28 August 2014 Relapse
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 go to the bank and the Co Op
I bump in to Mary and she has a fall shes a little worse today, no tea and her back pain has flared up!
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild – obituary
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild was an actress who abandoned a career on the stage to become chatelaine of one of France’s finest wine houses
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild Photo: EPA
6:43PM BST 27 Aug 2014
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who has died aged 80, was a matriarch of the wealthy family of bankers and winemakers and chatelaine of one of the finest wine houses in France.
A former actress, Philippine de Rothschild and her children — Camille, Philippe and Julien — owned three of the great winemaking chateaux in the Medoc region: Château Clerc-Milon, Château d’Armailhac and, most famously, Château Mouton Rothschild.
She joined the family wine business in the 1970s when her father, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, called her back from her stage career to join him — shortly after he had succeeded in raising the ratings of Château Mouton Rothschild from second tier to premier. After a rapid grounding in the essentials of business and finance, she helped to organise the first exhibition of the chateau’s famous “artist labels” (from 1945, every bottle of Mouton Rothschild has carried a picture of a painting by a famous artist); and when her father died in 1988 she took over as head of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA.
Known to all as “the Baroness”, she expanded the business, adding a Petit Mouton wine in the 1990s and developing partnerships with the Chilean winery Concha y Toro and the Napa Valley vineyard Opus One, which her father had started with the vintner Robert Mondavi. In 1998 she bought a 250-acre estate in Limoux, in the Languedoc region, renaming it Domaine de Baron’arques. Under her leadership the volume of wine sales doubled.
She continued the tradition, begun by her father, of commissioning well-known artists to design labels for Mouton-Rothschild vintages (for a fee of 10 cases of selected Mouton), a job which sometimes proved more difficult than might be supposed. The Prince of Wales obliged with a watercolour for the 2004 vintage — of pine trees in the south of France — to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale: “He said, ‘Let me send you one of my awful watercolours,’” she recalled. “They arrived. They weren’t awful.” But in 1975 Andy Warhol ignored strict instructions that the illustration was to be horizontal and sent three vertical collage portraits of Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The image had to be turned on its side to fit, so that it appeared that the baron was lying down.
In 1993 American customers objected to a painting of a naked young girl by the Swiss artist Balthus that graced that year’s premier grand cru de Pauillac Château Mouton-Rothschild. The Baroness, who had waxed lyrical about the picture’s sensuality as hinting at “some secret promise of undiscovered pleasure”, was flummoxed by such transatlantic prudery: “Very respectable names on the West Coast… said I was doing kiddie porn, which I think is a little bit much,” she told an interviewer. Bowing to the demands of political correctness, she ordered that the labels on more than 30,000 bottles destined for the United States be ripped off to be replaced by a bland alternative. But she reflected that the controversy had helped sales, since collectors wanted both labels.
Philippine de Rothschild in 1961, posing in a maid’s uniform for her role in a play by Marivaux at the Comedie Francaise (GETTY)
Philippine Mathilde Camille de Rothschild was born on November 22 1933 in Paris. She was distinguished from the rest of the Rothschild clan by the fact that she was not Jewish. Her mother, Elisabeth Pelletier de Chambure (“tall, dark, beautiful, rather superficial and not at all maternal”, according to her daughter), was a Catholic aristocrat who, at the time of her daughter’s birth, was not married to Philippine’s father Philippe, but to Jonkheer Marc de Becker-Rémy, a Belgian nobleman. After a bitter legal battle the Becker-Rémys divorced in 1934. Philippine’s parents then married. “I don’t particularly like the Catholic Church,” Philippine said later, “but that is what I am.”
During the Second World War, Philippe de Rothschild was imprisoned by the Vichy government, but escaped to London and later joined de Gaulle. Her mother, however, refused to leave Paris, assuming that her Catholicism would trump the surname Rothschild in the eyes of the Nazis. She was mistaken: in 1944, when her daughter was 10, she was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Ravensbruck, where she became the only known member of the Rothschild family to die in a concentration camp.
Philippine reckoned that she owed her own survival to an “unknown German” officer who had a daughter of her age in Germany and decided not to send her with her mother. Though the pair had not been close, Philippine having been raised by nannies and sent to boarding school when she was seven, her mother’s death affected her profoundly: “It gave me a violent approach to life for at least 10 years after she died. I remember feeling that I had to fight my way through, that nothing was going to be easy,” she told an interviewer. “I was very defensive, very wild, anti everything. It was only when I started having affairs with men, sometimes quite a bit older than me, that I regained a sort of softness.”
Philippine had always wanted to be an actress and, after leaving school aged 16, took to the stage, as Philippine Pascal, with the Comédie Française, where she met and married a fellow actor, Jacques Sereys.
Philippine de Rothschild at her wedding to the actor Jacques Sereys (GETTY)
Though she later gave up her stage career to help her father run the family wine business, her theatrical training stood her in good stead, her showmanship and charm helping her to promote her wines throughout the world and in her dealings with businessmen. These she kept to a bare minimum, for, as she admitted: “I will get on much better with a journalist or a writer than I will with a man who deals with numbers and wears flash clothes… I have discovered that you can do business without living with business people.”
Philippine de Rothschild was a generous benefactress of charities and an avid collector of everything from houses and land to sculpture, tapestries and antiques. She had little interest in fashion, buying most of her clothes from chain stores, though she admitted to a liking for leopard-skin tights, of which she got regular supplies from the managing director of the family wine business in London, after spotting a pair in the window of a Soho sex shop .
Philippine de Rothschild was appointed an Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 2007.
Her marriage to Jacques Sereys was dissolved. She is survived by her second husband, Jean-Pierre de Beaumarchais, their son, and a son and daughter of her first marriage.
Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, born November 22 1933, died August 23 2014
I am a British-born Jew, with immigrant ancestry. I will shortly be going to Gaza to assist in the humanitarian relief. The suggestion (or even the possibility, however remote) that I may be presumed to be a terrorist with the risk of being stripped of my citizenship is one of great concern to me (Ex-MI6 chief warns against rush to toughen terror laws, 26 August).
What happens if, while I am there with a civilian, our lives are put at risk? If either of us injure or kill the person threatening us, is it suggested I may be tried and imprisoned before losing my citizenship? Does it make any difference that I am a lawyer and going to Gaza on the invitation of an NGO? Which I am. Also, how, in that confused environment, could you possibly know who to trust; and what happens if I want to meet with the “other” side in this bloody conflict?
As I am Jewish, what if I choose to go to Israel and join the army? An option open to every Jew in the diaspora. The only way a distinction could be made would be by reference to the word “terrorist”, namely whether the other country is our ally. Finally, If we have learned one thing from Nelson Mandela, it is that the word “terrorist” simply means you are against the status quo. You cannot be a terrorist one minute and one of the greatest men of peace the next.
