Very quiet

15 September 2014 Very Quiet

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A sunny but cool day.

Mary’s back much better today, breakfast wt up gammon for tea and her back pain is still there.


Sir Philip Dowson – obituary

Sir Philip Dowson was an architect whose practical Modernism reinvigorated Oxbridge quads but riled the Prince of Wales

Sir Philip Dowson

Sir Philip Dowson

7:29PM BST 14 Sep 2014


Sir Philip Dowson, who has died aged 90, was one of Britain’s most prominent post-war architects and, in later life, president of the Royal Academy of Arts (1993-99).

A realist as much as a Modernist, he designed buildings with an eye on their proposed function. As a result he was to become the architect to whom Britain’s universities, cultural institutions and blue-chip corporations turned when they required a new wing, library or headquarters.

Dowson was one of the driving forces — as chief architect — at Arup Associates, an innovative and collaborative team of influential architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. His aim was to maintain a scientific and rational approach; in addition to the function of a space, construction techniques and the character of materials were the foundation blocks of his designs.

Dowson’s projects ranged from the redevelopment of the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London, to new Oxbridge builds — including student rooms at St John’s College, Oxford, and the Forbes Mellon Library at Clare College, his alma mater at Cambridge. In all of his work he followed the maxim of his boss Ove Arup: “signature thinking, not signature style”.

Sir Philip Dowson’s plans for the library at Clare College, Cambridge

Philip Henry Manning Dowson was born on August 16 1924 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Educated at Gresham’s School, Norfolk, he spent a year reading Mathematics at University College, Oxford, before joining the Royal Navy in 1943. He served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres during the Second World War. In 1947 he left the Navy and returned to his studies, this time reading Art History at Clare College, Cambridge, after which he trained at the Architectural Association.

In 1953 Dowson joined the engineering firm Ove Arup and Partners as an architect and, in 1963, with Sir Ove Arup, Ronald Hobbs and Derek Sugden, became a founding partner and later chief architect of Arup Associates.

Arup Associates was applauded for the “clarity, logic and elegance” with which they approached building design — a combination that proved popular among commissioning institutions such as universities (Dowson brought his practical Modernism to bear on large campus sites in Oxford and Cambridge).

Key to his approach was the “tartan grid” in which “thin bays of the tartan pattern provided a dedicated zone of structure and mechanical servicing, leaving the larger bays clear for functional use”. It was the perfect fit for laboratories, offices, halls of residence and libraries.

However, one of his early successes was the conversion of an unusual 19th-century building. On commission from Benjamin Britten in 1965, he transformed a vast malthouse at Snape, Suffolk, into a concert hall — incorporating a foyer, stage and auditorium — for the Aldeburgh Festival. Sensitive to the risk of spoiling the building’s character, Dowson succeeded in creating a 134-by-58-by-49ft hall with a new period-looking roof and ash and cane seating. The Maltings Concert Hall was opened by the Queen in 1967.

Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Suffolk, converted by Sir Philip Dowson (ALAMY)

In 1969 he designed The Modern House for Sir Jack Zunz, the British engineer responsible for the roof of the Sydney Opera House. The four-bedroom house on Drax Avenue in Wimbledon — described by English Heritage as “well-crafted, meticulously planned” — is now Grade II listed.

The following year, building work began on Dowson’s design for a block of 156 study-bedrooms within the grounds of St John’s College, Oxford. “It was a bold stroke,” wrote Vaughan Grylls in Oxford Then and Now. The Thomas White Building took five years to build, with the final dormitory formed in “brutal bush-hammered concrete” with an ancient wall retained in its midst. It was a modern building which aimed to “reflect the mood of Oxford and the character of its surroundings and settle into the silhouette of a medieval city.” It won both RIBA and Concrete Society awards.

In the early Seventies Dowson was a mentor to Michael (later Sir Michael) Hopkins, who later recalled: “Working for IBM in Portsmouth on three buildings at the same time, he had one too many. I was working with Norman Foster at the time and Philip suggested that we should take on the design of their temporary offices, 250,000 square feet – a fantastic opportunity. Philip was always very generous with his time and energy in the support of younger architects, taking on the mantle of Hugh Casson, Robert Matthew and Leslie Martin — the architectural knights – as the patron of younger architectural practices.”

Dowson’s project on Brick Lane in the late Seventies — creating a new headquarters for Truman out of their old brewery and two listed Georgian houses — helped set in motion a wider interest in the reconfiguration of derelict historical buildings at the end of the 20th century.

There were frustrations along the way. In the early Nineties the reclusive Hong Kong developer Victor Hwang hired Dowson to realise his vision for the Battersea Power Station — a project which fell through after more than a decade which saw impenetrable planning problems. “I’ve seen three Prime Ministers come and go, and not a single brick has been laid on this project,” Huang said in 2000.

Dowson was also left aggrieved in the early Nineties when Arup’s scheme for the Paternoster Square development next to St Paul’s Cathedral was dropped due to pressure from the Prince of Wales. “It is quite extraordinary what is happening at St Paul’s,” said Dowson.

The Thomas White Building at St John’s College, Oxford (ALAMY)

Dowson retired as a senior partner at Ove Arup in 1990, and three years later was elected president of the Royal Academy of Arts. He had a long association with the Academy, having been elected to it in 1979. He was awarded its Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1981. As president of the RA, Dowson’s tenure was notable for his steerage of its acquisition of the Burlington Gardens building behind the Piccadilly galleries (left vacant when the Museum of Mankind moved to Bloomsbury).

He drew up plans for how the two buildings might be joined, thus doubling the Academy’s footprint. “Armed with these, using his reputation as an architect and his ability to be taken seriously by government, he prized the freehold out of them for a modest £5 million,” noted Sir Michael Hopkins. “A bargain then, and the equivalent price today of a very small shoebox in Mayfair.” Construction work to join the two buildings begins in 2015 (using designs by Sir David Chipperfield).

Dowson’s personal interests reflected his professional pursuits: he was an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Art; a governor of St Martin’s School of Art (1975-82); and a trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and of the National Portrait Gallery. He was also a keen sailor.

Among numerous awards and honours, Sir Philip Dowson was appointed CBE in 1969, and knighted in 1980.

He married, in 1950, Sarah Crewdson, who survives him with a son and two daughters.

