16June2014 Prep 3
I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage toget round the park. Off to clean the spare bedroom for our guests
ScrabbleIwin a not very respectable score well under 400 perhaps Mary will win tomorrow
Roger Mayne – obituary
Roger Mayne was a photographer who captured the street urchins and squalor of poverty-ridden post-war London
Roger Mayne (centre) with residents of Southam Street Photo: MARY EVANS PICTURE LIBRARY
7:35PM BST 15 Jun 2014
Roger Mayne, who has died aged 85, was a photographer who captured the squalor and spectacle of Southam Street, a pocket of North Kensington that was to become synonymous with post-war poverty.
The series of photographs taken by Mayne, between 1956 and 1961, are one of the most important photographic surveys of city life in Fifties and Sixties Britain. The images formed a London reflection of the deprivation photographed by Bert Hardy in Glasgow’s Gorbals, a reminder that such harsh conditions could be found only a bus ride away from Westminster.
Southam Street and its W10 environs lay close to where Mayne lived as an aspiring photographer in his early twenties. On the day he discovered the street he took 64 photographs — shots which, he acknowledged, seemed “to hit people’s mental funny bone”. He worked on the move, equipped with a lightweight Zeiss Super Ikonta camera, immersing himself in the hustle and bustle of the block: a hive of activity that was as joyous as it was desperate.
All human life was here. Sharp-dressed West Indians clashed with pipe-thin, trouble-hunting Teddy Boys, girls gossiped in doorways, gangs of young men smoked and gambled. And everywhere around him children darted, danced, ran, cycled and fought. Boys and girls played football in the middle of the road and cricket against the walls. Slowly Mayne earned their trust and recorded their wild, urban upbringing.
One of the street urchins running riot was a young Alan Johnson — later the Labour Home Secretary — whose sister appears in one of Mayne’s photographs. “The houses had been jerry-built in the 19th century for a predicted population drift that never occurred. By the Thirties they’d been declared unfit for human habitation,” noted Johnson. “My sister and I were born into those slums 20 years later. Electricity didn’t arrive until roughly the same time as Roger Mayne. The 1951 census recorded that the number of people living at a density of more than two to a room was four times higher in Southam Street than in London as a whole.”
For a young photographer looking for his muse the area was ripe with dramatic potential. “The first day I discovered Southam Street I was so excited,” recalled Mayne. “I was a bit shy, and eased myself into photographing the children.” After a while he went about unnoticed. “When I had taken the photos they just went on with their games, playing football or swinging on lampposts. They got to know me and understood I wanted them photographed unawares.”
It was a community where it was better to be outdoors than in. “This was a world that had changed little since Dickens,” stated Johnson, “but one that would virtually vanish within a decade”. Southam Street was levelled in 1963 — having been declared uninhabitable — and the residents relocated to council houses and tower blocks. Erno Goldfinger’s “Brutalist” Trellick Tower now punctuates the site.
Mayne returned to the scene and photographed the ruins. “I was sad when the street was demolished,” he recalled. “I suppose there was the middle-class, left-wing view of the working class as romantic, but I just remember turning the corner into Southam Street and being greeted by this wonderful life.”
Boys pushing a car in North Kensington, photographed by Roger Mayne
Roger Mayne was born in Cambridge in 1929. He studied chemistry at Balliol College, Oxford, between 1947 and 1951, a period during which his father died and he was introduced to photography (through an interest in photographic processing). “Learning to process photographs is more like learning to cook than studying Chemistry,” he recalled. “In those years I developed from a feeble amateur to a serious photographer. You could say photography discovered me.”
After university, he found a mentor in Hugo van Wadenoyen, a British photographer of Dutch origins, who introduced him to the Combined Societies, a progressive group of local photographic societies that formed an alternative to the Royal Photographic Society. As a pacifist Mayne refused to do National Service. Instead he worked as a hospital porter in Leeds. His interest in art, sparked as an undergraduate, grew and led him to St Ives, where he photographed the artistic community, including Patrick Heron and Terry Frost.
In 1956 Mayne had a one-man show of his photographs at the ICA and by the following year was established as a freelance photojournalist, working for magazines such as Vogue, Queen, and New Left Review and providing photographs for book jackets — Colin Macinnes commissioned Mayne to provide a cover image of disaffected youth for his novel Absolute Beginners (1959).
Mayne found his true calling, however, in detailing London’s working class areas and he made his reputation for photographing them with a lack of guile through his work in Southam Street. “Although my approach is documentary, using the camera as a recording machine,” said Mayne, “if the image is good enough, if everything comes together, then the picture can rise to art.”
Self portrait of Roger Mayne
As a counterpoint to his work chronicling the slums, Mayne photographed at the Royal Court Theatre, where he was introduced to a young rising playwright named Ann Jellicoe. They married in 1962, the year Jellicoe’s play The Knack was a hit at the Royal Court.
