Fall

26 August 2014 Fall

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A wettish day. I sort out two wine bottle holders

Scrabble: I win, but get under 400. perhaps Mary will win tomorrow.

110 Games Mary win 58 John 54

I bump in to Mary and she has a fall

Obituary:

  1. s

Professor Andy MacMillan – obituary

Professor Andy MacMillan was an architect who introduced bold Modernist lines to Scottish churches and Oxbridge colleges

Andy MacMillan (left) and Isi Metzstein with their model of Robinson College, Cambridge

Andy MacMillan (left) and Isi Metzstein with their model of Robinson College, Cambridge Photo: Chris James/Epicscotland

7:13PM BST 24 Aug 2014

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Professor Andy MacMillan, the Scottish architect, who has died aged 85, was, with Isi Metzstein, a member of one of the most influential architectural partnerships in Britain, working in the style of Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright; however, their most famous work, St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross, Dunbartonshire, was once described as the place “where Modernism crawled up a hill to die”.

MacMillan and Metzstein worked together at the Glasgow firm of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, and later taught at the Mackintosh School of Architecture. In the 1950s they collaborated on the St Paul’s project at Glenrothes, Scotland’s second post-war New Town. Later they designed the library at Wadham College, Oxford; the halls of residence at the University of Hull; and the red-brick Robinson College at Cambridge, which in 1983 received an award for architectural excellence from the Royal Institute of British Architecture and in 2008 appeared in The Daily Telegraph’s top five “Most Inspiring Buildings in Britain”.

Andy MacMillan (KIERAN DODDS)

But St Peter’s Seminary, a three-storey concrete ziggurat on the banks of the Clyde, inspired by Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp and his monastery at La Tourette, was considered their masterpiece. Completed in 1966, it was designed with a sympathetic understanding of the ritualised nature of seminary life that was perhaps surprising in a lapsed Protestant (MacMillan) and a Jewish atheist (Metzstein).

Each of the activities that made up the trainee priest’s day was given its own setting — from a glass-sided refectory to an airy sky-lit chapel with a vast granite altar — providing an environment in which the choreography of Roman Catholic ritual could be performed in spiritually uplifting space and light.

The seminary won acclaim even from such traditionalist journals as Country Life for its design and fine workmanship (the interiors were panelled in solid wood, echoing the style of Charles Rennie Macintosh). It was voted Scotland’s best modern building by the architecture magazine Prospect, and in 1967 it won Gillespie, Kidd & Coia an award from RIBA. It was also one of only 42 post-war buildings in Scotland to be Grade A listed.

The outside of St Peter’s Seminary when it was first built

It also, however, attracted fierce criticism, which grew in volume as reports appeared of ill-fitting windows, door handles falling off, the chapel flooding and ominous creaks emanating from the beams that soared above the sanctuary.

Ultimately, though, it was the Second Vatican Council’s decision to train priests in local communities rather than at seminaries that proved its undoing. After just 14 years the seminary shut down, in 1980, and the building was subsequently abandoned to the elements and the vandals. Within a few years it was reduced to a graffiti-covered skeleton, named as one of the world’s most endangered sites by the World Monument Fund.

As Frank Arneil Walker put it in The Buildings of Scotland, “in little more than a generation, God, Le Corbusier and Scottish architecture have all been mocked”. MacMillan’s verdict was: “It’s terrible to live in a culture that can allow a building like that to be treated that way.”

Despite a number of proposals for reuse or renovation of the building, its future remains in doubt.

The interior of the abandoned St Peter’s Seminary in Cadross (ALAMY)

Andrew MacMillan was born prematurely on December 11 1928 in a tenement in the Maryhill district of Glasgow. His father, an unemployed railway clerk, improvised an incubator for his son, without which he probably would not have survived infancy.

At North Kelvinside Secondary School, MacMillan proved an able all-rounder and was entered for the “corporation exam” for an apprenticeship with Glasgow Corporation (now Glasgow City Council). He passed, and was interviewed by the chief architect and the chief surveyor. “The surveyor told me what a terrible job surveying is, so I chose architecture,” he recalled.

During his apprenticeship he took evening classes at Glasgow School of Art, where he met Isi Metzstein, then working as an apprentice at Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, one of Britain’s most respected architectural practices.

MacMillan worked for the corporation for seven years, and by the age of 20 was running his own projects: “I had five buildings for the corporation and 15 shopping centres. I worked on housing that varied from a prefabricated stone house to bog-standard tenements.”

He then spent two years with East Kilbride new town, but became increasingly frustrated by local government bureaucracy. In 1954, when Metzstein mentioned that there was a vacancy at Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, MacMillan jumped at the chance.

The practice had been founded in the 19th century, but from the 1930s its principal client had been the local Roman Catholic archdiocese. It had been built up by the firm’s partner Jack Coia, a devout Catholic who, before the arrival of his young protégés, designed decent but unadventurous churches along traditional lines.

Like many young architects of their generation, MacMillan and Metzstein were passionate converts to Modernism; and from 1957, when they effectively assumed creative control of the practice’s output, they began to produce an extraordinary string of Modernist buildings

Their first project, St Paul’s, Glenrothes, completed in 1957, was described as “the first modern church in Britain”. They went on to build 17 churches and chapels throughout central Scotland, following in the wake of new town development and urban housing schemes, culminating with the completion of the church of St Columba in East Kilbride in 1979. There were also the college buildings in Oxford and Cambridge, schools in Glasgow and Cumbernauld, and a maternity hospital in Bellshill.

But the churches were what they were known for. As Metzstein once explained, their aim was to “strip out the rubbish”, doing away with aisles, naves, columns and other gothic paraphernalia. Luckily the Church, itself undergoing a period of modernisation, seemed to like what they came up with.

Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein at one of their buildings, St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Kilsyth (KIERAN DODDS)

MacMillan became a partner of the firm in 1966 and served as Professor of Architecture at Glasgow University and head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture from 1973 to 1994. His teaching at the school with Metzstein, who died in 2012, was credited with making it one of the best architectural training establishments in the world.

In his later years MacMillan served on architectural judging panels and as a government adviser. He was a member of the Scottish Arts Council from 1978 to 1982, and a member of the panel that chose Enric Miralles’s design for the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh — a project that brought criticism from locals not only for its appearance (like “upturned boats”) but also for its spiralling cost.

