Fridge

22 March 2014 Fridge

I go all the way around the park listening to the Navy Lark. Our heroes are in trouble, again.They have to deliver an ambassdor, can they find the rght country? Priceless

Cold slightly better order undercounter fridge

Scrabbletoday Marywins, just,and gets under400, Perhaps Iwill win tomorrow.

 

Obituary:

 

Bob Millard, who has died aged 91, was a teenager in the Home Guard in 1940 when he was approached by a friend and asked if he wanted to join “something a bit more interesting”; the “something” was a secret group, the British Resistance Organisation, also known as the Auxiliary Units, composed of civilian saboteurs who would go into hiding and carry out guerrilla operations behind the lines in the event of a German invasion.

It was shortly after British forces had beaten a desperate retreat from Dunkirk that Winston Churchill ordered a battle-hardened colonel called Colin Gubbins to form the new organisation. At the time German forces were only 25 miles across the Channel and invasion seemed imminent. Unlike other, often poorly disciplined, freelance resistance movements that sprang up across Nazi-controlled Europe, Churchill was determined that the British version would be state-sponsored and meticulously planned in advance.

Gubbins selected a dozen regular Army intelligence officers to recruit local men, many from the Home Guard and many with an intimate knowledge of their local areas (gamekeepers and poachers were said to be particularly popular recruits), and turn them into ruthless killers. “They should be solid chaps who are not likely to lose their heads under the sort of pressures that occupation brings,” one officer wrote of the character that was required, “quite ordinary types in normal, everyday jobs”.

Millard was one of thousands who signed up. “I said yes and they asked me all sorts of questions and then a week later I was contacted and told: ‘You can join.’ I had to sign the Official Secrets Act before being told we were to go underground and come up behind enemy lines in the event of an invasion…It was not whether there was going to be an invasion, but when it was going to come.”

Gubbins established his new HQ at Coleshill House, a stately home in Wiltshire, where recruits were trained in the dark arts of sabotage, stealth and silent killing. “We were trained in how to set up a charge, the best place to blow a railway line, how to tackle a sentry with a knife or garrotte — how to move around quietly at night,” Millard recalled.

After training he was issued with explosives, weapons and vital supplies and returned to a “normal” civilian life. In the event of an invasion, however, as a member of the Bathhampton Patrol, he was to report to his unit’s operational base (OB) in an 18th-century stone mine near Bath. This was one of hundreds of hideouts around the country, many of them dug out in woodland in the dead of night so that no one would know they were there. The OBs were so well hidden that many remain undiscovered to this day.

Millard’s patrol would regularly practise what they had been taught at Coleshill and also identified possible targets to attack in the event of a German invasion (including the main London to Bristol railway line and Claverton Manor – a local country house deemed a likely candidate for a German HQ). On one occasion the patrol staged a practice night attack on the airfield at Colerne to test their skills as well as the defences of the RAF unit guarding the airfield. During the exercise the patrol’s sergeant was taken captive, only to be “rescued” by Millard and other members of the patrol. They also captured a captain and flight sergeant and placed dummy explosives on the target planes before getting away.

Men in the Auxiliary Units were expected to last for about two weeks before they were either captured or killed. Though Millard was never given this depressing prognosis, he knew that the reality of invasion would have been brutal. Auxiliers, as they were known, were expected to ignore German reprisals among people in their own localities and were instructed never to be taken alive: “We were told at Coleshill that if a colleague was badly wounded he was to be shot. It was made clear if you were captured you would be executed — but before that you’d be tortured,” he recalled. “The story was that some patrols were given suicide pills because you weren’t to be caught.” Millard felt “apprehensive” but not scared. “There was a job that needed doing so you volunteered to do it,” he said. “You didn’t think much more deeply about it.”

By the middle of 1941 Hitler had turned his attention to the Soviet Union and the immediate threat to Britain had passed. However the Auxiliary Units were kept in place until November 1944, when they were stood down.

Millard received a letter of thanks at the end of the war and a small lapel badge, but for the next 50 years no one knew about the Auxiliary Units. Millard had sworn an oath of secrecy and even his wife was unaware of his involvement. “You just didn’t talk about it, really,” he said. “As far as my family were aware I was still in the Home Guard. It was all very hush, hush. After the war, it was water under the bridge.”

It was not until 1994, when a reunion was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the stand-down of the Auxiliary Units — and the end of the 50-year silence decreed by the Official Secrets Act – that Millard himself became aware of just how substantial the organisation had been. One of his fellow guests was a man with whom he had played rugby in 1941, neither being aware that the other was an Auxilier. He was also surprised to discover that, in addition to his own unit, there had been 10 other patrols around Bath alone.

In later years Millard was instrumental in helping to found the Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team (CART), a group of volunteers that has been uncovering the story of Britain’s Resistance Army and which has unearthed the remains of many of the underground bunkers from which Millard and his comrades would have launched their clandestine raids on the enemy.

He became the principal spokesman for CART, helping to educate the public, and in 2012 he opened a replica operational base at Coleshill House, cutting the ribbon with a Fairburns Sykes knife – the main assassination weapon issued to the units.

CART’s campaign for members of the Auxiliary Units to be included in the Remembrance Day march was crowned with success last year when former members were invited to participate in the Cenotaph ceremony. Sadly Millard was too ill to attend.

Robert Millard was born in Bath on New Year’s Day 1923 and educated at the City of Bath Boys’ School. After leaving school in July 1940 he became a student teacher and joined the Local Defence Volunteers (the Home Guard).

By 1942 the immediate threat of invasion had diminished and members of Millard’s Auxiliary Unit were allowed to volunteer for other services. Millard joined the Fleet Air Arm as aircrew and was subsequently involved in anti-submarine patrols and attacks on Tirpitz off Norway, eventually serving with the British Pacific Fleet. In September 1945 he was aboard Formidable when the aircraft carrier survived several kamikaze attacks while supporting the landings on Okinawa. He became a member of the “Goldfish Club”(with bar) having survived going down “in the drink” in an aircraft on two occasions, in May and November 1944.

After demob, Millard trained as a teacher at Loughborough Training College and joined the staff at City of Bath Technical College. In 1953 he returned to Loughborough Training College as a teacher and remained there for the rest of his working life, becoming head of the department of creative design at what is now Loughborough University. During his time there he ran the college British Sub Aqua Club and became a National Diving Instructor.

Bob Millard married Josephine Bond in 1946. She died in September last year and he is survived by their son and daughter.

Bob Millard, born January 1 1923, died March 15 2014

 

 

Guardian:

 

We believe that education, like healthcare, is a fundamental social good, one that benefits both individual students and society as a whole (Report, 21 March). We believe that everyone should have an equal right, during a formative period of their lives, to pursue their own interests for their own sake. The ability to exercise this right should not be filtered by wealth and privilege, or be determined by the current priorities of the labour market. Still less should it be decided by those who might profit from any imminent increase in student debt, or from the erosion of staff pay and conditions.