• So Boris, in his attempt to be the new Tebbit, calls for punitive action against those allegedly fighting in Syria and Iraq. I do not remember such calls from the Tory right in the cases of Mike Hoare (mercenary In Congo), Peter McAleese (Angola) and other white British mercenaries, nor even Mark Thatcher and Simon Mann (convicted of an attempted coup d’état). Perhaps he will call for his strictures to be retrospective also?
Sea Palling, Norfolk
• The Islamic State caliphate finally realises a dream that goes back to the 1920s when the Muslim Brotherhood was established. Syria has been its main target since the 1960s. Assassinations of government figures hardened the Assad regime’s security apparatus and freedom was sacrificed for security. Syria remains resolutely secular and the nation’s disparate minorities continue to support Assad. The Islamists could not overthrow them, even with US weaponry and Saudi finance. Now they have established a base where they can fulfil their dream of an Islamist state. Why not let them have it? Agree new borders with Syria and Iraq to replace the Sykes-Picot lines in the sand, encourage repopulation of the region with fundamentalists and fund relocation of the refugees. The state of Israel was established against a similar background of desperation mixed with terrorist cruelty – existential challenges bring out the worst in people. The west supported the Zionist dream, so why not the Islamist one?
Hastings, East Sussex
• John Gray (An apocalyptic cult carving a place in the modern world, 26 August) says that “to view Isis as expressing the core of one of the world’s great religious is to endorse Isis’s view of itself, which Islamic religious authorities across the world have rejected”.
I thought the point of the Enlightenment (and the Guardian) was to take nothing on authority but to think for oneself and test one’s theories rationally. Mr Gray, author of Al Qaeda and What it Means to be Modern, appears to have missed this point. Neither the views of Isis about itself nor the views of “religious authorities” are or should be determinative. I prefer to think for myself and, having read the Qur’an from cover to cover several times, I agree with Isis.
East Twickenham, Middlesex
• John Gray’s call for us to learn from our mistakes is hardly a ringing battle cry for western political leaders, although those who pay attention to Paddy Ashdown and Nick Clegg may hear faint echoes of it. Such a stance is probably well nigh impossible for Middle Eastern politicians.
As a Christian, I find it perfectly proper to challenge Muslims on a variety of issues with “please learn from our failures, ancient and modern”. Who’ll find the words for the political equivalent of that one?
• Why is the UK not sending much-needed equipment to the PKK, already fighting with the less able, but UK-supported, KRG peshmerga to fight Islamic State, nor delivering any humanitarian aid to Rojava, Syrian Kurdistan, home now to over 1.5 million Syrian internally displaced people, of all ethnicities and religions, 90% women and children?
Time now to lift the terror tag from the PKK and support the Kurds, oppressed by all their host countries since the end of the second world war and the most effective force to defeat the jihadis.
Peace in Kurdistan
In response to your editorial (Public libraries: Losing the plot, 26 August), the important issue is that all of us, of any age, should read, be it in book form or digital. Everyone should be able to access public library spaces, which are the last bastions of free knowledge. The discarding of trained librarians demeans their worth, but that is the trend we continue to see.
But sometimes a community has the will and determination to not lose their precious library, as can be seen by the history of Friern Barnet Community library; it was a challenge that the community rose to. Even after Barnet council closed it, the campaign carried on with pop-up library days and then occupation thanks to members of Occupy London. With the doors flung open again and thousands of books donated, it took repeated visits to court for the council to eventually hand the library back to local people, who now serve as trustees. And just maybe we are doing what other council-run libraries could take on board, this being that the community sees it as a library, a computer access site and a community space with an ever-changing range of activities.
Not everything is perfect and no one wanted the council-run library to close. However, we now have regular yoga lessons, Pilates, French rhyme time, local history talks, community police surgeries, councillor surgeries, “Any Questions” evenings with a range of panel guests, Socratic dialogue sessions, music evenings, private hire available, longer opening hours than any council-run library, knit-and-natter groups, sight-impaired group, toddler play section, book-signing evenings (including Will Self), strawberry teas, a comprehensive website, regular newsletters and even a couple of wakes following the funerals of local supporters. In short, it is a hub of local activity which the community will never ever give up.
Cllr Pauline Coakey Webb
Trustee, Friern Barnet Community Library
• There would have been a time when one in three children without a book in the house would have demanded an enquiry into deprivation. I hesitate to write this because I love physical books, but does it mean that they do not read at all out of school? I am having to come to terms with electronic reading (it is surely a boon for those with visual impairment), and the library should be at the heart of electronic reading instead of competing with private providers. It should be a requirement that everything published is available digitally and for loan. Norway may be rich, but they don’t have to spend their money on the state library system, they choose to. If Britain is poor, it is becoming poorer for closing one in six public libraries and counting.
Dr Graham Ullathorne
• It was a kindly thought of Doris Lessing to bequeath her books to Zimbabwe (Report, 27 August). Even greater credit if she left money to transport the books there. England is awash with secondhand books, but getting those to the people in Africa who desperately want them will cost a lot more than the commercial value of the books. This is part of the worsening imbalance of wealth between the rich world and the poor world. Mugabe’s millions, stolen from his own poor, have been laundered in “respectable” tax havens, and quite likely helped City bonuses. The rich world needs to have a care for its own safety by showing more “enlightened self-interest”, and considering how the greed of the few affects the poor majority of the world.
As well as their religious motives, are not the jihadists of the Middle East a blowback of anger at the excesses of capitalism? Can we learn in time to restrain the currently unrestrained self-enrichment and evasion of responsibility by the few? Flagrant tax evasion by the rich seems a remote subject, but actually concerns every person in the world.
Seaford, East Sussex
I know as a long-term Guardian reader that you have a problem with my football club, but two whole pages of obituary about perhaps our most famous fan (26 August), and not even one sentence about his relationship with Chelsea FC?
Richard Attenborough trained with the players to improve his physical condition for the role of Pinkie in the film of Brighton Rock. He also served on the board from 1969 to 1982; and he was appointed life vice-president after refusing to sell his shares to property developers in the 1980s, which helped to save the club from oblivion. When the stadium was redesigned in the 1990s, his work ensured proper upgrading of facilities for disabled spectators. Chelsea was a large part of his life, and deserved a mention.
• Two years after interviewing Richard Attenborough on the tarmac at the old Delhi airport where he was shooting a scene for Gandhi, I was sent by my newspaper to grab some words with him at Heathrow on the morning he returned from Los Angeles with a fistful of Oscars for the film.
