Caroline

12June2014 Caroline

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage toget round the park. Off to phave our feet done with Caroline

ScrabbleMary wins a very respectable score over 400 perhaps Iwill win tomorrow

Obituary:

Lord Templeman – obituary

Lord Templeman was a law lord who pronounced on eloping heiresses, errant spies and the culture of excessive litigation

Lord Templeman of White Lackington in 1982

Lord Templeman of White Lackington in 1982 Photo: UPPA/PHOTOSHOT

5:46PM BST 11 Jun 2014

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Lord Templeman, who has died aged 94 was one of the outstanding law lords of his generation.

Off the bench, Sydney Templeman was a genial character entirely lacking in pomposity; on it, however, he could be distinctly fierce. His exceptionally sharp legal brain was such that he was unusually quick to get to the heart of a case and make up his mind about it, and he was not notably tolerant about continuing to listen to an opposing line of argument from counsel once he had done so.

His peremptoriness resulted in his being affectionately known as “Syd Vicious” by some of the barristers who appeared before him. Yet however painful it felt to be on the receiving end of his onslaughts, he was never thought to be deliberately unkind — it was assumed that he had simply got carried away with the rightness of his decision. If counsel stood up to him, moreover, he took it in good part.

Templeman was well aware of his fearsome reputation, and in retirement he recalled a case in the House of Lords during which he had, as he remembered, been “bashing the leading counsel about a bit”. When the unfortunate QC had finished his speech, Templeman asked (in line with convention in House of Lords cases) whether his junior would like to follow. “No My Lord,” came the reply. “Not without a helmet.”

Sydney William Templeman was born on March 3 1920 and grew up at Heston in Middlesex, where his father worked as a coal merchant. As a boy, Sydney was a voracious reader and it was while confined to bed by illness, aged 12, and reading the works of Dickens that he conceived the idea of a career in the Law.

After attending Southall Grammar School, he won a scholarship to St John’s College, Cambridge (he later became an Honorary Fellow), but his studies were interrupted when — after reading History for a year — he was called up for service in the Second World War. Commissioned in the 4/1st Gurkha Rifles in 1941, he saw action on the Northwest Frontier (1942), Arakan (1943), Imphal (1944) and Burma with the 7th and 17th Indian Infantry Divisions. He was mentioned in dispatches, demobbed as an honorary Major, and appointed MBE in 1946 for his work as a staff officer. He then returned to Cambridge to finish his degree, this time reading Law.

In 1947 he was called to the Bar by Middle Temple as a Harmsworth Scholar, but after resolving to practice at the Chancery Bar and joining Lord Morton’s old set of chambers to 2 New Square in Lincoln’s Inn, he joined that Inn ad eundem as a MacMahon Scholar.

Lord Templeman (left) with Lady Wilcox of Plymouth and Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach

His remarkable aptitude soon brought him an excellent and wide-ranging practice, and he was noted for his brilliant and incisive advocacy in court. The work of a Chancery barrister rarely makes newspaper headlines, however in 1957/58 he appeared as counsel in the much-publicised case involving the 26-year-old painter Dominic Elwes and his 19-year-old wife Tessa Kennedy, the shipping heiress, which caused a scandals célèbre in staid 1950s Britain by eloping to Cuba.

Templeman became a member of the Bar Council in 1961, took Silk in 1964 and became a Bencher of Middle Temple in 1969 (and Treasurer in 1987). He served as Attorney General of the Duchy of Lancaster from 1970 to 1972, when he was appointed a High Court judge, Chancery Division.

He was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 1978, where he gained a reputation, among other things, for his implacable opposition to artificial tax avoidance schemes — although as a QC in the 1960s his practice had involved helping some of his clients to avoid estate duty. “Every tax avoidance scheme involves a trick and a pretence,” he said later. “It is the task of the Revenue to unravel the trick and the duty of the court to ignore the pretence.”

Templeman became a law lord in 1982, and thereafter participated in a series of high-profile appeal cases.

In the case of Victoria Gillick, in 1985, he was one of the minority of two law lords who supported Mrs Gillick’s battle to stop doctors from prescribing contraceptives to girls under 16 without their parents’ consent. Two years later he was one of five law lords who ruled unanimously that a 17-year-old severely mentally handicapped girl should be sterilised in her own interest.

The next year, he gave the lead judgment that decided that Coca-Cola was not entitled to a monopoly in its familiar shaped bottle as a trademark.

In 1988, he gave judgment in the unanimous decision that the mother of Jaqueline Hill, the 13th and last victim of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, could not sue the police for alleged negligence over his capture, on the basis that the police did not owe a duty of care to those attacked and injured by criminals.

The same year, Templeman was one of the three law lords who supported the government in the “Spycatcher” case, backing the ban on publication of the memoirs of former M15 officer Peter Wright, and in his own judgment dwelling on the desirability of restricting the profits that Wright could garner in this country for his perceived treachery. However, Templeman later admitted that the judges had been “too backward-looking” in their judgments, and regretted the fact that they had been pushed into deciding the case in a hurry due to political pressure.

In 1993 he was one of a three-two majority of law lords who decided that consent was no defence to charges of sadomasochistic assault by homosexuals. Dismissing the appeals of five men, Templeman said that society was “entitled and bound to protect itself against a cult of violence. Pleasure derived from the infliction of pain is an evil thing.” The practices of the appellants were, he said, “unpredictable, dangerous and degrading to body and mind”.

After retiring in 1994, shortly before the compulsory age of 75, Templeman became an occasional source of pithy quotes about what he saw as the shortcomings of our legal system. In 1995 he criticised the Law Society for supporting the sale of the names and addresses of accident victims to solicitors in order to facilitate “ambulance-chasing”.

He regretted the fact that more and more lawyers were adopting a proactive approach to litigation and lamented the increasing tendency of people to resort to the law. “What I would call bad luck has gone out of the window,” he said. “People now look for someone to blame, anyone but themselves, whereas many accidents are purely bad luck.”

He chaired several committees, mostly related to the law. He was president of the Senate of the Inns of Court and the Bar (1974-76) and chairman of the Bishop of London’s Commission on City Churches (1992-94).

Templeman was one of the more accessible and open members of the judiciary, and in 1988 he agreed to be interviewed by The Guardian columnist Hugo Young for the BBC Radio 4 series The Judges. When asked how many of his fellow judges he thought voted Labour, Templeman estimated between 10 and 15 per cent although he hazarded that it was probably “a diminishing number”.

He may well have been among that minority himself, however he was never defined by his politics and he maintained that to attach a political label to a judge was absurd.

Away from the law, Sydney Templeman helped to create a fine garden in the two-acre grounds of the house that he bought in Woking in the 1950s and which for several years he and his family shared with his parents-in-law.

On becoming a QC, he took up golf in the unrealised hope that as a new Silk he would have more leisure time.

He was appointed MBE in 1946, knighted in 1972 and sworn of the Privy Council in 1978.

Templeman married first, in 1946, Margaret Rowles. She died in 1988. He married secondly, in 1996, Mrs Shelia Barton Edworthy, who died in 2008.

He is survived by the two sons from his first marriage, the elder of whom went into the Church and the younger of whom practised at the Bar.

Lord Templeman of White Lackington, born March 3 1920, died June 4 2014

Guardian:

In the 1990 World Cup, team captain Bryan Robson was England’s best player; unfortunately the team did not play at their best until he was injured; England had to readjust and were far more exciting and effective without him. They got close to the final that year. I see a similarity to Robson in Steven Gerrard (Sport, 11 June). The latter is undoubtedly one of England’s best players but, like Robson, he dominates so much that everything revolves around him. The match against Ecuador and the second half against Honduras when Gerrard was not playing produced a more unpredictable and exciting England. Most of England’s performances with Gerrard produce a functional but mundane performance that opposition managers are able to plan for. It would be an almost impossible decision to put him on the bench, but for England to advance in their style and be much more exciting and effective, then Gerrard – and perhaps Rooney – would be better off as substitutes.
Peter Gilbert
Newark, Nottinghamshire

It is not just state education that is in chaos (The Lesson of Birmingham? State education is in chaos, 10 June), but educational values. What has happened to the concept of learning as a lived experience or part of democratic society? John Harris is right that the Birmingham Muslim schools spat suggests a deep flaw in the idea of education as a commodity dispensed by “providers”. Integrated education in Northern Ireland is a relevant example of exactly the opposite: giving a realistic democratic choice to all parents to promote diversity.

