7July2014 listing

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage toget round the park. I am so tired summer cold?

ScrabbleMarywins, but gets under 400. perhaps I will win tomorrow.


Lt-Cdr Johnny Morton – obituary

Lt-Cdr Johnny Morton was a Naval fighter pilot who turned post-war to testing helicopters – from the very large to the very small

6:30PM BST 06 Jul 2014


Lt-Cdr Johnny Morton, who has died aged 88, was a wartime naval fighter pilot and pioneering helicopter test pilot.

Morton was a test pilot of the Fairey Rotodyne, a 1950s design for a large passenger-carrying helicopter which had a tip-jet-powered rotor for landing and take-off and turboprops on its stub wings for forward flight. The concept was decades ahead of its time and the trials were successful, but the programme was cancelled owing to a lack of commercial orders.

The Fairey Rotodyne

Morton and his colleague, Ron Gellatly, played a major part in the technical success of the Rotodyne. They made the first “tethered” flight at White Waltham on November 6 1957, and the Rotodyne proved so malleable that within a few days, instead of vertical flight, the prototype was taken on a circuit of the aerodrome . Until April 1958 all flights were made in the helicopter mode, but on April 10 Morton climbed to 5,000ft and made the first transition to forward flight, and over the next 70 test flights they cautiously raised the flight ceiling and built up the speed to 150mph; on January 5 1959, over Berkshire, Morton and Gellatly set a speed record which stood for several years.

In the late Fifties, Morton was also well-known at Farnborough air shows, where he would perform spectacular flights of the Fairey Ultra-light from the back of a lorry. He also took the Fairey Ultra-light out to sea, giving dramatic demonstrations of how the little helicopter could fly from the heaving deck of a cruiser.

The Fairey Ultralight

When Westland Helicopters took over Fairey Aviation and concentrated its test facilities at Yeovil, Morton became lead test pilot for the Westland Wasp, a small, first-generation shipborne helicopter, making his first flight on January 21 1963. In all the test flying of the Wasp he experienced only one incident, when the tail rotor shaft seized and he was forced down in a field in Somerset.

He was also the project officer for the naval version of the Westland Lynx, making the first test flight on May 25 1972. Morton continued to develop the aircraft for the next five years, despite an accident in November that year when a mechanical failure caused a loss of tail rotor control, and he made a heavy landing near Yeovil; the aircraft was written off, and he and his co-pilot suffered minor injuries. On another occasion he suffered a hydraulic failure over Lyme Bay, but skilfully landed his Lynx on Golden Cap, Dorset. Such was his confidence in the Lynx, however, that he was able to perform the first-ever roll in a helicopter and fly inverted.

In 1965 he was appointed OBE and awarded the Alan Marsh medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society. In 1969 he received the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air.

The son of a dentist, John George Peter Morton was born on May 10 1925 at Urmston, Lancashire, and educated at William Hulme’s Grammar School in Manchester. Aged 17 he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm, and he learned to fly at Pensacola, Florida. At the end of the war he flew Corsair fighter-bombers of 1835 Naval Air Squadron from the carrier Colossus in the Far East.

Post-war, Morton was involved in testing modified Seafire XVs after they had been grounded by a series of engine failures, and in 1947 he embarked in the carrier Theseus flying the Seafire XVs of 804 squadron on a deployment to south-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand . Later he flew Sea Furies and Sea Hawks from Centaur in the Mediterranean. In 1949 he began his long association with 705 Squadron, responsible for the evaluation of helicopters for use at sea and for the basic flying training of Royal Naval helicopter pilots.

In 1952 he attended the Central Flying School at Boscombe Down; in 1955 he was lent by the Navy to Faireys, and joined the company permanently as a test pilot soon afterwards.

After retiring as a helicopter test pilot, Morton taught others to fly the machines; among his pupils were the Prince of Wales and King Hussein of Jordan.

Johnny Morton married, in 1981, Noeline Sinnot, the widow of a wartime flying colleague, and they settled in New Zealand; she predeceased him, and he is survived by his stepchildren.

Lt-Cdr Johnny Morton, born May 10 1925, died May 4 2014


Doctor holding male patient  s hand in hospital room

‘The patients concerned are not “being killed”; they are dying, and wish to cut short the suffering they are enduring,’ writes Elizabeth Brown. Photograph: Blend Images/Alamy

While we fully agree that the ease of pain and suffering should be the priority when a patient is nearing the end of life, and keeping a patient alive at all costs is not consistent with compassionate care, we would like to counter some of Professor John Ashton’s assertions (Top doctor’s assisted dying call,  2 July).

First, his comments on the use of sedative medications at the end of life suggested that the administration of doses that would end life in a dying patient would not represent a major departure from current end-of-life prescribing of medications given to ease suffering. There is no evidence to show that medications used for relief of distress and symptom control at the end of life shorten life, and are not prescribed with this intention. To be confident of ending a person’s life with these drugs, prescribing practices would need to change radically. Second, Prof Ashton voices his support for assisted suicide for patients in the final days and weeks of life, but the clinical practice he describes appears to be more in line with voluntary euthanasia, which is excluded from the assisted dying bill. The experience in Oregon shows that the majority of people who the provisions of the Death with Dignity Act are the more “vigourous” terminally ill who are not typically days from death. educed consciousness levels are common in the final days of life, and decision-making as well as the ability to take and swallow medication may be impaired.

We strongly advocate for compassionate end-of-life care, but argue that assisted suicide is not merely an extension of current practice and should not be construed as such.
Prof Matthew Hotopf
Professor of general hospital psychiatry, King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry
Dr Ollie Minton
Locum consultant and honorary senior lecturer in palliative medicine, St Georges University of London
Dr Annabel Price
Consultant psychiatrist in liaison psychiatry for older people, Cambridge and Peterborough foundation mental health trust

• Prof Ashton suggests that the professional equivalent of midwives should help terminally ill patients and “if necessary shorten the end of their lives”.

A midwife, literally “one who is with the mother”, never ends a mother’s life no matter how painful or distressing the birth. Prof Ashton, like many people, seems to be unaware of the large numbers of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who have the privilege of being “with the patient” at the end of life, and so act as midwives to the dying  in helping to ease pain and suffering.