In 2001 MacMillan caused a furore when he lashed out at those citizens of Edinburgh who did not appreciate the finer points of the building, declaring them introspective, ignorant, and “not cultured the way that Glasgow hooligans are cultured”.

“What’s the highlight of an Edinburgh businessman’s life?” he inquired sarcastically. “He gets to be made a member of the Royal Company of Archers. He gets to wear a funny hat and walk about with a bow and arrow — a businessman in the 21st century!”

Among many awards, MacMillan won the RIBA Award for Architecture on four occasions and the Royal Scottish Academy Gold Medal in 1975. He was appointed OBE in 1992.

At the time of his death he was vice-president of the Glasgow School of Art.

He is survived by his wife, Angela, and by their son and three daughters.

Professor Andy MacMillan, born December 11 1928, died August 16 2014

Guardian:

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May leaves Downing Street in London

Mary Dejevsky’s sees double standards in the government’s proposals to deal with British Islamic State jihadis (May’s short memory, 25 August). But she sets up straw men as examples: there is no proposal to punish people just for travelling to Syria or Iraq, nor any presumption that those who do are jihadis. Even if, as she suggests, we are responsible for allowing extremism to fester, does that imply we should not react to the threat posed by these individuals’ return? Should we give murderers a pass for allowing them to get riled up in the UK?

Nor is it fair to suggest that the government tars all British Muslims with this brush. I can’t believe I’m defending this government. Let’s criticise it for its legion failings; making up new ones seems redundant.
Paul Smith
London

• Nobody has ever given an explanation of the difference between the “moderate” groups fighting in Syria and the “extremist” groups. Could anyone suggest which of the republican and loyalist terrorist groups fighting in Northern Ireland were “moderate” and which were “extremist”? But the moderate/extremist argument is used to justify the funding of terrorists because “we can’t stand back and allow these extremists to take over” type of argument. So we then support the Nato bombing of Libya that murdered thousands of civilians and levelled the city of Sirte in 2011, or the training and arming of the “moderate” groups who explode car bombs outside hospitals because allegedly the Syrian army were occupying the buildings.
Louis Shawcross
Hillsborough, County Down

• Your editorial (Lessons of failure, 25 August) eloquently catalogues the catastrophic consequences of successive governments’ interference in foreign conflicts, particularly those in the Middle East and north Africa. Well-intentioned but simplistic actions are usurped by power-hungry ideologues who readily recruit rudderless youth to be their cannon fodder. The editorial ends with a quote from Tony Blair that we would do well to restrict our actions to “what works”. Blair’s record in the Middle East is not a shining example and the question remains: what does work and how good is the supporting evidence?
Michael Kettlewell
Over Norton, Oxfordshire

• Under no circumstances should British Isis fighters have their citizenship removed (Report, 25 August). How do they differ in law from any other British mercenaries, such as those who fought for Ian Smith? Given the choice of a life of pointless harassment by jobcentres and a misguided but apparently “noble cause” in Iraq, it seems a no-brainer to me.
Ken Baldry
London

• To bar returning jihadis from entering Britain by revoking their passports is analogous to fly-tipping: refusing to deal with our own rubbish, not caring who is left with that unpleasant and potentially expensive task. That is why the EU is right to legislate against it in the interests of the community at large.
Herbert Munk
Coventry

• The killing of James Foley was without doubt appalling and reprehensible. But what exactly are we supposed to find so horrendous that a coalition of western forces should descend upon the Middle East with the unattainable objective of restoring some kind of order acceptable to western interests?

Is it the fact that James Foley was beheaded? Hardly, since our ally Saudi Arabia has publicly beheaded 19 people this month, without western leaders making anything of this.

Perhaps then it is the killing of innocent journalists that is meant to provoke us into supporting military action? Hardly that either, since, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, US forces in Iraq killed 13 journalists in 2003-05 alone in ways that are thought to be non-accidental. I don’t recall any objections from Tony Blair.

The truth is we are being led into supporting another war; either for unstated reasons relating to oil and nefarious geostrategy, or in response to the inane call of the “something has to be done” brigade. The intervention being proposed ought to be as unpopular as the one that began in 2003, which lies at the root of the present predicament.
Steve Cox
York

• Why does “humanitarian aid” by Russia (Report, 23 August), albeit uninvited by Ukraine , draw “swift condemnation from US and European countries”, while the bombing of Isis-controlled Syria is contemplated by the US and other European countries without the need to even speak to the Syrian head of state?
Richard Bull
Woodbridge, Suffolk

GCSE Results Are Released In The UK

Peter Wilby is right that GCSE is no longer needed since education for all is being extended to age 18 (Report, 23 August). But beyond that, the whole structure of secondary education should be closely examined, with the dominance of academic subjects questioned and perhaps trade apprenticeships seen as worthwhile alternatives to university degrees for school leavers. The Tomlinson proposals, based on diplomas at the end of schooling, should be revisited.

But who is to do this? One legacy of the Gove years should be the recognition that responsibility for change in education should never be vested in one person. A national education council should be established, financed by but independent of government, with a balanced membership of teachers’ leaders, MPs, academics and other prominent members of society. It should be first charged to make recommendations on the restructuring of secondary education and to present these to parliament, via the secretary of state. The recent careful thought on the potential future for education expressed in the writings of academics like Peter Mortimore, Richard Pring, Chris Husbands, Michael Fielding, Frank Coffield, John Bangs and others, with the insights of the teacher unions and associations should underpin the thinking of such a council. Its second task should be to monitor such changes over the coming years and report to parliament, say every two years, on progress.
Professor Michael Bassey
Author of Education for the Inevitable

• The GCSE results did not end the gaming of qualifications as Michael Gove planned. They showed a more odious form of gaming is operating, manipulation by league tables. The drop in multiple entries is down to making only the first entry counts, so students cannot resit. The chance to resit is a basic right which applies in the driving test. If failure on the first test meant the driver was unable to do it again, many people would be unable to drive. In any test the relevant issue is whether the standard has been reached, and to deny GCSE students the right to do this is clearly a cap on aspiration.