As a callow newcomer to Fleet Street I never imagined the world and his wife would also be there, too. I pushed my way through the reporters and photographers to the front of the throng, and as Attenborough came through customs he caught my eye, smiled and said: “Darling, how sweet of you to come and meet me!” as if I was a one-man reception party. He always had the ability to make everyone feel individually special.
Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire
• Lord Attenborough’s death in this centenary month of the outbreak of the first world war reminds me of the last occasion I heard the national anthem played in a cinema after a film – Oh! What a Lovely War at the Westcombe Park ABC in London in 1969. It was the first time I felt unable to stand up for it.
Paul A Newman
Your article about a new method of attaching artificial legs (27 August) twice describes the “traditional” method as a “ball-and-socket joint”. This form of joint, found in the shoulder and hip for example, allows movement in almost all directions.
Following an above-knee amputation, the artificial leg is put on by placing the stump of your leg into the socket of the prosthesis, but balls have nothing to do with it (except insofar as that you have to make sure that only your stump goes into the socket).
In Long John Silver’s day the leg would be all wood, and not articulated, the “peg-leg”. After the Marquess of Anglesey’s leg was blown off at Waterloo – “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” he said to Wellington, who replied: “By God, sir, so you have!’” – he had an articulated leg mostly of leather. Forty years ago, when I was first fitted with one, the leg was metal; now the sockets are plastic and the lower leg carbon fibre.
My love affair with modern art started 40 years ago with a visit to Sheffield Art Gallery. There a wonderful Frank Auerbach painting taught me more than all the books I had read before. It has been a long-lasting and sustaining relationship.
Jonathan Jones’s suggestion (Awe-inspiring art deserves to stay in London, 27 August) that Lucian Freud’s collection of Auberbach’s work must be left to Tate Modern is insulting as it suggests that the rest of Britain must always travel to London.
Surely we can recognise that other cities would welcome the collection. Curators and administrators in those cities would promote and show the work imaginatively as well.
It would help to redress the culture imbalance that exists, with London scooping up all the goodies. It would also assist in economic regeneration in those cities.
Surely Wakefield, Middlesbrough, Maidstone and other places with vibrant art galleries where local and international artists are represented would all attest to this. Let’s hear it for the hinterlands of the UK.
• So Jonathan Jones thinks “there is no point scattering the Freud collection of Auerbach’s art around museums in Manchester and Southampton and so forth”. His breathtaking Londoncentric arrogance is coupled to a lack of logic.
If the centres of exhibition are to be dictated by an artist’s location or subject matter then surely the case is made to redistribute all great art back to the countries of origin. Should we perhaps start by assembling together the “scattering” of paintings by Picasso, Monet, Manet and Degas in London and shipping them back to France toute de suite?
Mindfulness (or meditation as it’s otherwise know) may bring positive benefits to the individual (Report, 26 August) but better provision for social and participatory arts, especially dancing, would be a better prescription for many. Dancing has demonstrated wellbeing benefits – both physical and mental – and it nurtures participation in civil society that interventions for the individual never will. Dance is both a prevention for ill health and a treatment. Government funding priorities need to be based on overall benefits and not just individual treatment.
Oxford Contact Dance
• I played viola on Kate Bush’s last LP, and laughed myself silly at her nonsensical lyrics about snowmen. The obsequious, unquestioning critical acclaim heaped upon this manifestly overrated singer is rather depressing, and summed up by your reviewer (Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo, 27 August) when he describes an audience who “spend the first part of the show clapping everything; no gesture is too insignificant to warrant applause”. Enough said.
• If history is anything to go by, Russia won’t tolerate further eastward encroachment by Nato. Many of us recall Russia’s Cuban missile placement and how the US reacted to it. Why would western leaders imagine Russia will behave differently to a similar threat (Nato plans bases in east Europe to deter Russia, 27 August)?
• Two sorts of raspberries were on sale in the local supermarket today: “British” (from Wales, decorated with a union flag) and “Scottish” (decorated with a saltire). Is there something we’re not being told (Salmond’s not won yet, 27 August)?
• Perhaps we should join Scotland in moving the summer bank holiday to the start of August? We might have a better chance of decent weather.
Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire
• Awesome? Marvellous? Does no one say “groovy, daddio” any more (Shortcuts, G2, 27 August)?
Yardley Gobion, Northamptonshire
I was the adviser to the Scottish parliamentary inquiry into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in 2013. I’m an Edinburgh University researcher and writer on sexual abuse issues.
The shocking catalogue of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, described with such uncompromising integrity by Alexis Jay, happened mainly because police, social services, and even communities witnessing the grooming “in plain sight” shared the abusers’ view of these vulnerable, throwaway girls: they were wee liars, delinquent, promiscuous – and not worth anyone’s hassle or expense. These girls were often under state “protection” after already suffering abuse or neglect.
Until these attitudes are finally uprooted, CSE scandals will continue throughout the UK.
Could staff who have chosen to work in caring for others please tell us how they could witness children’s trauma, distress and physical injuries, yet still interpret these as signs of consent?
Many professionals in Rotherham appear to have been guilty of allowing serious crimes against children to continue. If so, there ought to be grounds for prosecution. They also appear to have been flouting law and guidance from the early 2000s. Indeed, knowledge had been publicised of Sara Swann’s “boyfriend model” by the late 1990s. Developed through her work in Bradford, this described the exact pattern of ensnaring, total control and violent abuse of young teenage girls by older males.
Official guidance to child protection professionals in 2000 made clear that children in what was then called prostitution should be treated primarily as victims of abuses and as children in need. They should be safeguarded, and coercers prosecuted. Identification of children should always trigger multi-agency procedures to ensure their safety and welfare. Looked-after children were especially vulnerable.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 strengthened the messages of this guidance. It became an offence to cause or incite child prostitution and included the offence “of administrating a substance with the intent of committing a sexual offence”.
Plying victims with drink and drugs is an almost universal feature of CSE. So we also have to ask why the wishes of Parliament and Government were also being ignored for at least a decade.
This year we have had the export of extremism, the Trojan Horse affair in education in Birmingham, and now the horrors of Rotherham. All these have occurred because of the reticence, at best, and the fear, at worst, of treading on the sensibilities of ethnic minorities.
That has been as a direct result of the determination in the past three decades to establish multiculturalism: the notion that all cultures are equal, that there is no such thing as a host-nation culture in which all foreign newcomers have elected to settle and to which they should be prepared to adapt.
It is now surely obvious that the process is an abject failure. It will be a long and uphill task, but the time has clearly come to dismantle the entire concept of the “multicultural society”.
Professor Alexis Jay’s report outlining child abuse in Rotherham raises a number of serious questions about our society and the values of individuals who clearly considered the protection of children less important than maintaining a camouflage of political correctness.
Of course resignations may result, but it’s not enough. Perhaps one way to ensure that morality is more likely to win the day in the future is to prosecute those who knew of these crimes and whose function it was to protect the children or uphold the law.
