut up. Only those of us who have retired are able to speak out.Allan R. Thom(Retired Orthodontic Consultant)Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Sir, Your correspondents (letter, Nov 7) call for an inquiry. I have an alternative proposal for uncovering bad practice in the NHS. Rather than inviting current employees to compromise their careers or damage their working environment, why doesn’t the Care Quality Commission conduct rigorous exit interviews with all staff, be they nurses, hospital doctors or managers, with at least ten years’ experience.
They are less likely to have axes to grind or scores to settle than those in the thick of it now and should have a perspective on whether, or in what area, malpractice is on the increase.Jim NorrisBroadwas-on-Teme, Worcs

Whether the public believe that human activities are causing global warming has much to do with how it is reported in the media
Sir, You report that Sir Mark Walport, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, mainly blames rising fuel bills for an increase in public scepticism about human activities causing global warming (“High fuel bills cause rise in climate change doubts, says adviser”, Nov 7). The available evidence, though, suggests otherwise.
Public opinion surveys show that the proportion of the public that either believes the climate is not changing or that climate change is caused by natural factors remains a minority, but increased in 2009 and 2010 when there were media reports about controversies surrounding hacked emails from the University of East Anglia and a small mistake in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As a recent study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford points out, there has been since then a high level of newspaper coverage of the tiny band of professional climate change “sceptics”, which has created a false impression of disagreement, instead of overwhelming consensus, between scientists. Bob Ward Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE

Approximately 10 per cent of food that is wasted by the industry is surplus and fit for human consumption. This is enough for 800 million meals
Sir, We shouldn’t just focus on what we waste at home (report, Nov 7). A total of 3.9 million tonnes of food is wasted every year by the food industry in the UK before it even reaches people’s shopping baskets.
We estimate that approximately 10 per cent of this is surplus and fit for human consumption. This is enough food for 800 million meals. There are 5.8 million people living in deep poverty in the UK who struggle to afford the basics, so there is no excuse for so many businesses not to do the right thing.
Lindsay Boswell
CEO, FareShare, London SE8
Sir, Statistics may show that people living alone waste more food, but I bet it is not the over-75s. The “born before the war” generation lived their childhoods watching their mothers use up every scrap of the meat ration, the one egg a week and precious rare onion; nothing was wasted and nothing left on the plate.
Sylvia Crookes
Bainbridge, N Yorks


‘If Britain should vote to leave the EU it need have no fears about reassuming an independent position on Europe’
Sir, Digby Jones is right in his analysis of Britain’s position within, or outwith, the European Union (“Either we get huge EU reform — or we leave”, Nov 7). If, in a subsequent referendum, Britain should vote to leave the EU it need have no fears about reassuming an independent position on Europe. Its future stance should be similar to that of Canada’s relationship with its neighbour, the US: close, highly co-operative across virtually all spheres of common interest, friendly and harmonious, and with mutually advantageous trade agreements — yet one of complete sovereign independence with regard to economic, legal and judicial, and border-control issues.
The increasing and bewildering intrusion into national life of what has developed from a Common Market into the EU (with its open-ended aim of “ever closer union” and all that this implies) is seemingly contrary both to the wishes and to the interests of the population of the UK and, as such, can only be properly tested in a referendum.
William Pender

Any Australian who fails to vote is subject to a $20 fine which rises to $170 if not paid within 21 days
Sir, Janice Turner (Notebook, Nov 7) makes some sensible points as to how to encourage young people to vote, but feels that making it compulsory seems draconian. In comparing our dull polling stations with Australia, she overlooks the fact that voting in Australia is compulsory. Any Australian who fails to vote is subject to a $20 fine which rises to $170 if not paid within 21 days. I see no good reason not to introduce similar legislation in the UK.Anthony H. RatcliffeLondon W1