We need an urgent reversal of policy, especially with GCSE English results dropping. English GCSE is required for many jobs and most university courses. Many A-level courses in fact demand a grade B in English. So there can be no acceptance of 16-year-olds failing in this subject. The sixth forms will have to provide remedial classes, and resits will have to take place irrespective of the ban on resits. If not, then students are going to have their futures blighted merely by a change in exam reporting.
Trevor Fisher
Stafford

• Alison Wolf’s celebration of outlawing less academic “equivalents” to GCSE underlines her lack of understanding (All hail the new GCSEs, 19 August). I meet ex-students who smile ruefully, say “school wasn’t for me” and then detail their successful career – as a plumber, nurse or electrician. We should be ashamed as a nation that people leave school thinking it wasn’t for them. Surely the point of vocational education is that it reaches those an academic education does not reach. Any further review of our education system should start with delivering the basics of literacy and numeracy and then produce as diverse a range of courses as there are students to study them.
Nicky Campbell
Macclesfield, Cheshire

• When even your own education correspondents refer to the “pass rate” for English being 61.7% (Report, 22 August), is it any wonder that students who achieve D, E, F and G grades are feeling the pain? These, too, are pass rates, fantastic achievements for some whose gifts may lie elsewhere, often undiscovered due to the pressure of those damned performance tables. An F is not a fail.
Ruth Eversley
Paulton, Somerset

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond

Some readers (Letters, 25 August) may need reminding that in the UK we do not make our laws or supervise our public servants by public outcry, taking heed of the latest or largest crowd of demonstrators. We recognise that such crowds are never more than a tiny and unrepresentative proportion of the general population.

We elect local representatives who can study issues in depth and come to reasoned conclusions. If they turn out to be corrupt or lazy or put in place policies they promised not to (that’s you, Mr C) we can vote them out next time. Supported by a strong judiciary, this works, in the long run, to everyone’s benefit – even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment for many disabled people, for example. Or some Scots, maybe.

Having Scottish, English and Welsh parliaments in whatever format only makes decision-making more remote. For people in Inverness, the Edinburgh parliament is no closer than Westminster. For people in Leeds a Yorkshire parliament would still feel remote. And each layer of parliaments puts the population one more step away from the real decision-making, which will always be in London and Brussels. If the EU has a democratic deficit now, a faux federal structure for the UK would create a similar deficit at the UK level.

Localism is a mirage. It works for Alex Salmond because he can play at being a big fish in a small pond. For the rest of us the need is for reinforced MPs at Westminster. I expect my MP, who represents South Cambridgeshire, to understand that the prosperity and happiness of the people of Perth (or Penzance or Portrush or Pontypool) is as important to my family’s prosperity and happiness as those of people two villages away.
David Sands
Royston, Hertfordshire

• Under Article 15 of the Act of Union 1707, Scotland was granted £398,085 10s formally to offset future liability for future English national debt, informally to reimburse the Scots elite for the botched New Caledonian scheme. If Scotland votes for independence, can we have a refund? The economists can adjust for inflation.
Hugh Smith
London

shadow of hand over a pile of GBP banknotes

We share the concerns about the introduction of fees to take cases to employment tribunals and the barrier to justice this will create (Report, 18 August). Even before fees came in, it was often incredibly hard for victims to get justice and we fear it has become harder, enabling more bad employers to get away with breaking the law. ATL fully supported and funded one of the cases you referred to, that of Rebecca Raven, a teacher who was dismissed when she became pregnant. Regrettably, we are still having to pursue the owners of the school concerned for the payment she was awarded at a tribunal in September 2012 for discrimination and unfair dismissal. Her employers, who intimated that maternity leave was bad for business, have so far not paid a penny.

While Rebecca’s case was lodged before the introduction of fees, ATL will continue to pay the fees for all members whose cases we take to tribunal, in common with other unions. We will keep arguing against fees, but such cases show why it is so important for workers to belong to trade unions if they are to stand any chance of getting access to justice following the changes the coalition government introduced.
Andy Peart
Assistant general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

bride and groom bridal flowers top hat and tails

Your correspondent (Letters, 22 August) appears to be unaware that, since the year 2000, the Church of England marriage ceremony gives the minister the option of addressing the parents of both bride and groom with the following words: “N and N have declared their intention towards each other. As their parents, will you now entrust your son and daughter to one another as they come to be married?” To which they are expected to reply: “We will.”

While I give every couple this option, in my experience the majority are still enthralled by traditionalism and prefer to be given away by their fathers.
Anne Spargo
Priest-in-charge of the Severnside Benefice of Churches, Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire

• Adrian Smith’s delight at having his wife included when answering the question “who gives this woman?” at his daughter’s wedding would have been more impressive if he had eschewed the whole ridiculous business of a bride being “given away”. Daughters should rebel at being hawked around from parent to groom like some sort of frothy present. If they’re grown-up enough to get married, they’re grown-up enough not to be regarded as a chattel.
Charlotte Hofton
Ryde, Isle of Wight

• Dr Barbara Wilson and her husband Mike must feel disappointed that their story, due to a production error, was omitted from your feature (The secrets of long-term love, Weekend, 23 August) – but I did catch up with them in the online version.

Perhaps you could squeeze them in sometime in place of Blind date. Yes, I know it makes compulsive reading, but all these chaste “pecks on the cheek” do get a bit monotonous. Don’t they ever end up in bed together or, more acceptably, in a long-term relationship with each other?
Phoebe Newton
Northallerton, North Yorkshire

Parakeets

Your feature on England’s new coastal access (Travel, 23 August) underplays the achievement by merely referring to it as a coastal path. The whole point of England’s coastal access is that it provides spreading room, where the public has the right to walk, between the path and the sea and inland to the first boundary. The Welsh coastal path, although brilliant, is only a route; there is no spreading room.
Kate Ashbrook
The Open Spaces Society

• So Shetland is “nearby” to Orkney (Report, 21 August)? Can I assume that the Guardian style guide will now require Birmingham and Bristol to be described as “nearby” to London, since both involve similar distances? Although I note that public transport between Orkney and Shetland is much trickier than between London and either of those cities. And some in Shetland might remind you that they are nearer Norway than Edinburgh.
Dudley Coates
Gillingham, Dorset

• Reassuring to hear (Letters, 20 August) that an Indian fungus is about to be unleashed on the dreaded Himalayan balsam. Could it also have a go at the allegedly Himalayan rose-ringed parakeet? This squawking, screeching, braying, mob-handed, flash city-boy of a bird (they all vote Tory) has become so common in this area that Wikipedia refers to them as Kingston Parakeets.
Mike Hine
Kingston on Thames, Surrey

• Bárðarbunga about to erupt (Passnotes, 20 August). Berlusconi up to his tricks again?
Robert Walls
Camberley, Surrey

