Quiet day

3April 2014 Quiet day
I go all the way around the park listening to the Navy Lark. Our heroes are in trouble, again. They have to tach Navigation Priceless
Mary better potter around
Scrabble today, I win by three points, Perhaps Mary will win tomorrow.

Obituary:

 

Captain Harry Beckingham – obituary
Captain Harry Beckingham was a bomb disposal officer who dealt with lethal butterflies in Hull and survived gas poisoning in Ilford

Captain Harry Beckingham
6:17PM BST 02 Apr 2014
4 Comments
Captain Harry Beckingham, who has died on his 94th birthday, was a bomb disposal officer in the Second World War.
On the outbreak of war, Beckingham, a draughtsman fresh from technical college, was posted to 35 Bomb Disposal Section, which was subsequently incorporated into 5 Bomb Disposal (BD) Company RE.
He was given a day’s training at Sheffield, at the end of which, as he said afterwards: “We were given a drawing which showed how to deal with an unexploded bomb.” This depicted a wall being constructed around the bomb with corrugated metal and sandbags, with an area left so that a man could crawl inside and place a charge.
After the start of the Blitz, Beckingham worked on unexploded bombs first in the north of London and then – after moving to the Duke of York Barracks – in the West End, Fulham and Victoria.
One day his section was called out to the centre of Ilford to dig for a bomb when “out of the blue a German plane swooped down on us, machine guns blazing as he roared past”. Beckingham dived for cover, while the rest of his squad took shelter in nearby shop doorways.
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The next thing he knew, he was waking up in hospital. It turned out that he had fallen into a concealed camouflet – a chamber filled with odourless carbon dioxide created when a bomb exploded underground.
Such accidents almost invariably proved fatal. The bottom of the hole could be 30ft deep, and there was often no way of knowing that the bomb had already exploded. Rescue attempts were forbidden because they usually only added to the casualties.
Fortunately for Beckingham, a policeman had seen his head suddenly disappear, and his colleagues had rushed over and pulled him out — although not before he had breathed several lungfuls of the deadly gas.
Henry William Beckingham was born at Ludlow, Shropshire, on February 28 1920 and educated locally. He was commissioned in 1943 and posted to 12 BD Company RE in Leeds. That summer he was kept busy clearing butterfly bombs from the hedges and ditches around Hull. He had to use straw, set alight, to burn off the thick undergrowth so that he did not miss any of these lethal devices.
In September 1944 he was posted to Task Force 135, which had assembled at Plymouth for the liberation of the Channel Islands. He was involved in clearing British minefields in the Weymouth and Penzance areas until May 1945, when he embarked for Jersey as commander of a detachment of 24 BD Platoon.
He went to the Pomme d’Or Hotel on the esplanade and took prisoner the head of the German civil administration on the island. The hotel was to be used for the Task Force’s commander, and he checked the place for booby traps.
Beckingham took his unit to Guernsey at the end of the month and was involved in clearing mines and bombs along the coasts of the Channel Islands until May 1946, when he was demobilised in the rank of captain.
After the war he worked for the building division of English China Clay at St Austell, Cornwall, and subsequently as a consultant at Ilkley, Yorkshire. Settled in retirement at a village in Cumbria, he enjoyed sailing, gardening, and travelling.
Beckingham published Living with Danger: Memoirs of a Bomb Disposal Officer (1997) and Achtung! Minen! Guernsey (2005).
Harry Beckingham married first, in 1945, Joan Walker, who predeceased him. He married, secondly, in 1990, Mavis Hayward, who survives him with a son and a daughter from his first marriage.
Captain Harry Beckingham, born February 28 1920, died February 28 2014
Guardian:
Once again we can applaud the UK government and its partners for taking a global lead on the rights of women and girls (Jolie steps up campaign to eradicate use of mass rape as weapon of war, 31 March). The London summit in June will bring unprecedented focus to sexual violence in conflict and, for that, Angelina Jolie and William Hague deserve great credit.
As the Guardian points out, the challenge will be to translate public attention into lasting change. In that mission, I believe one thing is particularly crucial: engaging youth. Let’s make sure that young women – and men – are given the platform in June so that they are not passive victims but agents of change. Ms Jolie and Mr Hague have, with others, led the way. Now, to ensure a future free from sexual violence in conflict, the experiences and recommendations of young people affected by these horrific crimes must shape the summit’s outcome.
Tanya Barron
Chief executive, Plan UK
Shirley Williams asserts (Letters, 2 April) that ex-Soviet satellite members of the EU are “bound to democracy and the rule of law”. Would that include the laws in Estonia and Latvia that deprive native-born residents of citizenship rights on the basis of ethnicity?
Ian Sutherland
Bury, Lancashire
• The gift of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s eminently re-readable short novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (What book would you send to a prisoner?, 1 April) would encourage any prisoner, like Shukhov in the gulag, to develop a personal code of survival under the regime inside while purposefully preparing for release into a much harsher environment outside.
Dr Mark Stroud
Llantrisant, Glamorgan
• Experience suggests that, for some prisoners, Jane Austen is just what they’re waiting for. One of our reading groups at a women’s prison reported a lively session with Pride and Prejudice. “That first scene, guy walks in and says no one here worth dancing with – all been there, haven’t we?”
Professor Jenny Hartley
Prison reading groups, University of Roehampton
• Dangling participle alert (Evans tells jury of ‘absolute hell’ of sex allegations, 1 April): “While giving explicit details of how he and the young man performed sex acts, the judge stepped in to halt the questioning by Evans’s barrister.”
John Sibbald
Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear
• Surely conscious uncoupling (Letters, 31 March) is what the railwayman does between the engine and the carriages?
Stuart Waterworth
Tavistock, Devon
• Flintshire has the Devil’s Village (Letters, 28 March), but we are the only place in the world to have the place names Purgatory and Paradise just a few miles apart. We’ll be walking this route next All Souls’ Day as part of the Laurie Lee festival: cordial and indulgent invitations to all.
Stuart Butler
Stroud, Gloucestershire
• And when in grumpy mood, we’ve been known to take a seaside break at Buggerru in south-west Sardinia.
Tony Scull
Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Your report (Scotland plans to move to right after independence, 1 April) reminded me of a similar decision, back in the 1970s, by an ex-colonial country, determined to throw off the shackles. To smooth the transition, it was suggested that cars should make the switch first, followed by buses and trucks a week later.
Barry Wendt
Ambleside, Cumbria
• I presume there is a Möbius strip inside the traffic interchange towers shown in your illustrations of Scottish plans for the road system after independence? Without such a geometric device, the traffic would emerge on the same side of the road.
David Reed
London
• 1 April. Page 3: a recommended diet, consisting almost entirely of green vegetables and warning of the dangers posed by dried figs. Page 5: Scotland, after independence, would adopt driving on the right and introduce vast spiral interchanges on its borders. Page 6: Phyllida Barlow’s latest sculpture, Dock, which appeared to be the contents of a colossal builder’s skip emptied into a room at Tate Britain. Which was the spoof?
James Hornsby
Abington, Northampton
• Every 1 April, Guardian readers need to beware of the spoof story. This year it was just too easy to spot: “Osborne vows to create full employment.”
Anthony Matthew
Leicester
• Two fools in the news on 1 April: the first sells off a 300-year-old national asset at nearly half price; the second lauds the deviousness, low cunning and total untrustworthiness of President Putin. I really do believe that the average market trader and person in the street would apply more intelligence and common sense to their analysis than this prize pair put together.
Mike Saunders
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