Sir Philip Dowson, born August 16 1924, died August 22 2014


How laudable of the British nation to raise over £1m in a few hours for the Manchester dogs’ home that burned down (Report, 13 September). Where is the quick response to the 1,400 abused children in Rotherham, and elsewhere? A trust fund could have been set up for these young victims, which might have helped restore them to some kind of health, but more importantly regain some measure of faith in a so-called civilised society. I note that we have a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but only a National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Vera Koenig
Headcorn, Kent

• Peter West is right to say that recruitment to the board of Impress, the new independent press regulator, should be open and fair (Letters, 11 September). That is why candidates for the board will be assessed against transparent criteria, such as their experience at “a senior level in a public or professional capacity”. This includes the private and voluntary sectors. However, Mr West is wrong to describe this as a “public appointment”. Impress is an independent non-profit organisation, unconstrained by political or commercial interests. Its aim is to promote press freedom and ethical journalism by upholding the code of practice. This is an important and challenging role, and we expect the board to include suitably qualified members from diverse backgrounds.
Jonathan Heawood
The Impress Project

• None of the discussions of recent Anglo-Irish politics that have appeared following the death of Ian Paisley (Report, Opinion, Obituary, 13 September) acknowledge the contribution to the Good Friday agreement of Riverdance impresario Michael Flatley; he it was who came up with the crucial principle that they should keep their arms, but not use them.
Percival Turnbull
Barnard Castle, County Durham

• On the whole I like the paper’s new look, but I can’t cope with the Letters page on the left.
Sue Leyland
Hunmanby, North Yorkshire

A Scottish Saltire flag flies on the border with England A Scottish Saltire flag flies on the border with England. ‘It is not Scotland that has chosen to separate itself from the UK: rather it is the ­London-centric policies of successive UK governments which have departed from the postwar social democratic consensus.’ Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

It’s heartening that the Guardian sees that the key question in the referendum debate is that “the UK’s validity … must ultimately rest on whether [it] can supply social justice more or less reliably than independence can” (Editorial, 13 September). But your answer to that question is flawed. First, you claim that the political tasks of reducing inequality and protecting the worse off are “surely better done when risks and resources can be pooled across a larger population than a smaller one”. New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland and numerous other small countries show that, despite the apparent logic of your statement, it does not have to be that way.

More fundamentally, if we must rely on the union to deliver social justice, who is going to deliver it? The only possible answer to that question in the current UK political set-up is the Labour party – the party that has abandoned political activism, cosied up to the wealthy, pledged to keep the lowest corporation tax in the G7, supported renewal of the UK’s absurd and obscene weapons of mass destruction, and which is committed to maintaining Tory public spending cuts if elected next year.

But even with that manifesto, Labour’s chances of forming the next UK government are not looking good. So your position requires both a radical shift in Labour’s fortunes and a reversal of many of their current policies.

“Ah,” you will say, “but the SNP is no better.” That is unarguable. But your editorial position falls into the trap of assuming that a yes vote is a vote for the SNP and its policies. The many thousands of lifelong Labour supporters voting yes on the 18th will emphatically reject that interpretation. Those Labour supporters are yearning for their party to actively strategise, campaign and organise for just the kind of policies you think are vital for the future of the people of Scotland – and the UK. But their UK leaders’ agenda precludes that.

Far from being a vote for the SNP, a yes vote on Thursday could pave the way in the Scottish elections in 2016 for a complete realignment of Scottish politics, with many SNP members and supporters reverting to “normal” politics and joining other parties, the Labour party in Scotland rediscovering its roots and its core values, and a Labour-Green coalition posing a massive challenge to the SNP’s current dominance.

This would surely be a good outcome for England, Wales and Northern Ireland too. Both your editorial and John Harris’s piece (It’s not just Scotland where politics as usual is finished, 11 September) recognise that the referendum debate has massively boosted the level of political engagement across Scotland. Far from abandoning like-minded people in the rest of the UK, a progressive independent Scotland could be an inspiration for similar grassroots-based revitalisation of politics south of the border.
Malcolm Spaven
Gladhouse, Midlothian

• As a geordie resident in Scotland I am more sensitive than most to notions of separatism. Yet having now lived through the most stimulating period of political debate I have ever experienced, I must take exception to your editorial stance on the Scottish referendum. When the campaign started I feared a descent into “blood and soil” nationalism of the worst sort, but this has simply not happened.

What I have come to understand is that it is not Scotland that has chosen to separate itself from the UK: rather it is the London-centric policies of successive UK governments – Tory and New Labour – which have departed from the postwar social democratic consensus, to which Scots (and geordies, and scousers) remain steadfastly loyal. It is precisely this departure that saw Labour’s vote in Holyrood elections shrivel in favour of the SNP. Whether or not their claims are sincere, they at least understand Scots well enough to grasp this key insight.

A yes vote would simply formalise a parting of the ways that was started under Thatcher and perpetuated under Blair. As for your claim that “Nationalism is not the answer to social injustice”: that is true of Hitlerite nationalism, but not of Gandhian, and it is the latter which the present debate in Scotland most resembles.
Paul Younger

• So it’s goodbye to the Guardian. Seems like you’ll support autonomy and self-determination for everyone except the Scots. I liked you because you offered many quality columnists, an intelligent and well-intentioned left-of-centre view of the world, and excellent book reviews. But you were also timid, anxious, shockingly London-centric, unchallenging of the status quo and ultimately too frightened of your vested interests and advertisers to declare your support for a small, vibrant, electorally engaged and questioning country that only wants to try and conduct its affairs in a way that is qualitatively different from those of Westminster. I’ve been with you since 1983 when you were handed round the fire at Greenham, and often wished that there was a Scottish equivalent. Well, maybe now there will be. Cheerio.
Alison Napier

• For some time, I have considered the Guardian to be the last bastion of integrity and credibility in an ever more untruthful, immoral and hate-filled UK media. It is therefore with some sadness that I condemn you for completely failing to understand and recognise why many of us in Scotland will be voting yes in Thursday’s referendum. Above all, a yes vote for me is an opportunity for politics throughout the UK to be completely reassessed, where we, the people, can be shown to be strong enough to shake up a system in an informed, peaceful, and democratic way. We have the choice to accept our lot, and condone how Westminster has controlled these islands until now, or we can let it be known that inequality, corruption and social injustice have no place in our society, and that we do not fear the consequences of making this known to our rulers through this ballot.
Ruari Gordon
Corriegills, Isle of Arran


The best hope of the Islamic State (Isis) is that by broadcasting the brutal murder of hostages it will trigger a knee-jerk reaction in Western capitals to engage in military action against them.

Isis will then be able to bring substance to its claim that the West is engaging in a murderous anti-Muslim campaign, with its resultant propaganda acting as a recruiting sergeant to bring yet more disaffected young Muslims to its ranks. We won’t then have 500 UK nationals fighting in Isis – we will have 5,000.