• My eight-year-old daughter, Gráinne, swims in the Irish Sea almost daily from late March to early October. She describes David Cameron’s choice of swimwear as “a wimpsuit” (Photo story, 23 August).
Cian Molloy
Wicklow

“Turner and Constable: A rivalry resumed, but who is best?” (Front page trail, 25 August). Really? Don’t we deserve better?
Brian Lawrence
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Independent:

Times:

Matthew Parris asked whether the vehemence of online postings is fuelling extremism

Sir, Credit to Matthew Parris (“Don’t lump all Muslims in the extremist camp”, Aug 23) for stating the truth that has dared not speak its name. Anti-Islam is every bit as insidious and frightening as
antisemitism has been for centuries. Hatred of a seventh of the world’s people is one of the few ideologies found in equal measure within left, right, educated, uneducated, liberal, illiberal, rich and poor; and mass graves and gas chambers stand as a warning to those who cannot heed the lessons of history of which Mr Parris wisely reminds them.

James Abdul Rahman Brierley

Knighton, Leicester

Sir, Mr Parris’s article is absolutely correct that it is wrong to regard all Muslims as extremists. However, the interpretation and practice of Islam has clearly become perverted by some of its adherents. Surely the mass of mainstream Muslims have a responsibility to try to make their extremist co-religionists “righteous” too.

David Levy

London N3

Sir, Matthew Parris’s argument is flawed. Jews do not seek world domination. The Jewish diaspora has no desire to convert humanity to Judaism. Jews do not seek to proselytise by subjugation and violence. Muslims seek the creation of a single world ummah which will replace Christianity (and all other faiths and philosophies), political democracy and economic capitalism with Sharia. Most Muslims live peaceably enough in western countries influenced by centuries of Christianity, but they are bound to pray for the ultimate Muslim victory over all infidels.

Politicians and governments cannot defeat Muslim global ambition piecemeal. Legislation will do little to help. The non-specific geographical battle is not primarily about guns as yet but about ideas. British society, apostate from Christianity, lacks vision, cohesion and purpose. Instead of offering feeble and miserable platitudes, Britain’s Christian leaders should have the courage to refute Islam’s ideology and claims.

The Rev Dr Robert Anderson

Blackburn, W Lothian

Sir, Matthew Parris says he does not like Islam or Judaism. Perhaps he should extend this dislike to all religions that begin with a capital letter. To paraphrase Krishnamurti, any rigid belief system rules out the infinity of ideas and beliefs beyond that system. Or maybe Mr Parris should reflect that people, not religions, are the problem.

Graham Weiner

London N10

Sir, Matthew Parris is clearly right that stigmatising all Muslims in the UK is absurd but his substitution of Jews for Muslims is absurd since Jews never ever engaged in anti-regime wars, mass kidnappings of young women, televised beheadings of westerners, campaigns to change our diet and way of life, and so on.

Professor Yorick Wilks

Oxford

Sir, Matthew Parris rightly defends ordinary Muslims but misses the opportunity to comment on one monstrous issue. Islamic leaders have been quick to declare fatwas against westerners they consider have been disrespectful of their religion but they are silent as barbarous extremists tear its reputation to shreds.

Brian Parker

Dartmouth

Turnout for PCC elections might be higher if e-voting was treated as a serious option

Sir, The new police commissioner for the West Midlands was elected by only 5 per cent of the electorate and at a cost of £18 per vote (“Low turnout in police vote costs £3.7m”, Aug 23). The Electoral Reform Society called it “a very depressing turnout”. One possible cause was holding the poll in the holidays. The government should grasp the nettle of e-voting to encourage greater participation in the democratic process. We are expected to submit tax returns even from sunloungers abroad, so why not let us vote from them as well?

Peter Saunders

Salisbury

Rome airport has solar panels over its carparks – a win-win notion

Sir, I was most impressed by an Italian version of the solar farm. The huge car-parks at Rome airport are covered with roofed carports bearing solar panels. These generate solar power while keeping the cars in shade, so drivers returning to their cars do not need to add to fuel pollution by turning the air-conditioning to its top setting. Many UK regional airports could do this; acres of sprawling panels are no worse than acres of parked cars.

Joanne Aston

Over Silton, N Yorks

Are there lessons for today to be learnt from the history of British foreign policy?

Sir, I am delighted to see my friend and former pupil Philip Bobbitt up there with Gladstone and Palmerston (Aug 25), but he never prescribed western-style democracy as “a prerequisite to peace and reform in the Middle East”. What he did prescribe were “states of consent” which were not necessarily western-style democracies, but would, by legitimising their regimes, provide the only effective barriers against the “states of terror” that — he foresaw with terrifying accuracy — were likely to develop in the Middle East and across the whole world. Any resemblance to the policy of Neville Chamberlain is very hard to detect.

Sir Michael Howard

Eastbury, Berks

Telegraph:

The bells that ring the changes every few weeks

Dutch bells that don’t get boring

The carillon in the tower of the Westerkerk, Amsterdam, overlooks the Prinsengracht below  Photo: ALAMY

6:58AM BST 25 Aug 2014

CommentsComments

SIR – I too enjoy tuneful church bells (Letters, August 21). For the past 18 months my wife and I have lived near to the Westerkerk, one of the major churches in the centre of Amsterdam. Its bells also ring out every 15 minutes, but the tune changes every three months or so. To date we have enjoyed, among others, Dvorak’s New World Symphony and the theme to the classic John Wayne western, The Alamo.

David Rendell
Amsterdam

Home, but not alone: Sandra Howard cooks Lord Howard lunch Photo: PA

6:59AM BST 25 Aug 2014

CommentsComments

SIR – Fortunately, I do not suffer from retired husband syndrome. My nearly-but-not-quite retired husband has worked part-time from home from some years, but come 1pm he is transformed into my short-order chef, scouring the fridge for leftovers and creating tasty (and sometimes unusual) light lunches. Mind you, it usually falls to me to wash up.

Hilary Jarrett
Norwich

SIR – Before my husband’s recent retirement I wrote a job description for the Newly Retired Husband. All is well so far, with his first appraisal due at the end of this month.

Angela Crossley
Semington, Wiltshire

SIR – My husband retired recently, aged 57. His regular hobbies include snowboarding, ice and rock climbing, mountain and road biking, scuba diving, motorcycling and golf. One would think this is a full schedule of activities but, alas, no.