ms/Demotix/Corbis
Ken Loach’s article (Labour is not the solution, 28 March) has received a fantastic response – 250 people joined Left Unity over the weekend, when we held our first national conference.
But Labour supporters would rather see us pack up our things and go home. They tell us not to rock the boat for fear of letting the Tories in next year. New Labour was founded on the assumption that Labour could tack as far as it liked to the right and still count on the left vote for lack of an alternative. And tack right it did. Now we have a Labour party signed up to Conservative spending plans, privatisation and a benefits cap that will hit disabled people hard and push 345,000 children into poverty. And whatever you do, don’t mention the (Iraq) war.
Left Unity’s conference in Manchester on Saturday agreed to campaign against austerity and war, to introduce a 35-hour week and a mandatory living wage, and to renationalise the rail and energy companies. These are policies that the vast majority of British people support but Labour, ever in the pockets of big business, will not even consider them. What does this say about the Labour party today? What does it say about the state of British democracy? This is exactly why we need Left Unity.
Salman Shaheen
Principal speaker, Left Unity
• As every year passes, the influence of the left in the Labour party diminishes; it’s almost non-existent now. In 1994, Ralph Miliband wrote in Socialism for a Sceptical Age: “The emergence of new socialist parties in many countries is one of the notable features of the present time … their growth is essential if the left is to prosper.”
The parties Ralph Miliband was referring to have developed into the Party of the European Left, an alliance of left parties in European countries. Opinion polls indicate that those parties, which have a clear policy of opposing austerity and privatisation, and which support the re-founding of Europe on a socialist basis, will get increased support in the forthcoming European elections. Syriza in Greece has 23.9% support, Izquierda Unida in Spain 14.1%, Front de Gauche in France 9% and Die Link in Germany 8%.
In Britain we have no opportunity of voting for such a party. Left Unity’s conference agreed to support the Party of the European Left’s call for a refounding of Europe on a socialist basis. For socialists in the Labour party there is an alternative – Left Unity.
David Melvin
Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester
• In threatening to split Unite from Labour (Back workers or lose election, Miliband told, 2 April), my friend Len McCluskey would be sadly destined to repeat history. Small splinter left parties in Britain have never succeeded, only played into the hands of the Tories by dividing their opponents and undermining the ability of Labour – the only party capable of forming an alternative government – to win. Far too many of my constituents, like many others, are being devastated by this Tory-Lib Dem government and are desperate to defeat them.
Peter Hain MP
Lab, Neath
• Deborah Orr wrote a very interesting article (Workers are treated with contempt in Britain. This should be Labour’s focus, 29 March), which, if I read her right, called for what at one time was described as a “middle way” between adherence to the state and reliance on the market. Leave aside the fact that her knock at New Labour may well have been misplaced (I do not believe for a moment that the Brown government was defeated in 2010 because it was New Labour), and it is possible to see that the critique she offers has been debated for the past 30 years. The battle lines of the 1980s were about a throwback to Friedrich Hayek and the “liberated individual” of Margaret Thatcher’s free-market values, and old Labour with its paternalistic, top-down approach to solving genuine problems.
The question that Orr did not answer is how you mobilise the power of people in their own lives with the influence of the state to tackle vested interests, from wherever they come, and to unite people against such vested interests across national boundaries in a rapidly developing global power struggle. The truism that all of us have to address in politics is: “Those who have power are those most likely to be in power.”
David Blunkett MP
Lab, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes it clear that the future of world agriculture is precarious (UN warning over world’s food supplies, 31 March). The international mechanisms to address the complex challenges remain weak, and the UK must, as it has done in energy policy, show leadership. We need to re-engineer the UK’s food and farming system, not only because we can no longer look to global markets for a safe, secure food future, but also because we need that system to play its full part in adapting to, and reducing the severity of, climate change.
As a priority, less food must be wasted from field to fork: producing more is pointless when so much energy, effort and land is squandered through waste. Decarbonising food supply across the supply chain to cut greenhouse gas emissions is essential, but we also need to give farmers incentives to manage land in ways that store carbon to cut emissions further. Last, we need to reappraise the supply of farmland as a long-term productive resource: in a world of falling crop yields, volatile markets and unpredictable weather, farmland cannot for much longer be regarded as simply ripe for “development”.
Graeme Willis
Campaign to Protect Rural England
• If most of those working on an ageing aeroplane warned the owners there was more than a 50% chance of it crashing, then the plane would be grounded. As most climate scientists now say there is a more than 75% chance of average global temperatures exceeding a 4% rise by the end of this century, if not sooner, we surely want to take drastic action as soon as possible. The costs of not reducing greenhouse gases will far outweigh the cost of investment in alternative sources of energy. Governments, transnational corporations and others need to act now to prevent catastrophic global warming.
But they need us to tell them so – now. As well as emphasising the urgency for action, we also need to work on building up the resilience of local communities to adapt. Local communities as well as nations need to come together to work on local projects to respond creatively to climate change. Green or environmental groups, such as Transition Towns, that are already doing this need greater local and national support. We need to work together for the common good, for example, to promote local food, and we cannot afford to wait to do this until an emergency happens, such as the floods on the Somerset Levels.
Rev Timothy Fox
Lancaster
• The letters from Raymond Blanc et al and Caroline Lucas MP (1 April) call for action to combat climate change, but their suggestions will not achieve what is needed. Caroline Lucas rightly says that “80% of known fossil fuel reserves” will have to stay in the ground if we are to tackle the problem by cutting emissions. However, as China, India, Brazil and others continue to expand their energy use massively, it is now beyond all reasonable doubt that nothing like 80% will stay unburnt, even in the unlikely event that countries such as the UK were to reduce their usage to zero.
Environmentalists, businesses, governments and the UN now need to accept that the only feasible solutions are to remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere by means of reforestation and carbon scrubbing, and to cool the planet artificially by means of geo-engineering.
Richard Mountford
Tonbridge, Kent
• The latest pre-election trial balloon from David Cameron (Tories plan new attack on windfarms, 2 April) reflects a party that is not seeking a sensible energy policy for Britain. Instead it is clear that the Conservative party has adopted a strategy of chasing after Ukip, seeking to be more extreme. It seems that the fanatical opposition to windfarms from some on the right might soon prompt David “hug a husky” Cameron to be pictured instead taking an axe to a wind turbine, because the floated policy suggests that the Tories want to see existing turbines pulled down.
Britain trails nearly all the European Union in providing renewable energy – we can boast of being ahead only of those global giants Malta and Luxembourg – meanwhile, states such as the US and China are surging ahead with renewables. The refusal to provide a secure, supportive investment environment for renewables in the UK risks losing opportunities for jobs and businesses.
Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green party
• The septennial report of the IPPC adds further weight, if any was needed, to the assessment of risks posed by climate change, not only globally but to the UK economy, environment and society, not in some distant era but in the near future with potentially damaging effects on future generations. The first obligation on politicians of whatever hue is the protection of their citizens. In reality, whatever consensus existed in the UK has effectively dissipated and decisive action seems as far away as ever. We have the European elections pending and the general election in 12 months . Who would bet that the global climate and the coming storm will register on the electoral radar? To continue to dissemble and prevaricate in the face of risks to national security and wellbeing of this magnitude would surely be a criminal abrogation of political responsibility.
I call on government, together with all the parties, to initiate, facilitate and fund a sustained national debate on the risks and options, conducted in regional venues and across the web, between business, civil society and the scientific community between now and May 2015.
Neil Blackshaw
Little Easton, Essex
• Is it too much to hope that the catastrophic effects predicted for climate change later this century will feature in party manifestos next year? Or will this generation of political leaders go down in what remains of human history as those who lacked the courage and honesty to face the world’s greatest crisis?
Rev Neil Richardson
Ludlow, Shropshire
• One thing missing from the climate change debate is any suggestion that we might address world population growth. Surely it must be obvious that this crisis would be easier to cope with if population was stable or declining. But no one mentions this. Why?
Roger Plenty
Stroud, Gloucestershire