During the Troubles many parents wanted their children to learn together “with the other side”. Last week, a Northern Ireland judicial review confirmed that parents have an equal right to choose either segregated, faith or integrated schools. This clarifies what integrated education means and requires the Northern Ireland department of education to encourage and facilitate it as an integral part of education policy.

The judge said an integrated ethos cannot be delivered by a partisan board. This is crucial. Integrated education requires equitable representation of parents, staff and pupils of both – or all – communities, to share in decision-making, where appropriate, with outside agencies. Integrated education is desperately needed in Britain’s multicultural cities. Parents of all backgrounds would welcome shared integrated schooling for their children. Learning together is a good way to rebuild faith in “British” values of liberty, equality and tolerance.
Chris Moffat and Tom Hadden
Rostrevor, Co Down

• Given the history between our countries, I wince when I read that English politicians want British values instilled into young school children.
John Burns
Dublin

Connor Sparrowhawk: he had an epileptic seizure, unobserved by staff in his assessment and treatment unit, and died in the bath.

The Guardian has reported (Society, 21 May) on the preventable death of Connor Sparrowhawk (nicknamed LB or Laughing Boy). Connor was placed in a small, highly staffed, specialist assessment and treatment unit for people with learning disabilities. He had an epileptic seizure and, unobserved by staff, drowned in the bath. The #justiceforLB and #107days campaigns want justice for Connor and to change the status of people with learning disabilities and their families within services and society.

More than 3,000 people with learning disabilities and/or autism in England are in similar units at a cost of over £500m a year. People are likely to live in these units for years, to be placed a long way from home, to be treated with serious tranquillising drugs and to experience self-harm, physical assaults, restraint and seclusion. More people are being transferred into such units than are transferring out.

On the day of a House of Lords debate into the premature deaths of people with learning disabilities, we would like to highlight that support for people with learning disabilities and/or autism and their families should have four basic principles:

We should support people to live long, healthy, fulfilling and meaningful lives.

A learning disability and/or autism is not a health problem. Any additional health problems should be taken seriously and we should make sure that our health services work just as well for everyone who uses them.

We should respect, value and work closely with their families and others who care about the person.

We should make sure that commissioners and providers are using the best available evidence to make decisions.

For over 20 years we have known how to do this. We know how to provide good support for families with young children. We know how to support people’s health needs. We know how to support people, including those who are distressed, to live active, meaningful lives within their local communities without the need for specialist drugs or heavy-duty tranquillisers. And we know that all of these things depend on people with learning disabilities and/or autism and their families being respected as equal citizens.
Prof Chris Hatton and Dr Jill Bradshaw
There is a full list of signatories at
http://107days of action.wordpress.com/letter-to-the- guardian/

Alan Turing, who conjectured that one day a computer program would be able to fool an interrogator into believing that it was human. Photograph: Sherborne School/AFP/Getty Images

Professor Warwick’s claim that a computer has now passed the Turing Test (Did Eugene the computer program pass Turing test?, 10 June) is nonsense. Turing never set a 30% mark as a criterion for “passing” his test. In his famous essay on this topic, which is reprinted with commentaries in my book, Parsing the Turing Test: Methodological and Philosophical Issues in the Quest for the Thinking Computer, Turing merely conjectured that by 2000 a computer program would be able to fool an “average interrogator” into thinking it was a person 30% of the time in a five-minute conversation. He didn’t propose that as a test of anything; he was merely speculating.

Turing never actually said how his test could actually be passed, but a blue ribbon panel of computer scientists and philosophers from Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere which I directed for several years in planning the first Loebner Prize contest in 1990, came up with with a brilliant method that I am sure would have pleased Turing greatly: after lengthy conversations with both hidden humans and hidden computers, a panel ranks the humanness of each, and when the median rank of a computer exceeds the median rank of a human, it wins. No computer has ever crossed that line in the more than 20 years the contest has so far been held, but it will happen eventually.
Professor Robert Epstein
American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology

• You report that the Turing test “challenges computer scientists to create a program that is indistinguishable from a person in its conversational ability”. But that assumes that there is just one way of talking that we all recognise as “conversation”. Research in socio-cultural linguistics has shown that speakers can choose from a variety of conversational styles: for example, a one-at-a-time way of talking as opposed to a more collaborative, all-in-it-together way; they can choose to jump from topic to topic as opposed to moving gradually from one topic to the next; they can self-disclose or they can opt for less personal subjects. These are just three variables.

Most of us can do all these things, depending on context, but there is a great deal of evidence that female speakers in relaxed conversation with friends prefer the former of each of these styles, and male speakers prefer the latter. Since most computer scientists are male, I worry that the test is likely to favour an idea of conversation as being an information-focused activity rather than an interactive process which builds relationships between people.

Given the potential future of “chatbots”, surely it is important that we judge them on their ability to develop relationships and express feelings as much as on their ability to take part in a narrow, information-focused exchange?
Jennifer Coates
Emeritus professor of English language and linguistics,
University of Roehampton, London

• The Turing test has not been “officially” passed at all. Turing said that most of the interrogators had to be fooled, and that the conversation would have to take a long time. Plus, it’s a chatbot, not an artificial intelligence program; and pretending to be a child whose first language is not English is clearly a cheat. AI is an impossible and wildly hubristic project. Give it up.
Chris Hughes
Leicester

 a small monkey stands in a tree in the Lago do Janauari, or Solimoes River, near Manaus, Brazil.

‘A compassionate society would work to keep wild animals in their appropriate wild habitats.’ Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

It cannot be difficult to find out how many primates are kept as pets (Report, 10 June): just ask vets. No matter whether there are 100 or 10,000 primates, it is patently obvious that a house is not a suitable environment for a monkey. A compassionate society would work to keep wild animals in their appropriate wild habitats. Sadly, some people keep animals such as meerkats, hedgehogs and monkeys in their homes, largely, I suspect, to make them appear more interesting than they really are.
Kate Fowler
Head of campaigns, Animal Aid

• So Antony Gormley’s £2,500-a-night Mayfair hotel annexe in the shape of a neo-constructivist crouching man sculpture (Art, property and a meditation on luxury, 11 June) is to be called simply Room? How very unaffected.
John Bevis
London

• Regarding Gormley’s latest sculpture: sorry guys, all I see is, Lego Man Takes a Dump.
Emyr Owen
Llanfairfechan, Conwy

• We Lancastrians often hear Yorkshire folk saying ‘Ow do?, as Lynda Dee points out (Letters, 11 June), but not as often as their despairing cry of ‘Ow much!
Colin Burke
Manchester

• Headline: Ian Bell named cricketer of the year, followed by Vic Marks’ article. One short sentence: “Charlotte Edwards took the women’s award.” Your sports pages continue to be overwhelmingly male, while the features pages continue to ask why it’s so hard to get girls to exercise. Joined-up newspaper? I don’t think so.
Dr Lesley Smith
Harris Manchester College, Oxford

• I was surprised that Luisa Dillner on losing weight after having a baby ( 9 June) did not mention the easiest, cheapest and most effective way: breastfeed, for at least nine months. The weight drops off with no need to diet.
Jane Mercer
Chester

• One of the oldest soft drinks in France (coulddoes it (Letters, passim) is Pschitt. Make what you like of that. Try asking for one.
Brian Saperia
London

Make Poverty History March In Edinburgh

Make Poverty History march in 2005 in Edinburgh. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

In 2005, Make Poverty History campaigned extensively to reduce debt and to call for urgent action for more and better aid in the poorest countries of the world. The goal to close the gap between rich and poor and to eliminate injustice and eradicate poverty is still a long way off internationally, but the campaign succeeded in some measure by beginning to hold governments to account for their promises. In 2014, as religious leaders in the UK, we are deeply disturbed by the conclusions of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission which has said that the government’s goal to reduce absolute child poverty goal is “simply unattainable” (UK’s child poverty goals unattainable, 9 June).