For inexplicable reasons he has developed an obsession with light bulbs and lighting. Every week or so he declares that the entire house should be lit by LED bulbs; I always agree. He then calculates the cost of replacements, has a small rant about how expensive it will be, then goes quiet about it until the next time.

Lisa Armstrong
Newcastle-upon-Tyne

SIR – My husband is now telling me how unselfish he is being by spending most of the summer months out umpiring cricket, so that he is not “under my feet” at home.

Barbara A Southward
Southend-on-Sea, Essex

SIR – Mariella Frostrup had a successful holiday by replacing her otherwise engaged husband with her friend’s boyfriend. I’m busy compiling a list of men-friends for my wife, whose skills around the house and garden far exceed mine. But when my wife’s friends run up their own lists, my name will be likely absent from all of them. Surely someone has use of a man interested in American politics and the theory of numbers?

Dr David Cottam
Dormansland, Surrey

‘Physician associates’

SIR – It is ridiculous to give two years’ training to science graduates and expect them as “physician associates” to be capable of doing what is essentially the job of a junior doctor. It is an insult to those who do the full seven years of training.

Patient safety stands to be compromised and the salaries mentioned are in excess of what is currently paid to our fully trained nurses. This is yet another example of the erosion of high-quality care in the NHS.

Dr Pat Simpson
Buckshaw Village, Lancashire

SIR – On the one hand, the General Medical Council is to take stronger action against poorly performing doctors, and on the other, the Government proposes to inflict half-trained quacks on the public.

The latter policy is hardly likely to increase confidence in the provision of family medicine. It would be much better to spend the money on health education for all, to stop GPs and A&E departments being overrun with trivial cases.

David Nunn FRCS
London SE3

GCSE results

SIR – Although I can understand their disappointment at the fall in English grades, as reported, I would not have expected headteachers of all people, when being asked for their comments, to refer to their pupils as “kids”.

G W Baker
Stockton-on-Tees

SIR – Is it not perverse that we are now celebrating the fact that GCSE results have got significantly worse?

Paul Strong
Claxby, Lincolnshire

Prisoner humiliation

SIR – Andy Coulson has been resident in Britain’s highest-security prison, Belmarsh, for the past six weeks and Max Clifford was publicly handcuffed to a prison officer while attending the funeral of his brother.

In neither case could the person be deemed to present a high risk. The aim of imprisonment is well known, but humiliation and unnecessary restrictions should play no part in the treatment of prisoners.

Howard Thomas
(Chief probation officer, North Wales, 1986-97)
Nannerch, Flintshire

Sucks twice as much

SIR – If Seamus Hamill-Keays (Letters, August 23) has to use his vacuum cleaner for twice as much time, then he will have to replace it twice as often. Perhaps this is the true purpose of the EU legislation – to provide employment for vacuum cleaner manufacturers. Who is going to tell Brussels that most of these appliances are now made in the Far East ?

John Newbury
Warminster, Wiltshire

Chill out

SIR – At Asda in Kendal there is no need for signs requesting shoppers to be fully clothed (Letters, August 22). I have to put an extra layer on before entering in order to survive the refrigerated section. Recently I heard a mother explaining to her child that they would have to be “very brave” as they were going into the chilled section.

Never has the balmy tinned-goods aisle seemed so alluring.

Fiona Boyles
Dent, West Yorkshire

‘Middle-skilled’ jobs

SIR – Your report highlighted how Britain is competing, and succeeding, on the international stage to produce people with degree-level skills.

The article also alludes to the long-term trend in Britain towards an “hourglass-shaped” jobs market. We are generating lots of highly skilled management and professional jobs and lots of lower-skilled jobs, for example in care or hospitality, but fewer traditional “middle-skilled” jobs, as these are being automated or off-shored.

This “pinch point” risks creating obstacles to social mobility. As your article says, if the trend continues, there will be less opportunity for lower-skilled workers to progress. This makes the central social purpose of the workplace – to help people get on in life – more difficult to realise.

Given that 80 per cent of those who will make up the workforce in a decade’s time are already in employment, we need different approaches – to education, to technology and to the structure of our organisations and the jobs within them – to build an economy that is more productive and inclusive. For a start, we need greater connectivity between education and the world of work so that young people, workers and workplaces become more agile in response to faster technological cycles and competition from a global labour market.

Sir Charlie Mayfield
Chair, John Lewis Partnership; Chair, UK Commission for Employment and Skills
London SW1

Clerk’s appointment

SIR – The House of Commons Clerk (Letters, August 23) is a servant of the House, and is an appointment that should be made by the Commons as a House, not by the Speaker alone.

The Commons is supposed to be paramount. It should act accordingly.

Philip Thomas
Poling, West Sussex

Proof of proposal

SIR – Sarah Rainey’s piece on the camera that films the moment a suitor proposes prompted me to recall the afternoon, 54 years ago, when my boyfriend telephoned from abroad to propose to me. I was so surprised (though absolutely delighted) that I asked him to put it in writing, which he did.

Having recently found the letter, I now carry a photocopy of it in my handbag.

Freda Poole
Farley Hill, Berkshire

Theresa May should reassure the public that her proposals will turn into action

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, says that at least 500 British citizens have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, says that at least 500 British citizens have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq Photo: GEOFF PUGH

7:00AM BST 25 Aug 2014

CommentsComments

SIR – The proposals by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to bring in new laws to deal with the jihadist threat are to be welcomed. But what I want to hear is a clear declaration that laws are actually being drafted, when they will come before Parliament and when they are likely to become law. Time is not to be lost in the pre-election vacuum, as some of these British jihadists may be returning soon.

Laurence Barnes
Downderry, Cornwall

SIR – Your leading article rightly highlights the complications of dealing with British citizens who hate their homeland. However, could someone explain why the charge of treason is not being invoked for those British citizens who are committed to its destruction?

Andre Adamson
West Byfleet, Surrey

SIR – Theresa May’s proposed legislation is a welcome but reactive measure. It would be better to identify potential terrorists in Britain before it is too late. Police officers patrolling streets and engaging with families, and more importantly, schools and faith groups, would help achieve this.

The Home Secretary had this in place with neighbourhood policing teams, but budget cuts in excess of 25 per cent have led to to the loss of thousands of police officers and the decimation of these highly effective teams.

Clifford Baxter
Wareham, Dorset

SIR – The world is rightly horrified at the killing of James Foley. Yet the execution of more than 800 political opponents in Iran since the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani became president draws no comment.