I am disappointed that there was virtually no media coverage of One Chance to Get it Right, the recent report of the Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People, in response to the Neuberger review More Care Less Pathway. The alliance report focuses on improving compassionate care at the end of life. It is this report that merits our attention rather than changing the law to allow euthanasia or assisted suicide.
David Jeffrey
Honorary lecturer in palliative medicine, University of Edinburgh

• I think the views of Andrea Williams of Christian Concern would not be supported by the majority of her fellow Christians, as most people, believers or not, do not want to see their nearest and dearest suffer a prolonged and painful death. This has been demonstrated in many pieces of research and surveys of public opinion.

While I don’t claim to understand her religious beliefs, I tolerate them and accept that she has a right to hold them. What I expect from her – and other religions – is a tolerance of my beliefs, without resorting to claims that doctors will be “killing” patients. The issue is about people who are dying and in great pain being given the legal right to ask for assistance to die as quickly as possible. That assistance could, in theory, be given by someone other than a doctor.

If Ms Williams and her supporters are happy for their lives to be prolonged when they are dying and in great pain, that is their choice. But please don’t impose your choice on people who have a different view at the end of their life.
Graham Ross

• It was misleading that your front page was headlined “Top doctor’s assisted dying call” when Dr Ashton’s full interview was a balanced account of the public health needs affecting this country. Assisted dying and the Falconer bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords later this month, are firmly resisted by the other medical royal colleges (Dr Ashton’s group is a faculty of the Royal College of Physicians), and by many doctors who work in direct patient care of terminally ill patients (unlike public health specialists).

There are serious risks that this policy would be uncontrollable, leading to “incremental extension” (to other classes of person), and to implicit pressure on vulnerable people to accede to voluntary assisted dying. There is evidence that excellent palliative care, in which the NHS is a world leader, strongly mitigates calls for assisted suicide, which are commonly withdrawn when such care is experienced.

The present law works well, combining a firm steer against exploitation and abuse with permitted judicial leniency in the rare hard cases.
Peter D Campion
Emeritus professor of primary Care Medicine, University of Hull

• Giles Fraser has given the same sermon twice (Loose canon, 5 July 2014 and 3 May 2013). He is playing God. He knows we have a right to life but rules that we should not have a right to death. He confuses choices forced on us by thoughtless care staff with personal choices that we want to make ourselves. We can already make personal choices, all carefully qualified and countersigned, to refuse treatment to prolong life. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides for such advance decisions. This legal refusal of treatment can already lead to earlier death.
Chris Coghill

• As a doctor I find the accusation of trying to “play God” offensive. Looking after people who are suffering, especially at the end of their lives, I see no God that is compassionate or just.
Dr Jacinta Derks
Rowlands Castle, Hampshire

• As a retired GP I was pleased to see Prof Ashton’s thoughtful support for assisted dying. I was unsure about this issue until it affected my family. Last year my mother, totally immobile, in end-stage heart failure and with severe and painful ulcers, decided she could not cope with her life any longer. he chose to starve herself to death. It took over two weeks and was horrendous for her and everyone caring for her. Surely a more humane approach would have been to support her choice and help her on her way.
Alex Booth

• The discussion around Lord Falconer’s bill on assisted dying has been made even more difficult by the careless use of words which may be etymologically correct but have widely differing connotations. It would be helpful to assign more specific meanings to the terms assisted dying, assisted suicide, killing and euthanasia, so that we can at least agree on what we are talking about.

The word “kill” has no place in this debate – killing is what Dr Harold Shipman did. “Suicide” often has overtones of personal tragedy but does not apply to a timely end to a terminal illness. “Assisted suicide” is the appropriate term for a mentally competent individual with unbearable but non-terminal physical disability who seeks help to die. “Euthanasia” should be reserved for situations where the individual has never been, or is not now, competent to request and consent to assisted dying. The term “assisted dying” in Lord Falconer’s bill refers only to adult individuals who know they are dying, and are competent to decide about and participate in active measures in ending their life. Neither “assisted suicide” nor “euthanasia” as defined here are envisaged in this bill.

Those opposing Lord Falconer’s bill cite the difficulty of protecting vulnerable individuals but there would be more protection for patients if the legality or otherwise of helping a particular individual to die were to be established before that help is given, rather than after the death. Health professionals, and palliative care specialists in particular, would be protected from complaints by the deceased’s relatives.

Lord Falconer’s bill will result in a robust legal framework to replace the guidelines set out in 2010 by Keir Starmer, the then director of public prosecutions.
Professor Sir David Hall

• Andrea Williams appears to be missing the point. The patients concerned are not “being killed”; they are dying, and wish to cut short the suffering they are enduring. To do this they need access to drugs that doctors have chosen to make available only on medical prescription. Assisted dying is what it says: the patient self-administers medication that a doctor makes available to him or her.
Elizabeth Brown

• Professor John Ashton sums up the feelings and wishes of so many people living with cancer. How reassuring it would be to know that a kind doctor would be prepared to end the patient’s suffering when close to death, without fear of prosecution. Having recently moved house, and been diagnosed with cancer, I hope to form such a relationship with my doctor. Even better would be change in the law.
Marguerite Christmas
Stamford, Lincolnshire

• It is about time medical leaders came off the fence and supported the view of the majority of doctors and the public (from polls) who feel the law on assisted dying should be made more humanitarian, and a right of the individual to determine.

It is really only since the Shipman case that doctors, particularly GPs, have been frightened to help their patients remain as comfortable as possible during their last weeks or days, whether or not this meant shortening their life. The result has been unnecessary suffering. If a patient’s mind is sound and he or she wants to end their suffering by dying, and safeguards such as two independent clinicians authenticate the request, then a doctor should be able to assist the patient.

If over the last few centuries we have won rights over how we may live our lives , it seems illogical to suddenly take those rights away at the end of life, because of someone else’s beliefs that we may not share.
Peter Brown
Newton Ferrers, Devon

• Professor Ashton’s suggestion that doctors should assist in ending the life of terminally ill sufferers would accord well with a market based economy. I would not suggest that such an idea entered the professor’s mind but it would assuredly enter that of others. Caring for the depressed and terminally ill is expensive both financially and emotionally and the easiest and cheapest response is to just dispose of such. That is not the mark of a civilised society.

We already have a government which has cut the NHS to, and sometimes beyond, the bone; and this in spite of evidence to show that it is by far the most cost-effective way to deliver health care. A civilised society should offer quality care to people in such need and not fob them off with cheap alternatives, even if it means, horror of horrors, that taxes need to be increased.