During the late Sixties, Mayne taught at Bath Academy of Art, in Corsham, to which he had been introduced while compiling a photo-essay on student life. In the Seventies, Mayne and Jellicoe moved, with their two young children, to Lyme Regis in Dorset. There, Mayne worked on brooding landscapes wrought with a stark chiaroscuro. He also continued to capture the adventures of childhood — this time his subjects were his son and daughter (he would eventually also focus his lens on the early years of his grandchildren).
The following decade he began experimenting with drawing, painting and etching. A series of photographs taken in Japan, Goa and China during the mid-Eighties — of cyclists weaving around traffic, card sharps playing on the curbs and lovers in the rain — showed that he had retained an eye for a startling street scene — he considered these among his best photographs.
During the Nineties, Mayne travelled extensively, photographing in Paris, Iceland, Spain and Tuscany. At this time his Southam Street series gained a new audience when the singer Morrissey used selected photographs by Mayne for his album covers and concert backdrops.
The series were featured in the book Uppercase 5 (1961). Mayne’s other publications include The Shell Guide to Devon (1975) — in which his wife provided the text to accompany his photographs — and Roger Mayne Photographs (2001).
Jiving Girl (1957) by Roger Mayne
Mayne won the Lucie Award for Achievement in Documentary in 2006 and many of his portraits — including studies of Kenneth Tynan, Harold Pinter, Lindsay Anderson, John Fowles and Duke Ellington — are in the National Portrait Gallery.
His Southam Street photographs remain his most celebrated works — they have been exhibited in the US, Australia and Japan and were a highlight of Tate Britain’s blockbuster exhibition, How We Are: Photographing Britain (2007), for which his Jiving Girl (1957) was the show’s poster image. The entire series is now held by the V&A. “My reason for photographing poor streets is that I love them,” he stated in the late Fifties. “The streets have their own kind of beauty, a kind of decaying splendour.”
Mayne is survived by his wife and their son and daughter.
Roger Mayne, born May 5 1929, died June 7 2014
Hugh Muir is wise to conclude about the slave trade that “the answer is to make peace with the fact that sins of the past helped forge the present” (Hideously Diverse Britain: A case for making peace with past sins, G2, 9 June)
The slave trade was abominable and those that profited from it despicable but we are all party to this stain on human history. The citizens of Bristol were direct beneficiaries of the wealth that Edward Colston amassed – hence their gratitude to him. The profits of Colston and other less-acclaimed slave traders, accumulated in the triangular trade, were used to finance the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, from which not only everyone in Britain benefited (eventually) but also all those living throughout the developed world as well.
We in the developed world can make “peace with the past” by recognising our moral obligation to provide development aid, including especially to those nations most affected by the slave trade. At least by comparison with many developed nations Britain’s modern record on development aid is creditable, although more and better could still be done. The Bristol beneficiaries of Colston’s generosity might think about what they can do, in particular, to make “peace” with their own fortunate legacy, perhaps through individual and voluntary sponsorship of development aid. Maybe a Colston development foundation would be a suitable thing for today’s citizens of Bristol to support to demonstrate their attempt to make “peace with the past”.
And my interest in this? I am a distant descendant of Edward Colston and still carry his name.
Philip Colston Robins
Addingham, West Yorkshire
Conflicting colours … a damselfly takes off. Photograph: Kim Taylor/Nature Picture Library/Corbis
I do hope your editor does not punish the writer of a recent country diary for mistakenly identifying the azure damselfly as a common blue (Corrections and clarifications, 13 June). Such a mistake saw Lord Copper of The Beast send William Boot to report on the war in Ishmaelia. To which war are you currently planning to send your correspondent, and with what equipment? Cleft sticks, anyone?
Jedburgh, Scottish Borders
• Harrison Ford was airlifted from Pinewood Studios to John Radcliffe hospital, Oxford, with injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening (Report, 13 June). My local hospital, Hillingdon, is 10 minutes away, by car, from Pinewood. Is there something I should know?
• Hugh Noble (Letters, 13 June) says “a federal structure for a united UK is impossible because Scotland has its own distinct legal system”. I wonder how he accounts for the Canadian province of Québec, whose civil law is based on the Code Napoléon.
• In Spain in the 1970s, my children used to love asking for a chocolate bar called “Bum” (Letters, 14 June). The name was later changed to “Boom”. Surprisingly they didn’t ask for it any more.
• There was a shirt shop named Tits in Brussels in the 1960s.
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
I’m curious as to how Ms Harman could determine who is metropolitan and middle class just by looking at the audience
Sir, Richard Morrison reports (Times 2, June 13) that Harriet Harman, the shadow culture secretary, said in a recent speech that she had been to the opera and couldn’t see anyone there who was not white, metropolitan and middle class. I’m curious as to how Ms Harman could determine who is metropolitan and middle class just by looking at the audience.
When I go to London for an evening out, I always check twice to make sure I’ve changed out of my wellies and removed the hay from my hair, precisely so these sophisticated metropolitan types won’t take me for a hick.
King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Sir, I assume Harriet Harman was sitting in the expensive seats at the Royal Opera House when she complained that everyone around her was white, metropolitan and middle class.