Tony Benn always tried to argue a case through reason rather than endlessly repeated slogans. His approach to political discourse was rooted deeply in his sense of history, as in the campaign against the banning of Peter Wright’s controversial book Spycatcher. At a protest event at Speakers’ Corner in ‘Hyde Park, London, in August 1987 we each took it in turns to read aloud some of the more explosive extracts from the book in defiance of government injunctions preventing publication of any part of it, with its extraordinary revelations about alleged illegality by the intelligence services.
Tony’s presence probably deterred the police, who could be seen nervously consulting with their superiors on their walkie-talkies over whether to arrest us. In a fine piece of oratory he inveighed against state censorship, invoking article one of the bill of rights of 1689. He said he was speaking out as a citizen, as an MP, as a privy counsellor and “as a member of the committee of privileges of the House of Commons to warn that we cannot, and should not accept this restriction on our liberty”.

Independent:
Your editorial of 2 April is absolutely right to say that “science is not opinion” and to identify the climate change deniers as coming from the political right.
The reason the BBC cannot find experts in climate change to argue against the phenomenon is that no scientist worthy of the name would do so. What we are seeing is a new variation on the science-versus-religion debate: the god of the new dogma is the free-market.
The deniers are nearly always very comfortably off, or supported by billionaires such as the Koch brothers. In their arguments they are wrong about almost every detail except the truth which really haunts them. It is that their free-market model, based on unfettered pillaging of our planet’s resources, has to end if climate change is to be checked.
If not, we are headed for the greatest extinction of species (including our own) since the Permian era. However, like all religious fanatics, the deniers would no doubt consider that a small price to pay to protect the sanctity of their dogma.
Steve Edwards, Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex
Kate O’Mara’s theatre rescue
We at the Kings Theatre in Southsea are deeply saddened at the death of Kate O’Mara (Obituary, 1 April). Kate spent much of her youth at the Kings, which was built by her great grandfather in 1907 and later run by her actor/manager grandparents.
She loved theatre generally, and the Kings in particular. She performed here many times. We particularly remember her outstanding performances in The Taming of the Shrew and An Ideal Husband.
When the theatre was in its direst need – in danger of being converted into a theme pub or, worse, demolished – Kate became a supporter of Akter (Action for Kings Theatre Restoration) and, later, a patron of the rescued and rejuvenated theatre.
I know Kate was delighted that her beloved theatre is going from strength to strength. We will miss her passion and enthusiasm.
Paddy Drew, Southsea, Hampshire
Seven a day? Who can afford it?
We hear that if we eat seven portions of  fruit and veg a day we will live longer. Well, I’m afraid that all but the wealthy are going to die before their time.
The government recommendation of five a day was bad enough, and the poorer in our society could not have managed that. Has anyone who makes these recommendations ever thought where the money is going to come from? Anyone who actually goes shopping will realise that five a day for a family of four for seven days will cost more than their budget for an entire week’s groceries. We are now seeing fruit sold at prices per item instead of per weight.
They should think before making silly recommendations that are beyond so many people’s reach.
Dave Croucher, Doncaster
Public health doctors appear to have been taken in by the report regarding the benefits of eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Only a moment’s reflection is needed to realise that those eating larger amounts of fresh fruit and veg are likely to be people who understand the benefit of a healthy lifestyle and can afford to pay for it. So they are probably, also, doing the other things that are part of a healthy lifestyle, such as taking exercise, not smoking, and drinking alcohol in moderation; in addition, they are likely to have the knowledge to seek medical advice for early intervention for any health problems.
By increasing the quantity of fresh fruit and veg consumed from one portion a day to seven or more, you may improve your health and therefore reduce your risk of dying, but until all the other factors have been excluded you cannot know by how much. It’s misleading to suggest that we only have to change our diet to reduce our risk of dying by  42 per cent.
Michael Charvonia, Southgate, Middlesex
Two of the top 20 charities, receiving £100m-plus, are Cancer UK and the British Heart Foundation. I assume people hope these research charities will find the answer to these endemic ills. Yet how upset and angry people get when told we are eating junk and that eating healthily may well help us avoid suffering these diseases.
I suppose the real answer is that people want to go on eating a high meat, sugar, fat, salt, alcohol, soda-pop and refined-grain diet and do as little exercise as possible. They give to these medical charities in the hope they will come up with a pill, potion or procedure that allows them not to change their unhealthy lifestyle.
Sara Starkey, Tonbridge, Kent
Squash is not just for toffs
Squash may be “too brutal” for Roger Federer, but Lalit Bhadresha (letter, 26 March) makes a good case for bringing this sport into the Olympics. Sadly, here in Britain squash has the reputation of being a game for toffs and is little played by teenagers in the state education system.
But squash is easy to learn, can be played all year round, develops agility as well as stamina, and unlike contact sports can be enjoyed throughout our working lives and beyond. It would be relatively inexpensive to incorporate a couple of squash courts whenever a new school is built, and this would be a very cost-effective way of developing physical fitness in young people.
David Hewitt, London N1
Childless marriage is still marriage
Commenting on gay marriage, Kevin O’Donnell (letter, 31 March) defines marriage as the potential for children. That is a dangerous path. We struggled with infertility for several years. If it had been proved that one of us was infertile and therefore lacked the potential to have children, would we have been less married or not married by this definition? Infertility is a big enough cross to carry without adding this idea to it.
Brian Dalton, Sheffield
England’s share of humiliation
I think the performance of the cricket team this winter has finally sent Stephen Brenkley over the edge (2 April). Waitrose may or may not regret sponsoring the England cricket team, but they won’t be bothered about the share price as they are part of the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership.
Rob Edwards, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Every student’s education benefits us all
I am shocked that you should defend tuition fees (editorial, 1 April).
Who, among those who support tuition fees, would like to live in a society without education – a society without architects, engineers or doctors? Who can imagine what such a society would be like?
There would be much less informed discourse, more superstition, no scientific medical care or ways of fighting disease, no safely designed buildings and none of the fruits of technological progress that make the life we know possible. Who wants to step into a lift built by an unqualified engineer?
It would be a return to the jungle. We all need education, whether we take it personally or not. When we visit a doctor, switch on a light, flush a toilet, take a ship, a plane or any vehicle we are benefiting from education.
Everybody who takes an education is benefiting us all and we should all be grateful; we all need educated people. It is those who do not take an education who should be penalised.
What sense is there in making education obligatory until a certain age and then obliging people to pay to continue?
The goal of education should be simple – to nurture everyone according to their ability. The better we do that the better our society will be. Education is the best and most important investment we can make.
Dennis Leachman, Reading
You ask “How can it possibly be fair for those without a university degree to stump up for the income-boosting education of those who do?” (editorial, 1 April). That is entirely reasonable.
But should you not also ask “How can it possibly be fair for those graduates who repay their debt to society by doing comparatively low-paid work in nursing, teaching or social work to stump up for the income-boosting education of highly-paid graduates in banking or hedge fund management?”
The answer to both questions is the same. The fair way to pay for higher education is to use the income tax system to ensure that the more a graduate is paid, the more they pay towards the HE costs of all graduates, while non-graduates are left with nothing to pay towards HE costs at all.
What is blatantly unfair is to charge all graduates the same £9,000 per year, regardless of how much financial benefit they gain from their graduate status.
David Rendel, (Higher education spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, 2003-2005), Upper Bucklebury, West Berkshire