SIR – David Willetts’s pledge to back technology and his recognition of the advantages of GM crops should be welcomed. But the idea that automation could simply remove all labour is totally misguided.
The British potato industry is the most technologically advanced in Europe, with the whole planting, growing and harvesting process completely and efficiently mechanised. However, even with the most modern laser and robotic sorting and packing line, there will always be a requirement for seasonal labour to ensure the highest standards for retailers.
Similarly, harvesting soft fruit will always require a high level of training for skilled workers to select carefully for ripeness, quality, colour, size and shape.
These skills cannot easily be mechanised. The Government’s decision to end the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme has the potential to damage seriously our previously expanding British fresh fruit and vegetable sector.
Anthony Snell
Vice Chairman, NFU horticulture board
Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire

SIR – BAE is closing a dockyard because, for several years now, it has set its face against “mundane” civilian work, and sought hi-tech, high-value military sales in a declining market.
Duncan Redford mentions two Royal Navy replenishment ships being built in South Korea. Why are they not being built in Portsmouth? Apart from the work itself, they would be an excellent lead-in to more civilian work.
Rolls-Royce, by contrast, has built itself into a great manufacturer by combining low-volume, high-profit military sales with high-volume, less profitable commercial work. It has also diversified into areas that perhaps BAE should be in, such as marine control systems.
Some years ago, BAE sold its stake in Airbus. You only have to look at the relative fortunes of the three companies to see what a mistake that was. I fear that in 20 years’ time BAE will be no more.
Dennis Spruce
Welwyn, Hertfordshire
Related Articles
British agriculture still requires seasonal labour
08 Nov 2013
SIR – Duncan Redford asks why we should worry about buying foreign warships.
It is fine, perhaps, to use foreign equipment out of informed choice (the very un-British gun-making companies of Bofors and Oerlikon made a big contribution to winning the Second World War), but disorganising ourselves into a position where we may be unable to source new equipment when we need it is a risk too many.
We should learn from Spain. In the Sixties, with her shipyards in post-Civil War decline, she relied on US-built ships for her front-line fleet. But the Americans had said that if the ships were sent to Spain’s West African colonies there would be “problems” with supplies, maintenance and replacement.
Spain turned to Britain, but in 1964 Harold Wilson scuppered negotiations for building her ships in a fit of political pique, so she refurbished her own yards instead, which have even done work for Australia.
We have already put ourselves at the mercy of the Americans with the F-35 deal, which requires regular US software updates. Can we rely on them for ever?
Lt Cmdr John Parfitt RN (retd)
Painswick, Gloucestershire
SIR – Major General Julian Thompson points out the advantage of basing combat air support aircraft on aircraft carriers, as opposed to expensive foreign land bases, during counter-terrorist operations such as those currently being conducted in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, the combat radius of the F35B fighter variant that Britain is buying for our aircraft carriers is 469 nautical miles. The closest distance from the Indian Ocean to Kabul is 589 nautical miles. So our carrier-based fighters will need to be refuelled in flight by large, vulnerable refuelling aircraft that will have to be based on land. Surely this defeats the main argument in favour of the aircraft carriers?
Lt Col Paul d’Apice (retd)
Hillsboro, Ohio, United States
Beating the system
SIR – Changing address is a bureaucratic nightmare. Sending acknowledgment of notification to the old address is standard practice now by institutions obsessed with fraud.
Procedures required by each institution vary from phoning or giving notice online to visits in person with full identification. I have spent hours doing what used to be possible by a simple mailing.
Instead of being grateful that I have gone to the bother of informing the supplier of my new contact details, a phone call often requires passwords set up years ago. If memory fails there is the threat of blocking my accounts. I’ve even been blocked out because I couldn’t remember if I had originally typed a password in upper or lower case letters.
The Post Office replied to my wife’s (signed) letter by saying they could not effect a change as they did not hold her signature, so would she provide a specimen autograph? That letter was sent to our new address and our old address.
David Leech
Balcombe, West Sussex
SIR – Belinda Brocklehurst is not alone in experiencing the frustration of trying to contact her energy supplier. The solution is simple. By withholding payment the company will eventually phone her.