If she had climbed to the highest level of the amphitheatre she would have enjoyed a greater democracy and camaraderie. For the sum of £17 the proletariat, including myself and the backpackers next to me, regularly enjoy the most exquisite singing and views.
When a very large, pierced and heavily tattooed man came along the row in front of me at The Marriage of Figaro, everyone sat sideways to accommodate him and no one complained.
In the interval I asked my friend if this was the opera with the beautiful Dove Sono aria. As she didn’t know what I meant, I sang it to her, whereupon the large man turned to say that the Countess sang it in the next act. He was charming, knowledgeable and far from middle class. Indeed, I doubt whether Harriet Harman could have had such an entertaining companion that evening as did we.
Maybe she should lift up her eyes to the heights.
Englefield Green, Surrey
Sir, It is difficult to understand how Harriet Harman could possibly criticise the Prom concerts as being elitist. The spirit of Sir Henry Wood has been kept alive and well ever since their inception. Hundreds of tickets are available for £5 each, less than the price of a packet of cigarettes; at many of the concerts the price of the most expensive tickets is £38 — which is far less the prices usually charged at pop concerts or football matches — and children under 18 can get in for half price. There is no dress code. I really cannot see how a prime London concert hall could do any more. If the concerts are patronised mainly by the middle classes it is not because no one else can afford them.
Sir, The fabricated outrage at Oxfam’s poster campaign (“Tory accuses Oxfam of misusing its donations”, June 11) demonstrates the contempt that many reactionaries feel for those trying to make the world a better place.
Oxfam is correct that poverty remains a troubling feature of UK life, yet this has been lost in a dispiriting display of self-serving politicking from certain MPs and commentators.
Recent research from the Trussell Trust, a provider of food banks, demonstrated that demand for food banks tripled in 2012, while earlier this year our research showed that 89 per cent of charities anticipate an increase in demand for their services over the next year.
Charities like Oxfam exist to fight poverty, and it is their duty to talk about these issues. This is not just a question of free speech but also of fostering a culture of informed public decision-making and giving a voice to the voiceless in public debate. What Oxfam says may make uncomfortable listening, but those who close their ears ought to be ashamed.
Sir Stephen Bubb
Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO)
Sir, We are concerned that the complaint by Conor Burns, MP, to the Charity Commission over an Oxfam tweet highlighting some of the causes of poverty in Britain is an attempt to stifle charities and campaign groups taking part in public debate.
We are already concerned about the new Lobbying Act which is likely to significantly restrict our ability to speak out on behalf of the people and issues that we represent for seven months ahead of the general election.
In the past decades campaigning organisations have persuaded reluctant governments to cancel poor countries’ debts, remove lead from petrol, prevent the selling of our forests, and allow Gurkha veterans the right of residence in the UK. Attempts to silence legitimate debate risk undermining our democracy.
Jana Osborne, National Federation of Women’s Institutes; Loretta Minghella, Christian Aid; Andy Atkins, Friends of the Earth; Lesley-Anne Alexander, RNIB; Benedict Southworth, Ramblers; Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK; Blanche Jones, Campaigns Director, 38Degrees; Richard Miller, Executive Director, ActionAid UK; Tony Dykes, Director, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA); Ian J Govendir MA, Aids Orphans; Kate Begg, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Anthony Nolan Trust; Thomas Hughes, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19; Ben Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, Bond; Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of The British Humanist Association; Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive Officer, Campaign for Better Transport; Baroness Ann Mallalieu QC, Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement; Sandy Balfour , CEO, Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance Trust; Kathy Evans, Chief Executive, Children England; Catriona Williams OBE, Chief Executive/ Prif Weithredydd, Children in Wales/ Plant yng Nghymru; Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming; Rosie Rogers, National Coordinator, Compass; Rose Caldwell, Executive Director, Concern Worldwide; Titus Alexander, Convenor, Democracy Matters; Tom Burke, Chairman of E3G; Simon Barrow, Director of Ekklesia; Norman Kerr, Director, Energy Action Scotland; Derek McAuley, Chief Officer – Prif Swyddog, General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches; Fiona Weir, Chief executive, Gingerbread; Martin Drewry, Director, Health Poverty Action; Nick Lowles, Executive Director, HOPE not hate; Andy Benson, National Coalition for Independent Action; Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director, International HIV/AIDS Alliance; Sarah-Jayne Clifton – Director, Jubilee Debt Campaign; Phil Barton, Chief Executive, Keep Britain Tidy; David Beattie, Vice Chair, Lancashire Badger Group; Neil Jameson, Executive Director and Lead Organiser, London Citizen; Melian Mansfield, Chair, London Play; Georgette Mulheir, CEO, Lumos; Sarah Javaid, Executive Director, MADE In Europe; Marina Pacheco, Chief Executive Office, The Mammal Society; Mike Wild, Chief Executive, Manchester Community Central; Sam Fanshawe, Chief Executive, Marine Conservation Society; Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, NAVCA; Estelle du Boulay, Director, Newham Monitoring Project; Andy Benson, National Coalition for Independent Action; Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, National Council of Voluntary Organisations; Dot Gibson, General Secretary, National