As a matter of principle we oppose the ongoing privatisation and marketisation of education at all levels, and any accompanying increase in staff workloads, casualisation and precarity. We reject in particular the neoliberal logic used to justify the recent introduction of (and subsequent increases in) university tuition fees. We believe that progressive taxes on wealth and income, rather than fees and loans, are the appropriate ways to pay for social goods. We do not want the future of education to be decided by the divisive, market-driven race to the bottom that is overtaking staff and students alike, and we are encouraged by the steps recently taken, in places like Germany, Chile and Québec, as a result of collective pressure, to reduce or eliminate tuition fees and to reclaim education as a universal right.

We call on our government, our university community and our colleagues in other universities to reject the marketisation of education, to abolish tuition fees, and to ensure that provision of all further and higher education is restored to the public, not-for-profit sector.
Éadaoin Agnew Senior lecturer, English literature
Eric Alliez Professor, Philosophy
Paul Auerbach Reader, economics
Etienne Balibar Professor, Philosophy
Robert Blackburn Professor and associate dean for reesearch, faculty of business and management
Fred Botting Professor, English literature and creative writing
Mary Brady Senior lecturer, nursing
Beth Brewster Associate professor and head of department, Journalism and Publishing
Howard Caygill Professor, Philosophy
Howard Chadwick Senior lecturer, mental health
Tina Chanter Professor and head of department, humanities
Simon Choat Senior lecturer, politics and international relations
Jonathan Chu Senior lecturer, dance
Radu Cinpoes Senior lecturer, politics and international relations
Valerie Coultas Director of studies, education
Martin Dines Senior lecturer, English literature
Paul Dixon Reader, politics and international relations
Ilaria Favretto Professor, politics
Peter Finn Lecturer, politics and international relations
Korina Giaxoglou Senior lecturer, linguistics
Carlie Goldsmith Senior lecturer, criminology
Peter Hallward Professor, philosophy
Sue Hawkins Senior lecturer, history
Peter Haywood (retired) Senior lecturer, faculty of business studies and law
Andrew Higginbottom Principal lecturer, politics and international relations
Atsuko Ichijo Senior lecturer, politics
Marina Isaac HPL, Economics
Meg Jensen Associate professor, English literature and creative writing
Reem Kayyali Pharmacy practice field leader, pharmacy and chemistry
Ann Kettyle Senior lecturer, nursing
Marina Lambrou Head of department, linguistics and languages
Amanda Latimer Sessional lecturer, politics
Marisa Linton Reader, history
Karen Lipsedge Associate professor, English literature
Catherine Malabou Professor, philosophy
John Ó Maoilearca Professor, film and television studies
Martin McQuillan Professor and dean, faculty of arts and social sciences
Paul Micklethwaite Senior research fellow, the design school
Simon Morgan Wortham Professor and associate dean for research, faculty of arts and social sciences
Catherine O’Brien Senior lecturer, film studies and French
Peter Osborne Professor, Philosophy
Winsome Pinnock Senior lecturer, creative writing
Jason Piper Director of studies, dance and drama
Maria Ponto Associate professor, nursing
Sam Raphael Senior lecturer, politics and international relations
Trish Reid Associate professor, performance and screen studies
Mike Roberts (retired) director of studies, history and politics
David Rogers Director, Kingston writing school
Stella Sandford Reader, philosophy
Mike Searby Principal lecturer, music
Jalal Uddin Siddiki Senior lecturer, economics
Jackie Smart Head of department, drama
Philip Spencer Professor, politics and international relations
Engelbert Stockhammer Professor, economics
John Stuart Associate professor, history
Eleanor Suess Associate professor, architecture and landscape
Allan Swift Lecturer, school of performing studies
Sara Upstone Associate professor, English literature
Frédéric Vallée-Tourangeau Professor, psychology
Julian Wells Director of studies, economics
Scott Wilson Professor, film and television studies

The thing that struck me most forcefully about the graphic in your budget special (20 March) was that, in terms of the amount spent on defence, we rank behind only the world’s superpower states of the US, China and Russia and the super-profligate state of Saudi Arabia. What on earth are we spending this huge amount on? Why?
Dr Neil Denby
Denby Dale, West Yorkshire

• The Serota, the triple mixed metaphor, was first noted here (Letters, 25 January). TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has achieved one in just nine words: “A welfare cap that bites into the safety net” (Vote blue, go grey, 20 March).
David Bernstein
Croydon, Surrey

• I don’t know about Heaven (Letters, 19 March), but I’ve been to Valhalla. You take the Harlem line from Central Station, New York. It takes about 45 minutes.
John Baldwin
Silverdale, Lancashire

• My mum, Edna Dashwood, worked as a draughtswoman in Portsmouth dockyard during the war. The joke was that it was possible to make several HMS Victories from all the souvenir pieces that had been sold (Letters, 21 March).
Mark Hebert
St Ives, Cambridgeshire

• As a 77-year-old Guardian reader, I am finding the widespread use of acronyms difficult to cope with. This week’s G2 dealing with youth subcultures was perhaps meant to say to us geriatrics look at what we can get away with today. However, instead of saying “What the fuck?!” you chose to acronymise it to “WTF?!”
William Burgess
Leeds

• Generation Y people who think they’re forgotten must attend a UK Uncut demo. They’ll find everyone from students to grannies (and sometimes Polly Toynbee), all united in anger, outrage and comradeship.
David Redshaw (70)
Gravesend, Kent

• Now that Generation Y have enlightened us all regarding their plight, I suggest they form a political movement to further their cause. They could call it the Generation Y Front.
Tim Wood
Northallerton, North Yorkshire

 

Campaigners welcome the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that it is in the public interest to prosecute the three G4S custody officers in relation to the death in their custody of Jimmy Mubenga (Report, 21 March). Jimmy was due to be deported on 10 October 2010, but he never left Heathrow. On the British Airways flight he was heard to cry out, “Help me, I am dying”. As his wife Adrienne Kambana says: “He died alone like an animal.” Campaigners recognise that the CPS has had the opportunity to review the material in its possession, following the unlawful killing verdict at the inquest in July 2013 and it has arrived at the correct decision. The time is surely ripe for the law to be so drafted that companies whose employees are alleged to have committed such crimes will face the same charges as the individuals they employ. Statutory authorities should consider carefully whether they wish to employ such companies.
Diana Neslen
Campaign co-ordinator, Stop G4S

 

 

While I am not sure that garden cities are the answer to our housing shortage, the chancellor’s recent announcement for a “real garden city” to be built in Ebbsfleet contains, at least, a vestige of possibly unintentional vision.