Now we learn that the West may seek to befriend his government. A policy of appeasement would be disastrous, not only for Iranians but the whole world.

Betty Harris
London N1

SIR – Never has the saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” been more apposite than in the case of the Syrian regime today.

Quiet diplomacy must be conducted with President Bashar al-Assad to permit Western air power to be deployed on Syrian soil in order to provide effective and sustained air support to those ground forces opposed to Isil. Time is of the essence.

Brigadier John Dean (retd)
Bridport, Dorset

SIR – There has been recent speculation about supporting President Assad in Syria because he is now fighting Isil. But remember that his regime tortures and kills thousands of Syrians every year, war or no war, and that Syria under the Assads has invaded its neighbours and supplied weapons to terrorist groups to attack Israel.

Assad is no friend of the West and never will be.

Justin G Taylor
Preston, Lancashire

Irish Times:

Sir, – There is something rather obnoxious about the phenomenon of letters to the editor that are signed by a list of academics, as was to be seen in your edition of August 23rd, where 102 academics signed a letter demanding a referendum on abolishing the Eighth Amendment to our Constitution. Is this a case of academics overestimating the respect in which they are held by the population at large, who are well aware of their vulnerability to intellectual and political fashions? Or does it simply take 102 to compose one letter?

Let’s concentrate on arguments, not on letters after a name. – Yours, etc,

MAOLSHEACHLANN

Ó CEALLAIGH,

Sillogue Gardens,

Ballymun, Dublin 11.

Sir, – While it is decidedly impressive that 102 academics can agree on something, this is not in itself a decisive argument. The group make a good point in saying they are under 50 and haven’t had the opportunity to vote on abortion: it can certainly be argued that the issue is more pressing for the young, and that the youth of today deserve their say. They also show compassion for the distress the issue has caused the many, many women suffering the brunt of our laws prohibiting abortion, adding an important and poignant reason for holding another referendum.

Unfortunately the core argument they put forward to support abortion is flawed. Basing the right to abortion on the right of a woman to make decisions about her body overlooks a key fact about pregnancy, which is that the foetus is not the woman’s body. We can’t see it without the benefit of technology, and it lives inside the woman’s body, placing a severe burden upon her, but it exists as a distinct biological entity. An argument for abortion must deal with the potential rights for this entity. That is not to say that an embryo or foetus should have the full rights of a person; just that if we are making an argument for terminating the unborn we should take some account of its existence. If it is believed that the foetus should have no human rights, then this should be stated, and an argument made to support the contention. A society should choose its ethical position on the right to life with its eyes fully open. If we ignore the issues, we haven’t made our case, no matter how long the parade of academics. – Yours, etc,

COLIN WALSH,

Templeville Road,

Templeogue, Dublin 6W.

Sir, – The letter signed by 102 academics arguing in favour of the “pro-choice” position on the abortion issue should not be misinterpreted to mean that academics generally agree with this argument. Indeed I do not know how academics would divide on this issue but I do know that it would not be difficult to get 102 academic signatures to a letter supporting the “pro-life” side of the argument. – Yours, etc,

WILLIAM REVILLE

Emeritus Professor,

School of Biochemistry

and Cell Biology,

University College Cork.

A chara, – The slightly more than “100 academics” who signed the letter carried in these pages on August 23rd calling for a referendum to appeal the Eighth Amendment have an interesting idea of what a “mandate” is. A mandate is something granted by the people of the nation to their elected representatives on the basis of the manifesto on which they campaigned. It not something created by a self-selected group of people by virtue of their co-signing a letter, even if they happen to have graduate degrees. Galling for them, no doubt, but that’s democracy for you. And why, might one ask, does it happen that the majority of signatories are resident outside this jurisdiction? Are we to gather from this that, out of the thousands of academics living and working in the Republic, they could barely round up 50 to declare the existence of this “mandate” and needed to go outside our borders to bolster the numbers? Not very impressive when one notes that, even then, they could hardly break three figures.

But it doesn’t really matter if their letter was signed by one, one hundred, or a thousand; it still doesn’t manufacture a mandate for a referendum. That requires an election during which politicians are elected, or not, on the basis of their declared stance on the matter. And during that election each of those academics who signed will get exactly one vote each just like everybody else, presuming they happen to be in the country at the time and are eligible to vote.

It might be hard for some with many degrees to accept the idea that their voice or vote is no stronger than those who never finished school, but such is the way of things unless they can manage to swing a constitutional amendment of an entirely different type. I wish them luck trying. – Is mise,

Rev PATRICK G BURKE,

Castlecomer,

Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – Henry McClave takes me to task (August 23rd) for daring to question the motives of a vocal minority who oppose the development of tourism and amenity infrastructure along the river Barrow. In the interests of fairness, I need to correct his contention that I objected to the notion of a grassy footpath along the banks of the river. I never suggested that.

The banks of the Barrow are about 10 metres wide, sometimes wider, and providing a narrow, grit-surfaced two metre-wide strip on one bank will still leave lots of room for people who prefer to walk on grass. There is, it would seem, no real conflict between my aspirations for the route and those of your correspondent.

I would also agree with him on another thing; the section between Graiguenamanagh and St Mullins is the best of the Barrow Way, but the more you go north of Graiguenamanagh, the worse it gets. While it is reasonably passable for well-shod walkers, it certainly isn’t suitable for cyclists, and you couldn’t put a buggy or a wheelchair anywhere on it.

My issue is with those who would seek to block or delay the provision of the kind of infrastructure that is the norm in other countries, the countries that enjoy a booming trade in cycling and walking tourism. By our policy of not providing long routes for this highly sustainable business, we allow this trade and the jobs that go with it to go elsewhere.

We have a short greenway in Mayo that is enough to keep an average cyclist happy for half a day, but nobody is going to spend a week cycling up and down it like a hamster in a wheel.

As your other correspondent Seamus Lennon pointed out on the same page, we need long trails to attract and sustain this business, but the only way we can create these is on strips of publicly owned land. Canal and river navigation towpaths and disused rail lines are assets that we haven’t yet learned to leverage to create jobs and opportunities, as well as providing a better quality of life for our citizens. We need to play catch-up. – Yours, etc,

JOHN MULLIGAN,

Kiltycreighton,

Boyle,

Co Roscommon.