Pensioners Convention; Keith Porteous Wood , Executive Director, National Secular Society; Toni Pearce, President, National Union of Students; Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive, National Voices; Diane Sheard, UK Director, The ONE Campaign; Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Steve Ford, Chief Executive, Parkinson’s UK; Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation; Jim Cranshaw, People & Planet; Mark Lister, Chief Executive Officer, Progressio; Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain; Aaron Oxley, Executive Director, Results UK; Dr Omar Khan, Acting Director, Runnymede Trust; Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive, Save the Children; Irene Audain MBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Out of School Care Network; Felix Spittal, SCVO; Linda Butcher, Chief Executive Officer, Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK); Ben Simms, Director, STOPAIDS; Gail Wilson, Coordinator, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland; Joe Rukin, Campaign Manager, Stop HS2; Malcolm Shepherd, Chief Executive, Sustrans; Natalie Samarasinghe, Executive Director, United Nations Association – UK; Alexandra Runswick, Director, Unlock Democracy; Jasmijn de Boo, Chief Executive, The Vegan Society; John Hilary, Executive Director, War on Want; Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive Officer, The Wildlife Trusts; Jon Nott, General Secretary, Woodcraft Folk; Suzi Morris, UK Director, World Animal Protection (formerly World Society for the Protection of Animals); Joanna Kennedy, Chief Executive, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
Sir, TMS (“Lost in translation”, Jun 13) brought to mind a memory of a French evening class. Our teacher was a young woman who although English, had an excellent French accent. She was helping us with translation and advised that “le garage” is French for “garridge”. Angela O’Shaughnessy Bath
Sir, The new United for Wildlife movement promoted by Princes William and Harry (“Beckham signs for duke’s wildlife conservation team”, June 10), risks contributing to the destruction of tribal peoples unless it stresses that tribal hunters are neither “poachers” nor criminals.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what some states call them. The ban on hunting in Botswana, brought in by its conservationist and anti-Bushman president, is clearly another nail in the Bushmen’s coffin, and will drive them from self-sufficiency on ancestral lands into abject poverty and hunger. Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for fee-paying sport hunters, the only people now allowed to hunt there. United for Wildlife needs to decide whose side it is on.
Sir, This week the Home Office unveiled new legislation, covering cases in which a police officer acts improperly and carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years.
In 2011 while 0.13 per cent of the general population were serving prison terms, 0.61 per cent of MPs were held at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. In the same year 29 police officers received custodial sentences equating to only 0.02 per cent of the then 135,838, serving officers.
If Sir Robert Peel is right that “The Police are the public and the public are the police”, these statistics suggest that it is not the law enforcers who require legislative change to prevent corruption and misconduct in public office.
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
SIR – I was struck by the comments made by the former FA chief executive, Mark Palios about Fifa. He talked of Fifa’s impact being most felt, not so much by the game, but in the “improvement of the lives of its apparatchiks”.
Fifa, in his words, is a “dictatorship cloaked in the perception of democracy”, part of a self-perpetuating system that ensures gilded lives for its elite and lavish benefits for those who could bring about reform but who are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds them.
Had football’s governing body not been named I could have sworn he was talking about another ruling institution equally reluctant to reform. Perhaps Britain might score two reforming goals at once by threatening to leave both.
New Milton, Hampshire
SIR – You report that 630 foreign criminals have escaped deportation on a variety of pretexts. Presumably they have come here for a better life and have accepted Britain’s hospitality in the form of welfare and benefits. When they offend they abuse this hospitality.
The right to a private and family life should not be grounds to resist deportation. Claims that they will be mistreated if they return to their own countries often have little foundation. If their families are so important let them leave the country with them. This country welcomes immigrants who behave themselves and contribute to the common good. Those that do not, especially criminals, are not welcome and must be removed.
NHS’s attitude to sex
SIR – Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of England, warns of the dangers of “obesity-related conditions”.
If she is so concerned about the financial costs of irresponsibility, why not address sexual irresponsibility? In 2011, the annual cost of treating sexually transmitted diseases was estimated at more than £1 billion; HIV treatment cost around half a billion pounds, with total lifetime costs of HIV cases in 2008 estimated at £26 billion. Teenage pregnancy was reckoned to cost £63 million annually, with infertility and complications from chlamydia alone costing £29 million.
Many “obesity-related conditions” are caused by limited exercise capacity resulting from pre-existing medical conditions, or from poor nutrition as a result of poverty, itself closely related to social class. Dame Sally implies that physical unfitness is caused by mental unfitness, since the obese refuse to do anything about it.
In the meantime, the NHS actually promotes promiscuity with its studiously “non-judgmental” approach.
Woodford Green, Essex
SIR – Nigel Wiggins (Letters, June 8) writes that he bought his three-bedroom detached house in 1970 for just £4,000.