Times:
Sat-nav is marvellous when it works, but when it stops we have to fall back on old tech
Sir, Maps are not just a means of getting from A to B; they are a source of interest and pleasure (report, Mar 31; letters, Apr 1 & 2). Perusing a map, one can discover lanes and byways, remote villages, churches, monuments and much more. We live in a county with very many little lanes, and our map-reading friends arrive on time while our sat-nav friends get lost.
Joan Westall
Newton Ferrers, Devon
Sir, It’s not just roadworks which are not recognised by sat-nav. En route to a meeting in Burton on Trent last week I was held up by a lorry fire on the A38 near Sutton Coldfield. As the diversion signs were deficient, I switched on the sat-nav.
How I wished afterwards that I had stopped for just a few minutes to consult the map. The satnav did not know where the accident was, nor even that one may not turn right across a major dual carriageway. By contrast, the map showed a simple detour.
Sat-navs certainly have their place, but the humble map, though several years out of date, is still a worthwhile travelling companion.
Howard Lamb
Wargrave, Berks
Sir, I am curious how Bernard Kingston (letter, Apr 1) with his memorised road map could outwit the sat-navs of his fellow guests travelling through “numerous” roadworks to a central London location. This would require memorising a broad swathe of the road map along the route. Some months ago I was travelling north on the A34 from Winchester to Oxford only to be confronted by a sign on the approach to the M4 warning me that the A34 was closed north of the M4. The resultant diversion was over 30 miles long and I was more than glad not to stop to consult maps but let the sat-nav take over.
Roger Porter
Whaddon, Bucks
Sir, I can assure Bernard Kingston that endeavouring to read an inverted A-Z by the feeble interior car light when trying to navigate in the pouring rain to a house-warming party did not promote any euphoric feelings of spatial awareness in my breast.
Passing the same garage for the second time I was about to abandon the whole expedition when I remembered the much maligned
sat-nav in the boot. Typing in the post code I was immediately greeting by an encouraging dulcet female voice suggesting that I “perform a U-turn, when possible” and was then seamlessly directed to the front door of the location, where I arrived neither hot nor bothered.
Kay Bagon
Radlett, Herts
Sir, Mr Kingston drove to a social engagement in “central London”. Where the hell did he park?
Graham Steel
Dover, Kent
Sir, My recent experiences in the narrow streets of Willesden Green, North London, suggest that throwing away one’s A-Z might be premature. In one week I twice met gigantic lorries advised by their
sat-navs to head for a particular road in NW2 which isn’t wide enough to swing a cat, let alone manoeuvre a juggernaut.
Both drivers very much appreciated my offer to guide them to the other Chandos Road, which is in NW10.
Hefty Employment Tribunal fees have wiped out 80 per cent of claims — good news for unscrupulous employers
Sir, The Government’s own figures showed that its introduction of Employment Tribunal fees of between £390 and £1,200 in July 2013 have wiped out 80 per cent of claims. Most of the claims that have gone were brought by employees alone and without lawyers.
The shop assistant whose boss didn’t pay him the minimum wage, the pregnant woman underpaid for maternity leave, the factory worker denied proper holiday pay, the transport worker sacked for raising a safety concern, the abused migrant worker — they are just not bringing their claims. The effect on women has been to reduce sex discrimination claims by 77 per cent and the effect on other minority groups such as the disabled has been almost as severe.
Should business rejoice at the lower costs in not fighting claims? Not the many good employers I work for. The cowboys are now waking up to a new Victorian landscape where they can strip employees of statutory rights and discriminate, hire and fire at will safe in the knowledge that justice has been locked up behind a pay wall unaffordable to four out of five members of their staff.
I call on the Government to review the effect of fees urgently. The facts now show that tribunal fees are bad for business, bad for hard-working families and have destroyed access to employment justice in England, Wales and Scotland.
Caspar Glyn, QC
Chair, The Industrial Law Society
The National Childbirth Trust rejects the accusation that it is oldfashioned or locked into outdated ways
Sir, Your report “Inside the Bump Class” (Apr 1) gives an outdated view of NCT — we have changed a great deal since the 1950s. We aim to help all parents to be informed about their choices, and we offer information to cover all eventualities that expectant and new parents face: caesarean sections, other interventions and pain relief, as well as straightforward births and home births.
And because not all parents can afford antenatal classes, we provide courses at a discounted rate and many free classes commissioned by the NHS.
Belinda Phipps
NCT
Rebels don’t have big causes like the rebels of the past — but each generation finds something to get heated about
Sir, “Today’s rebels have been left without a cause”, says Hugo Rifkind (Opinion, Apr 1). This was echoed not only by Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953) but Jimmy Porter in John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger (1956), when he observed: “People of our generation aren’t able to die for good causes any longer. We had all that done for us, in the Thirties and Forties . . . There aren’t any good brave causes left.”
However, it does seem that each new generation finds itself a cause — even if it’s only climate change.
m. g. sherlock
Colwyn Bay, North Wales
The energy market shambles stems from weak regulation by bodies who put suppliers’ interests ahead of customers’ needs
Sir, The shambles in the energy market stems mainly from weak regulation but also from a succession of inadequate and badly run consumer bodies. Energywatch never found direction and Consumer Focus had too broad a remit to even begin to understand the energy market. They were out of their depth even on some basic issues.
Ofgem has lacked firm leadership since the tenure of Sir James McKinnon in the 1990s and instead of steering the industry in the right direction it consulted and consulted, and nothing got done.
In my own area of interest I am appalled that Ofgem has not stood up for consumers on billing accuracy. Smart meters will cost consumers £12 billion but they will not address any of the billing errors in gas. This is not a minor issue that can be ignored as some gas users could be paying 10 per cent more for the same level of usage.
So what should be done until the Competition and Markets Authority completes it investigation?
Appoint Richard Lloyd of Which? to guide Ofgem on consumer issues. It would be a culture shock, but it is badly needed. Set up a consumer body solely for energy users with staff who are committed to consumers and also understand the market.
Ray Cope
(former director, Gas Consumers Council), Langford, Beds
Telegraph:

 

State of the history of art will change Civilisation
History of art, as a discipline, has changed. This will be reflected in the new version of Civilisation.

Kenneth Clark presented ‘Civilisation’ in 1969, covering 1,000 years of art and philosophy  Photo: BBC
6:58AM BST 02 Apr 2014
37 Comments
SIR – Those of us who enjoyed Kenneth Clark’s style and learnt so much from his assured presentation of Civilisation 40 years ago, must realise that a revolution has taken place in the teaching and scope of the history of art.
No longer is a linear account of the history of (mainly) Western European art a sufficient account. The place of the art connoisseur – of which Clark, who studied with Bernard Berenson, was such an informed exponent – has been discredited and effectively disregarded by the art establishment; since the Seventies, the “new art history” has triumphed.
Additionally, with the growth of university places in the subject, the old order of discourse within art history has become almost taboo. Thus, the use of terms Clark would have been familiar with, such as style, attribution, beauty, genius and quality, has been replaced by less subjective methodology – ideology, class, and feminist and Marxist readings – to the extent that a new vocabulary is inherently a part of the discipline.
The choice of a suitably informed presenter for the new series is, indeed, daunting. Clark was exactly the right man for his time. I hope that the new programme “for the digital age” will prove as informative and memorable. One thing is clear: it will be quite different.
Hugh McIlveen
Wigginton, Oxfordshire

SIR – A remake of Civilisation calls for Lord Hall, director-general of the BBC, to remind the producers of the tremendous impact Neil MacGregor made with A History of the World in 100 Objects – and all we heard was his voice.
David Blake
Bexley, Kent

SIR – The Campaign to Protect Rural England welcomes the findings of the Farrell Review. It is only through intelligent, proactive planning that our housing problems can be solved. We know that more, and affordable, homes are needed but they must be well located, well designed and built to excellent environmental standards.
An important finding of the review was that our current planning system has become too reactive and reliant on development control rather than forward planning. This echoes the findings of the CPRE’s recent report, which found that the current planning system is undermining local democracy and handing power to major developers.
The balance of power should be restored, with local government and communities having more say in what is built, how it is designed and where it is located.
John Rowley
Planning Officer, Campaign to Protect Rural England
London SE1
Related Articles
The Cinderella Law could undermine the family and parental authority
02 Apr 2014
State of the history of art will change Civilisation
02 Apr 2014
SIR – On the edge of the London Green Belt, there are well-advanced plans by The Jockey Club to build 1,500 homes and a number of commercial units on their Kempton Park estate.
Neighbouring communities face not only the power and wealth of The Jockey Club and their multifarious planning consultants, but also the legal powers of the local council, which sees such a development as the solution to the cap on council tax and rapidly decreasing income flows from central government.
The response of Nick Boles, the planning minister, to this is to raise his hands defensively and say that it is up to local councils to decide whether to build on Green Belt land or not.
Alan Doyle
Sunbury, Middlesex
Climate change report
SIR – The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that no one on the planet will be untouched by the damaging effects of global warming in coming decades.
I wonder if these effects will be as damaging as the policies of governments in response to previous IPCC reports.
Simon Malcolm
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
SIR – The “climatic reality” is that world temperatures are not presently increasing.
IPCC members, whose jobs or status depend on climate change, forecast what might happen rather than extrapolate what is happening, or rather not happening.
Michael Tyce
Waterstock, Oxfordshire
Dillan or Dullan?
SIR – Dylan Thomas, whom I saw through a painful tooth crisis in Iowa, responded to “Dillon”. That’s what John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Ruthven Todd and others who knew him shortly before his death in New York, also called him.
Keith Botsford
London SW18
Fool team
SIR – I note that the £90 England World Cup replica shirts “contain innovative performance technologies”.
Is this an April Fool? If not, perhaps the England cricket team could get some.
James McBroom
Pangbourne, Berkshire
Reforming the Lords
SIR – At a time when the opinion of all MEPs is to be assessed, during the European Parliament elections next month, and a critically important decision is to be made by the Scottish electorate over the 307-year union with England, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs are bent on “completing unfinished business” by, once again, attacking the constitution of the House of Lords.
Whereas Tony Blair initiated his premiership with a guaranteed “easy win” and seemingly popular Act to remove the majority of hereditary peers, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are wasting parliamentary time and public funds if they feel that House of Lords reform is a priority in the mind of the public.
Lord Clifford of Chudleigh
London SW1
Judging the police
SIR – Boris Johnson writes: “Beneath the hullabaloo the police are doing an outstanding job.”
Late last Wednesday night, an officer left my house after my wife reported a burglary. Early on Thursday morning, she received an email from the police saying: “It has been concluded at this time unfortunately there is insufficient information to proceed, and that the specific investigation into your crime will now be closed.” Neither a door knocked nor a neighbour questioned, and 12 hours later: case closed. Surely there should be a tiny bit of a hullabaloo.
Chris Boffey
London N8
SIR – Political correctness, health and safety and increasing regulation have altered the manner in which police officers go about their duties. They have become more inclined to self-protection, which can isolate them from their community.
I remember when the local police got involved in youth club or school activities and had sports teams that competed with other community teams.
Ron Starkey
Kendal, Cumberland
Distinguishing traits
SIR – Can anyone explain why such a high proportion of Members of Parliament, themselves a tiny proportion of the British population, turn out to be stupid, incompetent, criminal or unfit to hold public office?
Jeremy Nicholas
Great Bardfield, Essex
If we double our fruit and veg, what will we get?
SIR – You report that consuming 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day will allow us to live longer. How can that be proven? How does one know if one has lived longer?
Dr E S Garbett
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
SIR – Faced with 10 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, I’m not at all sure that I would want to live any longer.
Martyn Pitt
Hardwicke, Gloucestershire
SIR – There will be precious little time left to do any work if I have to double the time I devote to eating my meals after switching to a 10-portions-a-day fruit and vegetable regime.
Ron Kirby
Dorchester
SIR – Eat 10 portions, live longer, and end up being neglected or mistreated in an old people’s care home.
Keith Moore
Yoxford, Suffolk