Here on our own doorstep, poverty is harming the health, wellbeing and prospects of children. The report demonstrates that while it is important to help people into work, the goal to reduce or eliminate poverty will not be met while incomes stagnate and the cost of food and housing rise relentlessly. The need to Make Child Poverty History in our own country is now urgent. Jewish values teach that there is nothing in the world more grievous than poverty. The gap between rich and poor is a shameful blot on our society. All of us, from the government down, must have a commitment to renew our vision of a socially responsible society and bring an end to economic  injustice. Our task is to ensure that all of us live in dignity and be accorded the fundamental right to a standard of living that is adequate for the health and well-being of their family.
Rabbi Alexandra Wright
Rabbi Charley Baginski
Rabbi Lisa Barrett
Rabbi Miriam Berger
Rabbi Rebecca Q Birk
Rabbi Janet Burden
Rabbi Douglas Charing
Rabbi Howard Cooper
Rabbi Janet Darley
Rabbi Ariel J. Friedlander
Rabbi Anna Gerrard
Rabbi Amanda Golby
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein
Rabbi Andrew Goldstein
Rabbi Harry Jacobi
Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi
Rabbi Richard Jacobi
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris
Rabbi Yuval Keren
Rabbi Sandra Kviat
Rabbi Daniel Lichman
Rabbi Monique Mayer
Rabbi David Mitchell
Rabbi Lea Muehlstein
Rabbi Jeffrey Newman
Rabbi Rene Pfertzel
Rabbi Marcia Plumb
Rabbi Danny Rich
Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
Cantor Gershon Silins
Rabbi Mark L. Solomon
Rabbi Larry Tabick
Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah
Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers
Rabbi Andrea Zanardo
Student Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen
Student Rabbi Nathan Godleman
Student Rabbi Daniel Lichman
Student Rabbi Zahavit Shalev
Student Rabbi Kath Vardi

• You report that demand for food aid has massively increased since last year (Food aid soars by 54%, 9 June), but that the data is dismissed by a government spokesman because the figures are “unverified” and come from “disparate sources”. Yet the report was drawn up jointly by three responsible bodies – Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider – that regard the data as worthtaking seriously.  I find the government’s response staggeringly arrogant, especially after repeated warnings by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, reported in the same issue, that predicts absolute child poverty will increase by 3.5 million, almost five times the target set by the 2010 Child Poverty Act, unless the government changes its strategy.

Present policy is based on the assumption that a reliance on reducing worklessness while cutting benefits, together with raising educational standards, will do the trick. Yet, as the commission points out, moving to work with low wages often means simply moving to another source of poverty; and school failure has long been shown to have its roots in poverty, probably more so than standards of teaching. You also report that in no other decade since reports began in 1961 has absolute poverty not been reduced. All this suggests that the government’s confidence and stubbornness in insisting it is already doing the right thing lacks credibility.
Dr Jim Docking
Betchworth, Surrey

• Four years into a parliament and one year from an election, Nick Clegg, with bare-faced effrontery, says: “… we’ll finish the job – but we’ll finish it in a way that is fair,” (Lib Dems want a new golden rule to cut debt, 9 June). Without the essential support of Lib-Dems such as him, Danny Alexander, Vince Cable and David Laws, an extremely reactionary right wing Tory-led government could not have used austerity as a weapon to cut the state’s role in healthcare, education and welfare, causing lasting hardship for many millions of people on low incomes. There is hope, though, that even at the 11th hour Lib-Dems might be coming round to understanding what Professor Victoria Chick and Ann Pettifor made clear in their 2010 paper, The Economic Consequences of Mr Osborne: that in 100 years, austerity has never cut the national debt, but, as now, always increased it. Contrary to conventional wisdom we need to “spend away the debt”.
David Murray
Wallington, Surrey

• Four years ago, I left a full-time job in the software industry to do a full-time job – as a carer for my father who has Parkinsons and diabetes. I work seven days a week, am up every night and have no holidays or sick leave. For this, I’m paid just £9 a day. I can claim benefits only once all my savings have run out. I’ve read that carers save the NHS billions annually. Yet the service we do is valued at £9 a day. If I wanted respite for a couple of days, I’d have to pay an agency much more than that to do exactly the same job. It’s crazy and deeply unfair.

Carers do an important job, but are stigmatised and forgotten. We have to deal with the daily stress of caring, plus the stress of financial hardship. Our future is bleak – if you read the Carers UK forums you will see people in despair. There’s money for wars, for greedy bankers; for MPs to claim expenses. But there’s no money to treat carers with dignity. Welcome to Britain in the 21st century, where the people who care are punished and amoral conduct is rewarded. Who cares for the carers?
Rupesh Srivastava
Slough, Berkshire

• Another attack on the most vulnerable in our society shows how “austerity” impacts on the most defenceless while those whose bank accounts are brimming remain untouched. An example of this is the recent news that the funding for the Oxfordshire Complex Needs Service is at risk of being cut. Those with disordered personalities and complex needs are often seen as undeserving of public sympathy, but this service provides the chance for them to come to terms with the terrible experiences many of them have endured and move on. Evaluation and feedback confirms its effectiveness.

Participants meet, supported by professional staff, to challenge each other’s behaviour and attitudes. The therapy is self-directed and self-motivated, enabling most of them to go on to lead more ordered lives. Consequently they are less likely to use accident and emergency departments, stay in hospital, cause harm to others, or create anti-social disturbance.

The proposed cuts which will close all four therapy centres in Oxfordshire and will mean that crisis management – more expensive and less effective –will be their only option. One banker’s annual bonus – on top of his more than adequate salary – would cover the cost of keeping this service open. It is a sad indictment of our society that “austerity” protects the rich and punishes the most vulnerable.
Professor John Hall, Dr Jane Kay, Anne Winner, Wyn Jones, Dr Simon Winner, Alan & Trish Bower, Professor Paul Bolam, Janet Bolam, Tina Everett, Helen Elphick, Stephanie Byrne, Adrian Townsend, Nan Townsend, Donnie Campbell

Independent:

As a working GP of nearly 20 years’ experience with a longstanding interest in prescribing issues, I am concerned about the growing use of statins to the point where our local guidance suggests checking blood lipids on everyone of 40 years of age every five years, regardless of whether or not they have risk factors. Now we have Nice seemingly advocating statins for anyone with a risk of 10 per cent or more.

This would mean that every single man aged 51 and over who had a normal blood pressure reading of 140 systolic, a normal total cholesterol:HDL cholesterol ratio of 5.0, who had never smoked, who had no significant family history, and no significant personal medical history would be put on to a statin.

I am horrified by this “statins in the water” approach to primary prevention and healthcare. It will create large profits for “big pharma” and it will needlessly medicalise millions of people, but the evidence that such an approach to primary prevention will significantly help these individuals is just not there.

The benefits and risks of statin treatment need to be made explicitly clear to allow patients to make a truly informed choice. The absolute risk reductions for stroke and heart attack with primary prevention using statins are small. If patients are treated for five years then: 98 per cent will see no benefit; 0 per cent will be helped by being saved from death; 1.6 per cent (1 in 60) will be helped by preventing a heart attack; 0.4 per cent (1 in 260) will be helped by preventing a stroke. It seems wrong to me to be putting 260 people on a statin so that one person can benefit.

I am 48. I have never had my lipids checked – I have no risk factors so I see no point in ever having them checked.