Brent Pelham, Hertfordshire
A spokesperson from the NSPCC commented that there had been “collective blindness” in uncovering the extent of child abuse in Rotherham. A more appropriate phrase might have been “collective disregard and collusion”.
We can be sure that the figure quoted, of more than 1,400, only scratches the surface of this. For every case we know about, there will be countless others, and in many other cities.
Another recent news item, seemingly unconnected, was the call for sex education for seven-year-olds. These children in Rotherham will have experienced “sex education” of the worst possible kind – and the effect that unhealthy relationships can have.
Combe St Nicholas, Somerset
A good CV will help you get a job…
I sympathise with the situation Nina Gillespie finds herself in (“Got the degree – now for the job”, 21 August). Increasingly, unpaid internships are replacing what would have been paid, permanent jobs five years ago. But those paid graduate jobs do still exist in abundance, and the frustrations experienced by graduates seeking them are felt in similar measure by employers looking to fill their entry-level vacancies.
This summer I reviewed well over 500 CVs from applicants for the 20 or so graduate positions our fast-growing technology company had on offer.
Just over half of those applicants were in the reject pile within one minute of their submissions being opened. Spelling mistakes, typographical errors, random capitalisation and eclectic font use accounted for the majority.
If our universities are offering careers advice, then starting with how new graduates present themselves to employers way before they reach the interview stage would be a start. If they are already doing this, then I would encourage the students to pay more attention in class.
Head of Talent, Egress Software Technologies
…but not if you are of a certain age
In the Seventies and Eighties I went through my schooling years with every belief that my government would look after its own (after all, we’re the ones who pay the taxes) and provide me with a compatible job.
I left college with an honours degree in biological sciences following my three A-levels and nine O-levels. After two years’ struggle I got a suitable job in cancer research in Oxford where I was very happy.
I helped get many scientific papers published and became a well-respected research institute member over 13 years.
Then the funding fell through and I was made redundant. I was not downhearted at the time, as I thought I would easily get another job in the lab with all my experience.
As a temporary “stopgap” I took up a job as a hospital porter. This was 11 years ago and I am still that porter.
In spite of hundreds of applications made to suitable vacancies (mainly within Oxford University), I have been unable to secure another position. Now, at 50, I am considered too old.
This has had a negative effect on my children, who are going through school, disillusioned about what they are actually training for.
None of this is my fault. I worked hard to get my qualifications and I worked hard to gain all the work experience in order to compile a fairly impressive CV – but what good is all this? I’ve come to the conclusion that justice, in this country at least, just doesn’t exist.
Corporate tax failure hits world’s poor
The questions raised by your article about the accuracy of Government figures on corporate tax avoidance (“Osborne claims ‘mis-stated’ success of tax crackdown”, 27 August) touch on a wider issue.
The Government has asserted that the UK needs to help the world’s poorest countries fight back against tax avoidance. But this laudable aim has been contradicted by the UK’s actions. Two years ago the Government watered down its so-called Controlled Foreign Company rules – a measure that could cost poor and developing countries billions of pounds a year in lost tax revenue. That is money that could otherwise be spent building schools, hospitals and other public services.
It is time for all political parties to commit to act against the damage to poor countries caused by the UK’s corporate tax regime.
Florence de Vesvrotte
Government Relations Adviser, ActionAid
You cannot make tax sexy. HMRC should concentrate on corporations and individual executives who consistently pay less tax than their cleaners, instead of playing cops and robbers with 30 individuals on a “most wanted” list.
A question of too much sport?
Celia Stevens and David Harris (letters, 26 August) complain about how the sports pages cover too much men’s sport and too much football respectively. Perhaps there is just too much sport in The Independent (18 per cent of yesterday’s paper)?
Charity fund-raising and the thin line between campaigning and political activism
Sir, Stephen Pollard (Aug 26) suggests that charities’ campaigning is partisan, and that they are not transparent. For centuries charities have spoken out against injustice and suffering. In law, charities have a duty to work to alleviate the problems they tackle, and to try to prevent them arising at all. Charity law reflects this by allowing them to speak out on “political” issues in line with their mission.
The Charity Commission recently proposed requiring charities to declare how much they spend on “political campaigning”. A drive toward greater transparency is good for charities and good for society — and most if not all are working to be highly transparent.
However, the attempt to separate “political” campaigning from their other work is at best illogical. At worst, it panders to an infantilised debate that gives the false impression that campaigning is an optional extra to a charity’s work with beneficiaries.
Charity campaigning may be political but this does not make it partisan. Those in power are entitled to object to what is said, but not to charities’ right to say it. Charities speak for their beneficiaries, never for political parties.
The commission’s proposals must be seen in the context of the government’s Lobbying Act and of other attacks on civil society’s right to speak truth to power. It is no surprise that charity leaders speak out in defence of their beneficiaries. We should be glad of it. Society and our democracy would certainly be poorer if charities were muzzled.
Sir Stephen Bubb
Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
Sir, This “member of the public” does not expect charities to “stick to their knitting” (“Charities ordered to come clean on campaign activity”, Aug 26). I support charities in their efforts to alleviate suffering and distress and I applaud charities which campaign to bring about changes which might make their work redundant one day.
That ministers are exasperated at being criticised suggests a disturbingly autocratic perspective on the part of some of those elected to serve the nation.
Sir, I worked in a national medical charity’s head office for several years. I was struck less by the failure to divulge where large sums (more than £20 million per annum) were spent, and more by the culture of spending on administration. The funds used for research into the many forms of medical condition were extremely commendable, helping many people, but spending at the head office building was so wasteful. In the few years I worked there, the 30-plus staff had several complete re-equips of their desktop computers, and complete refurbishment of furniture and carpets, even though the building itself was very modern. There were also about a dozen staff cars, which were updated every three years. Salaries were very reasonable, including a chief executive getting a six-figure salary.
Having witnessed such waste, my wife and I, who had been regular donors to several national charities, ceased giving. We prefer to help local charities, which spend a larger percentage of our donations on the help they give.
Sir, Open discussion of rape seems to be impossible. We do not want to return to the days when judges casually dismissed rape claims saying that the victims “asked for it”, but we are in danger of going to the other extreme. Why should Judge Mary Mowat’s completely reasonable and realistic remark (“Rape conviction rate will not go up until women stop binge drinking, says judge”, Aug 27) that it is difficult for a jury to convict if a rape victim is so drunk that she cannot actually remember if she was raped cause such outrage?
It is common sense. Binge-drinking is a curse but no government has ever taken it seriously. It could be stopped quite easily if the will was there. In the past such extreme drunkenness was uncommon among women so they were not so much at risk. As a long-term feminist, I think that the rape charities should be helping women to keep control of their own bodies and welcome Judge Mowat’s remarks, rather than producing the usual Pavlovian response.