Sir, – As a regular walker of the towpaths of Irish waterways, I write in support of the observations by John Mulligan (August 21st) and Denis Bergin (August 22nd).

The Barrow Navigation south of Goresbridge to St Mullins is by far the prettiest waterway in the country. The topography of the valley guarantees that the cycle path will be narrow and the impact on both visual amenity and wild life minimal.

This towpath is also likely to be highly successful, and bring some business and liveliness along the waterway to the towns of Monasterevin, Athy and Graiguenamanagh.

On the waterways in general, there is a need for tighter planning requirements. A large house built in recent years with a long retaining wall fronting the towpath on an unspoiled vista several miles south of Carlow town, or two bloated residences one or two miles apart on what is historically the most evocative section of the Newry canal, are disturbing instances of the need for greater awareness by planning authorities. – Yours, etc,

LM CULLEN,

Sydney Avenue,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – As a retired Deis school principal, I commend Alison Healy for her article “More children arriving in school hungry, survey of teachers finds” (Home News, August 25th).

I have written to The Irish Times previously on this issue and I believe that it is something that must be addressed urgently.

There is a wonderful scheme administered by the Department of Social Protection called the School Meals Scheme. It funds certain schools to provide breakfasts, lunches and snacks to their pupils. While I was principal, I found this scheme to be invaluable. The positive outcomes for children in such areas as discipline, attendance and educational development were hugely enhanced by the provision of a healthy, nutritious and daily lunch.

I have written to Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton on many occasions in praise of this scheme. However there are many schools that have huge food poverty issues that are not included in the scheme. I would respectfully urge the Government, and in particular Ms Burton, to review the School Meals Scheme with a view to expanding it to include those needy children. I know that this is an issue that is close to the Minister’s heart and it would be money very well spent. Our children are the future for this great country. Let’s make sure that they are well nourished in school and allow them to give of their best. – Yours, etc,

PAT BURKE WALSH,

Ballymoney,

Co Wexford.

Sir, – I was confused by the assertion in your editorial (“Renewing rural Ireland”, August 20th) that directing the majority of rural development funding under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to farmers is a mistake and could undermine rural prosperity and employment.

Agriculture is the predominant rural industry; to take funding away from a farming sector that is already under severe financial pressure would lead to a grave deterioration in the rural economy, and certainly not an improvement.

The objective of the Rural Development Programme allocated under the CAP is to improve the economic and social situation of all rural areas.

Agriculture is the backbone industry of the rural economy and directing funding towards farming enterprises in order to meet that objective makes perfect sense.

The resourcing of agriculture through the Rural Development Programme funding pays dividends not just for farmers but for economic activity across rural Ireland.

Over 300,000 people are employed directly on farms or indirectly in the agri-food industry throughout Ireland, while the industry contributes approximately €24 billion to the national economy.

A buoyant and sustainable agriculture sector, and a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, will drive a regionally balanced economic recovery. Towns are the traditional centres of economic activity in rural Ireland, but farming and the agri-industry based in and around those towns have always driven and sustained that economic activity. They must be supported to continue to do so. – Yours, etc,

FLOR McCARTHY,

IFA National Rural

Development Chairman,

Kilowen House,

Kenmare,

Co Kerry.

Sir, – I read with interest the 34 recommendations by the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas (“34 ways to improve rural life”, August 23rd).

May I suggest a 35th? Establish a responsible and strategic delivery for a co-ordinated and accountable mechanism that would implement capacity-building within a regulatory and administrative framework in order for the continuation of a community-led developmental approach with the potential to open up economic and proportionate frameworks, along with a multi-agency approach to further develop public policy instruments that would highlight a clear national definition.

I could add a couple more but I have to pop out and milk the goats. – Yours, etc,

TIM FitzSIMON,

Attyslany,

Tubber,

Co Clare.

Sir, – While Educate Together is delighted that the opening of our first second-level schools is getting such positive coverage from The Irish Times, we would like to make a couple of clarifications in relation to “Educate Together secondary school opens” (August 23rd).

You state that “Educate Together plans to open 10 schools . . . over the next decade in the east of the country, where demand is greatest”. Educate Together is currently opening eight secondary schools in the next two years. In 2016, we will open a secondary in Carrigaline and we also have a vibrant campaign group in Galway that has been working tirelessly on this issue for many years.

Widespread demand for our model of education is evident in all parts of the country. For instance, next week we are opening new primary schools in the Galway suburb of Knocknacarra, in Newtownwhite in Co Mayo, in Tramore and in Trim. Only two of the six new Educate Together primary schools are in the Dublin area.

The article also states that “the demand for Educate Together schools is greatest in areas where there is ethnic diversity”. While we have many excellent schools in very diverse communities, the reality is that the Educate Together schools with the longest waiting lists are in very established areas – in Glenageary, Glasnevin, Bray, Kilkenny, Ranelagh. This year we are setting up a new school for Dublin 4 with two full classes of junior infants, the Shellybanks Educate Together National School.

The demand for Educate Together schools comes mainly from a generation on generation change of attitude within the indigenous population that is being augmented by the needs of migrant families. Parents all over the country are increasingly seeing the benefit of their children being taught in an ethos of equality and respect that suits the needs of a modern, democratic Ireland. – Yours, etc,

PAUL ROWE,

Chief Executive,

Educate Together,

Hogan Place,

Sir, – Should Dublin and Donegal play out a draw in next Sunday’s second All-Ireland football semi-final, can the GAA confirm that the replay will be held in St Tiarnach’s Park, Clones, or Breffni Park, Cavan?

Answers on the back of an unused Garth Brooks ticket, please. – Yours, etc,

DOM GRADWELL,

Trinity Gardens,

Drogheda, Co Louth.

Sir, – I imagine that the Taoiseach must be inspired and frustrated in equal measure by Mayo’s brilliant comeback in the second half of the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry at Croke Park.

But what an anti-climax to schedule the replay in Limerick and with so brief a respite for the exhausted players. This is an amateur game after all.

But those running affairs at Croke Park have surely taken their eye off the ball and deserve a yellow if not a red card for the extraordinary decision not to reschedule the replay in Croke Park itself, especially when the capacity at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick is only 49,866, over 2,000 short of the attendance for the drawn match.

In my view this situation is much worse than the Garth Brooks fiasco, for the All-Ireland championship is the very raison d’être of Croke Park.