Inexplicably, our housing shortage is normally discussed only as a problem of logistics and delivery. When did we relinquish the ambition to build new communities and resort, instead, to speaking only of housing numbers?

The largely unpopular (but not always unsuccessful) post-war attempts at co-ordinated and planned housing estates seem to have convinced us that such desires are futile, playing into the hands of housebuilders, who are given license to deliver their market-friendly but socially and environmentally disastrous product: acres of cul-de-sac estates devoid of any notion of the collective potential to organise housing in a meaningful manner.

Delivering housing should be different to delivering cars or washing machines, since the manner by which you place houses together has the possibility of creating not only streets and squares, but also the potential to create a meaningful sense of place and community.

Such opportunities and possibilities used to captivate our imagination and focus our ideas of society. When did we resign ourselves to talking about society without striving to give it shape? Do we have to wait for our next Olympics in order to give rhetoric and idea a physical form by co-ordinating resources in the name of something beyond what can be justified solely in practical and logistical terms?

We are building the physical world for future generations, whether we accept the responsibility or not. By default, we plan our cities and towns primarily as a response and a reaction to pressures. By calling our planners “development control officers”, we confess our retreat from the position that it might be possible to do anything meaningful. Instead, our poor planners are left to man the barricades of mediocrity, charged with preventing the worst from happening.

When did we decide that beautiful towns and cities were a thing of the past? Or do we really believe that can be built without planning them, by allowing the market to deliver them? Why would free enterprise insist on a park or a square, on a kindergarten or a playground, on a public swimming pool or any other non-commercial element in a situation that does not offer the incentive of financial gain?

The creation of large amounts of housing, similar in number to those required after the war, forces us to confront this problem seriously, not as an issue only of numbers and volume, but as a representation of social priorities and civic pride. Providing fast trains and new airports might be essential, but taking care of our built world, providing good homes and shaping the meaningful physical environment that nurtures communities must be just as important for the soul and spirit of the nation.

The chancellor’s plan for Ebbsfleet may well make good commercial and practical sense, but if we do not take such opportunities to lead with ideas and a vision of how to create community, then we will have squandered the chance to show that there are other considerations when building housing beyond commercial pressures or political expediency.
David Chipperfield
David Chipperfield Architects

 

Donald Braben and others ask for suggestions on how to support and encourage “maverick” scientists to pursue open-ended research (Letters, 19 March). One way is to encourage scientists to move from one institution to another, so they do not become set in the orthodox thinking of one particular group of peers. In former years, the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 used to award research fellowships to applicants intending to pursue research in any institution in the Commonwealth other than the one he/she currently worked in; and, most unusually and importantly, did not require applicants to submit any research proposal. On arriving at their chosen institution, they could pursue any project they liked. This is the kind of support mavericks need. Sadly, the 1851 Commission nowadays requires applicants to submit a research proposal, in line with the practice of other funding bodies. They – and other funding bodies – should rethink this conservative and risk-averse policy.
Rupert Lee (former 1851 research fellow)
Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire

• Quoting Richard Feynman, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts”, Donald Braben and colleagues invite Guardian readers to suggest ways in which scientific mavericks could prosper again. I am reminded of the story told by Milton Friedman about his erstwhile colleague, the maverick Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard: “When Szilard applied for grants he always proposed to do experiments that he had in fact already done, so that he could use the money for research whose outcome he could not predict. The system worked perfectly until one year his application was rejected on the grounds that the proposed experiment was impossible.”Rather than relying on this kind of subterfuge, we need at least a modest funding stream where the sole criterion for future funding is, overtly, the quality and originality of the applicant’s recent past research. In this way, top research would be rewarded by giving successful applicants the freedom to find their own new blue skies. In science, as in other walks of life, one of the best predictors of future success is past success.
PN Pusey
Malvern, Worcestershire

• The scientists advocating that more of their colleagues should become mavericks forgot to mention that their lives will inevitably suffer if they take this approach. For example, the careers of notable modern heretics like Peter Duesberg (HIV is not the cause of Aids), Arpad Pusztai (GM foods can be dangerous), Jacques Benveniste (memory of water) all suffered dramatically under the weight of attacks by the science establishment. It is also often said that Sir Fred Hoyle was denied a Nobel prize because of his support for the idea that life comes from space and for maintaining that the chemical origin of life is a statistical impossibility. Heretics may expect protection from other academics, but this is rarely forthcoming; as the saying goes “academic freedom is there to protect academics from their colleagues”. As for peer review, it is designed to prevent paradigm shifts. Where would Darwin have been had his famous (and unrefereed) book been peer-reviewed by the likes of arch anti-evolutionist Richard Owen?
Professor Milton Wainwright
Sheffield

• Like the Ancient Greeks, the maverick philosopher Hegel used dialectics to distinguish physics from metaphysics, and right political authority from not-right political authority. Like the Ancient Greeks, Hegel regarded enlightenment as people using physics to extend their understanding of the world beyond their natural horizons, to include abstract people – future humankind. Like the Ancient Greeks, Hegel recognised that “all power corrupts”. Like the Ancient Greeks, Hegel developed dialectics to repudiate the tendency of political authority to become self-validating and alienated from the rest of the population.

Hegel’s method for mitigating the tendency of political authority to become self-validating and alienated was for maverick philosophers to teach the rest of the population to critique all political authority according to whether it meets the needs of future humankind. Hegel, like the Ancient Greeks, regarded the rest of nature as unchanged by the course of history. Maverick philosopher Feuerbach recognised that, unlike other animals, humans deliberately change the rest of nature, because that is how they cultivate themselves – by deliberately cultivating their habitats. Prompted by Feuerbach, Marx and Engels famously “turned Hegel on his head, or rather his feet”. The Marxist method for mitigating the tendency of political authority to become self-validating and alienated is for maverick philosophers and scientists to teach the rest of the population to critique all political authority according to whether it cultivates humankind and the rest of nature.
Steve Ballard
London

 

 

Independent:

 

 

Times:

Sir, The Chancellor’s pensions revolution will allow people to get their hands on their own money and do with it as they choose. This is in touch with traditional Tory values of individual freedom and certain to be extremely popular electorally. The notion that people sensible enough to save for their retirement are hardly likely to blow the lot in the first couple of years is persuasive.

However, no one knows how long they are going to live. Doubtless these newly enriched people will invest their money wisely to partly fund their retirement but this will only take them so far. The question is how quickly to run down their capital — a conundrum which the maligned annuity neatly addressed. Those dying early in retirement tended to fund those who just went on and on, with the insurance company absorbing any imbalance.

Under the new arrangements, it is the next generation who will benefit when early leavers pass on the residue of their lump sum to their families, but the State will have to pick up the tab for the ones more inclined to linger. The equilibrium currently managed by the insurance companies will no longer prevail. What might seem like an excellent vote-winning idea today may look less appealing in 20 or 30 years.