Sir, You concede (leader, Aug 26) that the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a democratic platform of British mosques and Muslim associations, “is no supporter of jihadists”. Our position against extremism and terrorism has always been quite clear, yet now you advocate that we should be ignored because of activities and statements attributed to former officials of the MCB.
You also state that the MCB has extended affiliation to “highly dubious” groups. The MCB is a broad-based organisation, from all traditions of Islam. We do not promote sectarianism by favouring some traditions over others. All of our affiliates are encouraged to seek the common good.
UK governments have failed to tackle extremism. In our view that is partly because governments, and this government in particular, have failed to engage properly with Muslim communities.
Dr Shuja Shafi
Secretary General, MCB
Sir, For 20 years we have been told that crime is falling but last month ONS quietly published the data to underpin what we’ve suspected all along: the figures routinely underestimate the truth, and that once we include bank and credit card fraud, tax and benefit fraud, ID theft and internet scams, the total of crimes rockets (“Crime fall hides huge rise in bank card fraud”, Aug 26).
We don’t know whether including all forms of fraud for the past 20 years would have negated the year-on-year fall in crime, but we do know that neither the police nor Action Fraud, the agency specifically set up to tackle fraud, can do more than scratch the surface. There are simply nowhere near the resources to match the problem. Investigating fraud is very resource intensive and the result is so often frustrating: expensive trials that fail to reach a verdict; low sentences that fail to deter offenders; victims left with no justice and no compensation.
With the genie now out of the bottle, it is time to find a much more sophisticated response to fraud that is located primarily outside the criminal justice system; based on prevention, regulation and education not arrest, prosecution and (no) convictions.
Dr Sarah Garner
The Police Foundation
Never forget: poppies, doves and a Military Cross to remind kneelers of the world wars
6:57AM BST 27 Aug 2014
SIR – Last November you ran an article in which the writer urged individuals and groups to find ways to commemorate the coming centenary of the start of the First World War.
Your article inspired me to make a kneeler, which I presented to our church, St Mary’s in Chiddingstone, last Sunday.
As 2014 is also the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, my hassock is dedicated to all who served our country in the two world wars. The design includes the British Legion poppy, doves of peace and a Military Cross, which is a reference to the medal awarded in 1944 to my father, Capt John Childs, for his courage while serving with the Special Operations Executive in northern Greece.
Senior Matron Breda Athan demonstrates the procedure when preparing to treat potential patients with Ebola at The Royal Free Hospital in London Photo: Getty Images
6:58AM BST 27 Aug 2014
SIR – News that Britain’s health authorities have brought an Ebola victim, and therefore the virus, into this country is beyond belief.
I thought they were meant to keep these diseases out.
SIR – Am I the only one uncomfortable at the different treatment afforded to the recent English victim of Ebola and the Africans stricken with this disease?
It seems that if you are European or American, your fate is in some way deemed more important than if you are African, and perhaps already live in dire conditions.
Let us hope that a cure will soon be found for this dreadful disease so that such a dilemma will not occur again.
Prisoners in handcuffs
SIR – Howard Thomas, a former chief probation officer (Letters, August 25) appears to believe the manner in which Max Clifford was escorted to a funeral was designed to humiliate.
During my 10 years in the prison service it was always standard procedure to handcuff prisoners while escorting them to hospital appointments or funerals. Max Clifford was subject to normal practice, however demeaning that may appear.
Third degree from 111
SIR – Like Chris Fairgrieve (Letters, August 23), I was at first irritated by a 111 operator’s lengthy interrogation when I rang, in my case folllowing my wife’s fall in the garden – but a nurse assured me that the paramedic was already on the way.
Indeed, he was administering excellent first aid even before the nurse had ended her questions.
Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
A scenic route
SIR – How entertaining travelling on the roads is these days, though it is hardly relaxing. While in the passenger seat on a recent 100-mile journey, I counted two drivers texting: one a lorry driver and one a white van man.
Another lorry driver had what looked like a map spread across his steering wheel. Three cars contained front-seat passengers who had their feet up on the dashboard.
Most perplexing of all were the six discarded shoes on the hard shoulder, ranging from a toddler’s shoe to a stiletto. I now seem to spot lone shoes on every journey, and have made a game of how many I can see in one day. There have been no wellington boots so far.
SIR – This year I have grown a particularly good crop of shallots.
But last Monday the green tops had completely disappeared, seemingly chopped off by blunt shears with not a trace left behind. No marks on the soil; lettuce, leeks and other vegetables nearby untouched; husband innocent.
Considering that they were growing in a raised concrete bed, around three feet in height, in an almost enclosed courtyard, I am at a loss to explain this mystery.
SIR – So now Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, is insisting that several heads of government should nominate female candidates as commissioners in place of their male nominees. He might be heeded more readily if he offered a personal contribution – such as standing down to make way for a female president.
In a league of his own
SIR – The news of Lord Attenborough’s death has moved me, as I used to serve him in the directors’ lounge at Chelsea Football Club, where I was a waitress.
One day he came over to talk to me and said that he’d noticed that I was deaf – I have severe hearing loss in both ears and relied totally on lip reading and people’s mannerisms to anticipate their requirements. Attenborough said that he had arranged for me to see his own hearing specialist in Streatham. Being a bit shy then, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I didn’t have enough money to get there after paying the rent. But his kind offer touched me, and he has had a place in my heart ever since.
SIR – I have listened to and enjoyed many of this year’s Prom concerts on the radio, but I do wonder why the soloists in the concertos feel they must play an encore after their performance.
On Sunday I heard a wonderful performance of the Dvorˇák cello concerto, which has a truly glorious ending, after which the only possible thing was silence. Instead, the cellist played a slow movement from a Bach cello suite.
Why? A concerto is not a solo work. It is a conversation between orchestra and solo instrument. The performer was very good and deserved the applause, but that is where it should have ended.
Todmorden, West Yorkshire
SIR – Your list of Britain’s most desirable postcodes contains none from Lincolnshire. Hurrah!
Cheerio to all that: mourning changes in English
SIR – The present participles “standing” and “sitting” should be added to the list of rarely used words, as they have been almost universally (and incorrectly) replaced with the past participles “stood” and “sat”.
Now I must get back to spending the next fortnight tidying my drawers and looking for my old Walkman, after having a couple of slices of marvellous toast and marmalade, if the pussycat doesn’t get to them first. Cheerio.
Shurlock Row, Berkshire
SIR – Why do some contestants on University Challenge “read” a subject while others “study” one? It is not to distinguish one university from another, as in a team from St Peter’s College, Oxford; two contestants “read” while two “studied”.