No commercial arrangement can be allowed to downgrade the national importance of the All-Ireland championship. – Yours, etc,

Dr GERALD

MORGAN, FTCD

The Chaucer Hub,

Trinity College, Dublin 2.

Sir, – Janneke van Veen (August 23rd) states that 500 million people voted in the European Parliament elections in 2014. That is incorrect. The total population of the EU is approximately 500 million. Of those approximately 390 million are registered to vote. Data available from the European Parliament shows that 42.5 per cent of registered voters actually did so in 2014. This leaves a total turnout of approximately 166 million. In every European Parliament election since its foundation the percentage of voter turnout has declined. – Yours, etc,

GILES FOX,

Annville Drive,

Kilmacud,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Arminta Wallace (“The times we lived in”, Magazine, August 23rd) states that WT Cosgrave was “the first leader of Fine Gael and the first president of Ireland”. Douglas Hyde was the first president of Ireland and Eoin O’Duffy was the first leader of Fine Gael. Interestingly, O’Duffy is conspicuous by his absence from the photographs of former Fine Gael leaders in the party meeting room in Leinster House. – Yours, etc,

JOHN A MURPHY,

Rosebank,

Douglas Road, Cork.

Irish Independent:

Some of the greatest evils spring from recruiting God exclusively to one’s side. The claim to have unique access to God’s intentions for the world leads inevitably to arrogance and fanaticism. What is happening in Iraq has its provenance in this kind of thinking.

As the surge of evil gathers momentum across the Middle East and North Africa, we begin to see how warped minds reach for every available instrument of terror – all in the name of God – driven by a delusional ideology that seizes the imagination, festers within communities, and offers the certainty of a place in heaven.

This gives young men a narcissistic sense of significance – a chance to be a somebody and a maker of the world.

To demand that people who do not share your faith relinquish theirs or die takes arrogance and inhumanity to a new level.

The massacre of 80 Yazidis, followers of one of the oldest monotheistic religions, as they refused to convert to Islam, and the unspeakable depravity of the murder of James Foley should awaken the world to the threat to human freedom and disregard for innocent life represented by the Islamic State fanatics.

The fanatical practice of religion has of course been well matched by the barbarity of atheistic communism, particularly under Stalin and Pol Pot. But the smugness accompanying dogmatic certainty, underpinned by the unaccountable exercise of power, can only be punctured by dialogue and reflection. Unfortunately, this is in short supply when you presume to be acting on behalf of God or engaged in the creation of a new utopia.

We do not need to look beyond the recent history of our own island to see the consequences of the arrogance of power and the mindless drift into indiscriminate killing and bombing, carried out as if it is almost recreational.

Philip O’Neill, Oxford, England

 

Rail staff – time for reality check

Severe traffic congestion in wet, miserable weather and gross personal inconvenience inflicted on tens of thousands of locals and tourists are unlikely to inspire much public sympathy for the cause of striking rail workers.

Rail workers may believe they are supremely useful and that the country would somehow fall asunder without them.

But the number of journeys reported by Irish Rail has dropped by over 15pc, from 43.3 million in 2008, to under 37 million last year. During this period the average rail fare increased by a hefty 12pc, from €4.31 to €4.82, while the net increase in the consumer price index was just 3.4pc.

When compared with other options – a bus, bicycle, or car – rail journeys are simply not considered good value.

The arguments advanced to justify this strike are reminiscent of the process of collective self-hypnosis, by which hereditary aristocrats attempted to convince the public over a hundred years ago that their distinctive claims on caste survival made them indispensable.

If the strikers participating in this ritual of rebellion fail to take a reality check on the limits of public tolerance, the railways may well be brushed aside like the hereditary peerage – or privatised – because neither taxpayers nor the travelling public will be blackmailed.

Myles Duffy, Glenageary, Co Dublin

 

All-Ireland replay a fiasco

I imagine the Taoiseach must be inspired and frustrated in equal measure by Mayo’s brilliant comeback in the second half of the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday.

But what an anti-climax to schedule the replay in Limerick and with so brief a respite for the exhausted players.

This is an amateur game, after all. But those running affairs at Croke Park have surely taken their eye off the ball and deserve a yellow – if not a red – card for the extraordinary decision not to reschedule the replay in Croke Park itself, especially when the capacity at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick is only 49,866; over 2,000 short of the attendance at Croke Park last Sunday.

This situation is much worse than the Garth Brooks fiasco, for the All-Ireland Championship is the very raison d’etre of Croke Park.

No commercial arrangement can be allowed to downgrade the national importance of the All-Ireland final.

Gerald Morgan, Trinity College, Dublin 2

The semi-final between Mayo and Kerry was what Gaelic football should be all about.

Certainly, the first half was nothing to write home about, with both teams retreating into the bunker at any sign of danger.

But the second half made up for it with robust, manly tackles, where there were no prisoners taken on the field of play, people jumping for joy one minute and praying for divine intervention the next.

The icing on the cake for those like me, with no county allegiances, 
is that it has to happen all over 
again.

But we are left with the strange scenario on Saturday of this much anticipated semi-final replay playing second fiddle to the side show of American football in Croke 
Park (it could have been Garth Brooks).

It’s a sad state of affairs when Gaelic football has been demoted, with fans having to travel to Limerick for the rematch (no disrespect to Limerick).

It’s not the end of the world, but it does matter. Croke Park was built to facilitate the playing of an amateur game that gave hope to a downtrodden people in years gone by.

What message does this send out to the thousands who commit their time, voluntarily, week in, week out, year after year?

This All-Ireland replay should be taking place in Croke Park and nowhere else.

James Woods, Gort an Choirce, Dun na nGall

 

Stop funding the Irish language

As someone who’ll never see 75 again, I’m always cheered by good news – like the piece by your columnist Lorraine Courtney, in last Saturday’s Irish Independent ‘Weekend Review’.

Ms Courtney tells us that the Irish language trails both English and Polish in Ireland, yet I don’t think public money is spent on either of these two tongues.

So why are such hard-to-come-by funds thrown at the promotion of, and teaching of, Irish?

Does Italy throw money at the preservation of Latin? Does Washington DC throw money at the preservation of the Comanche language?

Despite this country being on its knees economically, I venture to suggest that the reason why not one of our so-called politicians calls a halt to this madness of funding the Irish language is because not one of them has the ‘liathroidi’ to say ‘stop’.

And, as usual, the loser is the taxpayer.

Michael Dryhurst, Four Mile House, Roscommon

Irish Independent

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