We bought our first house, a new three-bedroom semi, with garage, in 1964 for £2,750 and we could just afford the mortgage.
The difference between now and then is that our 1964 house was basic. The kitchen had a sink with a cupboard and one other cupboard. There was no central heating, a single power point in each room, no built-in fridge-freezer, washing machine, dishwasher or oven. These were bought when we had enough money set aside.
B R James
High Halden, Kent
SIR – House-price inflation came about as a result of the funding providers taking into account joint wages when providing a mortgage. This took place in about 1972 and gave bigger profits to mortgage providers, estate agents and solicitors.
A divided Cabinet
SIR – This “row” between Michael Gove and Theresa May seems to have been universally viewed as a problem with the capacity to damage the Government.
I take the opposite view. I do not want leaders who are reluctant to disagree among themselves. The Cabinet should be made up of like-minded but independent thinkers with the confidence to air their opinions.
The forgotten invasion
SIR – After the fanfare of the D-Day anniversary celebrations (Operation Overlord), let us not overlook the second Allied invasion of (southern) France, Operation Dragoon, which took place on August 15 1944. This equally important theatre of operations led to France being completely liberated within three months of D-Day.
Retelling Rorke’s Drift
SIR – Zulu was, in many ways, true to the events of January 1879 (Letters, June 8). There were, however, numerous inaccuracies.
The letter which opened the film was entirely fictitious – the defenders were members of the 2nd/24th Warwickshire Regiment. Nor were they mainly Welsh; they were predominantly English and Irish. Private Henry Hook VC was portrayed as a malingerer and drunk. He was, in fact, an exemplary soldier, a lifelong teetotaller and a lay preacher.
Over Compton, Dorset
SIR – The Travel section exhorts us to visit “spellbinding Florence”, “spectacular Siena”, “achingly exquisite San Gimignano” and “breathtaking Rome”.
Perhaps a similar offering in, say, Le Monde, would encourage its readers to take in “grubby Glasgow”, “horrible Hull”, “lousy London” or “crummy Cardiff”.
Winterbourne Monkton, Wiltshire
SIR – As a keen spectator of tennis I used to look forward to the television coverage of Wimbledon, but for the last few years the screeches and grunts of the competitors have utterly spoilt my enjoyment.
That the authorities at Wimbledon allow such irritating noises amazes me.
Recently, a tennis coach claimed in a radio interview that the players do not behave in such fashion during practice. If only the spectators would register their displeasure by joining in, as a rude yet timely awakening for the players concerned.
It would be interesting to see how the umpires might cope in such a situation.
A D Wilson
Fulford, North Yorkshire
SIR – Alasdair Palmer’s penetrating and far-sighted article highlights the growing threat to Britain’s internal security from radicalised British nationals, and the Government’s reluctance to do anything about it for fear of being accused of xenophobia. This astonishing situation has come about for three reasons.
First, Britain retreated from the principle that immigration should serve the interests of the host country first.
Successive governments did not anticipate that when groups of distant cultural and political traditions arrive in significant numbers, more than merely expressing their ethnic diversity (through festivals or restaurants, for example), they are likely to choose to establish their communities as separate cultural-political entities.
Secondly, the government tried to turn this liability into an asset by promoting multiculturalism. It stopped ascribing any value to integration and assimilation, and began flirting with the notion that host countries are only political frameworks for various co-existing cultures.
Finally, rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s, is an alien concept in fundamentalist Islam. It considers everything to belong to God and does not allow a person’s citizenship to command a higher loyalty than his faith.
15 Jun 2014
15 Jun 2014
When Britain no longer regards itself as a distinct culture with its own history and traditions but as a clean slate for anyone to write on, there will be those ready with their own texts, including some that are ominous.
SIR – I have some sympathy with Muslim parents who do not wish their children to become “enculturated” into modern British society and taught its values.
What are these British values? Today, children as young as five are given sex education. Fornication among the young is accepted; children are routinely born out of wedlock; abortion is accepted as a way of disposing of unborn children and homosexuals have been given the legal right to marry.
Some elderly people are killed via the Liverpool Care Pathway and a lack of basic care is shown to others by the NHS.
Politicians consider it acceptable to steal from the taxpayer with their expense claims. l am not proud of the values of our Cameronite society.
SIR – Alasdair Palmer’s article on Islamic extremism eloquently sums up many of the factors that may determine the future of our country as it is affected by mass immigration. But he misses one important factor in the debate: the demographic implications of some immigrant communities having large families.
While the present Government may be able to limit the “Islamist threat”, future governments may not, given that they could be composed mainly of immigrants or their descendants. They will be able to impose whatever culture they wish, leaving those with “British values” as an isolated minority culture. Perhaps this is a “taboo” subject, but it is crucial nevertheless.
SIR – While many Hasidic groups appear isolationist even to mainstream Orthodox and more liberal Jews, Alasdair Palmer’s observation that Hasidic Judaism’s separate culture could be deemed to suggest a lack of “Britishness” is an old canard.