SIR – “Extraordinary” has become the most over-used and abused word in the English language – particularly on television news programmes.
Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire
SIR – If “fetch” is falling into disuse, is that because “get” has replaced it?
Not so long ago in Glasgow, an obedient dog would regard “Get!” as a forceful instruction to hasten away and not return.
Sonning Common, Oxfordshire
Salmond has refused to say what an independent Scotland’s currency would be if the Chancellor continued to rule out a deal to share sterling Photo: JEFF J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES
7:00AM BST 27 Aug 2014
SIR – In Monday’s televised debate on Scottish independence, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, stated very clearly that he wanted to keep the pound sterling, and that sterling was controlled by the Bank of England.
It is a well-known adage that “he who controls the currency controls the country”. Scotland could well find itself in a situation where it is run by the Bank of England without any representation whatsoever in Westminster. This seems a very dangerous and totally undemocratic situation of which the Scots should be made aware before they vote.
It is such a shame that Alistair Darling did not make this point.
SIR – Kevin Cottrell is correct in pointing out that the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not part of the United Kingdom, but fails to mention that they are crown dependencies, for which the UK government of the day has administrative responsibility on the sovereign’s behalf.
This covers areas such as defence and foreign affairs, as well as oversight in conjunction with the Privy Council of the islands’ day-to-day affairs.
The Bank of England is there to provide support should the islands’ finances get into a parlous state. Drawing a comparison between the islands and Scotland, should the referendum vote turn out to be a Yes for independence, would be like comparing chalk and cheese.
Independence should not be confused with that under-the-counter elixir that Mr Salmond is actually peddling, namely interdependence. Independence means the severance of the Act of Union, which would require Scotland to put in the necessary governmental and administrative arrangements, from diplomatic services to car registration and from new passports for all Scots to a new pension ministry – all within the 18 or so months that Alex Salmond envisages.
It is only right for the Government to highlight the risks of independence to the citizens of the United Kingdom – and that includes those north of the border.
Barrie H Bertram
SIR – Having seen the debate, one cannot help being impressed with Mr Salmond’s passion and obvious sincerity regarding home rule for Scotland.
In view of this, is it safe to assume that, should he win the referendum for Scottish independence, he will allow the Orkney and Shetland islands a similar opportunity to decide their own future?
Dr John Bennett
Newick, East Sussex
SIR – Two Scottish men shouting at each other, and they don’t even have the decency to do it in a Glasgow pub.
Sir, – Fintan O’Toole, writing about the eighth amendment to the Constitution (“Why Ireland never faced up to the issue of abortion”, Opinion & Analysis, August 26th), claims that a number of named organisations were “the bodies that made Ireland unique in the democratic world in having a ban on abortion in its constitution”.
The constitutional amendment was made following a free choice by the people, not by the organisations named in Mr O’Toole’s article. Furthermore, the amendment was not a ban on abortion, it was a declaration that unborn children and their mothers have equal rights to their respective lives. Insofar as there was a ban on abortion, it had existed from 1861, 120 years before the pro-life amendment campaign was founded.
Mr O’Toole also refers to “the ideology that gave us the eighth amendment”, describing it as “utterly dismissive of any qualifications to its absolutist views”. In fact, the amendment provides for recognition of equal right to life for both children and women – hardly reflective of an absolutist dismissal of qualifications. – Yours, etc,
Sir, –Fintan O’Toole’s opinion piece is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from the actual debate at hand, and the sentiments expressed in the quotes he has peppered his article with imply a spurious link between today’s pro-life movement and what are quite frankly the somewhat extreme views of some. It is a cheap trick by Mr O’Toole. Extreme views, whether well intentioned or otherwise, can be found on either side of virtually any topic we collectively choose to discuss and debate.
I cannot speak for those referenced in Mr O’Toole’s article but my own view is that the general argument raised by Mr O’Toole and others continually fails to grasp the fact that this debate is best centred in the language of human rights, not necessarily in the language of faith or religion. Those who oppose abortion, whether for reasons of faith or otherwise, do so on the basis that to oppose abortion is to stand up on behalf of those in what can be the most frightening and vulnerable stages of human life, an expectant mother and the baby she is carrying in situations involving a harrowing rape, a devastating medical diagnosis or psychological illness, to give example of some of the many and varied situations that may arise.
Abortion is too easy a solution for the myriad situations that these women face. We owe these women more than what Mr O’Toole and others advocate – a quick-fix solution to ease a nation’s collective guilty conscience. Instead we should be focusing on giving these women and their babies the attentive care and post-partum support they require rather than making them believe that a quick abortion, putting on a good face and a lifetime of silence is the only option. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In his highly selective history of the foundation of the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign, Fintan O’Toole says that the organisations which comprised this group “are the bodies that made Ireland unique in the democratic world in having a ban on abortion in its constitution.” He gives these groups far too much credit.
The 1983 amendment was not foisted on us by some ultra-religious fifth column, as he suggests. In fact, it was proposed by the democratically elected government of the day and put to a referendum by a majority decision of both houses of the democratically elected Oireachtas. It was then approved by the people, with 841,233 voting in favour, 67 per cent of those who voted.
This is how our democracy works, a fact which Mr O’Toole has overlooked. Does the fact that he doesn’t agree with the decision detract in any way from its legitimacy? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Unable or unwilling to engage with the core issue on abortion, Fintan O’Toole resorts in his latest column to the weakest possible of arguments: denigrating some of the leaders of the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign all of 30 years ago – focusing not as one might expect on their views on the issue itself but on their views on contraception and homosexuality.
His aim appears to be to attempt to discredit the pro-life position by association with selected reactionary comments on unrelated matters.
He describes the pro-life position as “absolutist” but this is an apt description of his own position because he is undeniably absolutist in his exclusion of the perspective of the unborn child. He also omits to mention in his highly selective narrative that it was the people of Ireland who put the clause protecting the unborn into the Constitution, not a handful of individuals. – Yours, etc,
Bayside Boulevard North,
Sir, – Having read Fintan O’Toole’s insightful piece on the people and organisations behind the eighth amendment, I cannot help but be struck by how many of the agendas of these groups have failed, and how we as a country have chosen a different path.
I am proud to live in a country where access to contraception is a norm. Where equal rights for gay people are enshrined in our laws and homosexuality is beginning to be fully acknowledged and celebrated. Where all children have a right to be cherished, loved and have access to the same services and facilities regardless of their “legitimacy”. And where I can send my daughter to a school where I hope she will learn to be interested in and accepting of people of all religions and none. I am hopeful too that this country will soon allow women to access their rights over their own bodies, and remove the eight amendment from our Constitution.