SIR – To legislate on the “emotional, social and behavioural well-being” of children is to introduce the worst kind of nannying. Parental cruelty to children is covered by existing legislation.
While all children deserve love, who is to decide how much love is sufficient? The needs of different children vary hugely and some become hard to handle after puberty, if not before. An excess of affection can sometimes be the root of children’s problems and therefore precisely what is not needed.
Well-meaning legislation, brought in at the behest of pressure groups, is often flawed. Parents must be allowed to bring up their children as they think best. While there will be victims in every society, this kind of well-intentioned law may not reach them and it may have the unintended consequence of further undermining the family and parental authority.
Gregory Shenkman
London W8
SIR – Compelling parents to provide emotional input to their children represents not only the height of naivety but also typifies the current trend to manipulate us socially via legislation.
How can an Act of Parliament force a second-rate parent to love his or her child?
Peter Mahaffey
Cardington, Bedfordshire
SIR – The Government is considering making emotional cruelty to children a criminal offence, and yet the same Government is encouraging young mothers to go out to work while penalising those who stay at home.
Peter Seccombe
Bodenham, Herefordshire
SIR – Many children or teenagers go through a stage in which parents appear to be the enemy. What vindictive fun some would have with the Cinderella Law.
We still read of dreadful cases of uncared-for children dying unnecessarily, despite the services in place. Time and money should be spent on securing what is already in place.
Joy Watkins
London SW11
SIR – Legislation to criminalise the parental neglect of children’s “intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development” could, in the hands of liberal totalitarians and case-hungry lawyers, provide a “politically correct” instrument to outlaw religious education, gender differentiation, unfashionable discipline, sexual restraint and even patriotism.
David Ashton
Sheringham, Norfolk
SIR – If children will be able to sue their parents when dissatisfied with their upbringing, will parents have equal rights to sue offspring who have not lived up to their expectations?
Dennis Peirson
Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Irish Times:

 

Sir, – Averil Power highlights some of the problems that attend increasing women’s representation in the Dáil (Opinion and Analysis, April 2nd). It is very unusual for a member of a political party to write an article for the media criticising that party’s action or lack of action. So congratulations to her for her honesty.
She should realise, however, that the recent introduction of the condition that political parties have a minimum quota of women candidates in the next general election, before they qualify for full public funding, has not only focused the debate but it has also started a bitter struggle.
Now, when there is a chance that the more than 50 per cent of the electorate that are women might get more of their kind on the ballot paper the insiders and the incumbents will fight tooth and nail to undermine that effort. As a practising woman politician Ms Power is in a better position than most to see this.
Getting women onto the ballot paper, difficult and all as it is, is only the first step. Getting them elected is not going to be easy. Ms Power is wrong when she says that women candidates have the same chance as men. That was true for the 2011 election, when the average woman candidate polled as well as the average man. But that was the first time this was the case and the result was influenced by the fact that a large number of male independents stood in that contest and got very low votes. In previous elections women candidates attracted fewer votes than men.
Increasing the number of women in the Dáil is not going to be easy and the effort is by no means guaranteed to succeed. Yours, etc,
ANTHONY LEAVY,
Shielmartin Drive,
Sutton,
Dublin 13
Sir , – Averil Power’s contention that Countess Markievicz would be horrified that the party she helped establish hasn’t a single female TD may well be true. However, I think the countess might feel a greater sense of horror at the devastation left in wake of 15 years of Fianna Fáil-led government. I am not sure what would motivate any woman with a memory of the last 15 years to stand for Fianna Fáil – regardless of the supports they may put in place to encourage our participation. Yours, etc,
SANDRA ADAMS,
Parkvale,
Baldoyle,
Dublin 13

Sir, – I have been living in Dublin since 2005 and think it is a wonderful city. Concerning its governance though, I could and still cannot not grasp the low level of decision-making power that elected politicians can exercise vis-a-vis unelected officials at the helm of local government. Dublin is a metropolitan region that is the economic engine for the country. Geographically, it has outgrown its administrative boundaries and people’s concept of the city is not defined by signposts demarcating the city limits. Dublin does compete with other European regions for business. Reassessing the responsibility for the governance of the metropolitan region should not be left in the hands of a small group of politicians in Fingal, who do not seem to see the wider implications of their decision. The development of a democratic governance structure for a city region like Dublin should not be held to ransom by the outcome of the Fingal vote. Maybe the process that allowed a predominantly rural area to determine the future of the city should be revisited. The call on the Minister responsible, Phil Hogan, to reassess the boundaries of the city seems appropriate. Yours, etc,
MATTHIAS BORSCHEID,
Buckingham Street Lower,
Dublin 1
Sir, – The people of Dublin have been denied the opportunity to participate in important decision-making by the rejection by Fingal councillors of the proposed plebiscite on a directly elected major for Dublin. I hope the people of Fingal will send a clear message to these councillors in May and give these so-called public representatives a lesson in democracy. What a missed opportunity for an international capital city! Yours, etc,
DAVID MOORE,
Carrs Mill,
Donabate,
Co Dublin

 