Since antiquity, Jewish communities have recognised the duty to pray for the government of the land they are in (Jeremiah 29.7). Thus, the prayer for Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal family and the government of the United Kingdom is a central feature of any Sabbath morning synagogue service.
However quaint or daunting they may appear to the rest of us, the Hasidic Jews of London and Manchester are just as British as the Amish Christians of Pennsylvania are American.
Honorary President, Bristol Hebrew Congregation
Sir, – The introduction of the standardised packaging of tobacco has to be welcomed as a significant milestone for public health in Ireland. Despite this, there will continue to be a campaign from those opposed to measures aimed at tackling the 5,200 deaths from tobacco every year in Ireland.
Vincent Devlin (June 13th) says the move “will be welcomed by smugglers and will result in further lost revenue to the State”.
The term “plain packaging” is a misnomer. The new packaging will not be a plain white box, as some in the tobacco industry would have people believe. It will be a “dull, drab colour” such as olive green and will contain graphic health warnings.
Sadly for smugglers, the new packs will have the same sophisticated security markings and anti-counterfeiting measures currently on cigarette packs.
In fact, the Revenue Commissioners and the Garda, whose job it is to tackle the illicit problem, told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in January that there is no evidence “plain packaging” will have any effect on the illicit trade.
Australia has had standardised packaging in place since 2012 and in that time customs officials have intercepted just one consignment of “plain packaged” cigarettes among the thousands of illicit imports discovered. They say the new packaging has had “no impact” on illegal tobacco.
The facts from the Revenue officials in Ireland and tax officials in Australia indicate that “plain packaging” will have no effect on smuggling. In fact, the rate of illicit tobacco in Ireland continues to fall – from 13 per cent in 2012 to 11 per cent in 2014.
Smoking costs our health service between €1 billion and €2 billion every year.
In order to maintain profits, tobacco companies need to recruit 50 new smokers in Ireland every day. Standardised packaging will eliminate the last great marketing tool for the tobacco industry and protect our young people from beginning to smoke.
We owe it to the next generation to support this initiative. – Yours, etc,
Irish Cancer Society,
Sir, – Concern is growing among parents and teachers about the newly published guidelines for the allocation of special needs assistants (SNAs) for children with special educational needs by the Department of Education. This will affect every child.
SNAs help children with special needs to attend school, to be integrated into mainstream education and minimise the possible disruption to the class and teachers. SNA support helps children with special needs to reach their maximum potential in life and enables fair access to education. SNAs help children with these special needs, calm them down, help with the toilet, meals, take them out when needed, and so on.
Class sizes have been increased already. It means more pressure on all schools. Now with the SNA cuts, teachers will have to spend more time and energy dealing with the day-to-day needs and developing the life skills of these children instead of teaching the curriculum.
If a child is overwhelmed in class or needs to be assisted in the toilet, it will be the teacher’s duty to deal with this, and now without the help of an SNA.
The SNAs are not a luxury – they are vital in helping the children to be educated and to integrate into our society successfully.
If children with special educational needs are to lose this essential support, then their education will be significantly restricted, the teacher and their classmates will be impacted, and they may eventually lose the opportunity to be fully integrated into our society and become independent adults. Inevitably these children will struggle every day in school.
This circular and the cutting of the resource hours may be the beginning of the end of inclusive education in Ireland.
By constantly cutting the available resources, the Department of Education is effectively pushing children with special needs out of mainstream education and into special schools. –Yours, etc,
Sir, – Further to Marie O’Halloran’s article “Dublin – the most expensive location in Europe in which to be buried” (June 9th), it is worth noting some of the most significant changes in the past year to the costs of a burial – the removal of the bereavement grant, and the recent addition of VAT on both the purchase of a grave, and on the cost of opening a grave, ie the gravedigger’s fee .
The bereavement grant, previously available to all families, made €850 available towards burial and funeral costs, removing some of the financial trauma of having to find the large sums of money, unobtainable for many, for the burial of a loved one.
The State now considers it appropriate to inflict on the recently bereaved and traumatised surviving family member the exposure in person to a stranger at a hatch of all their financial data to qualify for a burial grant or a percentage of one. This is addition to negotiating the often bewildering and complex morass of the local health board “rules”.
The cost of a new grave for two, in Dublin’s council-owned cemeteries, starts from €2,500, and typically has an additional €1,000 gravedigger’s opening fee in addition to this.
The elite sections of trust and private graveyards such as Glasnevin and the Garden plots in Mount Jerome (starting at €16,000) are out of range for most.
TDs should do the right and honourable thing and reverse the additional taxes and reinstate the bereavement grant for all. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Reading Martin Wolf’s concise and glowing summary of global history since the second World War (“Quarter of a century in an era of global capitalism”, June 11th), one is left with an impression that we live in a glorious utopia in which the crusaders of international capitalism continue in their quest to make life better for all of humanity. It is also a world which has been at peace for 70 years with no ideological or economic conflict and in which all of humanity live out their lives in harmony, benefiting from the fruits of globalisation.