Despite the natural urge to bring these cold-blooded killers to justice, we must avoid playing into their hands by giving them the response their provocations are seeking.

If Isis is to be defeated, it will only be by the Muslim states that border the territory Isis has seized. We should restrict ourselves to assisting these states in preventing the spread of a contagion of barbarity, but we should fall short of our own direct involvement, since this is exactly what Isis is playing for.

Alan Stedall


There are only two ways to get rid of an enemy. One is to kill him; the other is to turn him into a friend. Even sanctions are essentially a slow-motion version of the first, with the disadvantage of leaving survivors who will be more bitter, and so more dangerous than before. The Middle East is an impossible cauldron of hatreds. Do we really think those will vanish, even if – improbably – we achieve any military peace?

A noble example of an alternative, on a tiny scale, has been set in Israel by 40 intelligence servicemen who resigned en bloc, refusing to be used by their government as an aid to oppressing the Palestinians. Their government seems oblivious to the enduring hatred it is engendering for their children and for children’s children in every neighbouring country. And previous interference by powerful outsiders (usually out of selfish interest) has done nothing but harm.

The mindset all over that region seems always to win by confrontation, with no thought to the fires left smouldering under the ruins so generated.

Fighting fire with fire occasionally works – but only leaves a desert. Is that what we want?

Kenneth J Moss



One individual who has seemed to be silent over recent weeks, as turmoil in the Middle East continues, is the Quartet peace envoy Tony Blair.

Perhaps his next role, given the announcement of the Pope’s forthcoming visit to a Muslim country, Turkey, should be his appointment as His Holiness’s envoy to the Islamic Caliphate, or  Isis, as residential Papal Nuncio.

It would be difficult to imagine a more appropriate posting.

Professor David Molyneux

Kingsley, Cheshire


If UK splits, blame Cameron not Salmond

I am Scottish, living with my family in Chippenham for the past 28 years, and am devastated at the prospect of the permanent break-up of the UK.

Readers may feel that this is the fault of Alex Salmond and his Scottish Nationalist Party. Not true. We have always known that the SNP wanted this. The responsibility for this will lie completely with Prime Minister Cameron.

What the majority of the people of Scotland wanted, and asked for, was a third choice to be added, a “middle road” – a Scotland with more devolved powers and responsibilities. But Cameron in his folly made a disastrous political misjudgement and refused.

Then, with a week to go, he jumps up and shouts: “You can have the middle road and the powers.” I sincerely hope it is not too late, but many Scots will take this last-minute change of mind as an insult, by a man who did not listen to what they had asked for at the beginning.

Bill Douglas

Chippenham, Wiltshire


In 1974 a taxman in Kilmarnock was transferred, compulsorily, to Stourbridge in the Black Country. Leaving home for work has been the lot of hundreds of thousands of Scots who, like me, are disenfranchised in this referendum. I am proud and passionate in my love of Scotland. The cemetery in Hurlford, Ayrshire, houses at least four generations of my family. I’m Scottish first but also comfortable calling myself British. I fear for  the future of my country and for the well-being of the  five million people who  live there.

Some points to ponder before voting:

What’s in it for me and my family?

Yes is a vote for Alex because he is basically saying: “Trust me, it’ll be all right on the night.”

Is Jo(e) Scottish Public being asked to pay too dearly for Alex’s place in history and does he really care about the cost?

Division will linger in Scotland, whatever the outcome, but if it’s Yes, will the other 60 million easily forgive the chaos caused and agree currency union?

Is it only me who sees Alex as Kaa in The Jungle Book, swaying and singing “Trust In Me” in an effort to mesmerise his prey?

Nigel Haydon

Stourbridge, West Midlands

A number of grocers have indicated that the cost of groceries in Scotland may rise as a result of the increased distribution costs across a large and relatively thinly populated country.

This would appear to imply that there is currently a cross-subsidy of delivery costs across England/Scotland.

I have not yet heard from these same grocers that a Yes vote would lead to a fall in grocery prices in England. Or could it be that the increased Scottish distribution costs may be quietly added to their bottom line?

Ray Noy



I read your report “Young ones bored, bored, bored by ‘Big, Big Debate’” (12 September) and was highly unimpressed. I was at the debate, and your article does not accurately represent all the students who attended.

Being in my fifth year at school, I am acutely aware of my examinations coming up in May and very conscious of every school lesson I miss; as I’m sure are the other 8,000 students who attended. So it was no trivial day out for many of us; it was a sacrifice that we were willing to make in order to participate in a debate where we would have a chance to learn about Scotland’s choices for the future.

Your article portrayed the students as uninterested and immature and did not even mention the content of the debate or quote any of the extremely intelligent questions and comments put forward by the pupils.

Greta Penny Tobermann


 Scotland’s enemy is not the UK, but centralisation by Whitehall. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, great cities such as Glasgow, Dundee, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol ran their own transport, sewerage, gas, education and other services funded by locally determined taxation. Now we are one of the most centralised states in the OECD, with effectively no locally raised and decided expenditure.

There is a growing appetite for the restoration of genuine local decision-making, which can release a renewed dynamism and innovation in the UK. Cornwall, the North-east and North-west all deserve release from the stranglehold of Whitehall as much as Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Together we can do it – so don’t abandon us now, Scotland.

Neil Colvill


The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank and John Lewis have all come out against independence for Scotland. These attempts to influence the vote undermine the democratic process; big business should not try to sway people’s votes.

Margaret McGowan


Given Alex Salmond’s penchant for crying “foul”, he has presumably complained that Last Night of the Proms conductor Sakari Oramo’s wearing of a Union flag waistcoat was orchestrated by Westminster?

Peter Kemp

Marlow, Buckinghamshire


On Thursday will it be a matter of “Move Over, Darling”?

Andrew McLuskey

Stanwell, Surrey

Paisley fed hatred and division

I don’t recall thinking of Ian Paisley as charismatic, as he is now being described. Rather, his style was hectoring, confrontational and intransigent. It seems extraordinary that he is now being given only credit for his contribution to the peace process, while glossing over the fact that he worked tirelessly to feed the many years of hatred and divisiveness that required that peace process. Speaking no ill of the dead is a fine principle but does not serve history well.

Beryl Wall

London W4

Stop invading my musical privacy

Over recent years I have nurtured my iTunes music library. Now Apple has greatly disturbed this library by dumping a new and unwanted U2 album on to it. It is akin to Bono leaving one of his bibles in every hotel bedroom I decide to stay in.