Beware also the law of unintended consequences, the elderly with low self-esteem who feel that they would be better “out of the way”.
Alan Pentecost
Maidstone, Kent

• I read with great interest John Ashton’s article. I agree with everything he has said. As a physiotherapist who has previously worked in a hospice, I recognised that a main function of healthcare professionals is to empower one’s patients. Sometimes, the only empowerment left on offer is the decision of the where and when of death and this must be afforded to our patients in their best interest.

My mother died after asking for assistance in dying which was denied to her. Her last request to me was to help to change “this ridiculous law”. From the change of law in Oregon, it is clear that adequate safeguards have ensured that no patient is coerced into assisted dying: quite the reverse. Patient opting for assisted dying are informed people who have also been causative in their own lives. Why deny them the option of being causative in their deaths? I hope that the House of Lords see fit to support Lord Falconer’s bill on 18 July.
Lindsay Flower
Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire

We are disappointed that the prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Augustin Matata Ponyo, refuses to acknowledge that rape is being used as  torture by his own state security services outside of the conflict region, including in the capital of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo keen to shed ‘rape capital’ tag, 2 July)

Our recent report, Rape as Torture in the DRC: Sexual violence beyond the conflict zone, highlights medical forensic evidence of rape and torture in prisons throughout the DRC, documented to the very highest standard recognised in international law.

Without acknowledging that there is a problem, the DRC government has little prospect of being able to tackle the issues that our report raises and of continuing to attract international support to help it do so.

By failing to engage with this disturbing evidence, the DRC government is turning a blind eye to a major problem both inside and outside the conflict zone; it urgently needs to recognise that rape and torture is now prevalent in the whole of the DRC.

We have been very careful in our report not to attribute responsibility for these violations to the DRC government; however, as the state has responsibility for assuring the security of its citizens, it now needs to take responsibility for preventing these horrific human rights violations in the future and ensuring that the judicial system will be effective in bringing the torturers to justice and providing redress for the survivors.
Jean-Benoit Louveaux
Policy and advocacy manager, Freedom from Torture

Phil Rhoden (Letters, 4 July) may be right in seeking to distance Boots Randolph’s evocative masterpiece from Benny Hill. I am sure Mr Randolph would be at least as unhappy to be remembered as playing the theme jingle for the Radio Luxembourg show sponsored by Boots the Chemist and hosted by Jimmy Savile in the early 60s.
Peter Hutchinson
Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire

• Only in the western Anglo-Saxon world would sitting on a chair and thinking be seen as “doing nothing”, and as being an intolerable imposition (How sitting down and doing nothing proved shockingly difficult, 4 July). Says it all really.
Brian Smith
Berlin, Germany

• Of course it’s not right that women’s Wimbledon victories over the years should be treated as if they had never happened (Letters, 5 July). But please can someone explain to me why women get the same prize money for playing three-fifths of the tennis and delivering only half the excitement? Best of three rarely delivers the tension and thrills of best of five, and frankly, how many women’s Wimbledon finals have been memorable?
Liz Reason
Charlbury, Oxfordshire

• On the delightful topic of hogweed bonking beetles (Country diary, 2 July), I’m reminded of my husband’s accounts of his childhood in Saxony, where they called the soldier beetles Franzosen – Frenchmen – presumably since they were imagined to be in a similar state of happy perpetual promiscuity…
Marjorie Jelinek
Presteigne, Powys


I enjoyed Mary Dejevsky’s observations on the European Court of Human Rights’ support for the French ban on “face-covering” in public places (3 July) and tend to agree with them.

An intriguing question is where the motivation for this unconventional choice lies. I suspect it is not to do with religion and sexual modesty, though it would be hard to prove.

When I was a teacher and rode a motorbike in the 1970s and 1980s, after a day spent in the beehive that is a comprehensive school, I relished the anonymity of shopping with a full-face helmet on. It was quite acceptable then. After a thousand reactions and responses all day, I was able to cut off, hide and relax.

In my town, Halifax, with its sizeable Muslim population, I don’t recall any niqabs prior to the events of 9/11. It is still a minority choice, but to be seen daily. This recent trend suggests a clearly political move.

I have a friend who uses her house as her niqab. The world worries and intimidates her; she rarely ventures out. Some youngsters with their hoods, mostly males, hide their faces from a world which rejects them and  where they don’t feel they fit in.

Should it be illegal? That is a tough one. But it would be interesting for face-concealers to tell us of their true motivation.

Robin Barrett, Halifax

Activities should only be banned if they cause harm to others; Mary Dejevsky, however, proposes that the wearing of the niqab should be banned because it goes against social norms, or against “what it might mean to be European”.

But this is a recipe for intolerance, as well as being vague. Norms are not unchanging: for instance, gay relationships are now accepted but were not 40 years ago.

Two of the norms she cites – not throwing rubbish in the street and FGM – cause harm to others; wearing the niqab does not.

She also criticises as muddleheaded the British way of deciding piecemeal when the veil may or may not be worn. It is, in fact, a way of deciding matters, not dogmatically, but pragmatically, on a case-by-case basis. It is, I believe, the basis of Common Law.  I am glad to live in a country which decides things in this way.

John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire


Non-profit way to beat the superbugs

In recent days we have all become aware of the dangers posed by our over-use of antibiotics to control infection. This has allowed harmful organisms to evolve defence mechanisms against them. Consequently our antibiotics are fast becoming useless.

You would think it was the job of the phamaceutical industry to overcome this problem, but it has declined to proceed because it sees no profit there.

But there is a way around this dilemma; Cern was founded 60 years ago by 21 European nations as a non-profit scientific endeavour. We have all read of its amazing achievements, including the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson particle.

Co-operation in this scientific field has been a wonderful success. Surely now is the time for a similar body of nations, scientist and medical specialists to pool their resources and begin the search for a solution to the huge problem of runaway infections.

Peter Milner, Shrewsbury


Is the only area of medical research where a new financial model is needed that of antibiotics?

If the problem is that the big money comes from the pharmaceutical companies, and they feel they won’t earn enough on their investments, wouldn’t  that be even more the case for long-term chronic diseases?

The median age for contracting type one diabetes is about 13. For the rest of their lives sufferers need to inject insulin a few times a day and to test their blood sugar levels several times a day. This is a market for insulin, insulin pens and needles, test strips and lancets. It would be financial madness for pharmaceutical companies to put money into finding a cure. Of course, by the same token it would save the NHS lots of money.

Perhaps the body looking at the funding of research into new antibiotics could cast its net wider.