I have often used this method and can confirm that the glow of satisfaction is enough to heat an entire room for a day.
Bob Stebbings
Chorleywood, Hertfordshire
Memorably ungrumpy
SIR – In contrast with the grumpy teashop staff complained of in your report, we have just returned from a round trip of more than 600 miles to see the Houghton Revisited exhibition in Norfolk and will always recall the courtesy, helpfulness and charm of the staff there.
Rev J Towyn Jones
Slippery pathway
SIR – Max Pemberton says that when he was training he did not receive one day’s teaching in palliative care. Yet it was on the curriculum then. Dame Cicely Saunders, who predated him by a number of years, had a profound influence on the care of the dying.
There have been many good deaths without the Liverpool Care Pathway, and many dreadful deaths on it. To suggest that this non-evidence-based pathway is the crystalisation of a “clear and compassionate approach” fails to acknowledge the shocking effect it has had.
Dr Mary Knowles
Tadley, Hampshire
SIR – Charles James says that everywhere he goes he sees young and old men wearing shorts. I am one of them. At the age of 55 I am not sure whether I am considered young or old.
I have never been to Benidorm.
Kevin Leece
Gravesend, Kent
SIR – Charles James is worried about an obsessive wearing of shorts in winter.
As a pupil at Sedbergh School, I, too, was worried, as I had to wear the things until I was 18, while my peers wore Afghan coats, Cuban heels and jeans. I became obsessed with the fact that my uniform was a blue blazer, blue shirt, blue shorts, blue socks and blue knees…
Richard Kew
Shearsby, Leicestershire
Getting help to Syrians
SIR – That 40 per cent of the Syrian population is in need of humanitarian assistance underlines the urgent need for immediate access to them. Around 60 per cent of hospitals in Syria have been destroyed or seriously damaged and there have been outbreaks of major diseases including polio. With the approaching winter forecast to be one of the harshest in years, need will only grow.
UN Security Council members had access for chemical weapons inspectors in Syria. Now is the time for them to apply pressure on all sides in Syria so that humanitarian organisations can reach those who will not survive without medical assistance.
Leigh Daynes
Executive Director, Doctors of the World
London E14
EU budget blot
SIR – The scale of EU financial waste is understated. As the EU’s Court of Auditors pointed out years ago, 80 per cent of all EU expenditure is never audited at all because it is paid to third parties in lump sums without any effective means of supervision or recovery. A mere 5 per cent of total EU expenditure is audited annually. The “error rate” of 4.8 per cent, therefore, applies to that mere 5 per cent of the total spend of £5.7 billion.
Ashley Mote
Independent MEP for SE England, 2004-9
Binsted, Hampshire
Stalking with ravens
SIR – Ravens are credited in Highland deer forests with great intelligence – especially during the stalking season when they can associate the sound of a rifle shot with fresh food.
In some places they have been known to accompany stalking parties to the hill. Once the ravens find the quarry, they often circle above it emitting a peculiar call, letting stalkers know its whereabouts. Of course, after a while the deer realise what is going on and become suspicious.
Iain Thornber
Morvern, Argyll
Copper versus germs
SIR – Copper-based door handles are still available for use in hospitals. Recent research has re-emphasised the anti-microbial properties of copper-based products.
Graham Shirville
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Theories on the correct way to wear a poppy
SIR – People must be encouraged to wear their poppies correctly. Presenters on the BBC are the worst. The leaf should always point to 11 o’clock to remind us of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Janet M Fleming
SIR – The poppies in the Alex strip highlight a generational divide among its characters.
Traditionalists among us have nostalgic memories of poppies that lacked the newfangled green leaf and remove this before wearing. Rupert is unsurprisingly of this camp. But who would have suspected Alex of dangerous radical tendencies?
Stephen Swift
London WC1
SIR – I bought poppies for my family from an old soldier in my town centre, who said he could not pass the pins to me because of “health and safety”. It was difficult to explain to my children that we live in a society that permits young people to be killed in warfare, but is wary of the dangers of minuscule metallic implements.
Bethan Mair Williams
SIR – My poppy this year came from a “knittings” stall at our local Cats Protection League Christmas Fayre. It’s a beautiful little thing, crocheted in bright red, with a shiny button in the centre and a green leaf, all for £2 – one pound of which will go to the Poppy Appeal.
After all the compliments I’ve had on it, I shall be happy to buy one again next year.
Sonya Porter
Woking, Surrey