This is a gross invasion of privacy by a band and company which seek to impose their selective tastes and beliefs on the public.

Keith Nolan

Caldragh, Co Leitrim, Ireland



Would Scotland have voted for greater devolved powers had they been offered?

Sir, Jenni Russell (Opinion, Sept 11) says it was “not obvious” to No 10 that agreeing to Alex Salmond’s request for a devo-max option on the referendum ballot would help to save the Union. But to many people in Scotland at the time it was — blindingly — and the current scramble to belatedly offer devo-max proves that we were right.

It was also obvious that, four years into a cost-cutting Tory government, many in Scotland would have a strong desire to vote for change. Devo-max would have allowed people to vote for that change while also voting to keep the Union.

If No 10 had realised that the referendum was more about listening to the aspirations of the Scottish people rather than a political game to “diss the SNP”, we would not now be at risk of destroying Britain almost by accident.

Dr Bendor Grosvenor


Sir, Philip Collins (Sept 12) derides Britishness. There are many like me who define themselves as “British”. I could hardly be anything else; my DNA is 85 per cent Celt, 10 per cent Viking, 5 per cent Anglo-Saxon. My forebears were Scots Irish before the Scots decamped to Britain, then Scots in Scotland, then Scots Irish as they moved to Ireland. From there my great-grandfather moved to Wales and then Lancashire, where I was born. I now live in Yorkshire. All these places have a part of my heart. Am I just a mongrel or British; I choose the latter.

Sir, The article by Philip Collins reminded me of my mother’s position. She left Prague just before the Nazis arrived and studied in Paris. Coming to London on holiday a week before war was declared, she wanted to return to Paris but was, mercifully, prevented from doing so.

She married an Englishman and, applying for a job at a bank, gave her nationality as English. The comment was: “You may be British, but you will never be English.”

Trisha Ray

Maidenhead, Berks

Sir, What has happened to democracy? There has been the sudden pledge by all three main parties for extensive extra powers for Scotland (“Money Talks”, leader, Sept 12), but if the Scottish vote is “no” then Scotland remains part of the UK. In such circumstances, how do we know if the majority of UK voters do indeed want such powers to be devolved? Those proposals were not in the main parties’ manifestos, so surely a UK-wide referendum should be called.

Peter Cave

London W1

Sir, Peter Forrest (letter, Sept 12) is correct to mention the Darién scheme and the bailing out of the bankrupt Scottish nobility. However, far from being an act of philanthropy it was a clever insurance payment that benefited England too.

Reference is made even now, misty-eyed, to the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France, an alliance in which Scotland often ended up on the losing side. By paying off the Scottish nobility and incorporating them into government, the English parliament greatly reduced the risk of yet another futile second front being opened up by some Jacobite hotheads encouraged by France. England could then wage war against France in Europe without having to look north for a threat from there. French encouragement to insurrection stopped only after the rising of 1745.

R Bain

Boturich, West Dunbartonshire

Sir, The abandonment of Westminster for Scotland amid problems in the Middle East by our leaders is not without precedent. At Whitsun in 1306, Edward I knighted 267 men, including his ill-fated heir, and held the famous lavish Feast of the Swans before setting out to sort out Scotland. “Longshanks”, standing 6ft 6in tall at the end of the hall, vowed over two swans on a golden platter to avenge the recent injuries done by Robert the Bruce, after which he swore to head off to the Holy Land to “fight the infidel”.

He never made it — it was his swansong.

His Hon Judge Simon Brown, QC

Stevington, Beds

Sir, As we are spending a solid amount of time at my school covering Henry VIII’s wars against Scotland to control it in the 16th century, it fills me with frustration that the English are literally just letting Scotland decide if they want to leave. It’s all very modern and progressive of course, but how can it be so casually decided in a vote without us even fighting for the United Kingdom, which we only managed to achieve a few centuries ago with a massive amount of effort.

Rachel Korn (age 17)

London NW4

Sir, The benefits to the UK of moving to Central European Time have been well documented: reduced carbon emissions through people leaving lights and heating off in the evening, fewer road accidents, and a boost to tourism with the longer summer evenings. If Scotland does vote “yes”, the case for the remainder of the UK to move to a different time zone (Janice Turner, Sept 11) would be very strong indeed.

Sir, In the event of a “yes” vote the protective shield over the UK that has been so successfully maintained by UK security services (primarily MI5, MI6 and GCHQ) since 7/7 would be withdrawn from Scotland. MI5 officers would leave the Scottish counter terrorist hubs, taking with them their equipment, expertise and access to the vast reservoir of intelligence held on their databases.

Chris Hobbs

(Retired Metropolitan Police officer)

London W7

Sir, The split in the attitude of academics to independence (Sept 11) is not altogether surprising. Academics from science, maths and engineering disciplines (“no” voters) are more likely to apply evidence-based reasoning and rational thinking to their deliberations rather than the emotive, irrational instincts of their arts and humanities colleagues (“yes” voters).

Dr George Philliskirk

Burton on Trent, Staffs

Sir, If the Scottish sciences are voting “no” and the arts “yes”, where does this leave the philosophers?

Alf Manders

Alcester, Warks

Boris Johnson’s plan to charge motorists by the mile ‘won’t lead to cleaner air’

Sir, Boris Johnson wants to introduce pay-as-you-drive charges (“Mayor would charge motorists by the mile instead of duty”, Sept 13). I live in rural England, where there is very little alternative transport and every household has at least one car. There is a bus, but it doesn’t go to the after-school event, the out-of-town supermarket, the restaurant, the recycling centre, etc.

Making us pay to drive our cars would not be a deterrent but a tax — and that won’t lead to cleaner air.

John Ratcliffe

Cavendish, Suffolk

Cars are one obstruction, granted. But what about wheelie bins left permanently on the street?

Sir, The proposed ban on pavement parking (letter, Sept 12) should be extended to refuse bins that are left permanently on the pavement. How did we arrive at a situation where we regard it as normal that our streets are littered with unsightly bins?

Stephen O’Loughlin

Huddersfield, W Yorks

Sir, We might also follow New Zealand in only allowing parking on the side of the road in the direction of the traffic on that side. That would stop people pulling out across the traffic, with inevitable prangs.

Alan Parry

Rhos on Sea, Conwy

Since trapping more than 300 magpies on our farm over ten years, songbirds have flourished

Sir, I disagree with the claim (letter, Sept 10) that predators have no impact on songbirds. Ten years ago, with the songbirds on our farm vanishing, we declared war on the burgeoning magpie population and have trapped more than 300 in just 150 acres. This year I did not see a single magpie during the breeding season. The result was four broods of songthrushes within 100 yards of the buildings, two of mistlethrushes farther afield — and the hedges and garden are full of finches, linnets, yellowhammers and blackbirds.