Michael Godfrey, Osterley, Middlesex


Israel was once Arab land

Avi Lehrer takes Robert Fisk to task for implying that Israel was built on Arab land (letter, 3 July).

These are the words of the Zionist hero Moshe Dayan in 1969 (reported in Ha’aretz, 4 April 1969): “We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here.

“In considerable areas of the country we bought land from the Arabs. Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages, and I do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either…

“There is not a place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”

It has been very well documented that a majority of the pioneers and leaders of Zionism considered that most of the Biblical lands belonged to the future Jewish state, and that the only effective way to achieve this was the “transfer solution”, a euphemism for the organised removal of Palestinians to neighbouring lands.

In 1917, at the time of Balfour’s promise of a Jewish homeland, the Jewish population of Palestine was only  10 per cent.

David Simmonds, Woking, Surrey


Schools for the greedy?

It was interesting but unsurprising to learn of the huge earnings gap between private and state pupils (report, 3 July). Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, which conducted the research, declared that this is a waste of talent. Is it? This implies that earnings are seen as an indicator of capability. Might it not be that earnings are more an indicator of motivation?

Could it be that the children of wealthy parents, who can afford private schools, inherit their values, in particular their fixation with money? From my limited interaction with young state-educated adults I get the impression that they are far more interested in engaging, meaningful and ethical employment.

The Sutton Trust is pressing for greater public access to private schools. Why? Isn’t our society already plagued by obsession with money, as an indicator of status, an entrée to privilege and evidence of success? Vocational and professional commitment is slowly being stifled as we succumb to the delusion that wealth and worth are synonymous.

Gordon Watt, Reading


Childish gesture  by Ukip MEPs

I am extremely disappointed The Independent has continued to allow Nigel Farage a voice to express his anti-European views.

The Ukip MEPs have no intention of engaging with the work of the European Parliament. Their childish act of turning their backs at the playing of the EU anthem was disgraceful.

For five years, these MEPs will be pursuing their own agenda, so failing to contribute to the improvement of the European Union. Surely, they are failing to fully represent their constituents, and by accepting their salaries paid from public funds also taking money under false pretences.

Chloe Gover, Horton-cum-Studley, Oxfordshire

What does a Canadian know about cricket?

I was amused to learn that the new Canadian Governor of the Bank of England was favouring rounders over the traditional cricket match at the Bank’s summer staff party.

I have a letter, written in 1901, from Chas Fishwick to my grandfather, James Horrocks of Bolton, Lancashire. Chas was a friend who had recently emigrated to Canada and, like my grandfather, loved cricket, and was bemoaning the fact that there was no cricket at all in Canada, just a game he called Base Ball, and that that was worse than nothing.

He was an itinerant worker walking miles most nights by the light of the moon and stars and would also have walked many, many miles more to watch a cricket match.

So, Governor, please can you not have rounders again but have the lovely game of cricket? Bank of England and cricket: so very right for each other.

Joan Owen, Hinstock, Shropshire


Awaiting my tax rebate

Further to Sally Bundock’s letter of 1 July regarding her underpayment of tax of £1.81, I have had a letter from HMRC saying that I overpaid by 13p, and I assume this amount will be deducted from my next tax bill.

However, in the event that I am too poor to pay any tax next year (a distinct possibility), will HMRC then send me a cheque for 13p? I sincerely hope so.

Carley Brown, Exeter


Sir, We can all celebrate the success of rising life expectation. Yet because most of us are living longer, the next 50 years will see a growth of at least two and a half times as many people suffering from multiple problems. Unless action is taken, by 2020 maintaining the current level of service provision will require an additional £30 billion for just the NHS — which is as much as we spend each year on defence. There is an equivalent budget crisis in social care and housing. The status quo is not an option. We are already seeing the signs of the system creaking at the seams.

More must be done by us all to eliminate inefficiencies, wasteful variation in care and apply technology to transform care delivery. Resources and vigorous service reform must go hand-in-hand. Business as usual won’t do.

However, the longer-term response to this unprecedented financial challenge needs an honest, open dialogue between politicians and citizens. We need a new settlement; a fundamental, holistic agreement with the country on what health and social care should be, how and where it is delivered to maximise the quality of care, and how it should be paid for.

We believe the route is an all-party-mandated, independently conducted “national conversation” on the scope, provision and funding of health and social care. It needs to start now and be completed by the end of next year.

We call on political leaders to support and assist this proposal.

Sir John Oldham, Independent Commission on Whole Person Care

Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society

Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing

Dr Maureen Baker, Royal College of General Practitioners

Sir Richard Thompson, Royal College of Physicians

Dr Jean-Pierre van Besouw, Royal College of Anaesthetists

Ciarán Devane, Macmillan Cancer Support

Lord Adebowale, Turning Point

Chris Hopson, Foundation Trust Network

The chairman of the BMA council steps in to defend GPs from constant criticism from the government

Sir, The government’s plan to name and shame GPs (June 30) is another in a list of announcements that portray the NHS and its staff as underperforming, if not negligent.

Crude league tables, scare-mongering over patient safety and the talking down of the quality of patient care erode confidence in the NHS, call into question the professionalism of doctors and other staff and paint a picture of the NHS which does not match up to reality. In fact a recent international report found the NHS was the best healthcare service in the world when it comes to delivering safe, effective, patient-centred care, as well as value for money. This is despite unprecedented political interference, a reorganisation that has made it harder, not easier, for doctors to deliver the quality of care patients deserve and in the absence of any meaningful plan to put the NHS on sustainable long-term footing.

Rather than perpetuating a blame culture, ministers need to address the acute funding crisis threatening the future of the NHS and take heed of what those on the front-line identify as the true barriers to delivering the best possible patient care; under-funded and overstretched services, unmanageable workloads and a recruitment and retention crisis in general practice and emergency medicine.

Dr Mark Porter

Chairman, BMA Council

An editing slip moved Rockall – and its courageous temporary resident – from the Atlantic to the North Sea

Sir, In your report on Nick Hancock, who is occupying a yellow pod on Rockall (July 5) you state that his islet of residence is “east of the Outer Hebrides”.

I am reminded that similarly and contrary to the title of the 1969 disaster movie, Krakatoa is actually west of Java.

Nick Papps

Chandlers Ford, Hants

Taking children out during termtime can have surprisingly positive effects on their exam results

Sir, Apropos Ken Deacon’s letter (July 5), one my students, a Pakistani-British pupil, entered with a D grade in English at GCSE. She aimed to resit the exam. Not long after, however, and to my dismay, she told me that she was to spend six weeks in the second half of the first term in Pakistan to celebrate a sister’s wedding. I supplied her with various options for writing to count towards her (coursework-based) GCSE including a diary of her journey, a description of the wedding, and her impressions of the country, which she had not visited before. Six months later she achieved an A grade, my best “value-added” result.