John Stone

Elton, Matlock

Sir, It is suggested that people may cash in their pension funds, squander the money and then claim benefits. They should know about the Deliberate Deprivation of Assets rule. They may find that they are still treated as having the capital they have squandered, and that they are not entitled to those benefits.

D. M. Milstone

Northwood, Middx

Sir, I wonder whether there is another reason for the pension reforms. Care costs continue to rise as our population ages. Will giving pensioners direct control of their funds enable councils to consider these assets as “realisable” when determining an individual’s ability to pay for retirement care?

Alun Marriott

Tudeley, Kent

Sir, All this hot air about pensioners blowing their pensions on fast cars, holiday homes and helping their children out with house purchase deposits — but the average pension pot is only around £30,000. A budget idea for the better off?

P. D. Cocks

Horns Cross, Devon

Sir, The pension changes may, ironically, hit young people hard.

Letting the over-55s raid their pension pots means that some will squander their assets and eventually fall back on the state, increasing the burden on the younger generation.

On average, people underestimate their life expectancy by almost five years, so individuals are not as well positioned as a third party to decide what to keep aside for their old age.

The freedom to withdraw pension assets means it will now be easy to avoid IHT — a loss to the Treasury and increasing the burden of national debt for future generations.

Many baby-boomers may withdraw pension savings to invest in buy-to-let properties which could well push up prices for first-time buyers and force more of them into renting for their whole lives. These young people, saving for a deposit, won’t have access to the Pensioner Bonds which Mr Osborne is subsidising for the over-65s.

Angus Hanton

Intergenerational Foundation

London SE24

 

 

 

Sir, We would like to register our satisfaction at the passing into law of the International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014, which attained Royal Assent on March 13.

This Act will, for the first time for any government in the world, place a statutory responsibility on the Secretary of State for International Development to take gender into account in decisions relating to how the UK’s overseas aid budget is allocated.

The Bill was originally proposed by a British charity, the Gender Rights and Equalities Action Trust (Great), and taken up by Bill Cash as a Private Member’s Bill (supported by Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development).

“Bill’s Bill” (as the initiative has become known) has received little media attention despite its powerful potential to tackle what Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described as “the greatest human rights abuse of the 21st century,” the continuing discrimination against half of the world’s population, often denying women the right to make a valuable contribution to the development of their nations or to be protected against violence and abuse.

From now on the Secretary of State for International Development will have to routinely consider issues like access to education and protection under the law against sexual exploitation and domestic violence.

We would like to thank The Times for being one of the few newspapers to report this good news story (“Britain shows the world the way — again”, Mar 8) and Parliament for its cross-party support for this Act which will directly benefit the millions touched by UK aid globally for years to come.

Karen Ruimy, Mariella Frostrup, Jason McCue (co-founders of Great), Maria Sukkar (trustee), Miriam Gonzalez Clegg, Elisabeth Murdoch, Gemma Mortensen, Vanessa Branson, Renee Zellwegger, Elle Macpherson, Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead, Baroness Nye, Baroness Kidron, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, Emma Freud, Lady Trimble, Dr Scilla Elworthy, Brigitte Lacombe, Jemima Khan

 

Sir, Susan Patton advises women to snap up husbands with their degree certificates (“How to marry well; meet at uni”, Mar 18). The same could be said of men, too. If a man puts off marriage for too long he may have to buy a wife from the Third World or Eastern Europe, which stamps him as a write-off. This is even more likely if he deteriorates physically — many men wear badly as they are not governed by the rigorous beauty industry.

Patton’s book belongs to a US tradition back through Jo Hemmings’ The Little Black Book (2006) and Ellen Fein’s The Rules (1995) to Marabel Morgan’s The Total Woman (1973). The kindest adjective is “quaint”. Let this tradition stay moored on the other side of the Atlantic.

Margaret Brown

Stoke-on-Trent

Sir, My wife and I enjoyed our ruby wedding last weekend, having met and married at Nottingham University. I have always said that I saw my 2:1 degree as a side-benefit.

Dudley George

Alnwick, Northumberland

 

Two readers report finding among their family memorabilia the name tags of First World War soldier relatives

Sir, You say (Mar 15) that in the First World War no British soldiers were issued with metal tags. I have an aluminium tag worn by my great-uncle, Thomas J. Brown of the Loyal North Lancs. He was killed on April 5, 1916, in Mesopotamia having survived Gallipoli. Could this, too, have been a self-made one or were some metal tags issued to some regiments?

Joyce Draycott

Wickhambrook, Suffolk

Sir, My family memorabilia includes an ID tag worn by my great-uncle William Arnold. He was a gunner on the Western Front in the First World War, then in the Ordnance Corps. The tag is solid silver and hallmarked Birmingham 1917. Unlike Private McAleer, Uncle Willy survived.

Harry Arnold

Alrewas, Staffs

 

The sport of climbing and swimming around Cornwall’s cliffs is first recorded around half a century ago

Sir, Coasteering began well before the 1970s (“Terror of woman trapped in a sea cave”, Mar 19). In his A Climber in the West Country (1968), E. C. Pyatt calls Arthur Westlake Andrews (1868-1959), who devoted a lifetime to the promotion of cliff climbing in West Cornwall, the father of coasteering. The book has a photo of the coasteering route “The Traverse of the Gods”, first climbed in 1963, which crosses Tilly Whim Caves where the recent tragic accident took place. It is a great day out on a warm summer’s day in calm seas but in adverse conditions would be best avoided.

Dr John Steers

Bristol

 

The Church of England may be in decline but some bits of it are flourishing vigorously — what is their secret?

Sir, Baroness Hale’s contention that observance in the Church of England is not rigorous enough may well be right in the abstract (“Church is in decline because Christianity is not demanding enough”, Mar 21) but the parallel fall-off in Catholic church attendance suggests the causes of English church decline are more diffuse and may well be more broadly cultural. What the Church of England has not so far considered in any detail is why cathedral attendances in contrast have been growing steadily in recent years. The cathedrals offer a more complex and traditional liturgy and high standards of preaching, music and service enactment. Meanwhile, parish church services such as Christingle, in which candles blaze throughout the church, appeal to young and old. Rural churches are often full. Can it be that what parishes need for growth is imaginative and creative liturgical life full of visual interest rather than reductive, barebones biblicist evangelism?

Peter Wood

Stainton, Cumbria

 

 

Telegraph:

 

SIR – Have other readers noticed how many actors wear their watches on their right wrist?

I have long held a theory that those children with artistic ability who cannot handle right-handed scissors channel their talents into the dramatic arts – as did my left-handed son, who is now a television drama producer.