Dr Stephen McCabe

Portree, Skye

I am relieved to hear that a note of caution has been sounded on the increased prescribing of statins to people who are healthy.

In my personal experience these pills are certainly not without side-effects. I was prescribed statins on two occasions, and each time I succumbed to a bout of severe depression approximately three months later. I have not had any other episodes of depression.

I am aware that many people take them with no ill effects at all; however, I do not think people should take them unless absolutely necessary.

Jane Gregory

Emsworth, Hampshire

Gove’s muddle over ‘British values’

Michael Gove may remember Gordon Brown adding “British values” to the citizenship curriculum in 2008, to address issues of diversity and integration. Unfortunately, Mr Gove also emasculated the same theme in his curriculum review, and has turned a blind eye to the delivery of citizenship, the natural home for “inculcating British values in the curriculum”, as Mr Cameron puts it.

Academies and free schools (roughly half our secondary schools) can choose not to teach the subject at all, and routine Ofsted school inspections do not review it. As a consequence, its omission goes overlooked in state schools.

It was noticeable therefore that Ofsted came down heavily in judging that one recently-demoted Birmingham Academy (Park View) had “not taught citizenship well enough”. This snap judgement will surprise teachers who have got used to Gove’s blind eye. The spotlight was thrown on to citizenship because alarm bells rang in Whitehall; the failure to deliver the subject was then picked up when the school was re-inspected under the “Trojan Horse” investigation.

This illustrates the problem: inspection of a school’s delivery will only occur when it is already too late. This should be reviewed immediately. Our schools need clarity that citizenship on the National Curriculum must be delivered effectively and will be inspected routinely (sometimes with no notice) as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. This will go some way to assure citizens that democratic values will be comprehended by the British population.

Andy Thornton, Chief Executive

Andrew Phillips (Lord Phillips of Sudbury), Founder and President

Citizenship Foundation

London EC1

The irony is that Michael Gove is a fan of faith schools, and has suggested they become academies to avoid “unsympathetic meddling” from secularists. He has even approved free schools run by creationists.

Gove should be consistent, and withdraw the right of any publicly funded school to indoctrinate children and discriminate on the basis of religion.

Peter McKenna

Liverpool

Jihadist demon loosed on the world

The fall of Mosul has brought into sharp focus what you said in your editorial of 9 June.

The imperialist-drawn border between Iraq and Syria now has disappeared. The well armed and equipped Isis jihadis with their exploits in Mesopotamia are going to become the magnet to draw in the foot soldiers of other militias now doing the jihad in Syria.

Perhaps that might momentarily lessen the pressure on Assad’s forces. But the demon that the obscurantist interpretation of Islam, Saudi Wahhabism has foisted, with Western connivance, upon the Muslim world, will hurt all, including the world Bush and Blair inhabit.

May Allah’s mercy be upon them.

M A Qavi

London SE3

Legacy of the Second World War

I must take issue with Colin Crilly (letter, 9 June). In none of the recent television coverage of the First World War or D-Day have I detected any attempt to celebrate war. Rather the attempt has been to present a more critical and fairer analysis of these events than in the past.

True, Churchill was an avowed imperialist, but there is no evidence that preservation of empire was the overriding motive behind his strategic thinking on occupied Europe. He and Roosevelt reached agreement in 1942 about the need to open a second front in the west.

If Churchill showed any hesitation about this, it was about the timing rather than the necessity. He knew that we were not ready for it and was aware of the risks that lay in haste and poor preparation. His misgivings were vindicated by Dieppe. The claim that we barely engaged the Germans on land between Dunkirk and D-Day is not only untrue but insulting to all our troops who fought and died in the North Africa campaign.

Few would claim that the allied campaigns were completely innocent of atrocities. However, nothing which the allies did could equate to the systematic inhumanities visited for years upon the victims of Nazism.

As to the Second World War’s legacy, there was never any guarantee that it would be one of worldwide peace, but at least it has lead to almost unbroken peace in this continent since I was born seven years after the war ended, a legacy for which I am truly grateful to those who, like my father, gave so much to earn it for us.

Terence A Carr

Prestatyn, Denbighshire

Bad and good violence

Rosie Millard is right (10 June), Angelina Jolie is beautiful and smart and is ideally placed on the world stage to draw attention to sexual violence. However we must not forget that she gained most of her fame by starring in violent films.

So while she continues to do admirable work drawing attention to the abject misery caused by sexual violence in conflict zones, wouldn’t it be refreshing if she could just honestly add a caveat that while hoping to stop this one unpalatable form of violence she and her husband would like to continue to glamorise other forms of violence so that they can carry on raking money in.

Rebecca Evanson

London SE15

Migrants have always kept together

Edward Thomas (letter, 10 June) asserts that until multiculturalism came along in the past half century, immigrants expected to be absorbed into the culture in which they had chosen to settle, but is this true?

Throughout the world immigrants have always tended to cluster together, which has given rise to all the Chinatowns, Little Italys, Jewish Quarters and suchlike. The Brits do it too and “going native” was always considered rather a peculiar thing to do.

Jonathan Wallace

Newcastle upon Tyne

Delights of the chalk downs

Reading Michael McCarthy’s lovely article about visiting chalk downland (10 June) inspired me to spend today at Surrey’s top spot, Box Hill. There I saw most of the butterfly species he mentioned, and many orchids too. While he thinks that the Adonis blue is just coming out, I saw only very old specimens. On the other hand, the marbled white and dark green fritillary are just coming out. Delightful!

David Hasell

Thames Ditton, Surrey

Times:

PA:Press Association

Published at 12:01AM, June 11 2014

The problem of faith schools and who controls them promises to be intractable

Sir, Birmingham city council gets its share of the flak. However, 25 years after the Education Reform Act how can we talk about local authority “control” of any schools — especially academies, which account for most schools now being placed in special measures. The local authority role has been largely written out. Look at school governance, financing and inspections — how can anyone seriously suggest that there are effective levers of local control?

Nick Henwood

Littlebourne, Kent

Sir, A secular, taxpayer-funded school in Birmingham has been criticised by Ofsted for interfering with the performance of a nativity play, while another has incurred the wrath of the inspectors because it cancelled Christmas celebrations.

By what right did these secular schools attempt to foist a Christian celebration on their non-Christian pupils?

Professor Geoffrey Alderman

University of Buckingham

Sir, Isn’t it high time that all religious state schools be phased out to make way for equal opportunities for all pupils under a state education system to receive an impartial and inclusive education that is free from any religiously biased activities? Citizenship education does not need to be delivered by any acts of faith, be it Christian or otherwise.

Jane Tam

Birmingham

Sir, The head of Ofsted does little to build confidence in either the transparency of working procedures or reporting conclusions of his organisation. His talk of “a culture of fear and intimidation” summarises precisely that Ofsted-generated climate which continues to erode morale among teachers, of whom more than a few would relish the opportunity to carry out an unannounced inspection of Sir Michael Wilshaw’s work.

Robert Gower

Egleton, Rutland

Sir, I have been a Scottish Presbyterian missionary in Ghana; a Hebrew-speaking Jew; a Catholic school social worker and the manager of a Sunni camp after the Pakistan earthquake 2005. This background leads me to conclude that Ofsted could create a multicultural educational system at a stroke by separating education from religion. In this post-Christian country, it must be the only way forward to prevent friction in children’s lives and education.

Miller Caldwell

Dumfries

Sir, I am amazed that it is only now that inspections without notice for schools are being considered. As a retired head teacher of primary schools in London, I would have appreciated not being given any notice. Why have special preparations for an inspection? Why shouldn’t Ofsted see what goes on in a school, warts and all? It should be able to go into any school, without forewarning, and see what everyday life is like in that school.

The time between notice of an inspection and the inspection was an extremely nerve-racking for all in the school community. And, as has been alleged in Birmingham, it may be possible to manipulate what inspectors see. Indeed, more generally it is often suggested that difficult pupils are “encouraged” to be absent for an inspection — not possible if it is sprung without notice.