IA Smith

Biddestone, Wilts

The Korean War deserves more notice than it has hitherto generally attracted

Sir, You say in your leading article (“Captains of the Soul”, Sept 11): “For a merciful period after 1945 Britain’s service men and women rarely experienced combat”.

No wonder that the Korean War, Britain’s bloodiest since the end of the Second World War, is known as the “the Forgotten War”.

A Gregory



Marcial Boo, the new head of Parliament’s expenses watchdog, has said that MPs should not be paid “a miserly amount” for their services Photo: Eddie Mulholland

6:58AM BST 14 Sep 2014


SIR – You report that MPs’ pay is to rise by 10 per cent. Parish and borough councillors work for the common good, putting in many hours without pay. Of course MPs should not work for nothing, but is it not time they moderated their rewards in the public interest?

Duncan Rayner
Sunningdale, Berkshire

SIR – You quote the head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority as saying: “We are not used, in the UK, to talking about what we earn.” Many in the UK – from bank executives to quango heads to premier division footballers – are paid far in excess of what they earn; it’s little wonder they prefer to keep quiet.

Philip Ashe
Garforth, West Yorkshire

Joining forces

SIR – Valentine Ramsey (Letters, September 7) misses the point. Size is irrelevant.

Stalin was a brutal dictator who committed many atrocities against his own people. So, too, is Assad. It is illogical to assert that because Stalin’s crimes against humanity were on a larger scale it was therefore all right to join forces with him against a common enemy, but it is not all right to make common cause with Assad.

We would not have defeated Hitler without Russia’s contribution. Likewise, we will not defeat Isil without Assad’s input.

Frank Tomlin
Billericay, Essex

Trailing tractors

SIR – In response to Steve Cattell (Letters, September 7), farmers do usually travel off-road but it is not always practical to do so.

We have a farming industry of which we should be proud and supportive. If Mr Cattell is so agitated by a few hold-ups, perhaps he should move to a city-centre apartment, sell his car and travel by train. Although, of course, he might find himself waiting for one of those as well.

Roger Trembath
Kingsbridge, Devon

SIR – The painful inability of many drivers to position themselves on the road and find the correct gear to effect a swift, safe overtaking manoeuvre of a slow-moving vehicle is shocking to see.

David White
Little Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire

SIR – Next time you end up behind a tractor on a highway, just remember that the driver is not on his way to play golf; he is going to work, which involves feeding the nation. I hope all the people in the cars behind have such vitally important work to do.

Warren Marshall
Buxted, East Sussex

SIR – If townies want to ban our professional tractors from the Queen’s highway, can we country bumpkins ban their pretentious, school-run Chelsea tractors, too?

Barry M Jones
Beckley, East Sussex

Fairy bookmother

SIR – Lynne Truss (Seven, September 7) described finding mysterious pencil marks in the margins of her books. Our dad, aged 90, has people “breaking in” and leaving entire books in the house – sometimes whole piles of them.

He’s never seen them before, let alone read them, so they can’t have been lounging on one of the many bookcases in another room all this time. They come with increasing regularity and cover wide-ranging topics.

Sue Swanston
Amble, Northumberland

Rooney for leader

SIR – The headline Rooney lined up for left-wing role (Sport, September 7) gave me quite a lift. Is Ed Miliband to be replaced by a footballer?

Moira Brodie
Bourton, Wiltshire

Ayes to the right, ewes to the left: a flock of sheep in the Scottish Borders consider the implications of independence  Photo: Phil Wilkinson

7:00AM BST 14 Sep 2014


SIR – The independence debate in Scotland in many ways mirrors the debate about the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. In both cases there is a desire for political independence and the removal of central interference, but there is also support for economic unity in trade and industry to promote growth and prosperity. Total independence escapes central control but damages economic unity.

The business community in Scotland has been forced to take a strictly neutral stance, but for any business that trades across the border, the choice is clear.

Economic separation would create physical, emotional and financial barriers that would harm our relationships with our customers. The uncertainty of independence would last for many years and lead to capital withdrawal, reduced investment, higher costs and, in some cases, relocation of businesses to England.

Devo max was Alex Salmond’s preference for the ballot paper because it gives the security of economic union with the flexibility of political independence. He has consistently struggled to justify economic separation. He is desperate to keep the pound and intriguingly wants to remain in the EU, his desire for economic unity this time overcoming his aversion to political interference, probably because Brussels is more remote than Westminster.

The independence debate should not be a Scotland-England rugby match with rival supporters jeering and singing songs. We deserve better, and that is political freedom with economic unity. This is devolution, and Scots will get more of it by voting No this week.

Philip G Blake
Dingwall, Ross-shire

SIR – If an independent Scotland joined the EU as a new member, it would not enjoy the same exemption from cross-border freedom of movement as is enjoyed by the United Kingdom. There would thus be no controls over those coming to Scotland from the Continent, including asylum seekers.

The consequence would have to be the introduction of controls at the English border. With frequent passenger trains, 21 road crossings and a rural landscape the task would be immense – in effect, building and manning a new Hadrian’s Wall.

Sir Neville Trotter
Newcastle upon Tyne

SIR – Part of Better Together’s problem is that Alex Salmond won the battle over what the question should be. It is difficult to enthuse people to vote for a negative.

“Should Scotland leave the United Kingdom?” would have at least made voters really consider the consequences of separation.

Nick Kemp
New Abbey, Dumfries and Galloway

SIR – Further to Andrew Gilligan’s disturbing report on the “Seed of the Gaels”, the current nationalist separatist movement might be seen as a kind of 21st-century Jacobite rebellion with Alex Salmond as its Old Pretender. Like the Highland clans at the heart of the Jacobite cause, an atavistic tribalism sadly lurks behind the nationalists’ urge to rip apart the Union and assert their separateness.

Fortunately, the Forty-Five rebellion was defeated and Scotland shared in the economic prosperity of the Union. The flowering in philosophy, the arts and literature that became known as the Scottish Enlightenment grew directly out of this.

One iconic Scot whose genius was nurtured by harmonious relationships with other nations of the United Kingdom was William Thompson, who was educated in Belfast, Glasgow and Cambridge, and proud to take his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Kelvin of Largs, one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known – and definitely a No voter.