I wonder how disappointed the surviving members of that conservative group must feel now. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As columnists, commentators and letter-writers charge across the pages of The Irish Times in defence of John Redmond’s achievements, they might pause briefly to note what was said in volume one of the Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs issued by Oxford University Press in 1937. In the words of the author, WK Hancock: “The act which Redmond was willing to accept from Parliament as a ‘final settlement’– Sinn Féin would never allow Redmond to forget that disastrous phrase – was nothing more than a scheme of provincial autonomy. It was a scheme of provincial autonomy so circumscribed that an Australian colony, even sixty or seventy years earlier, would have rejected it with indignation. [He then lists the matters excluded from the competence of the Irish parliament.] Ireland, to all intents and purposes, remained within the British financial system: at the head of six limitations on her fiscal autonomy, customs and excise were listed. Ireland, in the future as in the past, would send representatives to Westminster. The act left intact the framework of the United Kingdom. If this was what home rule meant, home rule – although its excited partisans and opponents could not see it – was in fact another form of unionism.”
It would be unusual, I imagine, for a state to celebrate an initiative that fell so far short of the statehood that was later achieved. Hancock proceeds: “In method and theory also the Irish leaders who were willing to accept this act worked within the framework of the United Kingdom. Their strategy and tactics assumed the validity of the Act of Union. The Irish had accepted English rules.”
John Redmond underlined the point by encouraging his followers to join the British army. He appears by then to have become a sincere imperialist. Some other home rule leaders made a more pragmatic calculation that limited home rule was the best available option for nationalism at the time. Their position was undermined both by the power of unionism and by changes – some gradual, as in changing attitudes to the war; some rapid, as in the aftermath of 1916 – in popular understanding of the war and its political lessons. As Hancock says, the home rule leaders had “accepted the constitutional principle of the sovereignty of [the British] parliament. They staked everything upon this principle. They lost their stake.”
They were of their time and misread the future, as most of us do most of the time. More seriously, they played with war – and human lives – and lost. This is surely something to remember and analyse rather than to celebrate. – Yours, etc,
BARRA Ó SEAGHDHA,
Chapelizod, Dublin 20.
Sir, – Kudos to Eduardo Porter for his incisive analysis of population and the environment (“Population, education and climate change are close relations”, Health + Family, August 26th). However, his statement that China’s one-child policy “is now widely considered a blatant violation of human rights” left me baffled. No human rights authority has ever determined that countries are forbidden from wading into the issue of family size, given the importance of that issue to the health and safety of the world.
For example, had world average birthrates remained at their 1995 level of 3.04 children per woman, the UN estimated world population would have reached 256 billion people by 2150. While methods of enforcement such as coerced abortions and sterilisations violate human rights, countries are free to implement population policies that gently guide their citizens to make good decisions, in much the way that some states guide their citizens to wear seatbelts and avoid cigarettes.
Given the parade of horrible things such as climate change and food shortages (to say nothing of mass extinction) that Mr Porter admits all come from a world bursting at its seams with people, one wonders why countries are not doing so already. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – A quote attributed to Oscar Wilde says “whenever people agree with me , I always feel I must be wrong”. Patrick Smyth disagreed with comments I made about the downing of the Malaysian plane in eastern Ukraine (“Blaming the EU over Ukraine easy, but misguided”, July 26th, Opinion & Analysis). In my original letter, I suggested the EU and United States must accept ultimate responsibility for this tragedy, since they had created the conditions for the illegal coup in Ukraine. Mr Smyth suggested this was “ the logic of a Provo”. If memory serves me correctly, the Provos attributed each atrocity to “ 800 years of British oppression”. Well the coup in Ukraine occurred just six months ago, so cause and effect can be readily established and the comparison is simply arrant nonsense and indeed odious. Apologists for the western action, such as Mr Smyth, give the impression that the coup was somehow excusable, on the basis that the government of Yanukovych was “deeply unpopular”. Using that criterion, we could excuse coups in virtually every European capital and Washington, at the moment.
The violence we see in eastern Ukraine now is a symptom of the fear and mistrust engendered by the coup, in a country which is deeply divided. In the example of a pedestrian killed by a drunken driver, we attribute the fatality, not to two tonnes of metal colliding with flesh and bone, but rather to the excessive alcohol consumed by the driver. This is the root cause. Easy to understand for most people surely!
I do not intend to bore your readers with details of the American involvement in the coup.
Victoria Nuland, a neocon hawk in the Obama administration, has herself boasted of it and her work in this area is well documented. Also documented are talks she held with the neo-Nazi group, the Svoboda Party, who provided the “muscle” for the coup, forcing Mr Yanukovych to flee for his life. In a taped phone conversation in Kiev, Ms Nuland is heard discussing with the American ambassador essentially just what type of government they should install. I am not greatly concerned with the Americans, however. We know they will always serve their own self-interests and we know also there are hawks in Washington hoping to start a new cold war. A military budget of $1.75 billion each day demands constant conflict and tensions in the world. If they are not there, they must of course be created. I am sure Mr Smyth is familiar with this, given his time in Washington.
It is the debacle that is EU foreign policy that should be our real concern. We are bearing the brunt of Russian sanctions to further the interests of the United States! Whether the EU has been malevolent or just plain stupid is difficult to tell. When Catherine Ashton is involved, naivety can never be entirely ruled out. Whatever the truth of the matter, it should have been plain to EU member states that the economic package offered to Yanukovych would place him in an impossible situation. Damned if he did and damned if he did not. The manner in which Europe, the bastion of democracy, accepted the coup was quite astonishing and disappointing. Let us be clear also, that the current regime in Kiev, linked closely to ultra nationalist groups, has no legitimacy. The post-coup election was held in a state at civil war and with fascist gangs intimidating voters in the west of the country.
For many years Russia has been nervous of the aggressive eastward expansion of the EU and Nato. Just as the United States would not accept missiles in Cuba, so Russia has a perfect right to refuse such an outcome in Ukraine. This is the real American and Nato agenda and the EU seems to be a compliant conspirator. Europe has nothing to gain from a poor relationship with Russia. On the contrary we should be looking east for future strategic alliances which will be necessary to counter the hegemony of the United States and China in the future. To those who believe our future lies with the Americans, just let me mention Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. As our good “friend”, Ms Nuland commented, when told that Europe was reluctant to impose sanctions on Russia, “f*ck Europe”.
That just about says it all. – Yours, etc,
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.
Sir, – I object to the flying of a flag in support of the gay community at a Garda station in Henry Street, Limerick (“Limerick Garda station to fly flag in support of gay pride parade”, August 27th).
You report that those in the station are doing this “as a significant symbol of support for the gay community in Ireland”.