David Collins

Tel Aviv

Losing weight is the first and easiest step towards reversing the health effects of diabetes

Sir, For the past 15 years I have been working in primary care specialising in the care of those with diabetes (“One in three now at risk as diabetes levels soar”, June 10). In three years at my current practice in Portsmouth, the number of patients with diabetes has more than doubled.

We need action across the country, to educate people how to eat healthily, we need to stop advertising unhealthy foods and instead advertise the benefits of healthy eating.

People need to know that just a 5 per cent weight loss can provide significant health benefits as regards blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars. Small changes can produce significant benefits. Healthy cooking on a low budget is possible — we must start educating now. Those of us working in this arena need more resources to help us deal with what is rapidly becoming an overwhelming problem.

Margaret Stubbs

Godalming, Surrey

Bristol’s wealth came from the slave trade but it would be wrong to try to erase the city’s history

Sir, I see battered pieces of furniture on Antiques Roadshow, and the expert tells the punter not to interfere with that — “It is part of its history”. So too the statue of Edward Colston is part of Bristol’s history, and removing it would be an Orwellian distortion of history (letter June 7). Colston’s ill-gotten gains did benefit his home city. If people are offended by the statue, an appropriate addition might be a (dated) plaque enlarging upon his career. We should not modify history, but added detail may edify posterity.

Dr NP Hudd

Tenterden, Kent

Sir, If the principle of removing statues now deemed offensive were applied to Ireland not only would all statues and monuments have to be removed but nearly all street names as well. Whoever they were, they are offensive to one side or the other.

Des Keenan

Wembley, Middx

Pincher Pym was one of the most celebrated footballers of his day, even if he did not play against Brazil

Sir, In your report “Brazil tackle Exeter City in action replay” (June 10) you mention Dick “Pincher” Pym, who missed the 1914 match because of injury. He was Exeter’s goalkeeper and star player, as you say, but there was somewhat more to him than that.

Pym served in the Devonshire Regiment from 1916, as a PT instructor and went back to Exeter City after the war. In 1921 he was transferred to Bolton Wanderers for a world record fee of £5,000. He played in three FA Cup finals, 1923 (the famous “white horse” final), 1926 and 1929. He was on the winning side on all three occasions and did not concede a goal in any of the matches. He also played three times for England. At his death in 1988, aged 95, he was, and remains, the longest-lived former England footballer.

David Woolrich

Bolton

A vigorous trade in artefacts with religious or historical connections is as old as religion and history

Sir, These Soviet spivs and medieval pedlars of wood and bones are mere arrivistes (letter, June 9). Purveyors of Egyptian ruins were in action for centuries before the true Cross was dismantled.

Malcolm Watson

Welford, Berks

The rules for military widows’ pensions have changed but are still not satisfactory

Sir, The D-Day commemorations prompted me to try again to do something about military widows’ pensions (I first wrote to you in June 1994).

My husband enlisted as a soldier in September 1939, and was sent to France. He was evacuated from La Panne (north of Dunkirk) after several days on the beach and in the sea. He served in London during the Blitz, took part in the D-Day landings and the push through Europe. He was mentioned in dispatches.

He was demobbed in 1945 but re-joined in 1952. Over the next 17 years he worked his way up again to major and was appointed MBE for active service in Cyprus.

We married in 1969 after a total of 22 years service for him, and 9 years for me in the WRNS. However, this was one year after my husband had retired from the Army, so I did not count as a wife as far as the government was and is concerned.

New regulations recognising post-retirement wives were passed in 1978 — but not retrospectively — so my husband’s last years before his death in 1994 were overshadowed by this concern.

My father served for 34 years in the Royal Marines and was a PoW after Dieppe; my uncle, a reservist, was killed by the Japanese in the defence of Hong Kong; my great-uncle, also a Royal Marine, served in Gallipoli and France in the First World War.

This country has not paid out a single penny in a widow’s pension for any as they were either not married or were the last survivor of their marriage, and I am a post-retirement widow.

My husband’s pension was small anyhow as he was not a regular, and he was thankful that, as he worked on the staff of Nato after retiring from the Army, Nato would at least award me a pension on his death.

So I write now for all my fellow ex-service people and their survivors. It’s not good enough for our politicians to attend commemorations, and promote the Armed Forces Covenant, and then conveniently forget it all until the next commemoration. There can’t be many of us left, and we’ll cost this country precious little — certainly not the life my husband, father, uncle and great uncle were each prepared to give.

Lucy Murdoch

Fletching, E Sussex

Telegraph:

The Queen sits with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as she delivers her speech  Photo: Suzanne Plunkett/WPA

6:57AM BST 11 Jun 2014

Comments134 Comments

SIR – I congratulate the Government on its announcement in last week’s Queen’s speech that laws on child cruelty will be updated.

Nearly one child in 10 in Britain experiences neglect. The impact on their lives can be devastating. Every day, social workers and child protection professionals help children out of these terrible situations but, sadly, not all cases of child neglect can be protected by the civil law. Police and social workers need support from a legal framework which allows them to work together effectively, under a common definition of child maltreatment.

Last week the Government took the first step by recognising the full range of harm done to neglected children, including emotional abuse. Such abuse, which may include subjecting children to degrading punishments, repeated verbal attacks and humiliation, can lead to long-term mental health problems in adults and, in the most extreme cases, to suicide.

The changes to current legislation are long overdue. Now we in turn must maintain the momentum with political and professional colleagues.

Baroness Butler-Sloss
Former president, Family Division of the High Court of Justice
London SW1

Collider scope

SIR – A group of distinguished scientists has deplored the “peer preview system” for distributing research funds. I worked under such a system in an academic career beginning at Oxford in the early Fifties, through a period in America, then at Sussex University.

It is clear that knowledgeable people should decide whether to fund research in a certain field. But I believe the real problem, in physics at least, lies in the vast sums of money and sheer number of researchers dedicated to international projects like the Large Hadron Collider.

This research appoaches the realm of philosophy. As such it is most worthy of pursuit. But at what cost?

Professor Emeritus Douglas Brewer
University of Sussex

Windy targets

SIR – You correctly report that Britain is committed to a target of 15 per cent of all its energy supplies from renewable sources by 2020, and 30 per cent of its electricity.

A pity, then, that the latest official figures are about 4.5 per cent, and 14 per cent, respectively. That suggests there is a mighty long way to go within six years.

Professor Michael Jefferson
Melchbourne, Bedfordshire

Smooth going

SIR – We have been sent a map of the route the Tour de France will take through this part of rural Essex. We don’t need a map.

We just have to follow the route the road surfacers have recently taken, which is now completely pothole-free.

Pamela Westland
Wethersfield, Essex

Put that light out

SIR – Marian Callender wants to know how she can get her teenage son to turn off the lights at night (Letters, June 9). The late actor James Mason would announce he was going to bed and then turn off all the lights – regardless of how many guests were still in attendance. He swore it reduced his electricity bills substantially.

Lesley Thompson
Lavenham, Suffolk

Broken nights

SIR – I am sure that Harry Wallop is correct in stating that poor sleep can adversely affect health.

However, not all poor sleepers disregard the importance of a good night’s sleep, or damage their chances by using technology late at night. My own chronic insomnia began when my husband walked out on me. These days, an eight-hour night is just an impossible dream.

Alison Place
Hampton, Middlesex

Danger of secret trials

SIR – There are always good reasons to remove those principles of our legal system which act as bulwarks against the government becoming despotic (Comment, June 6).

Some are even justified, but all make it easier for our liberty to be taken away.

We have now lost so many of the freedoms we possessed a century ago that our ancestors would be horrified.

Kenneth Hynes
London N7

Norfolk or nonsense?