Peter Boa

SIR – I have always believed in the right of a nation’s people to determine their own future. However, I am perplexed at one aspect of the Yes campaign. One of its main arguments is for Scotland to be free of Westminster impositions and thus able to determine its own needs and culture, yet one of Alex Salmond’s priorities appears to be establishing membership of the European Union for a newly independent Scotland.

Is this not a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire?

Don Micklewright
Weaverham, Cheshire

SIR – In the event of Scotland voting for independence, the UK Government should make it clear that it will not support Scotland’s admission to the EU, unless satisfactory terms are negotiated for leaving the Union. These terms should include a fair sharing of government debt and assets, and also an equitable division of North Sea oil reserves.

Paul Homewood
Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire

SIR – On September 18 1773, which happened to be Samuel Johnson’s birthday, James Boswell records in his Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides that he and Dr Johnson spent the day imploring Lady McLeod not to build a separate house and garden on an attractive site some way away from her husband’s ancestral home on the rock of Dunvegan.

“Madam,” said Boswell, “if you quit this rock, there is no knowing where you may settle.” A warning from history?

Harry Wells
Amport, Hampshire

SIR – The SNP’s popularity has surged because Alex Salmond is good at propaganda. His argument about the scaling back of the health service relies on tenuous facts.

The No campaign has been poor at propaganda. Alistair Darling has not even outlined the consequences of Scotland being out of the EU until we manage to renegotiate entry.

Falling exports to Europe, fewer tax receipts and rising unemployment will increase pressure for government cuts. Decent SNP members will be dragged kicking and screaming towards making the cuts only Tories would previously have considered.

Andrew Vass

SIR – The forthcoming referendum in Scotland is a complete travesty of the UK’s democratic principles. How can the 4 million residents of Scotland dictate whether or not to remain part of the UK?

What is more worrying is the lack of a plan B from Westminster. Will somebody please tell me what the electoral arrangements for 2015 will be? In the event of the Yes campaign winning, I, for one, will be very unhappy if the general election includes constituencies from north of the border.

Don Bailey
Helsby, Cheshire

SIR – There seems to be an assumption that if the Scots vote to secede from the Union, they will take 90 per cent of the oil with them.

Sir Paul Collier, an economics professor at Oxford University, points out that, in the Sixties, the UK government affirmed the principle that when natural resources were found in a nation, they belonged equally to everyone. Thus, if a region of a hitherto united entity should secede, they are entitled to a pro-rata percentage of that resource, related to their population. An independent Scotland would therefore be entitled to 8 per cent of the oil revenues, not 90 per cent.

This is not unfair. When coal was the primary source of energy on these islands, the profits from Yorkshire coalfields benefited everyone in the United Kingdom, including the Scottish. For a region to announce retrospectively that it no longer wishes to adhere to a principle that it once affirmed would undoubtedly meet with international resistance. Were resource secession to be allowed, it would set a highly dangerous precedent and, in resource-rich continents like Africa, the results would be catastrophic and would cost millions of lives.

Adrian Hodgson
Masham, North Yorkshire

SIR – A trainload of Labour MPs arriving in Scotland gave the Scots a fine example of what they will hang on to by voting “No” in the forthcoming referendum. That, plus the Bullingdon club Tories and the nonentity that is Nick Clegg.

If I weren’t excluded from the vote I’d have definitely decided by now.

Mike Adams
Defford, Worcestershire

SIR – Since the expenses scandal, respect and trust for MPs has dwindled across the whole country to almost zero.

Now Scots have something the rest of us lack: the opportunity to rid themselves of the lot of them and start afresh. Unhappily, they will rue the cost of such delightful revenge for centuries.

Bryony Lee
Abergele, Denbighshire

SIR – If Scotland votes for independence this week, it is the English who will finally be free.

Dominic Shelmerdine
London SW3

SIR – Should a Yes vote prevail, Scotland will become just another small country on the periphery of Europe, like Portugal, Greece or Slovakia.

When the oil runs out, as it will during the lifetime of many Scots alive today, Scotland will be economically dependent on whisky and tourism. Replace “whisky” with “ouzo” and we’re back to Greece. Except that, unfortunately, Scotland cannot even offer its visitors Greek weather.

Philip Goddard
London SE19

Irish Times:

Sir, – The Government is examining the income tax rates and the universal social charge in advance of Budget 2015. However, to judge from the comments of Ireland’s all-too-cautious and unambitious Minister for Finance, the hinted changes (if any) appear too modest and uncourageous to make any difference to Ireland’s economy or to economic confidence. The effective marginal rate of income tax in Ireland (including 7 per cent for USC and 4 per cent for employee PRSI) is 52 per cent for individuals, and it is 55 per cent (thanks to an additional 3 per cent USC “levy“) if one has the audacity to be self-employed as a result of setting up his own business. These are rates of taxation that are unquestionably anti-enterprise and confiscatory. We should contrast these Irish rates with the 45 per cent top rate of income tax currently in place in Britain.

What needs to happen is that Ireland sees a budget, this October, which supports growth. Everything in the budget must support indigenous enterprise. To this end, the marginal rates of taxation must be reduced.

Cutting the top rates of tax (not merely changing the point at which people enter tax bands, but actually cutting the top rates) will encourage enterprise and employment because it will allow businesses to retain more of the money that they earn; this means that people can invest in their businesses by hiring more staff and purchasing new equipment, or create new businesses. It would also, crucially, help greatly to encourage talented people to remain in Ireland, instead of emigrating. Merely fiddling with the tax bands (which is a political cop-out, devoid of courage) would do little to change the true perception in Ireland, today, that we are living in a very high tax country, which is a cold house for indigenous enterprise. For the national finances to be balanced, Ireland needs a combination of public spending control and real economic growth. It is now time to work on growth by cutting the marginal rates of tax. – Yours, etc,


Knapton Road,

Monkstown, Co Dublin.

Sir, – As Gideon Levy has outlined to Lara Marlowe, Israeli policy is counterproductive (“The Holocaust makes Israelis think that international law doesn’t apply to them”, September 11th).

I cannot see how there is going to be a two-state solution to the conflict. The total area of Gaza is merely 360 sq km and the West Bank 5,860 sq km. There are at present 564,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the West Bank. A lasting peace would mean a shared Jerusalem, with both Israelis and Palestinians living there. However, it will not be possible politically to remove the 400,000 or so settlers in other parts of the West Bank.

So, where is the Palestinian state going to be? As there is no possibility of a Palestinian state, this continued fiction allows the Israelis to dominate the area and treat Palestinians as second-class citizens in their own home. Israeli policy is leading effectively to one country containing Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

In this new state Jewish Israelis will dominate and the Palestinian population in the Gaza and West Bank areas will be treated as second-class citizens, much as non-whites were treated in apartheid-era South Africa.