J M K Jones
Copdock, Suffolk

 

SIR – The British sense of humour is famous around the world. Anyone who has watched Prime Minister’s Questions can see that even our MPs are funny – occasionally intentionally.

Satire is a vital tool for campaigning organisations to create debate, expose hypocrisy and change opinion. However, the importance of parody in public debate is not recognised in copyright law. This omission has led to the removal of material that is undoubtedly in the public interest – such as Greenpeace films taken down from YouTube.

Since 2005, two governments have run reviews on copyright, both of which said that there should be a copyright exception to allow parody.

We now have less than a week for the Government to commit to a vote. If it doesn’t, the opportunity to change the law may be postponed until after the next election. That isn’t funny. We call upon Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and Lord Younger, the minister for intellectual property, to act now and ensure that an exception to copyright for parody is put into law.

Jenny Ricks
Director of Policy, ActionAid UK
Maureen Freely
President, English PEN
Kirsty Hughes
Chief Executive, Index on Censorship
John Sauven
Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Thomas Hughes
Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
Ann Feltham
Parliamentary Co-ordinator, Campaign Against Arms Trade
Niall Cooper
Director, Church Action on Poverty
Simon Moss
Managing Director, Programs, Global Poverty Project
Phil Booth
Coordinator, medConfidential
Jim Killock
Executive Director, Open Rights Group

Malaysian mystery

SIR – Boris Johnson writes of the “agony of those poor relatives” who do not know the fate of the 239 on board Flight 370. He might also spare a thought for those families of the 645 lost on the cruiser HMAS Sydney on November 20 1941, who have been kept in similar ignorance for 73 years.

Officially, our relations were the victims of an engagement with the German commerce raider Kormoran; however, raiders were not equipped to take on warships and 318 of the German cruiser’s much smaller crew survived. The mystery has been the subject of two government inquiries, but both upheld the official account.

I believe that the Japanese were involved. I hope that political expediency will be set aside to end our suffering.

Michael Montgomery
Idbury, Oxfordshire

Social cleaving

SIR – Martin Amis is right to point out the ruptures in our society perpetuated by money (report, March 18).

However, he should think more broadly to understand the true nature of the divisions within our communities. These go beyond cash-rich and cash-poor, also cutting across lines of both age and ethnicity. They have been compounded by a decline in the number of spaces where people from different backgrounds are able to mix, and research suggests that this leads to lower levels of trust among groups.

Craig Morley
London, SE1

What a clanger

SIR – Christine Lavender advises property seekers to check for church bells before buying. But things can get dramatically worse if a group of “enthusiasts” takes over a local church. If bell-clangers are allowed to make a dreadful din, why not motorcyclists, pub “musicians”, ice-cream vans, and so on?

Michael Gorman
Guildford, Surrey

Russian sporting ban

SIR – It is unlikely that sanctions against Russia will persuade Vladimir Putin to change course in Crimea. What might work better is to ban Russia from international sporting events, starting with this year’s football World Cup, the 2016 European Championship and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Fifa should also threaten to ban Russia from hosting the 2018 World Cup. There is plenty of time to arrange it in another European country. A sporting ban would make Mr Putin realise that the rest of the world is taking his actions very seriously. The sporting ban on South Africa played a major role in changing that country’s policies on apartheid.

Gilbert Paton
Knutsford, Cheshire

Lunar Communion

SIR – Atheists in America have a long history of objecting to the symbols and rites of religion. Their intransigence was epitomised in a story told by Bernard Lovell, the astronomer.

Buzz Aldrin was a devout Christian and when the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon, the first thing he did was to celebrate Holy Communion. The little ceremony was kept secret for fear of fanatical atheists, who had brought a lawsuit against Nasa because the crew of Apollo 8 broadcast the first ten verses from the Book of Genesis while orbiting the Moon on Christmas Eve in 1968. The action was based on the rather eccentric grounds that the word of God should not be promoted from the heavens.

John Bromley-Davenport
London EC4

Numbers game

SIR – The French solution to combating pollution in Paris is to ban odd and even number-plated cars on alternate days. When the same plan was adopted in Lagos many years ago, drivers just bought a second set of plates and changed them daily.

Lyn Everitt
Oakham, Rutland

Best left unopened

SIR – Many years ago I purchased a copy of Schlegel’s Philosophy of History (1846 edition). Most of the pages were uncut.

Now I have cut them, I understand why.

John G Squirrell
Reigate, Surrey

Conceding defeat too early to the grey squirrel

SIR – The Government has been defeated by the grey squirrel. It made no sense for Oliver Heald, the Solicitor General, to tell the Commons that eradicating the grey squirrel was “no longer considered feasible”. Many parts of the South of England, especially London’s parks, are overrun by these animals.

Throwing in the towel means that grey squirrels will spread even faster to all areas of the country – damaging trees by stripping the bark, attacking bird feeders, digging up plants, and gaining access to attics where they chew at the timbers and pipes.

The Government should encourage licensed gun-holders to eliminate the greys to help stop the further decline in the population of our native red squirrel.

Ron Kirby
Dorchester, Dorset

SIR – I would like to reassure your readers that, far from conceding defeat, the fight to protect red squirrels continues unabated in Northumberland. Citizens are doing what the state cannot or will not do.

Morpeth and District Red Squirrels is a voluntary group that actively protects reds and controls greys. We receive support from local county, town and parish councils, and a large number of local residents who work tirelessly to feed the native red squirrels in the area. As a result, we are now receiving reports of reds in localities where previously only greys were spotted. The beleaguered red is, indeed, worth defending.

Catherine Weightman
Hepscott, Northumberland

SIR – I am delighted to hear from Anthony Vickery that buzzards are striving to control grey squirrels in his garden in Dorset.

Here in Northern Ireland, where the red squirrel is still trying to hold on (assisted by such organisations as the North West Red Squirrel Group), the buzzards, which are numerous, seem unable to distinguish between the two types of squirrel and kill both with an even-handedness that is most upsetting.

Perhaps we should ask the RSPB to intervene and educate the buzzards towards a more eco-friendly diet.

Bob Parke
Campsie, Co Londonderry

 

SIR – The Government wants to micro-manage parents as they raise their children, and qualified school teachers. It tries to micro-manage the entire population’s eating habits and (by over-regulation) most of its lifestyle choices.

Yet the Government has suddenly decided that the elderly should be entrusted with control of their own pensions. By the time the current generation reaches that age, this may well be their first experience of freedom of choice.

Gillian Gibson
Little Baddow, Essex

SIR – I am delighted for all those nearing retirement who will benefit from enhanced rates as the annuity industry comes to terms with the loss of its captive market and improves its offerings accordingly. But how about those of us already taken prisoner in recent years?