Irish Times:

Sir, – Susie Glynn (November 8th) argues that a constitutional referendum on gay marriage is not necessary because the Constitution does not define marriage or explicitly exclude same-sex marriage. However, it falls to the judiciary to interpret the Constitution.
In a succession of cases, most notably the 2006 decision of the High Court in Zappone v Revenue Commissioners, the judiciary has interpreted the constitutional concept of marriage as one that is limited to a union between a man and a woman. A referendum is therefore necessary if equality is to be achieved. – Yours, etc,
Durham Law School,
Durham University,
Stockton Road,
Sir, – Angela MacNamara (November 8th) uses quotations from sixth class primary school children being raised in same sex households over 30 years ago.
This was a time when homosexuality was illegal in this country. She is talking about a reality in a society that criminalised such people. No wonder the children had concerns.
We have moved on a long way since those closeted times and I know from my own work as a volunteer with a local charity that delivers mental health modules to secondary school students that children are far more accepting and open regarding the issue of homosexuality.
Putting gay people on a par with heterosexual people regarding their right to marry will be a further step in eliminating people’s prejudices and stigma in this area, so that concerns such as those Angela Mac Namara encountered 30 years ago will be consigned to the history books. – Yours, etc,
Lower Salthill,
Sir, – What we want is a world where children such as those who came up to Angela MacNamara in 1980, and their classmates (Letters, November 8th), will be taught during the relationships and sexuality education (RSE) class:
“Families come in all shapes and sizes, and may include: mother(s), father(s), stepmothers, step-fathers, adoptive parent(s), sisters, brothers, stepsisters, stepbrothers, half-sisters, half-brothers, etc. And the makeup of your family doesn’t have any impact on your right to equality, and shouldn’t have any impact on how people treat you, or how you view yourself.”
It is up to all of us to teach our children that there are different family denominations, but that all deserve equal rights and should be treated with tolerance and understanding. – Yours, etc,
Moran’s Cottages,
Dublin 6.
A chara, – Kieran Rose certainly did his best in promoting the re-definition of the universally understanding of marriage as between man and woman (Opinion, November 8th). Clearly this is not held by all, even the accompanying photograph disagrees with his thesis as it shows the hands of a man touching the hand of a woman who is wearing a wedding ring. Divine intervention how are ye! – Is mise,
Fr J McCALLION MPhil, cc,
Mountjoy Road,
Co Tyrone.
Sir, – Revd Fr Patrick Burke (November 8th) displays a breathtaking ignorance of the history and evolution of the doctrines to the Roman Catholic Church. On almost all major issues the position adopted by the Roman Church has been transformed, if not reversed, over the centuries.
In such major issues as the calculation of the date of Easter, the celibacy of priests, the role of Mary, the status of the unborn (which once allowed for abortion) and the unbaptised child, the status of papal pronouncements, and many more, official doctrine has changed radically, often more than once. In many cases, those who chose to maintain their belief in the earlier doctrine were poorly treated, if not excluded from the church community.
As the Roman Catholic Church has changed its opinion on so many fundamental doctrines, I see no reason why there should not be an acceptance of a revised doctrine on marriage, to include same-sex couples. Hopefully, this can be achieved without excommunicating those who hold to the present version of approved beliefs. – Yours, etc,
Convent Avenue,
Co Wicklow.
Sir, – I’m disappointed but not entirely surprised by your Editorial (“Marriage equality”, November 7th).
  Marriage in both the Constitution and the UN Declaration and Conventions is implicitly defined as that between a man and woman.  Further the Civil Registration Act of 2004 explicitly defines it as such.  This is hardly “a narrow and essentially religious definition”, rather it is universal and not specific to any group, religious or otherwise.  It is an extraordinary contention, therefore, to suggest that a relationship that is clearly not marriage will “enhance and strengthen it [marriage]”. 
  The Irish Times wasn’t the only media outlet to get it so drastically wrong with the Senate referendum polling in advance of the vote.  I admire your confidence in the sureness of the polls you now quote.  I just hope you get it badly wrong again. 
Fifteen  sovereign states introducing “gay marriage” – the majority European –  is a miniscule number measured against the 200-260 states constituting the world league.  Huge swathes of the global community, a considerable proportion in the Middle East and Asia, have not joined this elite division.  Even the US reflects this proportionality.  Has any consideration been given to the assimilation challenges this proposed new status will create?  Integrating citizens from these countries into a society with an increasingly radical set of values by international norms is surely likely to be far more difficult?
Finally, on the role of mothers and fathers in bringing up children – another cornerstone of both the Constitution and UN Declaration on Human Rights – you contend that “nothing in this [gay marriage] provision undermines that role”? 
In the year when we voted for a very important amendment to our Constitution to protect the child, do you not think a child is entitled to a mother and father in the shelter of a family?   It seems you’re prepared to deprive the very child we profess to cherish the right to have a mother and father.  Is that not the height of arrogance, foolishness and abusiveness?   – Yours, etc,
Grange Heights,
Sir, – The Revd Fr Patrick Burke (November 8th) is anxious to explain the “Catholic” view of homosexual relationships.
He might more appropriately explain the no less rigid stance taken on this matter by the Church of Ireland – which, many may be surprised to learn, is the church in which he ministers. – Yours, etc,
Joensuu, Finland.