This scenario poses real problems for the long-term future of Israel. – Yours, etc,


Pine Copse Road,

Dundrum, Dublin 16.

Sir, – Lara Marlowe has spent the past week or so travelling around Gaza and Israel, miraculously discovering en route that the opinions she arrived with were even more correct than even she’d believed them to be. I realise that in these days of advocacy journalism the perception of reportage being the first draft of history seems to have been filed on the “quaint” spike, nonetheless it might occur to the editors at The Irish Times to encourage writers such as Lara Marlowe to ask a question every now and then. For the optics if nothing else. – Yours, etc,


Dundanion Road,

Ballintemple, Cork.

Sir, – Lara Marlowe’s article on Haaretz newspaper columnist Gideon Levy was a brilliant antidote to the recent utterings of the Israeli ambassador. A lone voice speaking the unpalatable truth of crimes committed by his own countrymen in Gaza. A real hero! – Yours, etc,




Co Cork.

Sir, – I was saddened but not surprised to read the optimistic statements from Irish politicians hinting at nice things in the forthcoming budget (“Burton says budget will bring austerity era to a close”, September 10th).

Joan Burton is thinking of a reform of the universal social charge, one of the main income streams of the State. It sounds as if Ms Burton’s idea of reform is a reduction of the charge for some, if not all, people. So even though the country has a debt of 136 per cent of GDP, is still spending more than it earns in tax each month and is completely dependent on the ECB keeping rates low to exist, politicians like Ms Burton are saying the end of the tunnel is here. How nice! How convenient after the recent local election results.

Isn’t it interesting to see how our resolute politicians change their tune when their political survival is at stake? It makes one almost wish the troika was still keeping our brave politicians under control. – Yours, etc,


Greencastle Avenue,

Coolock, Dublin 17.

Sir, – I had a rather surrealistic experience on returning from the Anti-Nato Conference on September 1st. As we landed, I noticed a military aircraft surrounded by military personal. On leaving, I asked the air hostess what a military aircraft was doing so close to a civilian aircraft. I pointed in the direction and she deliberately would not look. She kept on saying she didn’t see anything. I asked once more. She again insisted that she could see nothing. On landing I saw the aircraft very close and I approached a worker driving his buggy. He stopped. “Is that a US military plane with soldiers?” He said, “Yes, but we are not allowed to go anywhere near it.”

When I passed through the passport section I again said to the official, “There is a US military plane outside. What is it doing in a civilian airport?” He replied, “I can not see anything.”

So is our country now inflicted with such denial, and is our culture “see no evil, hear no evil speak no evil”? What is going on at Shannon Airport? – Yours, etc,


St Bridget’s Place Lower.


Sir, – In “An Irishman’s Diary” (September 2nd), Denis Fahey recounts many of the events which marked day one in neutral Ireland of the second World War. The violent thunderstorms that ruined the All-Ireland hurling final also led to not one but three breaches of our newly declared neutrality.

The bad weather forced down two RAF seaplanes off Skerries, in north Co Dublin, and a third in Dún Laoghaire harbour. Those walking the pier must have wondered if was this the start of a British invasion or had the taoiseach, Eamon de Valera, changed his mind and joined Britain in declaring war on Germany. Two weeks later, a large RAF flying boat made a forced landing at Ventry harbour on the west coast but was able to leave after a local mechanic fixed an engine fault. The three seaplanes that were forced down in September were also able to take off with some local help.

There had been hurried conversations between Army officers who had rushed to the scene at Skerries and headquarters in Dublin about whether to seize the aircraft and intern the crews who had violated our neutrality. It was decided not to annoy the British this time.

But the English Daily Telegraph was belatedly tipped off about the landings and in their account quoted a local military or naval officer as making the immortal comment “Who are we neutral against?” This quote went viral in the foreign press, much to the annoyance of the guardians of our neutrality.

An official inquiry reported that “no State official had behaved precisely in the manner alleged by the British newspaper”. In the case of the Skerries incursion “some social contact took place but no statement concerning Irish neutrality had been made; in the second case no conversation of a friendly character took place between our protection officers and the belligerent aviation officers.”

No mention is made of the Co Kerry mechanic who fixed the engine.

The internal report concluded that the British representative, Sir John Maffey, should be told that “unless the British authorities are prepared to close down on the publication of such highly impolitic (and false) newspaper stories, we will be absolutely compelled to intern the next British aircraft and crew that may fall into our hands.”

So don’t mess with a neutral! – Yours, etc,


Maretimo Gardens East,


Sir, – Your review of Gemma Clark’s new book Everyday Violence in the Irish Civil War about the wanton destruction of “big houses” by anti-treaty or sectarian criminal elements in 1921-22 (“The campaign of fire”, September 6th) brought to mind an official notice at Woodstock House, Co Kilkenny.

Woodstock had been occupied by the Black and Tans during the War of Independence, and subsequently by Free State forces. However, it was unoccupied on the night of July 2nd, 1922, when it and its contents were destroyed.

Today in public ownership, Woodstock Gardens are a nice place to visit, even if resources do not permit their maintenance or restoration to the extent merited. The shell of the big house remains. An official noticeboard by the car-park sets out its history.

But this notice omits who torched it, and implies that the “Tans” were somehow to blame. Albeit chronologically correct, it states coyly that, “The main house was burnt in 1922 after the building had been occupied by ‘Black and Tan’ troops.” – Yours, etc,


Herbert Terrace,

Sir, – A 75mg tablet of aspirin is a prescription drug in Ireland. It is not in the UK. It is used for a range of purposes such as thinning the blood and preventing heart disease and stroke. Recent research suggests it may also be helpful in warding off various cancers. Why it is on prescription here is a question a medical expert may answer but clearly such experts in the UK believe that it does not warrant being on their list. In Ireland, on prescription, it costs about €6.70 for a pack of 30. In Boots, in the UK, over the counter, a pack of 100 costs £1.50. – Yours, etc,


Clonard Drive,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Rather than pretend that the dog littering laws in Ireland are effective, when patently they are not, would it not be better to change the law so that dog walkers and owners are fined for not having a fouling bag when they take their dogs out? At the moment dog owners who fail to clean up after their animals face an on-the-spot fine of €150 but in practice this is extremely difficult to enforce. Whereas if there is no bag, then surely there is no excuse? – Yours, etc,


Bracken Court,




Sir, – It used to be that “nobody is perfect in this world” but the magazines are trying to create the “perfect” image. They photoshop and airbrush the models and celebrities to make them look “perfect” and say it is natural to look that way.