A convenient veil is drawn over the many issues facing the majority of citizens on a daily basis as a result of the so-called free market.
No mention of the numerous regional conflicts over the past 70 years, many under an ideological flag but with strong economic undercurrents and whipped up by the unhealthy influence of corporate capitalism in the corridors of western power.
No mention of a consumer-based system, which relies on the increased indebtedness of ordinary citizens in the West, is supplied by an exploited underclass in the developing world and which feeds an increasing global inequality.
While Mr Wolf is correct in asserting that globalisation has resulted in a more unified Europe and reduced the likelihood of another European war, the remainder of the article only serves as a less then subtle pamphlet for capitalism which ignores issues that are more than mere side-effects to the millions impacted globally. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Having recently attended as a patient at two of our public hospitals, I feel that I must respond to the totally negative media coverage of our healthcare system.
Listening to and reading media reports one would think that we had a faltering, dysfunctional service, one that was not serving the people well. Yet what I found was something totally different.
Both hospitals teemed with patients, some of whom were critically ill, and others like myself who were suffering minor injuries. Each patient was dealt with courteously and in as timely a fashion as possible. The staff – whether it be receptionists, radiographers, nurses or doctors, were friendly, professionally efficient and calm; in spite of the fact that they had to deal with a great number of patients.
It is high time that credit is given where credit is due. We have hospitals that provide excellent care. There is, of course, always room for improvement. But let’s stop constantly “knocking” and realise how fortunate we are to have such a good service and work together to make it even better. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Almost a year to the day after I finished my Leaving Cert exams, my Leaving “Certificate” arrived in the post.
While thinking back on the whole sixth-year experience (and rejoicing in the knowledge that I would never have to go through it again), it occurred to me that I actually am grateful for the Leaving Cert exams.
There is much talk about the unfairness of the system and the need for reform, and while I agree that the system of acceptance into colleges needs adjustment, the exams themselves do not.
During the fifth and sixth-year year cycle, I matured as a person, learned to study more productively and independently, and also learned to deal with a huge amount of stress and pressure – most of it self-inflicted!
While there were of course bad moments, I can honestly say the Leaving Cert exams have equipped me to deal with many pressures and challenges that later life might bring.
It is perhaps something that a lot of people ought to reflect on, particularly those on the warpath for change. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The seemingly inexorable march of Sinn Féin and the abysmal performance of the Labour Party in the recent elections will surely hasten the day when Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael join forces in order to prevent the Shinners from forming a coalition government with a motley collection of Independents. There’s not a whit of difference between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael; they’re just two sides of the same coin. It’s high time both centre-right organisations dispensed with the Civil War politics and agreed to coalesce in future administrations. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – Further to Sean Glynn’s letter (June 11th), the placename is Bóthar Béal Átha an Rí, ie Athenry in English, meaning fortified town of the king. Regardless of singulars or plurals, the name is widely known as Béal Átha an Rí in the singular form and Mr Glynn is right that it ought not be changed willy-nilly.
Liam Ó Murchú (June 13th) is correct that Gallimh Siar and Gallimh Thiar don’t meant exactly the same thing, hence the confusion. Gallimh Thiar is West Galway, while Gallimh Siar is Galway Westbound; a comma before Siar in the Irish form and before Westbound in the English version might be clearer. Does accuracy matter? Well under the statutory legislation of Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003, our signs in Irish should be clear and accurate and should definitely be in Irish, and not Scots Gaelic as in the Bon Secours hospital sign. – Is mise,
Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
Sir, –Further to Ruadhán Mac Cormaic’s informative article (“Supreme Court judge set to be chosen”, June 9th), it is worth mentioning that Anthony Hederman, Niall McCarthy and Hugh O’Flaherty were all nominated from the Inner Bar to the Supreme Court. – Yours, etc,
* I wish to respond to Martina Devlin’s article regarding birth mothers of adoptees (Irish Independent, June 12).
It first presumes that adoptees of adult age have no understanding of empathy. They are the people who understand most what their birth mothers have suffered in this nation of shame and secrets.
They have thought long and hard before attempting to seek their birth parents and have also had to consider the impact of such a search on the feelings of their adoptive parents.
Secondly, it presumes that birth mothers, who will by this stage be over the age of 18, do not have the mental capacity to behave as adults. Some birth mothers will not want to face the horrors and suffering of their past and, as adults, have this right. But they also have a responsibility as adults of saying this face to face to their son or daughter. They are not children any more. They must act as responsible adults, even if this is contrary to the culture of our nation.
There is also a question of ageism in the article. Why should the author presume that an older mother, or father for that matter, does not have the mental capacity to make her own decision as to whether or not to meet with their child?
The anonymity promised to birth mothers was as valid as the documents many signed as minors or had signed on their behalf by those who were not their legal guardians. It was not worth the paper it was written on.
Yes, there will be women (and men) out there with a deep secret from their past. There will be husbands, wives, and children who have never been told. There will be a minority who may initially react badly to the news there is a family member out there – who has never been part of their lives – but that will pass.