John Makin
Oxshott, Surrey

SIR – While the reduction in Air Passenger Duty is a welcome step in the right direction, British Airways’ parent company, IAG, is correct in its assessment that the Chancellor’s announcement is just “window dressing”: Britain will still have the highest rate of duty in the world.

The difference in tax between Heathrow to Hong Kong and Paris to Hong Kong is around £250. BA’s price needs to be cheaper by that much – which would not be fair on BA.

Andy Bugden
Shenzhen, Guangdong, China

SIR – Are the people now described as too foolish to manage their own pension funds the same as those who are expected to vote sensibly at election time?

Bill Davidson
Balderton, Nottinghamshire

SIR – I have given debt advice at the Denbighshire Citizens’ Advice Bureau for the past 10 years, following my retirement after 20 years as a bank manager.

I have been surprised by the number of clients who, having reached pensionable age, still have substantial debts that, in many cases, are at unmanageable levels.

Given the Chancellor’s announcement that new pensioners will have access to their total pension savings, how does he propose to prevent the funds being seized by pressing creditors?

Currently the funds are mainly protected from creditors. Seizure of monies in the future could mean the pensioner will fall back on the state for financial support.

Paul Webster
Dyserth, Denbighshire

SIR – Will the new pound coin be made of steel, like all the smaller denominations now are? Having magnetic coinage in one’s pocket is a bit of a nuisance when standing behind the wheel of a yacht that has a binnacle compass.

David Gray
Corfe Mullen, Dorset

 

Irish Times:

 

A chara, – It’s a delight to read Una Mullally’s view of the Irish language (“Irish – A language for all speakers”, Monday March 17th), coming as it does from a fluent urban speaker. She’s absolutely right to note that we need to start looking outside the Gaeltacht if we’re serious about achieving the 250,000 daily speakers sought by the Government by 2030. I fly in the face of conventional wisdom in my belief that this number is very possible, but it can only be done if non-Gaeltacht Irish speakers begin to shoulder the burden that Gaeltacht people have been predominantly carrying since the foundation of the State – using the language at home.

Ms Mullally is right to note that snobbery exists within the language, but should go a little easier on Gaeltacht people. Yes, there is a certain Gaeltacht hostility towards “46A Irish” and the dialect of the urban Gaelscoil, but it is there firstly because of the difficulty Gaeltacht people have speaking Irish with city folk, whose Irish is often a non-fluent schoolroom mishmash, but secondly because there is the whiff of the language hobbyist about many urban speakers. They’re delighted to “come down” to the Gaeltacht and practise their Irish on the natives, but when they go home, it’s back to English again. Native speakers are rightly annoyed by this. City speakers of Irish will earn respect when it becomes clear that they are using Irish as a home language with their children, not just for one-night-a-week hobbyism or for the day job.

When this happens (and I think it will), that 250,000 daily-speaker figure will rapidly become achievable. Is mise,

BRIAN Ó BROIN, PhD

Department of English,

William Paterson

University, New Jersey.

Sir, – Una Mullally rightly notes that the “Irish language is for all, not just for the fluent”. She is very concerned that “snobbery towards Irish is real”. Here in Wales the very same point of view was put forward earlier this year by Karen Owen in the Welsh language weekly newspaper Y Cymro . There was a fierce response – from snobs and non-snobs! – Yours, etc,

CLIVE JAMES,

Cae Gwyn,

Caernarfon, Cymru.

A chara, – Una Mullally’s piece is pertinent, timely and most welcome. It opens a major debate.

The success of the policy of promoting our national language by an overemphasis on the Gaeltacht is open to question. For its size, the Gaeltacht has had disproportionate influence and, it can be argued, has frustrated the wider promotion and development of the language. Is it not time now to turn attention to areas where greater developmental opportunities exist – if only because of greater population density and a broader growing interest in the national tongue?

For the most part the national agencies, notably the Department of the Gaeltacht, TG4 and Radio na Gaeltachta, have been somewhat passive to the need for a more inclusive base. My own representations to TG4 for greater flexibility to satisfy a wider diversity of intonation in its programming, elicited the response that the “integrity” of the language had to be preserved. Not a particularly enlightening response! It may be a little unfair to pick on TG4 given the quality of some of its programmes, but it must not lose sight of the fact that it is “Teilefís na Gaeilge” and not “Teilefís na Gaeltachta”. Its remit extends to all of Ireland.

Snobbery “within” the language, as Ms Mulally points out, is a dilemma; but whether we like it or not a two-tiered edifice is emerging. The summer days going west to challenge the progression of one’s capability in the language is now less easily satisfied. Regrettably, one finds that the fíor Gaeilgeoir is becoming less willing to engage with those of us on lower fluency levels or who lack the blas.

All, however, is not gloom – there have been some very worthwhile developments and initiatives with respect to the language. In the Gaelscoileanna, demand for places across communities outstrips supply, while the emphasis in the Leaving Cert on speaking the language is having a most positive impact. We can now say with some certainty that interest in the language is growing.

So how do we build on this? For those of us in the eastern region, an official recognition of a Leinster dialect, alongside those of Ulster, Connacht and Munster, would certainly be a help. Persuading TG4 to broaden its staffing and commissioning base would facilitate a more inclusive service. Encouraging the promotion of more centres of Irish learning in areas outside the Gaeltacht would give a significant impetus. Assigning the responsibility for the language to the Taoiseach’s department would ensure the necessary leadership. Such actions could readily be taken without any additional cost to the national finances. – Is mise,

PG Ó hEOCHAIDH,

Gleann na Smol,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.

 

Sir, – Vincent Browne’s singling out of an entire sport’s “culture” as private school boorishness is a strange attempt at some form of populist class warfare (“Rugby culture is boorishly patriarchal”, Opinion and Analysis, March 19th). It is strange because, while perfectly entitled to an opinion, I find it very ironic indeed that he deems those who have attended private fee-paying schools to be “posh”, despite having attended a private fee-paying school himself.

This is surely a ground-breaking statement for a contrarian? An instance of “self-contrarianism”? – Yours, etc,

JUSTIN DEEGAN,

Celbridge Road,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – Gabriel Rosenstock puts his finger in the wound (March 21st). In my Dublin Catholic school, renowned for its rugby, we 10-year-olds practised military drill as an integral part of the curriculum, swinging white batons to signify that we were “officer class”. We had our own parade ground for marching and afterwards it was compulsory rugby on the playing fields of Rathmines. There were beatings for not attending. True to post-colonial type, Ireland was imitating its colonial masters – young Irishmen were being trained in British imperial traditions. This was in the late 1950s, more than 30 years after Ireland theoretically became independent.

The English also gave us that fine, egalitarian game of soccer – ruptured sinews and broken bones indeed, but no ruptured spleens or broken heads. We were not permitted to play soccer, it was for the lower classes only. – Yours, etc,

GERARD MONTAGUE,

Zaumberg,

Immenstadt,

Allgäu, Germany.