Sir, – The story of those killed and secretly buried by the IRA, is one of the great tragedies of the conflict. What happened was wrong and unjustifiable. The IRA has apologised for this.
Miriam Lord (Dáil Sketch, November 6th) repeats completely erroneous assertions made by Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith that “The IRA still refuse to accept responsibility for the murders and legitimate questions are not answered by Gerry Adams and others”. None of this is true. The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin knows this. He was a senior member of the government which established the commission for the location of victims remains at my request.
As a republican leader I have never shirked my responsibility on this issue. I have met the families involved many times. I have worked with the commission and I will continue to do so.
I agreed to participate in the RTÉ/BBC programme to raise awareness of the issue and to assist the search for the remaining bodies. That has been my focus for many years and I intend to honour the commitment I gave to the families to continue with my efforts.
The special forensics team, working to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains, was established as a result of a proposal from Father Alec Reid and myself.
The forensic science consultant Geoff Knupfer, who leads the forensic team for the commission, acknowledged several years ago the co-operation they received from the IRA. He said: “In a spirit of co-operation and reconciliation they [the IRA] are trying to help in every way they can. I am absolutely convinced that they are doing everything they can to assist. The support we have had from them has been absolutely 100 per cent from day one.”
In July this year Geoff Knofer’s deputy Jon Hill reiterated this.
As a result of the work of the last 12 years, nine bodies have been recovered and the sites of four of the six remaining bodies have been identified. The failure thus far to find the remaining bodies is not due to any lack of resolve or co-operation by me or other republicans.
So attacking me from the ivory tower of the press gallery or the Dáil benches might make good copy – that’s easy when it relies on gossip, smear and the accusations of political enemies, but it will not help the families. Nor will resolving this injustice and recovering the bodies be assisted by political point-scoring, felon setting or snide ill-informed newspaper articles. What is needed is information.
I therefore appeal again for anyone with any information whatsoever, including anyone who was previously in touch with the commission, to contact them again on the basis of absolute confidentiality, in order to assist the commission in reassessing the information available to it.
Any information passed to the commission cannot be used in a court of law or transmitted to any other agency and those passing on this information have absolute immunity in relation to this information. – Is mise,