SIR – Paul Strong wonders if his grandmother’s phrase “Bally-yan-yan” was from a now-extinct Norfolk dialect. My mother, whose own mother hailed from Norfolk, used to sing us a rhyme which, apart from the first two lines, she insisted was in “ancient Norfolk”:

There was a little mouse and he lived in a mill

And if he isn’t dead he’s a-living there still

With a shim-sham pommy-diddle rig-dog

bunny-minny ky-mo

Ky-mo nair-o, kilcock air-o

Shim-sham pommy-diddle rig-dog

bunny-minny ky-mo

Sugar, sugar, sugar lally-loon

Sugar on the popcorn, sugar popacoon

Rolts on the banjo, tra-la-la

Caroodle-nicka-wedda-nicka-brawny

No one else I have met has ever heard the song. Is it just nonsense? Or is it Norfolk dialect? If so, what does it mean?

Jeremy Nicholas
Great Bardfield, Essex

Genre-bending

SIR – Browsing in my local Waterstone’s, I came across a new, allegedly unintentional, grouping of books: “Politics and True Crime”. Is this part of a drive for more accurate categories?

Michael Coward
Shefford, Bedfordshire

Drivers need better information, not higher fines

SIR – Increasing fines for motorway speeding will not necessarily deter drivers from going too fast.

What is needed is stronger and more visible education by using gantries more effectively. Instead of the pointless information about distance and time to certain junctions and forthcoming events, gantries should have reminders of the need to keep your distance, not hog the middle lane, and follow speed limits.

Many motorists do not concentrate enough. Regular displays like this would keep them more alert.

David Hartridge
Groby, Leicestershire

SIR – Last year a police van parked in a lay-by caught me, driving at 34 mph in a 30 mph zone. I was not aware that I was over the limit as the difference between 30 mph and 34 mph is negligible. As there is a 10 per cent leeway, I was, in effect, only 1 mph over the limit.

I was given the option of a £90 fine and three points or attending a speed awareness course. I chose the latter and found it very interesting.

However, I do think that there should be a scale of fines so that somebody who is, say, up to 5 mph over the limit, is not penalised as much as a person who is 10 mph or more over the limit.

John Ewington
Blechingley, Surrey

SIR – In cracking down on crime, quadrupling fines for speeding seems a strange place to start.

We need a review of sentencing guidelines for violent crimes and life sentences that pay more than lip service to the definition of life. These would be a better way for politicians to prove they are listening.

Roger Gentry
Sutton-at-Hone, Kent

SIR – Fines for using a mobile phone at the wheel and breaking the speed limit on dual carriageways may be increased to £4000. The same fine is being considered if you do not have a television licence.

When was the last time someone was injured or killed because of not having a television licence?

Bernard Powell
Southport, Lancashire

Thousands of Travellers attend the Appleby Horse Fair, which dates back to mediaeval times  Photo: Alamy

6:59AM BST 11 Jun 2014

Comments30 Comments

SIR – The annual Appleby Horse Fair in Westmorland is in full swing. I understand that a group has been established to help manage the event. It is known as “The Multi-Agency Co-ordination Group for Appleby Horse Fair”.

Is this a record for the longest committee name?

Dr Robert Walker
Great Clifton, Cumberland

h ‘British values’ are to be promoted in schools

Government officials seem to place self-interest above traditional moral standards

Education Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May listen in the House of Commons, London, after Ofsted placed five Birmingham schools into special measures in the wake of the

Michael Gove and Theresa May listen in the Commons after Ofsted placed five Birmingham schools into special measures Photo: PA

7:00AM BST 11 Jun 2014

Comments178 Comments

SIR – Every school will now be ordered to promote “British values”.

Which ones? Those exhibited by our own politicians, namely, self-interest before all things? Love of money?

An inability to empathise with those less fortunate than themselves?

Self-congratulation for the smallest achievement?

Felicity Foulis Brown
Bramley, Hampshire

SIR – All schools in Britain, whatever their foundation, should be required to fly the Union Flag and pupils should be taught what it means to the country. This happens in America, on many islands in the Caribbean and in many African countries.

J G Richardson
Aldeburgh, Suffolk

SIR – Pupils should be taught to sing the national anthem.

John Spiers
Bursledon, Hampshire

SIR – May we assume that a list of British values will contain few of the following?

1) Respect and honour for the elderly;

2) Disgust at pornography;

3) A daily relishing of cultural inheritance and language;

4) Protection of the young from the profiteering persuasions of drugs and alcohol;

5) Little or no interest on loans to the needy;

6) Modesty;

7) Intergenerational discourse and the giving of care;

8) Daily acknowledgement of the beauty and grandeur of the world;

9) A constant reminder that we may not be the be-all and end-all of absolutely everything;

10) A permanent delight in families’ regularly living, working and spending time together.

Who do these Muslims think they are?

Ian Flintoff
Oxford

SIR – My son went to an English-speaking school in the United Arab Emirates but was denied any religious education by the British headmaster. I would have been delighted for him to have had the chance to study any religion, including Islam.

It was not so long ago that British primary schools had separate entrances for boys and girls and separate playgrounds. Most secondary schools were single sex, which is more conducive to learning.

If children in non-religious schools are denied a decent Christian education, at least do not criticise those who wish their children to be exposed to some sort of religion.

Hilary Davidson
Wudam Al Sahil, Al Batinah, Oman

SIR – Today’s homework: Q: Prove that multiculturalism has no place in education.

A: British tolerance + alien culture + Park View Educational Trust = failure.

QED.

Dave I’Anson
Formby, Lancashire

Irish Times:

Sir, – For the past week I have been reading the many hundreds of letters and comments on your website regarding the mother-and-baby homes scandal. In most cases the tone is understandably one of outrage and the general theme is that if the writers had been alive back then, those children’s lives would have been very different.

It is striking, therefore, to look back at the recent reports in The Irish Times about the suffering of the many children whose families are currently homeless in Ireland and about the miserable lives led (often for years) by immigrant children living in the direct provision hostels currently being operated by private companies on behalf of the Government. None of those reports evoked much outrage (or even comment) from your readers and, in the case of the direct provision hostels, those who did choose to comment were more often inclined to justify the manner in which those children are being treated than to object to it.

A cynic might observe that it is easy to be outraged about abuses in the past but taking note of abuses in the present might actually require us to do something about them. – Yours, etc,

ANN HIGGINS,

Monterey,

Massachusetts.

Sir, – It seems that we are about to spend a substantial amount of money on a statutory commission of investigation into mother-and-baby homes. I wonder what the commission will achieve. It cannot undo the tragic results of an insular collusion involving the State, the churches, the Garda Síochána, the fathers of the infants carried by the pregnant women and the parents of these women.

We are hearing that the files relating to these events are readily available in county council and other archives throughout the country. They have been available for many years. There was nothing to stop professional researchers, historians and journalists from accessing them. But an international media story reporting “800 infants dumped in a septic tank” triggered a frenzied national response calling for an inquiry from a smug, self-righteous, sophisticated society where we consider ourselves different, wiser and more compassionate than our forebears.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoiláin has said it is a dreadful fact that women and children were “treated as outcasts and non-people” in these institutions. He is right, of course. But it is a dreadful fact from a wretched past that no inquiry can undo.

However there are dreadful facts in our present society that can and should be addressed. There are homeless people sleeping on the streets of our cities and towns, the life expectancy and general health of our Travellers is seriously below the national norm, there are over 4,000 asylum seekers who have spent years living in the inhumane conditions of “direct provision” and there is the daily spectacle of old and sick patients on trolleys in our hospitals.

Our country should be directing scarce public funds at current societal problems. Investigations culminating in results such as the Ryan Report and the Murphy Report can have positive and worthwhile outcomes. In those cases, greatly strengthened procedures protecting children from abuse were put in place. But an investigation into the history of mother-and-baby homes will achieve little, other than to create increased calls to phone-in radio shows and to provide another stick with which to beat the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. – Yours, etc,

JACK MORRISSEY,

Acorn Road, Dublin 16.