Mary Brighouse


The BBC says that it is the most transparent broadcaster in the world, and intends to be even more transparent

Sir, Your headline “BBC is most secretive body in Britain, says spending watchdog” (July 3) gives the wrong impression. The BBC is the most transparent broadcaster in the world, and it is committed to becoming even more open. The National Audit Office’s comptroller and auditor general Sir Amyas Morse never used the word “secretive” and in fact said that access to the BBC had improved compared with the past. He also said that the NAO “encounter a cooperative attitude”; that “the BBC’s done a good job of addressing their cost structure,”; and that the BBC has set “targets and they’ve achieved them”.

James Purnell

BBC Director, Strategy and Digital


SIR – Christopher Booker rightly castigates the Met Office for its faulty climate modelling. They’ve clearly missed out the vital factor of solar energy change, simply because there isn’t any accurate way of predicting it.

That and the greenhouse blanket effect – which depends entirely upon the thermo-dynamic response of the atmosphere’s constituent molecules towards incoming solar radiation and the Earth’s re-radiation back out into space – are the only two significant factors governing the Earth’s temperature and climate. All the rest is largely mumbo-jumbo.

Roderick Taylor
Abbotsbrook, Buckinghamshire

SIR – The accuracy of core public weather service forecasts up to five days ahead continues to improve each year.

The success of the D-Day landings was dependent on the skills of Group Captain Stagg’s team, who were Met Office forecasters on temporary RAF commissions. In more recent wars, an on-site mobile Met unit has been set up within days of an operational RAF base being established at captured airfields like Basra, Kandahar, Kuwait and Port Stanley.

The benefits of increasingly accurate weather forecasting are evident to all who work in weather-dependent activities.

Peter J Taylor
Welton le Wold, Lincolnshire

The costs of Iraq

SIR – Colin Freeman reports on the desperately unhappy situation in Iraq. This has cost many American and British lives and much American and British money.

There is little positive that Britain can now do, but we can try to avoid wasting our resources on fruitless foreign policies. The “ethical foreign policy” of the late Robin Cook was a disaster, as was the neocon-inspired invasion of Iraq. Maybe some in Whitehall admit that, but not enough of them.

Michael Gorman
Guildford, Surrey

A taxing concept

SIR – In his criticism of inheritance tax, Sir James Pickthorn says that, “The only tax should be on consumer spending.” (Letters, June 29)

He justified this idea on the ostensibly reasonable grounds that, “This way wealth is taxed just once; it is transparent and the electorate can understand it.” Three good reasons why it would be anathema to politicians.

Richard Shaw
Dunstable, Bedfordshire

On the EU we’re better off with Dave than Ed

SIR – Regarding the recent election of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, Ed Miliband had the gall to whine in Parliament that David Cameron had failed in “relationship building, winning support and delivering for Britain”.

If he is suggesting that to “win support”, we should have followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, by acceding to every one of Brussels’ wishes, then Britain is far better off with David opposing Goliath.

Ed Miliband needs to learn that buying favouritism is not the way to negotiate. David Cameron has nailed Britain’s colours to the mast in no uncertain terms and now it is the European leaders turn to wake up and smell the coffee.

B J Colby
Portishead, Somerset

SIR – With regard to the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, surely the most obvious response is for Mr Cameron to fall back on established EU practice and demand that the vote be repeated until the “right” result is reached. Those who learn nothing from history may be condemned to repeat it.

Peter Davey
Bournemouth, Dorset

SIR – For years I have suspected that the concept of the EU was dreamed up and championed by a chain-smoking, boozing, bad-tempered loner who hates paperwork and who would eventually go on to run the whole shebang.

I am grateful to Christopher Booker for confirming my suspicions.

Ron Mason
East Grinstead, West Sussex

Waste not, want not

SIR – It is indeed appalling that a third of all rubbish from British households consists of food waste (Letters, June 22).

Our household takes regular advantage of offers such as “three for two”, but the amount of food we waste is negligible. Anything not needed immediately is put into the freezer. Leftovers are eaten within a day or two, perhaps by amalgamation with other bits. Vegetables going limp are made into soup, often with stock from chicken bones. Potato peelings, orange peel, etc. go on the compost heap.

John Piggott
Ringmer, East Sussex

SIR – I don’t understand why any household needs a shredder (report, June 29). I soak my discarded financial documents and add them to the compost heap. They quickly turn to mush.

Rhoda Lewis
London N14

Thatcherite food

SIR – “Thatcher saved Britain’s food, says Roux”: Britain’s restaurants, perhaps, but not its food.

The government during Mrs Thatcher’s tenure made decisions that adversely affected the food of the nation.

In 1979, school milk was abolished; in 1980, minimum nutritional standards in school meals were done away with and competitive tendering put in place, resulting in cafeteria-style service where children were allowed to make choices, mostly of the unhealthy variety.

The 1986 Social Security Act resulted in thousands of children losing entitlement to free school meals, and at the end of the Eighties, home economics was removed from the National Curriculum. All this has contributed to the increased consumption of ready meals and a generation who can’t cook.

Freda Schaffer
Highcliffe, Dorset

SIR – As a fanatical cook who has been visiting France for many years, I agree with Michel Roux’s comments on the demise of French cooking standards and the quality of those now found in Britain.

Here in East Anglia, I enjoy local game and line-caught fish, and an unrivalled variety of local vegetables. Even rural British supermarkets stock an array of drinks and foods from across the world. In France, the equivalent, even in large towns, appear to have only French produce.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Hundon, Suffolk

No comment

SIR – Are the Wimbledon commentators being paid by the word? There is surely no other explanation for the incessant chatter of Martina Navratilova during the Bouchard/Cornet singles match – unless, perhaps, she thought she was on the radio. On several occasions she was still talking as the rally started. A particular irony was that this was one of the enjoyable ladies’ singles matches that was unaccompanied by grunts and squeals from either player.

Colin Sweeney
Worthing, West Sussex

SIR – Is it not time for the foundation of a School for Commentators to improve the standard of commentary? The BBC could take a lead in this.

Andrew C McWilliam

SIR – I have just watched some film of the Wimbledon championships of 1951.