Sir, – Vincent Browne on “boorishness“? That’s a good one. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL HEALY,

Ardagh Park Gardens,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir, – The suggestion by Denis O’Connor (March 21st), writing from Toronto, that “anyone who encourages a child to play rugby is an eejit”, is rich considering that ice hockey is Canada’s national sport. Hardly a genteel game. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN O’CONNOR,

Clinstown,

Stamullen, Co Meath.

 

Sir, – Eamonn McCann’s argument for Ireland supporting Russia over Crimea is a classic instance of half-baked facts and rhetorical tricks being deployed to a bad end (“If we have to pick a side over Crimea, let it be Russia,” Opinion & Analysis, March 20th).

Crimeans should have some say over their political destiny, but the referendum held in Crimea last Sunday fell so far short of even “shifting norms of democratic probity” that it has to be dismissed. The vote was in no sense free or fair. The choice put before Crimea’s citizens was not a choice since it contained no option to remain within Ukraine. The vote was rushed forward so that there could be no campaigning against it, held under the auspices of a Crimean government that lacked any legitimacy and that denied meaningful protest against the referendum, and under conditions of a media blackout of Ukrainian news sources. Not surprisingly, many Crimeans boycotted the poll to deny it any legitimacy. Now that Russia has annexed Crimea and fatally wounded its relations with Ukraine, we will never know what Crimeans actually wanted.

Mr McCann is right to note that Russia has grievances with the post-cold war security architecture in Europe. It is, however, hypocritical of him to argue for the right of Crimeans to make decisions about their political and security futures and deny those rights to east Europeans whose countries joined the EU and Nato after 1989. Nato and EU enlargement may not have been well handled diplomatically, with rash promises that there would be no eastward enlargement of Nato made on several occasions by people who had no right to determine the foreign policy orientations of the new east European democracies. But this does not obviate the right of east Europeans to choose to be part of either Nato or the EU, a right that they exercised.

The rhetorical reason that Mr McCann holds east Europeans’ rights in such low regard is to justify Russian fears of further Nato expansion and to link these to Ukraine’s relationship to the EU. But no such relationship exists. Contrary to Mr McCann’s assertion, there is no mention of “Kiev align(ing) forces with Nato” in the agreements that Ukraine was due to sign with the EU last year. There is talk of co-operation in policing, anti-terrorism and other security areas, and of bringing about alignment between Ukrainian policy and the European Common Foreign and Security Policy. This has nothing to do with Nato and, given the state of European foreign and security policy, is not much of a threat to anyone.

The other argument that Mr McCann proposes, that the West is bad so we should ignore the wickedness of others, is so intellectually lazy that I will not dignify it with a response. – Yours, etc.

Prof NEIL ROBINSON,

Department of Politics

and Public Administration,

University of Limerick,

Limerick.

 

A chara, – The Government will move shortly to appoint a new member of the European Commission. As a country, we have, for the most part, appointed effective commissioners over the years who have made significant impacts on their portfolios and in tackling challenges faced by European citizens. For example, current commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has achieved much success in her science, innovation and research brief.

Yet the debate in Ireland seems to be more about the potential of freeing up a Cabinet spot in a forthcoming reshuffle than about the qualities of the individual that will be appointed to Brussels or the portfolio that the Government should seek.

The appointment should be made on the basis of the person best capable to provide leadership and vision in the portfolio they receive and a willingness to seek Europe-wide solutions, not because of party loyalty or a desire to see somebody off the national pitch.

Given the challenges across Europe, a commissioner with specific responsibility to tackle the social and economic consequences of youth unemployment should be appointed, and Ireland would do well to seek such a post. – Is mise,

MALCOLM BYRNE,

The Chase,

Gorey, Co Wexford.

 

A chara, – On March 20th, we, as a nation, and in spite of years of austerity, cuts and bailing out banks, are one of the happiest in Europe (“Irish rank highly for quality of life in EU, survey finds,” Home News, March 20th).

However, the following day, we learn that as a nation, notwithstanding years of austerity, cuts and bailing out banks, we have some serious issues to do with suicide – most especially among adolescents (“Ireland has ‘exceptionally high rates’ of suicide”, Home News, March 21st). Lies, damned lies and statistics. – Is mise,

MICHAEL NASH,

Assistant Professor

Mental Health Nursing,

School of Nursing

and Midwifery ,

Trinity College Dublin,

Dublin 2.

 

A chara, – Finally, a Government Minister acknowledges the distinguished, not disgusting, service Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe and retired Garda John Wilson have done for the State (“Burton increases pressure on Callinan”, Front Page, March 21st). Personally, I find both Sgt McCabe’s and Mr Wilson’s brave and selfless acts incredibly heroic. I believe both these individuals, at enormous personal costs to themselves, their immediate family and friends, have been wholly vindicated in the entire course of their actions.

However, what I do not understand is why Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny find it so impossible to embrace wholeheartedly these honest whistleblowers and apologise for the horrendous treatment both men have received and continue to endure? Surely the sooner an apology is sincerely given to both men, the better for everyone involved. – Is mise,

JASON POWER,

Maxwell Road,

Rathgar,

Dublin 6.

 

Sir, – Recent references to the impact of caring on women’s lives are well made and ultimately reflect the reluctance of the State to really value such care (“Imbalance at the top in third level”, Education, March 18th; Letters, March 20th).

However, universities also have responsibilities to create organisational cultures which are “women friendly”. The impact of such cultures is illustrated by the fact that while roughly one in three of those at professorial level in the University of Limerick are women, the national average is 19 per cent (with NUI Galway having only 13 per cent). Furthermore, the University of Limerick moved from a position where it had no woman at professorial level 15 years ago to one where it now has almost twice the national average. Hence even in the context of less than optimum involvement by the State, change is possible. Universities cannot be allowed to ignore their responsibilities. – Yours, etc,

Prof PAT O’CONNOR,

Department of Sociology,

Faculty of Arts, Humanities

and Social Science,

University of Limerick

 

Sir, – Two years. Read that and say it out loud. I was told today there is a two-year waiting list at the hearing centre on North Great George’s Street in Dublin if I wish to have my three-year-old son’s hearing, which I have concerns about, tested there. – Yours, etc,

CAROLINE MITCHELL,

St Mary’s Road,

East Wall,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – I note that Tom Carey (March 19th), former county engineer in Clare, clarifying that a motorway was not rerouted to preserve a fairy tree, has insisted on spoiling a very good story with the facts (“Away with the faeries”, Magazine, March 15th). Such behaviour, if continued, could lead to the ruination of many newspapers, and a decline in radio and television current affairs programmes.