A chara, – The recent disclosures about the Tuam babies, unearthed by local historian Catherine Corless, brings home to us again the importance of coming to terms with our past.

The English historian EH Carr observed that history is a dialogue between the past and the present. Here we have a case of the sad facts of our relatively recent past clashing violently with the perceptions we cherish of ourselves in the present.

The task of the local historian is a particularly difficult one. In every community there are taboo areas, subjects which are just too close to the bone for many people. But unless we understand and acknowledge where we have come from, how can we decide where our futures should be? In digging beneath the surface in Tuam, Catherine Corless has done her own community and all of us some service. – Is mise,

JOHN GLENNON,

Bannagroe,

Hollywood, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Donald Clarke is perfectly right in saying that people who cease to have faith in the Roman Catholic religion (or indeed any religion) should cease to observe its rituals but this is not always easy (“If you don’t approve of the church then don’t take part in its rituals”, Opinion & Analysis, June 7th).

On May 25th, 2010, I officially ceased to be a member of this church, my baptism was rescinded and I received official notification as to these facts. Shortly afterwards I saw an article claiming that the Roman Catholic Church had decided that it would accept no further applications for this process (“Church defection website shuts ‘due to change in canon law’”, August 8th, 2013).

I was appalled at this development, which I consider a serious breach of a citizen’s civil rights. I tried to get a humanist organisation interested in taking up the issue but, like those people who continue to observe rituals in which they no longer believe, this organisation refused in a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude.

I have no idea why the Roman Catholic Church took this decision – the proximity of time to a census was my suspicion – but it is time it was rescinded and people who wish to do so are allowed to formally renounce religious affiliation. – Yours, etc,

MAIRIN de BURCA,

Upper Fairview Avenue,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – Charlie Talbot (June 10th) makes an attempt to apply logic to faith. These two concepts are surely mismatched.

He states: “For some people at least, faith is the only sensible option when mere logic proves inadequate”. This is simply an argument from ignorance, as are most faith-based claims. Faith, simply put, is the belief in something without proof or evidence. When you venture into faith, you leave logic at the door.

The correct and logical answer to a question we do not yet have an answer for is “we don’t know”. It is illogical to insert an answer based on faith. – Yours, etc,

IAN COURTENAY,

Hilton Gardens,

Ballinteer, Dublin 16.

Sir, – As an adult is required to complete the census form in Ireland, it is worth noting that the figures of 84 per cent Roman Catholic and 6.4 per cent Church of Ireland that John Bellew (June 11th) quotes also include the children in the State, which the 2011 census puts at in excess of one million. It is circular logic to use these figures to support an argument for why parents baptise their children, given that the figures are padded with the very children who are being baptised. This in addition to myriad other problems associated with the religion question in the census, as highlighted in campaigns by Atheist Ireland and the Humanist Association of Ireland.

We might temper the interpretation of the census figures with those of a 2012 Gallup poll – of adults, I might add – which found that 47 per cent of the population identified themselves as “a religious person”, 44 per cent identified as “not a religious person”, and 10 per cent identified as “a convinced atheist”. – Yours, etc,

DAVID McGINN,

Mountain Park,

Tallaght,

Dublin 24.

azil.

While the Brazilian government and soccer’s governing body Fifa had hoped that the 2014 World Cup would be a celebration of samba soccer, the run-up to the tournament has instead been marked by protests and complaints about delays and incompetence.

Across Brazil, people have been protesting at the prohibitive costs of the tournament, and Fifa has come under fire for its unwillingness to let small business benefit from the event. What’s more, Fifa’s insistence on tax breaks for its multinational corporate sponsors has cemented the feeling that the World Cup is designed for foreign elites, at the expense of the country’s growing working class.

Yet mega sports events such as the World Cup do have great potential to benefit, rather than marginalise, poor people and impact positively on the local society and economy.

But these benefits do not accrue automatically; only if the sports event is respectful of people’s rights and deliberately includes marginalised communities will it be able to deliver lasting benefits for the host country. It is time for Fifa to learn this lesson and act accordingly. – Yours, etc,

HANS ZOMER,

Dóchas,

Baggot Court,

Lower Baggot Street,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – Recent correspondents have suggested one can continue to be a “unionist” when voting for a united Ireland.

Unionism is not a political philosophy, much less a cultural or genetic strain. It is a constitutional preference to remain part of the United Kingdom. That is the single common identifying policy of all those parties that include the word in their title. Political labels have to mean something.

The current impasse in Ireland cannot be reduced to a constant Humpty Dumpty jumble of semantic name-calling or two nations nonsense.

There are no “purebloods” left, whether native Gael or planter-settlers. The surnames Adams, Morrison, and Bell are no more a signifier of constitutional choice than are those of O’Neill, McCusker or Murphy. – Yours, etc,

DARACH MacDONALD,

Florence Street,

Rosemount,

Derry.

Sir, – While it is true there are historic correlations between unionism, Protestantism and a British identity (and between nationalism, Catholicism and Irishness), these traits are not mutually dependent. Indeed Andrew Gallagher (June 11th) supports this idea when he concedes many nationalists are content to remain part of the UK and that many unionists would prefer an independent Northern Ireland.

Many other people in the North do not hold political views of any persuasion but are assigned a political grouping relative to their perceived culture and thus denied an identity which may more readily represent them.

Unionism and nationalism are political ideologies that are open to persuasion and rational thought. Continuing to rigidly apply cultural traits to political ideologies only serves to exacerbate division and inevitably delays the potential for any truly lasting peace in Ireland. – Yours, etc,

CÍAN CARLIN,

Priory Road,

London.

Sir, –Tony Fagan’s spirited defence of the Garda Síochána (June 6th) should be applauded and the points he makes about the unfounded criticism levelled at the force do have a level of validity. I am, however, not sure where he is going with his view that the appointment of a senior British police officer to the position of commissioner would be “the last straw”.

Really? The Garda Síochána, like most police forces in the developed world is undergoing a tsunami of change and perspective. It is operating in a changing environment and is now more then ever being brought to account by an educated and less deferential public.

To steer the force though these challenging times it goes without saying that the next commissioner should have that “X factor”, with a proven record in delivering the goods. The present temporary incumbent does appear to tick all the right boxes, but this shouldn’t deter the appointing body from casting its net far and wide to appoint the right candidate. The people of Ireland deserve nothing less. If the process comes up with a senior British police officer as the best candidate, then he or she should be appointed. No ifs, no buts. – Yours, etc,

FRANK GREANEY ,

Lonsdale Road,

Formby, Liverpool.

Sir, – In light of the debate on whether the Government should stick with its adjustment target of €2 billion in the forthcoming budget, it is worth remembering the previous government was accused of either ignoring or not knowing the warning signs within the Irish economy prior to the crash.

Given that the EU, IMF and the Government’s own fiscal advisory council have stressed the necessity of the Government sticking to its target, it’s fair to say we have been warned (again). – Yours, etc,

PAUL LYNAM,

St Raphaela’s

Apartments,

Stillorgan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – I applaud your editorial “Towards a low-carbon society” ( May 31st) for what you propose but question the plausibility of your claim. As much as I would like to see Moneypoint power station closed, do you have any scientific basis to show that the 915 megawatts it generates can be offset by increased home insulation and retrofit schemes and other clean energy measures? Also, what do you propose the 500 or so workers should do once Moneypoint is closed? – Yours, etc,

PAUL SCHWARTZMAN,

South County Business Park,

Leopardstown, Dublin 18.

Sir, – “Weather Watch” has come in for some adverse comment lately, but it is nothing if not democratic. Why else would Clonmel be included in your list of the world’s major cities? – Yours, etc,

LOUIS HOGAN,

Glendasan Drive,

Harbour View,

Wicklow.