There were no grunts and screeches, no fist-shaking, no towelling after each point, no evil glares and no sitting down with myriad bottles and packets. Totally uncommercialised and civilised.

What has happened?

James Munro
Anères, Hautes-Pyrénées, France

Baby Winston

SIR – Prince Harry isn’t alone in thinking Prince George “looks like a young Winston Churchill” (report, June 29).

To me, most babies look like him. The rest resemble pickled prunes, so George is lucky.

Peter Saunders
Salisbury, Wiltshire

A life on the river: rowers from Abingdon College applaud on the towpath at the Henley Royal Regatta  Photo: Getty

6:59AM BST 06 Jul 2014


SIR – With superb dresses and hats, brilliantly coloured blazers, boaters and panamas, the band playing, the grass green and flowers in abundance, the Stewards’ Enclosure at the Henley Royal Regatta is the perfect English setting (“Tis the season for Pimm’s and Wimbledon”, Alan Titchmarsh). One late bishop of London described it as “Just like an Edwardian tea party”.

There is also the marvellous international rowing to watch.

Hillier B A Wise
Wembley Park, Middlesex

SIR – Leander Club (no “The”) is certainly the oldest and most prestigious club at Henley.

“Posh” is an unfair description, as members are from all walks of life. The club does not have a pink blazer – the club colours are cerise (cap, tie and socks) and the blazer is navy blue with gold club buttons. The lawns, flowers and shrubs in the Stewards’ Enclosure are an attraction that members and their guests appreciate – I was surprised that Mr Titchmarsh didn’t comment on them.

Angus Robertson
Durness by Lairg, Sutherland

SIR – The reason that the NHS employs managers at high cost to the taxpayer is the belief generally held among politicians that if you get the bureaucracy right then the service to the public will naturally follow (“Hospital dangerously short of nurses pays out six-figure sums to dozens of managers). This belief is misguided because human beings are at best unpredictable.

Paperwork only tells the management what the staff choose to tell them – rarely what is actually happening on the “shop floor”. Thus the manager provides the government with what the staff have reported to him or her and not what is happening to the patients.

Those managers that are dismissed because the patients in their hospital received bad treatment are quickly re-employed elsewhere in the NHS because they are good at providing the government with what it wants.

The NHS, like all our other public services, needs a management system that delivers a service to the public as well as keeping the government informed. If private companies concentrated all their energy on keeping the shareholders happy and ignored the customer then they would soon be in trouble. A balance needs to be struck in our public services.

Peter Amey
Hoveton, Norwich

SIR – A system that rewards those who can justify ever higher budgets and ever greater staff numbers inevitably encourages unnecessary spending and unnecessarily high staffing levels. It also encourages putting the blame on inadequate funding and staffing levels for the failure to provide appropriate health care.

In short, it is a vicious circle that inevitably costs the taxpayer.

John Evans
Sevenoaks, Kent

SIR – Can anybody enlighten me as to when the astronomical salaries paid to NHS administrators first became the acceptable standard. No doubt they receive attractive pension packages, too. Who authorised these outrageous levels of compensation?

Peter T Bell
Coventry, Warwickshire

SIR – You report that Monitor, which regulates foundation trusts, justified the interim chairman of Medway Trust’s salary by saying the Trust “needed the right people in place to make urgent improvements”. I understood that when the original Trust managers were appointed, their high salaries were justified in order to attract the “right” people. So the original “right” people were not “right” enough, after all.

This is the same old chestnut that has been brought out time after time to justify ridiculous salaries in enterprises that have later failed, including banking.

John Huelin
Woodstock, Oxfordshire

SIR – Having worked in the NHS for 32 years, when I read discouraging reports about the level of care, I feel I have spent my life getting it wrong.

Human error happens whether we like it or not, even in our health service, though we work hard to avoid it. Thank you, John Goymer (Letters, June 29), for reminding me why I get out of bed and take part in this enterprise.

Tim Bradbury
Winnington, Cheshire

SIR – According to John Goymer, the NHS is the envy of the world. He cites a report from the obscure Commonwealth Fund in support of his view that “the NHS is more cost-effective, less bureaucratic, more efficient and delivers better care” than any other health-care system.

For cost-effectiveness, the rather less obscure OECD ranks the NHS 23rd out of 29 OECD countries surveyed. A mountain of evidence shows that the NHS does not deliver the best possible care. Clinical outcomes are consistently among the worst in the developed world. And as for the NHS not being bureaucratic, who is Mr Goymer kidding?

Martin Burgess
Beckenham, Kent

Irish Times:

Sir, – Brendan Howlin writes that Labour in Government has acted as a brake on Fine Gael’s desire for more cuts to health spending and social welfare (“Labour role in restoring State worthy of respect”, Opinion & Analysis, July 4th). This is a rather strange statement from Mr Howlin, given his own recent role in the medical cards fiasco, where it was widely reported that he demanded huge additional cuts from the Department of Health from the medical card budget. Fine Gael, and Dr James Reilly in particular, seemed to get all the blame for that controversy.

How convenient for Mr Howlin that he has a bogeyman in Fine Gael to blame for the cuts which he himself has overseen. – Yours, etc,


Mount Tallant Avenue,

Harolds Cross, Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Brendan Howlin is correct to say that if the Labour Party is to recover it must defend, and not apologise for, its role in Government. However, it seems strange for him to kick off this strategy with a series of broadsides against his Coalition partners. He deliberately mentions that budget cuts have been “far less than Fine Gael advocated”, that Fine Gael “came looking for cuts in core social welfare rates”, and that one of the reasons Labour entered Government was to temper Fine Gael’s “conservative instincts”.

Defending your role in Government by attacking your colleagues in Government is certainly a curious political strategy. However his article is certainly a fitting prelude to the ascent of Joan Burton to the leadership of his party, since this each-way bet of supporting the Government programme in private and implicitly attacking it in public has been a hallmark of Ms Burton’s time in office.

A chorus of Labour TDs have danced to this tune in recent months by calling for the cuts in the budget to be reduced from the target, with Ms Burton’s erstwhile rival for the leadership, Alex White, even escalating this to the point where he suggested the Government should consider missing the deficit target which has been at the bedrock of the Government’s fiscal plan since it came to office.

How do any of them think that Labour can recover support among the electorate by continuing to imply that the difficult decisions which they have made over the last three years were somehow wrong?