The Garda Síochána should remain even-handed in its approach to society, “neither supporting nor opposing any causes” outside its function of maintaining law and order. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I note that a Limerick Garda station is to fly the rainbow flag in support of gay pride. Why do not all Garda stations fly the national flag in support of national pride? Travel in France or the US and you will see national flags flying over police stations. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Well done to Keith Duggan for his article “GAA has fumbled the ball” (August 26th). The reason given by the GAA for not replaying the game in Croke Park in two weeks is the possibility of the Dublin v Donegal match ending in a draw.
I wonder what are the statistical odds of both All-Ireland semi-finals ending in a draw in the same year, and indeed whether it has ever happened? And even in the event of it happening, surely then make the decision to relocate if needs be.
Meanwhile, Claregalway should be fun around lunchtime next Saturday. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – If Dublin was in Mayo’s position, with a play-off against Kerry, you could be damn sure they would have the replay at Croke Park! – Yours, etc,
A chara, – I enjoyed Una Mullally’s piece “Loom bands can help stretch children” (Opinion & Analysis, August 25th). I was introduced to this phenomenon by my nine-year-old daughter Sonja at the start of the summer holidays. As someone who can be described as congenitally clumsy, I was surprised to find how enjoyable playing with these things has become.
Loom bands, like youth, are too precious to be wasted on the young. Come on, all you middle-aged parents, weave and wear your loom bands with pride! – Is mise,
Sir, – I agree with Sarah Waldron that trainers can add a dash of flair to office attire (Trainers are the new work uniform”, August 27th). While we’re at it, let’s ban men’s ties from the office. – Yours, etc,
IT is strange to be hearing calls for populist pay rises (‘Time for wage rises to spur economy – Labour minister’, Irish Independent, August 27) when we are still borrowing €6bn this year to balance our current account.
We are insolvent, but for some the answer is to give ourselves a pay rise – how wise is that? The Irish domestic economy is in intensive care. Retail turnover is down by one third since 2006, with many business closures continuing as a result. To recover that 33pc lost, it will take many years, perhaps 10 years at 3pc growth per annum. Then, and only then, can we even consider paying ourselves more.
This Government has already increased the national minimum wage. The National Competitiveness Council says that was an error, and today we continue to erode the nation’s competitiveness position with errant abandon.
Trade union leaders and the Labour Party only pay lip service to the long-term unemployed, as they collectively call for pay rises. They are the vocal minority playing populist tunes that will keep the long-term unemployed on the dole queues. It is time to hold our nerve, let the economy recover fully, and build growth again on a realistic basis.
Ireland’s troubled economy is a long, long way from the luxury of awarding each other pay rises.
Old Youghal Road, Cork
Bruton didn’t feel hardship
It is disgraceful that Richard Bruton has shot down the statement by Labour Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash that low to middle-income earners need pay rises to help the economic recovery.
Like so many others, since 2008 I have received no pay increases but have endured a pay cut. Of course, Mr Bruton’s pay packet insulates him from the hardship experienced by the ordinary working people of Ireland, like myself and others who fall within this category.
A five-year-old could work out the equation: low income = no spending power = job losses = high unemployment = a bad economy.
We need politicians like Mr Nash who understand the basics and who are committed to stimulating the economy rather than putting it to death.
Drogheda, Co Louth
Rural towns need big games too
While both Kerry and Mayo supporters may be unhappy with the Limerick venue for the All-Ireland semi-final replay, Jarlath Burns certainly made some valid observations (Irish Independent, August 27) when he said more of these major games should be played outside Croke Park and at venues around the country which may have the adequate facilities.
Firstly, we should take into consideration that many of our rural towns are suffering in the downturn, with many business closing. As Burns correctly states, there is little sense in playing all our games in Croke Park when it is often not full to capacity.
After all, we regularly hear calls for better promotion of tourism in rural Ireland and certainly the GAA is one association equipped to promote it by spreading games nationwide. Killarney certainly welcomed the All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Tipperary in 1937.
Killarney, Co Kerry
Replays do happen – it’s sport
John Reid (Irish Independent, Letters, August 27) is wrong on so many counts regarding the Kerry/Mayo All-Ireland semi final replay.
First of all Kerry and Mayo are not to “blame” for the fact that a replay is needed. These are two fantastic football teams who put on a very entertaining and exciting show and in the end, they turned out to be evenly matched on the day.
This is what happens in a lot of sports. Secondly, Mr Reid points to the fact that there were 30,000 empty seats in Croke Park for the match and he goes on to direct his ire towards Kerry and Mayo fans for not travelling.
Perhaps he was elsewhere for the past few weeks and missed the fact that there was a rail stoppage on the day of the match.
Finally, I don’t believe that anybody is “insulting” the Irish-American diaspora with regard to the American football match being held in Croke Park. The suggestion put forward from many quarters was to hold the Kerry/Mayo replay on the weekend following the American football.
I fail to see how it is an “insult” to all those American football fans to hold an All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park a full week after they have had their day out in the GAA’s largest stadium.
Crumlin, Dublin 12
Aviva for the rematch, anyone?
Given the wonderful co-operation between the GAA and the IRFU during the building of the Aviva Stadium, would the IRFU have been prepared to host the Kerry/Mayo replay? Croker certainly came up trumps for the rugby fraternity. I doubt whether the fellas with the hip flasks and sheep-skin coats would let them down in their hour of need.
Salutes at state funerals
Why is it that past Fianna Fail Taoisigh and Presidents are honoured with military salutes at their funerals – Jack Lynch’s funeral being an honourable exception.
As we move away from the culture of the gun here, surely in sacred places such as graveyards the firing of guns is an anomaly and contrary to the Christian message?
No statue for John Redmond
I wish to take issue with former Taoiseach John Bruton‘s call for a statue to be erected in honour of John Redmond. Redmond’s chief claim to fame is that during that atrocity we call World War I, in which up to 50,000 Irishmen lost their lives, he made himself the British Empire’s top recruiting sergeant in Ireland, urging his countrymen to join up and risk everything for the sum of “two shillings” a day.
Since the start of this year, our media has paraded numerous relatives of those unfortunate soldiers across its pages and TV screens displaying medals as if those men had taken part in some kind of Olympic Games on the killing fields.
No mention of the rats in the trenches “some as big as cats” from gorging on the dead in the dark of night, or the rain and muck, or the officer behind the men holding a gun in his fist ready to shoot any soldier who refused to go “over the top”. The British Empire of that time was constantly at war somewhere in the world.
Balbriggan, Co Dublin
Applause for John Major
With reference to your reader’s letter on the absence of unionist/loyalist leaders at Albert Reynolds‘s funeral, (Irish Independent, August 27) I would agree that it was conspicuous.
Thankfully, John Major and Theresa Villiers cancelled out that anomaly with their presence and how right it was for Major to receive the spontaneous applause from the assembled mourners.
Fourmilehouse, Co Roscommon