Sir, – Perhaps the welcome introduction of legislation on new cigarette packaging will take the heat out of all the criticism levelled at Minister for Health James Reilly (“Ireland leads EU on plain packaging of cigarettes”, June 11th). I was beginning to think he had reached burnout, but now he will probably go out in a blaze of glory. – Yours, etc,

GERRY McCORMACK,

Ashbrook Gardens,

Ennis Road, Limerick.

Sir, – A pack of plain is your only man. – Yours, etc,

PAUL DELANEY,

Beacon Hill,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – I note in your Business & Innovation section that the winner of the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 is an Indian who founded a bank that is “a people-focussed financial services giant” (“Indian banker is EY World Entrepreneur of the Year”, June 9th). Of course he won. He had no competition. – Yours, etc,

PADRAIG DOYLE,

Pine Valley Avenue,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – While on a Bank of Ireland website today I was struck by one of their slogans: “For small steps, for big steps, for life”. It would appear that Wilbur Ross (“US billionaire bows out of Bank of Ireland”, June 11th) no longer shares the third element of this sentiment. – Yours, etc,

CONN CLISSMANN,

Citywest

Dublin 24.

Sir, – Can I suggest a State inquiry into the number of inquiries currently in place?

The terms and timetable for such an inquiry should be established as soon as possible.

It should not just establish the number of inquiries that have been set up and their costs, but look into the political and social backgrounds that have produced them. – Yours, etc,

GARETH SMYTH,

Emlagh,

Louisburgh,

Co Mayo.

Sir, – Heartwarming though it was to see a baseball metaphor employed in an Irish Times leader (“That GPO moment”, June 10th), it didn’t quite work.

America’s national pastime allows for the theft of second base, third base and even home plate, but not first.

To have “stolen first base”, Sinn Féin would have to ignore the rules of the game entirely, and I’m certain that was not your point. – Yours, etc,

CHRIS THORNTON,

Waterfall Road,

Glenoe,

Co Antrim.

Irish Independent:

I read Dr Noel Browne’s book ‘Against the Tide’ 25 years ago and found it to be incredible. I took it down and read it again recently and found it to be totally credible.

What had changed in the meantime? Answer: Philomena Lee’s story, the Magdalene Laundries, the various reports on child abuse, the recent revelations about the mother and child homes and the demise of the staunch pillars of Irish society.

Noel, who was a friend of the mother and child, wrote about the devotion of the Irish women to their religion.

“There is a forlorn hope that the magic miracle of the Mass, or other Sacrament, will fend off that greatest single fear that so many working-class mothers know – the fear of the next pregnancy.”

He devoted his medical and political life to the care of the underprivileged – the introduction of the mother and child scheme and the eradication of TB, which claimed the lives of his parents and sister and almost claimed his. Sadly, he appears to have been forgotten.

He made enemies in political and religious circles because he rocked the conservative boat.

He tried to tell us, but we would not listen – perhaps, we’ll listen now.

PAT MCLOUGHLIN

NEWCASTLE WEST, CO LIMERICK.

 

CUTS HELPING CYBER-BULLIES

As a year-head in a busy community school who regularly deals with bullying issues, I am in full agreement with your editorial comment (June 10) that the best way to combat the scourge of cyber-bullying is by education. All members of society need to learn that individual rights and responsibilities do not end at a computer keyboard and schools clearly have a role to play in this process.

Regretfully, the capacity of second-level schools to deal with bullying issues has been massively diminished over the last five years by a series of swingeing cuts. Positions such as year-heads and special duties teachers, the very people who can investigate bullying incidences and develop and co-ordinate anti-bullying initiatives, have been axed.

The role of the guidance counsellor, often the first port of call for a student in crisis, has been seriously curtailed and one-to-one counselling time has been halved.

Reducing the already meagre resources available to young people at a time when they most need them makes no educational or economic sense and will likely prove to be far more costly in the long term.

Despite all the cutbacks, teachers and schools will still endeavour to meet the challenge of cyber-bullying in a creative, positive and constructive manner. In reality, schools have been doing more with less for many years. Logic however, suggests that this situation cannot continue indefinitely.

KEVIN P MCCARTHY

KILLARNEY, CO KERRY

 

SCHOOLS REPLACING PARENTS

I was not surprised to see proposals for schools to teach lessons against cyber-bullying.

But I’m wondering why we think schools can sort this out? Already schools are expected to teach children about sex, relationships, healthy eating, hygiene, avoiding binge drinking and being environmentally active citizens. Perhaps schools should build places for students to sleep and eat as I’m not sure what exactly is left for parents to do ?

BARRY HAZEL

CO WICKLOW

 

USSR DIDN’T LIBERATE EUROPE

I must take exception with John Clifford‘s assertion that Stalin’s USSR ‘freed’ Europe (Letters, June 9) during World War II. To quote President Barack Obama‘s fine words – the brave men from Canada, the US and the UK who landed in Normandy to establish ‘democracy’s beach-head’ in that corner of France – as they were as much in a battle with their enemy’s enemy the USSR as they were with Nazi Germany. It is certain if the US and UK had been defeated, Nazi Germany and Communist Russia would have fought to impose their version of tyranny on Europe and liberal democracy that allows revisionists to write letters to a free newspaper wouldn’t have survived.

I’m sure the Polish, Czechs, Hungarians, Slovaks, East Germans would disagree with Mr Clifford’s assertion that the USSR had ‘freed’ Europe.

After all, no one was ever shot crossing the Berlin Wall to defect from West Berlin to Russian-controlled East Berlin.

I particularly take issue with Mr Clifford’s diminishing of the sacrifice of men like Wing Commander ‘Paddy’ Finucane who prevented the invasion of Britain (and ultimately Ireland) when Britain stood alone during the period of the non-aggression pact between USSR and Germany, not to mention the merchant sailors of the Arctic convoy who dodged U-boats to supply the USSR.

To describe the Battle of the Bulge and Iwo Jima as ‘skirmishes’ is offensive to great generals like Eisenhower, who didn’t believe in cheaply sacrificing the lives of his men. I also take issue with the statement that the barbaric Red Army (who massacred 22,000 Polish officers), killed POWs at will and systematically raped the female population of occupied Germany was an army of liberation. Russia saved Russia and Russia alone from Nazi tyranny before imposing a longer-lasting and equally vicious form of tyranny on the countries that were unfortunate enough not to be reached by Patton’s army.

ROBERT GILL

DROMKEEN, LIMERICK

 

TAXING PROBLEM FOR LABOUR

It was to be expected that Ms Burton and Mr White would identify banking-related debt interest, which accounts for a third of the €9bn annual debt interest bill, and various tax relief schemes, which result in about €7 billion of lost revenue, as areas in which further savings could be made. That is low hanging fruit.

However, what would be a real sign of genuine leadership would be for the Labour Party leadership candidates to explain why they felt it was appropriate for them to accept a pay rise when they were appointed to office. Was it moral that money clawed back from cutting services should be redirected to pay the higher salaries and allowances of Labour ministers?

How can they have nothing to say about the salary of €250,000 being paid to their party colleague President Michael D Higgins, when €100,000 would be far more equitable for the president of a small bankrupt country of four million.

These payments in my opinion are unjustifiable, not to mention immoral. So much for the left leading by example when it comes to fairness and equality.

A sign of genuine leadership from the left would be to recognise that if tax relief schemes, which mostly benefit the well-off middle class, are no longer affordable or justifiable, it must also follow that automatic increments in the public sector cannot be justified either.

It doesn’t matter if most of them are paid to frontline low-paid staff because there are plenty of frontline low-paid people in the private sector, in shops, offices and factories all across the country, who work just as hard as those in the public sector, but there’s no taxpayer-funded automatic increments for them.

It’s easy to have a go at the well-off middle class but it takes real guts and leadership for a Labour leader to point out to the public sector the areas where it needs to change – but it doesn’t appear either Ms Burton or Ms White have the guts to do that.

DESMOND FITZGERALD

CANARY WHARF, LONDON

Irish Independent

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