The Labour narrative in recent months, of which Mr Howlin’s article is the latest evidence, has been to portray themselves as the caring, social democratic face of the Coalition, with Fine Gael painted as uncaring quasi-Thatcherites who are hostile to the unemployed and to ordinary workers. There has been virtually no attempt by Fine Gael Ministers to counter these falsehoods.

The current Government can only hope to serve a second term if the new Cabinet to be appointed this week stands unapologetically behind the programme that it has adopted, and relentlessly communicates the achievements of both parties in Government (not just one wing of it) to the electorate. Mr Howlin has given precious little indication that he grasps the scale of this challenge. – Yours, etc,



Clontarf, Dublin 3.

Sir, – This week I have been observing a metering crew in action edging ever closer to my property. Talking to them they said they aimed to install 10 meters daily but the reality is that the results are closer to half that number.

The sheer enormity of this country-wide exercise and its cost strikes me as incredible. Experience would suggest that it is something that could only be agreed and implemented in a country where cost estimation and delivery of projects in the past does not inspire any confidence. Any engineer could have told the Minister responsible that retrofitting is by far the most expensive option.

The introduction of the property tax has largely been successful and helped significantly by the ability of the Revenue Commissioners to extract charges from any unwilling inhabitants. Why could the same approach not have been taken with a set of standardised water charges and in so doing eliminate both the costs of metering and the behemoth Irish Water? Additionally, who will be responsible for recalibrating meters which should be undertaken on a regular basis?

Questions on the affordability of taking a bath, washing the car or watering the garden to name but a few will, I predict, replace the usual discussion on the state of the weather. A neighbour of mine has told me (in all seriousness) that he plans to place a bucket of water by the toilet filled from a garden butt. In a country seemingly awash with water, are the Dark Ages set for a return? – Yours, etc,


Kilmoney Road,

Carrigaline, Co Cork.

Sir, – Dr Gareth Byrne (“Religious education helps create a cohesive society”, Opinion & Analysis, July 3rd) makes a case for religious education in schools, both primary and secondary, saying that “some recent commentary appears to indicate a lack of knowledge of, or perhaps interest in, the transformation of religious education (RE) after the renewal of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s and since. It has changed from a wholly content-focused subject to a student-focused one; from learning off questions and answers to discussion of personal experience and response”.

Does Dr Byrne, himself a Catholic priest and chairman of the Council of Priests of the Dublin Diocese, really expect parents of children who have a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender orientation, to believe that their children will feel free to share their “personal experience” with RE teachers or chaplains who have been trained to promote Catholic ethos in that school?

Even if the RE teacher is enlightened, as many are, they would not keep their jobs long if they supported, say, marriage equality, including church marriage equality, for same-sex couples.

It is disingenuous of Dr Byrne to imply that RE teachers might be free to say what they truly feel on every subject.

He also speaks of a “response” which the student will receive after expressing his/her “personal experience”. What kind of authentic “response” might a LGBT student receive from an RE teacher who fears losing his or her job if they speak what they believe to be the truth?

Dr Byrne speaks of a need for a “holistic” approach to education and suggests that RE provides this.

I respectfully suggest that in its present form it cannot do so for young LGBT people. It can only impart psychological and spiritual damage. – Yours, etc,


Whitechurch Road,

Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.

Sir, – Frank McNally’s reference to Margaret Naylor, the first female casualty of Easter Week 1916 (An Irishman’s Diary, July 3rd) is a reminder of a memory which haunted British army lieutenant John Lowe all his life. Lowe, as aide-de-camp, was by his father’s side all that week right up to the point when Maj Gen William Henry Muir Lowe took the surrender of Patrick Pearse.

Lieut Lowe was on a few days of leave from France and returned there to survive several key battles of the first World War, including the Battle of the Somme, before being captured by the Germans near the end of the war. Yet, for all he saw in the trenches, his only memory of the horrors of war in his autobiography Hollywood Hussar was the sight of a woman shot dead in Dublin – her “skirts bunched up around her waist . . . a truly horrible and unforgettable sight. The worst I ever saw in all of the war”.

Whether or not it was Margaret Naylor he saw is a matter of speculation, but he seems to suggest that the British army was responsible for the majority of the female deaths with this: “Although my father issued strict orders that no women were to be fired at under any circumstances whatsoever, many were killed”.

Lowe went on to become a Hollywood film star and stage actor. After changing his name to John Loder he married Hedy Lamarr, who was billed as the “world’s most beautiful woman”, and starred as a British officer in love with the sister of an IRA man in Ourselves Alone, a 1936 film set during the Anglo-Irish War. – Yours, etc,


The Thatched Cottage,

Tirnascobe Road,

Sir, – The announcement of more broadband for the regions, courtesy of ESB and Vodafone is welcome (“ESB and Vodafone to invest €450 million in broadband”, July 2nd). The unique proposal seeks to carry the necessary fibre, using existing electricity lines from supplier to customer, reaching around 500,000 premises. However, we are also aware that this same market is also targeted by Eircom, who with a different system also plan to reach these regions.

Presumably, such plans are regarded as commercially viable; otherwise these companies would have no interest. Except that there are another 500,000 customers outside these areas, who no one seems interested in. These are premises in the smaller towns, villages and scattered town lands, where commerciality is a problem. Of course, if the commercial criteria to providing broadband were applied to electricity supply, then most of rural Ireland would be in the dark.

The overall uncritical welcome of the announcement avoids the ultimate question – is sustainable broadband to all of Ireland achievable? Perhaps the current drive by all companies concerned may reach some of the last 500,000 premises. However, the realistic assumption that the achievement of this goal will only occur with State assistance must now be accepted as a fact. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can adopt a policy which establishes the cost of such a subsidy, how we can afford it and when we will organise the tendering process to deliver broadband to all areas, the better. – Yours, etc,


Irish Rural Link,

Moate, Co Westmeath.

Sir, – In July 3rd’s Business section, six out of seven articles, on one page alone, were good news stories, full of optimism and hope. What’s the betting that tax receipts ahead of projections, unemployment now in line with the euro zone average, our national debt reduced by €1.56 billion, to name but a few such stories, will rarely be topics for general conversation?

One can only take so much positivity at a time. – Yours, etc,




Co Cork.

Sir, – Regarding the new cycle path plans for Dublin’s North Quays, BA Keogh writes (July 3rd) that “the cost of the road works and signage that the planned move would entail could surely be better spent, when it is considered that our health service is in crisis”.

He overlooks the fact that a better cycling infrastructure directly improves the general health of the nation.