This can make girls have extremely low self-esteem. In reality nobody is perfect. We are all different and wonderful in our own way. Young girls need to realise this. – Yours, etc,




Co Offaly.

Sir, – To set the record straight for Cllr Dermot Lacey (September 12th), it was in fact Noel Dempsey that went to government with the plan for emergency legislation to amend the 1996 Waste Management Act, in 2001. This amendment took the power out of the hands of elected representatives and placed it in the hands of local authority county managers (chief executives). – Yours, etc,


County Hall,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Irish Independent:

Dublin can be heaven with coffee at 11 and a stroll in Stephen’s Green There’s no need to hurry, there’s no need to worry you’re a king and the lady’s a Queen. Grafton Street’s a wonderland, there’s magic in the air . There are diamonds in the lady’s eyes and gold dust in her hair. And if you don’t believe me come and meet me there in Dublin on a sunny summer’s morning… Well sung by Noel Purcell in the good auld days, God be good to him.

I wasn’t in Grafton Street yesterday. However, I’m a proud Dub living in the idyllically set village of Kill, Co Kildare, a long while now and it has won many medals for Tidy Towns including this year.

However, I miss Dublin with its little winding streets and Thomas Street and Moore Street where the craic is great and people are so friendly.

I went to see Ant & Dec in the 3 Arena, known to me as the Point last night.

I travelled from Citywest Campus on the Luas and it was a joy to breeze into town with no traffic to annoy me, the driver on the Luas was so friendly and all the people in the Point were friendly too that I felt like a celebrity or a royal.

No, I wasn’t just an ordinary Joe Soap experiencing the great friendliness of Dublin and its people. I got chatting to people on the Luas and they were the salt of the earth,

I really think Dublin and its people get such bad press. They are the most friendly, courteous/helpful happy-go-lucky people in the country and deserve the highest award available to them. I’ll be travelling on the Luas much more often now to my beloved Dublin of poets, writers and artists.

It’s such a beautiful city it makes me melancholy at the thought of the great days I once had there.

Sure, the Luas is only a stone’s throw away and so easy to travel in and comfortable with a sideshow of wonderful happy commuters.

Ms Terry Healy

Kill Co Kildare


How deeply insulting to suggest that Scotland cannot survive as an independent entity.

The Republic of Ireland has satisfactorily done so with its own elected head of state for decades, so why can’t Scotland? As an Englishman, I find that Britain is ruled by an ambitious clique of Old Etonians with nothing in common with anyone in the land outside the ‘old boy school network’. How nice it would be if we English could have a referendum on the monarchy, and live at ease and on equal terms with our independent Scottish, Welsh, Irish, and even Cornish neighbours.

The bankers who claim Scotland will face financial dire straits if they opt for freedom are the same ones who brought Britain to its knees in 2008. Their avarice is what the Scots (and we English) need to be free of.

Dominic Shelmerdine

H17 Sloane Avenue Mansions

London SW3

I have heard it asked in the run-up to the Scottish referendum whether the people will vote with their heads or their hearts. Thus suggesting one could only vote Yes with one’s heart and not one’s head and vice-versa.

Should Scotland choose to vote Yes on Thursday, I believe they will do so with both the head and the heart.

Róisín Lawless,

Ráth Chairn,

Áth Buí, Co na Mí.

When Scotland finally decides, perhaps politicians Salmond and Sturgeon can relax … a fishing trip maybe ?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont D9

Congratulations to Robert Fisk on his article comparing present-day Ireland and what Scotland may look like if it votes for independence.

The only firm conclusion we can come to is that, whatever happens to the currency and the trains at the border, we will all continue to speak English.

A. Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Like many I believe the Scots are far too canny to let their hearts rule their heads, so will vote No in the forthcoming referendum for independence.

However, should they vote Yes it will open a Pandora’s Box not only in these islands by boosting the cause of English nationalism / UKIP but also in the EU, such as Basque nationalism in Spain.

The advocacy of nationalism is like saying drink as much as you like but for God’s sake drive carefully.

As an unworthy disciple of Beethoven I’ve always hoped that his 9th Symphony with Schiller’s Ode to Joy would one day become the anthem of a United Nations of Europe if not all humanity Nationalism, a philosophy that a nation must yield a state, emerged only in the early 19th century but often has appalling consequences as in former Yugoslavia to mention but one example. Finally, Kim Jong-un the supreme leader of the Republic of North Korea is supporting the campaign of the SNP. Enough said already.

Tony Moriarty

Harold’s Cross, Dublin


Ian Paisley, ‘Dr No’, has shaken off his mortal coil. We used to call him the ‘Old Thunderer’ – he certainly left us with a ‘right shower’. They were dark days and he was part of the darkness. In his later years, he saw the light and helped to bring his people onside in the peace process. It doesn’t get him off the hook in my book, for the legacy of bigotry and sectarianism he helped stir. Nonetheless, he grew with age and time, and that is more than can be said about many politicians . Like the rest of us he’ll be missed by many but not by all.

The fact that his party kicked him out because he formed a pivotal partnership with Martin McGuinness was depressing. The first time Big Ian showed genuine vision, his colleagues went into a blind rage and turned their backs on him. He was more than a player, he helped shape the political landscape of the North for better or for worse.

Like him or not you can’t say that about too many.

T. G. O’Brien

Dun Laoghaire Co Dublin

De mortuis nil nisi bonum; nothing only good about the dead. That is the case with most mortals. But Big Ian was larger than life. Now that he is gone, everyone seems to be rushing in to sit in judgment. We all know the facts. But what made him tick? To me he was a total enigma, a very big mixed bag, especially to himself. Requiescat in pace.

Sean McElgunn

Address with editor

While out walking at lunchtime I heard the news of the death or Mr Ian Paisley. I listened intensively to the RTE radio and I thought of how when writing about the death of famous politicians it is said that “Every one of our leaders was a giant among men.” I was born in 1963 and have a great memory. Ian Paisley was a very dangerous individual and was responsible for the fates of hundreds not by the deed itself but by his vitriolic demagoguery which as a young boy growing up in the North I had to listen to.

His words and actions led to the imprisonment of many hundreds of young Protestants who were swayed by the words and actions again of Paisley. I won’t miss him, but again another memory is of my late mother when writing to Paisley about a house for one of my sisters, when I asked her why she was doing that, she said: “Well, Paul, that other shower (ie, the SDLP) won’t do anything for us.”

Paul Doran

Clondalkin Dublin 22

Irish Independent

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