Sir, – Jacky Jones is right to raise the important issue of the lack of individual care plans for people using mental health services (“Second Opinion”, April 2nd). Individualised, person-centred, recovery-orientated plans are a basic requirement of a good quality mental health service.
In 2013, Mental Health Reform worked with our member organisations to define five components of a recovery-focused mental health service: hope, listening, partnership, choice and social inclusion. Working in partnership with individuals who use mental health services and, where appropriate, their family supporters, in a hopeful process of listening and engagement is vital if services are to be effective in supporting a person’s recovery.
In simple terms, people recover better when they are given hope, involved in decisions about their own treatment, offered a range of therapeutic options, and are supported to live a full live in the community.
While we were disappointed that the HSE’s Operational Plan for mental health services for 2014 did not commit to ensuring that every mental health service user would have an individual care/recovery plan, there is now an opportunity for the National Director of Mental Health to drive such an improvement across the country. The implementation of this basic reform could have wide-reaching effects in the system and would benefit everyone who seeks support from the HSE’s mental health services. Yours, etc,
SHARI McDAID,
Director,
Mental Health Reform,
Coleraine Street,
Dublin 7
Sir, – Jacky Jones misses the real point in her criticism of mental health services not providing a care plan for every individual. As a social worker in a multidisciplinary mental health team, I, like others, work with patients with a variety of needs, from the most complex, such as severe and enduring mental disorders, with dual diagnosis of addiction and intellectual disabilities and with limited family support to deal with significant life stressors, to less complex cases where patients can be managed by one worker or be relatively quickly referred back to their GP.
Providing a quality, efficient and effective service entails focusing in on those with the greatest needs, having transparent, screening processes in place to ensure meaningful care plans with a responsible key worker to co-ordinate the plan rather than a superficial one size fits all care plan, merely to tick the box. Yours, etc,
FRANK BROWNE,
Ballyroan Park,
Templeogue,
Sir, — It is not often that, where a controversy arises such as the recent one concerning Trinity’s change of logo, an elegant and simple solution should lie so close to hand.
Why not replace the Bible, not with a blank book but with an image of the Book of Kells (which is of course housed in Trinity)? Those who wish to see the Bible retained could find in the Book of Kells the iconic referencing they would prefer; while those opposed to the retention of the Bible would surely be reconciled to an image of what is, after all, a major Irish cultural achievement, and, more to the point, a striking reminder of a longstanding Irish tradition of learning and scholarship.
Thus the Book of Kells would prove equally acceptable to both parties: the saints and the scholars, the former doubtless less numerous than they were of old but both still, happily, so vocal in our insular home. Yours, etc.,
BRIAN COSGROVE,
Cornelscourt Hill,
Foxrock,
Dublin 18
Sir, – President Michael D Higgins was right to argue (Opinion & Analysis, April 2nd) that “we now have a generational opportunity to ask probing questions about the type of society we wish to build together, and the type of public world we wish to share with one another and with future generations”.
His ethics initiative, aiming to place citizens at the centre of the debate about the future of our society is both topical, timely and welcome. For the development model Ireland chose during the Celtic Tiger era has been shown to be fundamentally flawed – yet to date no alternative vision for a fair and sustainable future for our country has emerged.
Our recent history has shown that Ireland’s problems cannot be solved through a “laissez-faire” approach to public policy, and it has also highlighted the fact that our future is intrinsically linked to decisions (or non-decisions, as the case may be) of the wider international community. But we have yet to develop a plan on how to manage the challenges arising from this new awareness.
The President’s call for a conversation about our values as a nation could not be more timely. Our citizens feel less empowered than ever before, and our public goods have been damaged by greed, breach of trust and by global forces of enormous strength. It is not a good time in which to be rudderless.
Realising this, our colleagues at the United Nations have spent much of the last two years asking every country to undertake discussions about national values and national priorities. It has asked citizens, companies and governments to come up with visions of “the world we want”, to help set the agenda for the global community in the coming decades.
On the back of global UN summits of the past decade, the member countries of the UN – including Ireland – have decided to develop a set of global goals to address the world’s most pressing issues in the coming 15 years, goals that will set the framework for national and international decisions on education, equality, democracy, jobs and the environment and which could end up becoming a sort of second-level constitution for our country.
If we seize the opportunity that the President is offering us to rethink who we are and what our values as a nation are, and ought to be, then we will be all the stronger for it, and all the better able to cope with the challenges associated with being a small country in such an interdependent and volatile world. Yours, etc,
HANS ZOMER,
Director,
Dóchas,
Baggot Court,
Dublin 2

Sir, – I strongly disagree with Frank Byrne’s views (Letters, April 1st) on the practice of women applying their makeup on public transport.
The application of makeup is an intimate and private moment for women in which they construct their daily mask. The public application of makeup is fascinating, and very modern. To watch a woman apply makeup is profoundly erotic (in the post-Freudian sense).
To suffer these small darts of Eros at a time of day when one is moving into the profoundly mundane space of most white collar work is a privilege. Yours, etc,
LEON SHARKEY,
Ryebridge Lawns,
Kilcock
Sir, – I once witnessed a middle-aged lady cut her male partner’s hair on the upper deck of a bus I was travelling on. The episode was punctuated by squeals of delight from the stylist and some loud resistance from her man. Yours, etc,
JOHN O’BYRNE,
Mount Argus Court,
Harold’s Cross ,
Dublin 6W

Sir, – Regarding Hendy Joyce’s suggestion (Letters, April 1st) that summer time augments the hours of daylight (refuted the day before by Kevin Devitte) and the suggestion that Ireland might change to be on a par with Spain and other European countries, he might be surprised to know that there is a movement to return Spain to GMT, the time zone the country geographically falls under and from which it switched during the early days of the Franco dictatorship as a sign of subservience to Hitler’s Germany.
This return is being urged as part of a return to a more Anglo-Saxon timetable, which would help Spaniards get sufficient sleep (they sleep an hour less than most Europeans) and eliminate the huge lunch gap in the middle of the day (few have the luxury of working close enough to home for a siesta). Opposition is coming from the Canary Islands, already on GMT, because it might eliminate the mention they get on the radio every hour. It seems the grass is always greener on the other side of the time zone. Yours, etc,
DAVID O’BRIEN,
Calle Dormitaleria,
Pamplona,
Sir, – The fact that the Taoiseach appointed a justice minister who did not have the powers of time-travelling, clairvoyance and omnipresence seems to disturb Fintan O’Toole, but every cloud has a silver lining and at least the current crisis has enable him to find his faith again. Meanwhile, the only way Mr Shatter will be able to satisfy the perfect is to gallop through Dublin on Shergar, playing O’Carolan’s harp and wearing the Irish crown jewels. Yours, etc,
EUGENE TANNAM,
Monalea Park,
Firhouse,
Dublin 24
Sir, – Marie C O’Byrne’s potted history of Crimea makes it seem entirely logical for the region to be part of the Russian Federation and not Ukraine, and she’s probably right. The problem is, however, not what the people of Crimea want but the fact that the region was effectively annexed by Russia without any diplomatic avenues being explored. This is what makes a lot of countries generally, and Russia’s neighbours in particular, very nervous. Yours, etc,
NORMAN DAVIES,
Belton Terrace,
Bray,
Co Wicklow
Sir, – With European sanctions showing no signs of encouraging Russia to leave Crimea I think stronger action may now be needed. Can I suggest that the threat of a permanent exclusion from the Eurovision Song Contest might help get things moving? Yours, etc,
MARK LEADEN,
College Park Close,
Ballinteer,
Dublin 16