He also argues that businesses will lose revenue due to the planned restriction of one lane of traffic, but doesn’t factor in that it makes for a more attractive, quieter and safer city in which these businesses exist.

One needs only to look at Dublin’s southside pedestrianised streets to see how much retail revenue is collected there. – Yours, etc,


Synge Street,

Dublin 8.

A chara, – In your Editorial (“Scotland’s decision”, July 4th) you write, “These are uncertain times in our neighbour’s politics”. You might have added “and also for Ireland’s”.

If the UK leaves the EU, which now seems quite likely, what are the consequences for us ? Have we a plan B ? – Is mise,


Gleann na Smál,

An Charraig Dhubh,

Átha Cliath.

Sir, – Michael Dervan declares that he prefers the early stuff in his review of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival (“I prefer the early stuff: West Cork Chamber Music Festival goes back in time”, July 2nd). This is wonderful news to the Galway Early Music Festival, which is very much alive and celebrating its 20th consecutive year in 2015 (May 15th to 17th).

And, yes, the music and music-making are novel, exciting, beautiful, exotic, and well worth exploring too. – Yours, etc,


Programme Director,

Galway Early Music Festival,



Irish Independent:

Here we go again, with Ireland now proving we cannot even organise ‘a gig’ without controversy and disorganisation unequalled anywhere on Earth.

This is a potential disaster for tourism. A group of protesters plus Owen Keegan and Dublin City Council have made future Dublin gigs unlikely.

Our complicated planning laws, protesters, and a pedantic council are three obstacles impossible to overcome.

Croke Park used to be a GAA stadium and locals disliked the ‘big games’. They were a negative factor in living on Patrick’s Road where my family home still exists, but the benefits of ‘location, location, location’ more than counterbalanced this negativity.

No one forced protester Aidan Fitzsimons to buy in Drumcondra in 1987 when Croke Park was evolving into a world famous national stadium which would necessitate vast running costs and certainly be much more than just a stadium for hurling and football. He bought because of location and should simply put up with the inconvenience of ‘gigs’ and matches.

Of course, the inconvenience nowadays is off the Richter Scale compared to the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and of course in 2014 there must be compensation for this inconvenience. But the negatives of the crass stupidity of this 11th-hour intervention are beyond belief… except not quite: the same scenario, at the last-minute, stopped the Mater Children’s Hospital Project, which is still in embryonic form at a site in James’s Street probably almost as bad as that rejected. As always in disputation, the issue needs to be resolved and resolved now.

Government intervention is now necessary. Let Taoiseach Enda Kenny recall the Dail for a day and with all-party approval provide new legislation.



More power to the Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny diminishes his role when he states that he is powerless on the Brooks’ concerts issue. There is nothing to stop the Oireachtas from passing an ‘Exceptional Licence (Garth Brooks Concerts) Bill 2014′. It could be done overnight. That was how long it took to save the (licensed) banks at taxpayers’ expense. The legislation could include a marker for the promoters and the GAA, plus a sweetener for the affected residents.

How to make friends, influence people and, most important of all, garner 400,000 votes without really trying.



Media versus the residents

Is there some kind of attempt by the media to browbeat the Croke Park residents? Saturday’s Irish Independent headline referred to Ireland’s reputation being in tatters.

Have we not been trying to rehabilitate our good name after years of bending rules whenever a wad of cash is produced?

This was supplemented by three pieces inside, detailing selected ticket-holders’ bereavement at their situation. Their grief was only matched by those lamenting the loss of between €50m and €2bn (as reported on one national radio station, I kid you not) to the economy. The general incredulity shown by self-interested groups at the residents’ stupidity for living where they do and for their intransigence is contemptible given the fact that they are well used to disruption and had acquiesced to further concerts being staged beyond the original agreement with the GAA.

Aitken cannot have been unaware of this, and he is also culpable. Well done to Dublin City Council for taking a principled stand, though clearly the present licensing procedures need to be reviewed.



No show like a Garth no-show

As Joe Dolan might say, there’s no show like a Garth no-show.



Time for a new plan that suits all

Is it not time that the GAA, Dublin Corporation, CIE/Dublin Bus/Iarnrod Eireann got together to devise plans to maximise the use of Croke Park for the benefit of all parties and the national and Dublin economies while alleviating the disruption to local residents?

Step 1: Put in place park and ride facilities to bus patrons to and from the venue using parking facilities in the south of the city and the perimeters.

Step 2: Develop the canalside railway line by temporarily covering the track furthest from the canal to form a platform for a temporary station using pre-booked tickets. Using the entire line between Ballybough Road bridge and Drumcondra Road bridge would allow thousands of people to be moved in a short time.

Step 3: Integrate ticketing for the event itself and transport to encourage use of public transport.

Step 4: Develop systems to allow residents of the locality to enjoy a normal life during events, for example, enabling them to reserve parking spaces in the vicinity of their homes.

Step 5: Develop a system of wardens/stewards with legal powers to police the locality and reduce incidents of unsocial behaviour. (This is an idea that could be introduced countrywide to police traffic at funerals and other events given the lack of gardai and the fact that gardai can be better employed than doing this work.)



An unearthly quandary?

To the residents of the Croke Park area, Aiken Promotions and Garth Brooks.

To quote Mr Spock from ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.”



An amicable arrangement

One understands readily the concerns of those people who live in the close confines of Croke Park, but I fail to understand why it has taken so long for Dublin City Council to give its decision regarding the licence/s, bearing in mind that these concerts were announced and planned for a considerable time.

Although long-since retired, the day job was in movies, where I spent more than 40 years in ‘production’. On a location scout, many were the times that a director screamed ‘this is it… this is the street, I must shoot here!’.

To build a set was too expensive (“it lacks the feeling, the resonance of the real thing… the grittiness of life!”). So we made a proposition to the residents of the street in which we wished to shoot, to avoid our filming exercise clashing with their daily lives. We moved people out of a street into at least a three-star hotel for the duration, all expenses paid by the movie company, and of course, security provided to the street while filming was not actually taking place.

Can’t the Dublin City Council and the GAA arrive at a similar compromise? It ain’t rocket science…



New lingo hard to swallow

Last night I was surprised to hear my daughter tell my two little granddaughters to “go and play with your tablets”.

I have never understood the mysterious world of women and girls, so I thought that this was some new feminine rite to prepare girls for discussing tablets and medication in later life.

Later, my wife explained that the “tablets” were mini-computing devices.

Living and learning comes to mind.


Irish Independent


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