Sir, – The criticisms of the recent Stop Climate Chaos report “Projected Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Irish Agriculture” by the IFA (November 4th) are unfortunate, misdirected and incorrect on a number of counts.
The purpose of the research was not to attack Irish agriculture or Irish farmers but rather to highlight a range of projected costs and opportunities that may occur within the sector.
The report considers likely costs up to the middle of this century if climate change continues unchecked and in the absence of significant action to adapt to its impacts.
The reported economic costs in the arable sector relate to potential future mid-century impacts that are linked with factors including, but not limited to, direct output from that sector. For example, potential economic impacts associated with drought and flood effects are linked with soil erosion and soil leaching rather than direct arable output alone.
While genetically modified crops are not discussed in the report, one of the suggested adaptation options is to support research that focuses on identifying crops that can grow more successfully with changing climate conditions.
Finally, all but two of the 20 references sited in the report are from peer-reviewed sources. The two that are not formally peer reviewed are from newspaper articles. The full report is available at – – Yours, etc,
Irish Climate Analysis and
Research Units (ICARUS),

Sir, – I wonder if Michael Noonan is being deliberately ironic in calling our taking “full command of the economy” a “red letter day”? Then again, perhaps he’s just wearing rose-coloured glasses. – Yours, etc,
Templeville Road,
Templeogue, Dublin 6W.
Sir, – In welcoming Ireland’s escape from the clutches of the troika on December 15th, Conor Brady (Opinion, November 2nd) contrasts the “discipline and common purpose” that has made this possible with the policies of Éamon de Valera that “devastated an already fragile economy, drove hundreds of thousands to emigration and condemned Ireland to penury for 30 years”.
Where’s the difference? – Yours, etc,
Cnoc an Stollaire,
Gaoth Dobhair, Co Donegal.

Sir, – The best use for the Kilternan Golf & Country club (Magazine, November 2nd) is the new Dáil. It will be full of follies. – Yours, etc,
Mountpleasant, Ballinasloe,
Co Galway.

Sir, – Ireland, Southern Ireland, Éire, the Free State, the 26 counties, Northern Ireland, the Six Counties, the North, Ulster . . . as Brendan Behan once remarked on the subject, “Life’s too short”. And as the comedian, Kevin McAleer, has pointed out: “There’s not much difference really: six of one, 26 of the other”. – Yours, etc,
Ravenhill Park, Belfast.

Sir, – Now we have an O’Neill (Martin) as Ireland’s soccer manager and an O’Neill (Michael) as Northern Ireland’s soccer manager, surely it is time to secure one Irish soccer team managed by The O’Neill? – Yours, etc,
Blackglen Road,

Irish Independent:

* I was lucky enough to see the two sides of how football should be played. Liam Brady, will-o’-the-wisp class, and Roy Keane, granite personified. Both midfield generals, both among the best Ireland ever produced and both played with top teams. Interesting then that Brady would charge Keane over “his judgment with players” saying “people say he has got great knowledge… why then did he not make it in the managerial sphere?”. Pot calling kettle black there, methinks.
Also in this section
New thinking and new party badly needed
This emptiness is due to a lack of faith in God
We need a lot more parent-teacher meetings
Roy Keane got the same gig that Brady got with Trapattoni, but Brady seems to have forgotten his own managerial tenure at Celtic from 1991-1993. That team failed to reach a final under his leadership.
Whilst Keane took a foot-of-the-table Sunderland from League One to the Premiership and kept them there, his successor at Ipswich, who happens to be his former bete noir, hasn’t exactly pulled up any trees there either. Brady wasn’t a complete failure at Celtic as manager and in his judgment of players. Roy Keane managed at a level Brady didn’t. His was a mixed bag, but a bag that Liam doesn’t possess.
So, if this is his or RTE’s attempt at stirring the pot, or expert analysis, then it’s time to retire those sages Giles, Dunphy and O’Herlihy, who are in that happy little club since 1984. As public servants they would have been entitled to retire on pension for nigh on 30 years’ service.
Go, and let some fresh blood in, instead of the ‘decent skin’ crap we are now dosed with.
John Cuffe
Co Meath
* I ask, how can the exercising of one’s human right be a matter for public vote? The Constitution does not need to be changed; it needs to be given full effect. Article 40.1, our guarantee of equality, is currently undermined by statute.
The bar to equality in marriage laws is contained within section 2(2)(e) of the Civil Registration Act 2004, not the Constitution. Equality makes no restrictions on gender, but that statute does.
We know that the right to marry is a human right, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Human rights are not created by the Constitution; they are protected by it.
It is not for a majority to purport to exercise a power it does not have, by deciding whether some be entitled to or restricted from the exercising of a human right.
It is for the legislature to exercise a power it does have and remove that discriminatory statutory provision. In fact, our Constitution, by way of Article 40.1, so demands it.
Susie Glynn
Castleknock, Dublin 15
* Ming Flanagan’s guerrilla war against the state prohibition on cannabis use took a decidedly dopey turn for the daft when he “threatened” to report TDs who had previously used the drug.
Apart from the fact that he would have a pretty tough time proving his allegations, and avoiding scores of libel cases, he surely realises that any consequences wrought on TDs who did indeed use cannabis (if any) would be equally wrought on himself, as Ireland’s most famous cannabis celebrity?
Celebrity, being the operative, pejorative term, and the likely motivation behind this nonsense.
Killian Foley-Walsh
Kilkenny City
* So, it’s showtime for the FAI on Saturday with the Roy and Martin laugh-in. No Roy, of course, because he’s already off trolling for new talent.
Here’s hoping it won’t end with a curtain call on the ‘Muppets’ a la Statler ‘N’ Waldorf. Whatever happens, we Irish soccer fans are in for a rollercoaster ride and perhaps a few good surprises along the way.
Pat Bonner
Dungloe, Co Donegal
* So, the 14-year-old distressed girl found in O’Connell Street turns out to be 25. Where was Sherlock Holmes when he was needed!
Niall Ginty
Dublin 5
* Did you ever spend any of your summer holidays in the Isle of Man during the 1970s, either on vacation or actually working in the holiday industry? If so, do you ever think back to those great summer times?
Do you remember Sunday nights at the Palace Lido watching Slade, Sweet, Mott the Hoople and many others? Do you still remember your summer romances? Did you walk hand-in-hand under the sun along a golden beach to a soundtrack that included the Glitter Band’s ‘Love In the Sun’, Bobby Goldsborough’s ‘Summer The First Time’, The Bay City Rollers’ ‘Summer Love Sensation’, The Rubettes’ ‘Sugar Baby Love’, Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’, and many more great records?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, we really want to hear from you! Please email your experiences to
Johnny Cooil
Lido Summers Limited
* Any doubt about the inhumanity of current austerity must be dispelled by correspondence from the manage-ment of four primary hospitals, that lives are at risk due to the savage withdrawal of resources from the most vulnerable in our country to satisfy an outdated ideology of a crazed monetary elite in Europe.
It is little wonder Mr Kenny is frontrunner for top position in the dictatorship.
The 21st Century is not a time of shortage; it is by far the most wealthy, creative period that ever existed. As well as abundance of practically everything, real healing power is available for the first time ever.
The obscenity of withholding such healing from the critically ill to repay debt unjustly foisted on a nation is surely an affront to all.
Generations of Irish people cursed the British for imposing monetarist ideology that destroyed our nation at a time of famine. How will future generations judge our own, for willingly imposing a similar ideology at a time of crisis?
Until there is realisation that policies of the past will not solve problems of the present and future; austerity will only bring greater misery and allow the sick to die.
Padraic Neary
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo
* “There’s a silent listener to every conversation.”
The above saying has, until recent revelations, been attributed to the power of God. However, we the people of the world, have been treated to a vision from one Edward Snowden that suggests God’s power in this regard has been taken over by the spy agencies of the world.
Nobody likes a spy. Lauri Love is a case in point. He, Mr Love, an alleged computer hacker arrested recently in Britain, has been accused of the most heinous crime – spying on America. He is, we are led to believe, an evil man who accessed sensitive information and could, armed with this, cause untold havoc for America’s spying agencies. It seems spying makes Love bad!
We have England spying on Germany. Tut tut tut! Has Germany been spying on Britain? Who cares?
What do we in Ireland know about spying? We know Gerry Adams had one close to him in the shape of Denis Donaldson, and we had Charlie Haughey spying on Irish journalists.
And what did the Irish do with this despicable chap? Well, Mr Haughey was given a State funeral.
Dermot Ryan
Athenry, Co Galway
Irish Independent


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