I would ask for restraint from the public during this difficult period. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY WALSH,

St Aidan’s Drive,

Goatstown, Dublin 14.

 

 

Sir, – Before the Patricks, including Patrick Freyne, get too smug and claim their name as the most “versatile on the planet” (“I’m no saint”, Magazine, March 15th), may I remind them that the “Michaels” can match their six piddly nicknames and go one better: Mícheál, Mick, Mike, Mickey, Mikey, Mitch and Micilín. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL “MICK” KELLY,

Dunmore East,

Co Waterford.

 

 

Irish Independent:

 

* While not wanting to take one whit from the richly deserved adulation accorded by the Irish public to Brian O’Driscoll in the past few weeks to mark his international retirement, please let us spare a thought for another of our rugby superstars, Ronan O’Gara.

Also in this section

Just say no to a nanny, Orwellian state

St Patrick’s Day can be about social change

So when is the real democratic revolution?

O’Gara’s playing achievements were no less outstanding than BOD’s. He is Ireland’s second most capped player (128), and the third most capped in rugby union history. He is the all-time highest points scorer for Ireland and is the fourth highest points scorer in the history of rugby union. He also holds the Heineken Cup record for points scored (an amazing 1,365) in that competition.

He captained Munster, Ireland and the Lions, and won four Triple Crowns with Ireland and two Heineken Cups with Munster. Who will ever forget his drop goal in 2009 against Wales which won us our only Six Nations‘ Grand Slam, or his nerveless 84th-minute drop-goal, after 41 phases of play, to secure victory for Munster against Northampton in the 2012 Heineken Cup campaign?

Sadly and inexplicably, O’Gara was accorded no opportunity for a glorious and celebrated retirement from the international rugby fray. His fate at the hands of Ireland’s then rugby management a year ago was to be left out of the 23-man squad for our final Six Nations game, against Italy, which we lost. A great player was badly wronged.

STEPHEN O’BYRNES

MOREHAMPTON ROAD, DUBLIN 4

HEROISM OF VARADKAR

* Cometh the hour, cometh the lion! Mr Leo Varadkar has done the State a great service. It is not his calling for the withdrawal of the “disgusting” remark by the Garda Commissioner, which is in itself an act of great service. It is that he has proven there is a politician in Government who is not only lucid but who can coolly and calmly look at a situation and rationally assess the correct course of action. He has further elevated his standing by thanking the garda whistleblowers.

The fact that he has called for this action in a personal capacity and not from behind the usual government-generated spin machine proves him to be that rarest of party politicians: a man of integrity and bravery.

These are the qualities that define all heroes throughout history. They are the qualities that defined Mr Wilson’s actions; they are the qualities that defined Sergeant McCabe’s actions and those of the independent politicians who were until now the only people within the legislative processes of the State who, to put it simply, did the right thing.

I often wonder if history, with its eye eternally focused on the heroic deeds of the dead, smothers that which is heroic within each and every one of us. Does it paint such a vision of the heroes of the past that we get a feeling that we could never measure up to O’Connell, or Parnell, or Davitt, while at the same time forgetting that they were, like us, simply human?

Mr Varadkar reached into his humanity and found a hero.

Well done, Mr Varadkar: you, like the whistleblowers and the media that have supported them, and indeed the families behind all those who have supported the quest for truth, have also added to the light you so eloquently spoke of. The heroes of the nation grow in numbers; how refreshing and hopeful for us all.

DERMOT RYAN

ATHENRY, CO GALWAY

THAT’S DEMOCRACY

* Sometimes democratic elections produce unwelcome results. The voters of Crimea voted by an overwhelming majority to join Russia . . . let them!

KEVIN DEVITTE

MILL STREET, WESTPORT, CO MAYO

LABOUR’S IVAN WOES

* Just when you thought the Labour Party’s woes couldn’t possibly get any worse, Ivan Yates announces that he voted for them at the last election (Irish Independent, 20 March).

How can Mr Gilmore’s party ever recover from such an embarrassing revelation?

BARRY WALSH

CLONTARF, DUBLIN 3

ODDLY SUNNY THOUGHTS

* Edward Horgan wrote (March 20) that Ireland’s indebtedness now stands at €500bn, and that to physically move €500bn by road would take over 30 40-foot containers, each stuffed floor to roof with €50 notes – and our Taoiseach tells us things are improving? Must be the weather he has in mind.

PADDY O’BRIEN

BALBRIGGAN, CO DUBLIN

LEADER FOR EC NEEDED

* The Government will move shortly to appoint a new member of the European Commission. As a country, we have, for the most part, appointed effective Commissioners who have made significant impacts on their portfolios. For example, current Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn has achieved much success in her Science, Innovation and Research brief.

Yet the debate in Ireland seems to be more about the potential of freeing up a cabinet spot in a forthcoming reshuffle than about the qualities of the individual appointed to Brussels.

The appointment should be made on the basis of the person best capable to provide leadership and vision in the portfolio they receive, and a willingness to seek Europe-wide solutions – not because of party loyalty or a desire to see somebody off the national pitch.

Given the challenge across Europe, a Commissioner with responsibility to tackle the social and economic consequences of youth unemployment should be appointed – and Ireland would do well to seek such a post.

CLLR MALCOLM BYRNE

GOREY, CO WEXFORD

EU TREATS US FINE, MING

* I see ‘Ming’ Flanagan is trying to get himself into the European Parliament to proclaim the message that “we have gone too far with this European project”.

The European project he is talking about is a union of nearly 30 democratic states, with a home market of 500 million people, each of which signed a treaty to cooperate in matters of mutual interest.

He also said that the EU “left us with a bill of €70bn”. He is thus blaming other people in Europe, who ran their countries much better than we did, for what happened to us. The vast majority of EU countries did not go broke. Ireland did.

He also ignores the fact that European taxpayers, some from countries much poorer than us, funded 20pc of our €100bn infrastructural development programme over the decades.

They also funded another, €85bn programme, put together by the EU, the ECB and the IMF, to rescue this country from the results of the reckless decisions of its own most powerful citizens.

Of course if ‘Ming’ and UKIP have their way, they can always go back to the tariffs and tanks of the 1930s.

A LEAVY

SUTTON, DUBLIN 13

POPE FRANCIS: REAL THING

* The media must run with the latest news that sells. That is understandable. The ‘Francis effect’ is not a passing fancy. He certainly has a way with words, a clear, ready, off-the-cuff answer to every question. But will he last the pace? Will people get tired of his style in time?

It is important to realise that this is not about style at all. This is the man Francis; what you hear is what you get. He talks his own personal faith. Far from skin-deep, every syllable comes from the very core of his being. He is no seven-day wonder. Good for the long haul, he speaks what he lives: the truth, like his Master.

SEAN MCELGUNN

ADDRESS WITH EDITOR

Irish Independent

 

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