Sir, – Perhaps it is worth reminding Jim Stack, Mary Stewart and others bemoaning the lack of acknowledgement of the views of so-called “family values” voters that their views were, for decades, fully acknowledged and acted upon by successive governments, to the detriment of other excluded groups and individuals. Little concern was recorded at that time by the “family values” populace over the failure to include or acknowledge those who did not conform to an Ireland of conservative Catholicism and patriarchal norms. They cannot expect a huge degree of sympath now that the shoe is (inaccurately) perceived to be on the other foot. Yours, etc,
EDWARD COLLINS,
Niall Street,
Stoneybatter,
Dublin 7

 

Irish Independent:
The GAA decision to give certain championship matches to Sky is a slap in the face to the real GAA supporter.
Also in this section
Coming back from the mother of all mistakes
Taxpayers left to foot the bill yet again
Pylons will mutilate our beautiful countryside
The real supporters are the people who travel and pay to attend regularly at their club and county games when at all possible.
They will not be like elected officials of county boards, provincial or other councils who seldom have to put their hands in their pockets to attend.
Even when they are stuck, they will always get a few from part of a golden circle of sponsored tickets.
The same could be asked of the full-time paid officials of the GAA, how many games do they actually pay into?
It is very easy to scoff at the cost this Sky deal will burden the real supporter with, if one attends these games free or with sponsored tickets. There are many people who will only be seen attending games when they do not have to pay to attend.
While I agree with the efforts to generate a wider exposure to our games worldwide, I am not blind to how this also results in junkets for our paid officials.
When asked on the news programme on TV whether the topic should have been brought before the GAA annual congress for approval, the general secretary appeared to me to think those who made the decision were a higher authority.
I would have no great problem with the deal if another channel was allowed cover the game(s) on a free-to-view delayed showing.
I wonder did this thought enter the minds of those negotiating the deal – but then again, why would it?
They will hardly be affected by it.
TONY FAGAN
BELLEFIELD ROAD, ENNISCORTHY, CO WEXFORD

STRUGGLING SUPPORTERS
Croke Park is debt-free. GAA fans are struggling enough as it is – just because a certain number of the population have Sky membership, it does not mean they all have Sky Sports.
MARY COYLE
KILL, CO KILDARE

TIME TO LANCE THE BOIL
The absence of a timely apology has taken out one player and the flames are licking the posteriors of a few more.
Time to lance the boil in this debacle and come clean. Each time the heat threatens Alan Shatter, a grave-faced Enda Kenny informs us of another debacle.
The Gardai, now the Prison Service, and previously GSOC have been dragged into an unholy mess. To each, Mr Shatter has ordered inquiry after inquiry. The problem is this, though: he is the problem.
The Attorney General, the Secretary General of Justice and the head of prisons need to consider their positions. Information on their desks ought to reach the minister in a timely fashion. That this failed to happen is the minister’s fault. He seems to have a poor grip on his minions. So let him lead by example and step down. Then let the trio do what they must do and follow suit.
Ireland’s legal and moral authority is at stake here, not the careers of a handful of highly paid public servants. Mr Kenny needs to lance this boil, otherwise he might be engulfed too.
JOHN CUFFE
MEATH

SPARKING AIR RAGE
Considering the fact that Ryanair carries so many British passengers and has around 15 bases in the UK and Northern Ireland, one would imagine Michael O’Leary would not make such an offensive comment about their queen.
Has Ryanair made enough money and doesn’t need the UK for revenue?
B FITZPATRICK
CASTLEKNOCK, DUBLIN

JOIN THE PEACE WALK
April 2014 is a very special time for the Irish people, but particularly the people of Clontarf, as it is the celebration of the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf.
One of the events in Clontarf is an Ecumenical Camino Peace Walk. The various Christian churches are supporting this peace walk.
The walk will be held on Sunday, April 13, Palm Sunday, starting at 2.30pm at the corner of the Howth Road and Clontarf Road. The route will move to St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church, then to the Methodist Church on the Clontarf Road, then St John’s Church of Ireland on Seafield Road, on to St John’s Catholic Church, Clontarf Road, and finish at St Gabriel’s Catholic Church, Dollymount.
Clontarf passports will be issued and stamped at each church and a certificate given to those who complete the walk. Those who cannot make the full walk are welcome to make a partial walk or call to a church.
On behalf of the organisers and the people of Clontarf, we say: “All are welcome in this place.”
BRYAN HOEY
CLONTARF, DUBLIN 3

PENALTY POINTS
Louise McBride wrote on March 30: “If you have four penalty points, you could pay between 20 and 25pc more for your insurance than someone who has none, and many insurers will refuse to pay out if you haven’t been upfront with them, according to Conor Faughnan, director of consumer affairs with AA Ireland.”
Mr Faughnan has written in the past about the enforcement of incorrect low speed limits, which leads to many of the penalty points issued in Ireland and results in a 25pc increase in insurance premiums.
In the US, penalty points are not issued for speeding offences unless the driver is stopped by a police officer as it is often not possible to identify the driver.
There are more penalty points issued in Ireland for speeding than the combined number of penalty points for all other motoring offences and this has done little to eliminate road traffic accidents.
FRANK CULLINANE
GLASNEVIN PARK, DUBLIN 11

SINKING SHIP
A short while ago, Leo Varadkar seemingly put his neck on the line and praised the whistleblowers. This was the right thing to do and he received plaudits. I even went to the bother of wasting my time and penned some praise for him.
The reason I say I wasted my time is because he has since come out to bat in defence for Mr Shatter. He accused the opposition of playing “old politics” and pointed to the former garda commissioner not informing the minister about the tapes. He completely ignored the fact that the Attorney General had been informed.
Meanwhile, the Justice Minister resembled Captain Smith of Titanic fame: big on reputation yet in charge of a sinking ship.
DERMOT RYAN
ATTYMON, ATHENRY, CO GALWAY

LOGO LOGIC
Trinity College has reduced its logo colours to two: blue and white. This choice totally ignores the sensitivities of feminist groups who no doubt will eventually register objections over the choice of the prominent blue background (for boys); and anti-racist groups who will certainly not be happy with the white, or indeed with the total absence of black.
To cap it all, anti-Israel activists will have to be be reminded when they pass by the college on one of their protest marches that the blue-and-white flag contains the colours of the Israeli flag. How could the college have spent over €100,000 on this rebranding exercise?
IVOR SHORTS
HERMITAGE CLOSE,
RATHFARNHAM, DUBLIN 16
Irish Independent

 

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