Few will be angered by the supposed “sin” of their mother in her past.
It is time for the secrets, lies and omissions to stop. Every self-righteous gossip in every small town will have had a field day relating the “sins” of their neighbours. There is no legislation to prevent them from doing so. Yet it is almost impossible for an adoptive child to make contact with a birth parent.
It is vital that adoptees access information on the medical histories of their birth families. Breast cancer and many other diseases can be genetic and, given the information, can be prevented.
If a Catholic can admit their failings in confession to a priest, why is it so difficult to admit their great achievement – having given the gift of life – to their child?
The revelations of recent years have made it clear that the time for secrets and shame has passed.
May Ann Lovett and her child rest in peace alongside the other mothers and children for whom these days have come too late.
BOHERMORE, CO GALWAY
POVERTY OF OUR CONSTITUTION
* The Poor Law Commissioners’ report of 1861 indicated “that able bodied female pauperism was … in proportion of more that three to one in comparison with able bodied male pauperism and no inconsiderable number of them are single females rendered destitute by pregnancy, or as mothers of illegitimate children.”
A select committee was set up in 1861 to consider the situation. Among the contributors was Cardinal Paul Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin, who post the Famine, had been sent by the Vatican to shape modern Irish Catholicism. His contribution was to suggest that unmarried mothers be put in separate wards and kept away from young girls in the workhouse as “the presence and mixture of women with illegitimate children among young girls must tend to lower their ideas of female modesty and purity.”
The cardinal continued his attack on Poor Law institutions and, in a letter to the rector of the Irish College in Rome, Father Tobias Kirby, who acted as the conduit to the Vatican, he wrote as follows: “In Dublin alone the expenses of the Poor House have amounted to £60,000 and all the good done amounts to this: that some hundreds of women with illegitimate children and prostitutes and bastards are supported and some 400 old women and men are helped to die before their day.”
Fast-forward to the first Constitution of the Republic Of Ireland, established at the first meeting of the Dail on January 21, 1919, in the Mansion House. Among the clauses agreed were: “To encourage the proper physical development of the children of the nation by the provision of meals, the introduction of free medical and dental examination in schools and the organisation of pastimes.”
At a Cumann na nGaedheal (now Fine Gael) dominated Dail meeting post-treaty the new post-independence Constitution, which came into effect on April 27, 1923, was drew up. The Mansion House clause regarding children’s rights was withdrawn for reasons which were not recorded.
Hell was paved, even then, with good intentions
AUGHRUSMORE CLEGGAN, CO GALWAY
JOYCE AND GRIFFITH HAD A QUEST
* As we celebrate Bloomsday it might be of interest that, while researching a biography of Arthur Griffith, I was intrigued to discover a 20-year relationship between himself and James Joyce from 1901 to 1922. While this was mainly in intellectual form, there was a close personal aspect to it.
In 1901, when Joyce’s article for his university magazine was censored, he sent it to Griffith at ‘The United Irishman’. Griffith had it reviewed and wrote himself, “Why the Censor strove to gag Mr Joyce is to me as profound a mystery as to why we should grow censors in this country. Turnips would be more useful”.
When Joyce was struggling against the censors, to have ‘Dubliners’ published, he enlisted the help of Griffith. On his last visit to Dublin in 1912, Joyce called to see Griffith. He told him that he was engaged on a writing project which would have the potential to liberate the Irish people spiritually. He acknowledged that Griffith’s aim was to free his people economically and politically.
In 1922, as ‘Ulysses’ was published and Griffith became president of Dail Eireann, it appeared they were on their way to achieving their ambitions. The fact Griffith features throughout Joyce’s novel, despite being largely forgotten by Irish people, shows Joyce recognised the vital role Griffith played in liberating the Irish people.
ANTHONY J JORDAN
SANDYMOUNT, DUBLIN 4
US CAN’T PUT A PRICE ON PEACE
* US$20bn – that’s how much the US military is reported to have spent on training the Iraqi army, who have turned tail and scooted.
I thought Americans were experts on economics and peace through dialogue. Maybe the world should start listening to other opinions for a change.
ATTYMON, ATHENRY, CO GALWAY
1916 COMMEMORATION GROUP
* We are a group of relatives of participants in the 1916 Rising.
We are concerned that attempts by individual relatives to engage with government departments on the matter of centenary commemorations have been unsuccessful. We are now in the process of forming a non-political lobby group to canvas the Government and state bodies. We wish to ensure that we will be consulted, listened to and have a dignified presence at all 1916 commemoration events and that they will be made accessible to all citizens.
We would like to invite anyone who has a family connection to the 1916 Volunteers, Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan or Na Fianna to attend our inaugural meeting in Wynn’s Hotel, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin, at 2pm on Sunday, June 22.
PADDY DIGNAM, DAVID KILMARTIN, BARRY LYONS, MURIEL MCAULEY AND UNA MACNULTY
27 PEARSE STREET, DUBLIN