16 September 2014 Clinic

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. I take Mary to the clinic, blood transfusion on Monday and a new experimental anti-lymphoma drug.

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


Camille Wolff – obituary

Camille Wolff was a book dealer who crammed her house in old Chelsea with biographies of mafiosi and serial killers

Camille Wolff

Camille Wolff

5:36PM BST 15 Sep 2014


Camille Wolff, who has died aged 102, belied her appearance as a grey-haired great-grandmother by becoming one of Britain’s pre-eminent dealers in the literature of true crime, a business she ran from her home, where biographies of mafiosi and studies of poisoners, torturers, axe-murderers and serial killers competed for space with accounts of famous capital trials.

To “Cam”, as she was universally known to her customers, the true crime genre was a congenial means of meeting a motley assortment of writers, lawyers, medics, police officers and even the occasional criminal. Her home, from where she bought and sold as Grey House Books, became a kind of trading post and social centre for murder fanciers not only from Britain but around the world.

Her 18th-century house in old Chelsea was crammed with thousands of true crime titles, one of the largest collections of its kind in the world (“You’ll find the Mafia in the loo,” she would advise visitors); and when in 1990 she moved to an ivy-clad cottage in the Portobello Road they spiralled up the stairs and into the bedrooms.

While most of her business was conducted by mail order, customers could telephone for an appointment to visit in person. She would often offer them tea and biscuits, with instructions not to sit on the dozing cat while browsing the stock.

Those who signed her visitors’ book included a gravedigger, a mystery-loving milkman and an American attorney who described himself as “formerly racket-buster”. Most of her clients were men, many of them lawyers and judges, others coroners, pathologists, retired and serving detectives, even penal reformers. She used to deal in detective fiction as well as true crime, but wearied of the excesses of some niche devotees (“the Sherlock Holmes collectors are nuts”) and decided to concentrate on real-life villainy.

While tracking the changing trends and fads in true crime, she quickly discovered the perennial appeal of books about Jack the Ripper. The business of finally nailing the infamous Victorian killer’s identity worried her, at least to the extent that he may turn out to have been Jewish like her. She also hoped that he would not prove to have been American. “The Americans have enough serial killers of their own,” she declared, “and the English should be allowed to keep their first notable example.”

She personally recoiled from knife-wielding psychopaths, her own tastes being more decorous, and centred on what some crime buffs call Malice Domestic — murders occurring within the family circle, such as the Victorian cases of Florence Maybrick and Adelaide Bartlett or Edwardian classics like Dr Crippen.

Wearing an air of delightful dottiness, she would use her early mail order catalogues to riff on the themes of some of her wares. Describing a book on murder by witchcraft, for example, she threw in the additional information that Warwickshire, the setting for one particularly gruesome case, had been notorious as the “land of the covens”, an area said to suffer from a “superfluity of witches”.

Camille Joan Muriel Cohen was born on May 23 1912 at Didsbury, south Manchester, where her father was a textile trader. Her mother was a Sieff from the Marks and Spencer family. After a few years in Cairo, the Cohens returned to England, where Camille attended Manchester High School for Girls, only to be expelled for teaching her school friends the facts of life.

Although she trained as a doctor she never practised, and joined Marks and Spencer in London, working in the occupational health department, treating staff in need of medical attention and inspecting kitchens to see that they complied with health and safety legislation.

It was only in retirement that she went into the book trade, running a general (mainly second-hand) dealership from her tiny Queen Anne house in Lawrence Street, Chelsea, eventually specialising in detective fiction and, from about 1980, true crime. When one early enthusiastic but impecunious customer told her he was a roofer by trade, she persuaded him to mend her leaking roof in return for books.

Her clientele soon expanded to include true-crime aficionados such as the television personality Jeremy Beadle, the Australian rock star Nick Cave and the Great Train Robbery mastermind Bruce Reynolds (“my favourite ex-criminal”). All became personal friends.

A lifelong libertarian, as a young woman she was at various times a member of the Fabian Society and the British Communist Party.

In 1995 she published Who Was Jack The Ripper?, a compendium of theories about the identity of the Victorian serial killer by some 50 experts and devotees, and which has since become a collectors’ item. The book was launched at one of her regular literary lunches to which she invited a hand-picked group of enthusiasts for the true-crime genre to a causerie at which she would serve a selection of Marks and Spencer ready meals.

Camille Wolff married, in 1934, the solicitor Eric Wolff, who died in 1978. Their elder daughter, Miriam, also predeceased her, and she is survived by their younger daughter, Susan, who married the anti-apartheid activist Ronald Segal.

Camille Wolff, born May 23 1912, died September 4 2014


No campaigners, Scottish independence referendum There are idealistic and romantic arguments on the no side in the Scottish independence referendum. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

The suggestion that a Labour-Green coalition would form the first government of an independent Scotland (Letters, 15 September) typifies the wishful thinking prevalent among the Scottish left. If Scotland votes yes on Thursday, the chief political beneficiary, at least in the short run, will be the SNP, whose position as the national-popular champion will be enhanced if, as seems likely, London drives a hard bargain in negotiations over the terms of Scotland’s secession from the UK. Conversely, the Nationalists’ main opponent, Scottish Labour, will be thrown into possibly terminal crisis, with the leftist groups in the Radical Independence Campaign waiting to pick up the pieces – unless, that is, they succumb to the splits that have always bedevilled the left – while the Scottish Conservatives can expect to make a comeback on a tax-cutting platform that will appeal to many voters as the fiscal constraints of independence start to bite. Advocates of a radical alternative to the existing social order need to show not merely that it is desirable, but also that it is viable and achievable.
David Purdy
Causewayhead, Stirling

• Once again we read in the columns and letters page of the Guardian passionate and justifiable arguments for a yes vote. But surely one of the key underlying reasons for Scottish disaffection with the UK government (which is equally strong in many other parts of the UK) is the imposition of neoconservative economic policies from Westminster over decades, and the resultant austerity programme. Yet what do we read in the SNP’s white paper on independence? “Deregulation … light-touch business policy … reduction in corporation tax below the UK rates”, alongside the inevitable promise of a fairer society! A yes vote will surely be followed by an SNP victory at the first general election, but the deafening silence from yes campaigners in relation to these scary Thatcherite propositions does no one any favours.
Paul Baker

• How dare Vonny Moyes (We young Scots say it’s not just the economy, stupid, 15 September) imply we oldies can’t be idealistic and romantic too? May I put an idealistic and romantic argument for no? It’s the argument of a disenfranchised Scot. The white paper makes clear I am a Scot. There are lots of us. I am and have always been a Scot, but I have no vote.

I chose many years ago for career reasons to move within my country (Britain). It’s not as if I emigrated. I often return to my homeland of Scotland. It feels the same but different. But I don’t have to cross a national border to get there.

Now, we have an electorate defined as if this was about a local government reorganisation. Any fair vote on the future of Scotland as a nation should have been open to all those Scots who had not emigrated but chosen to live within the UK but in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Perhaps it is we who have the best idea of what it means to be both Scots and British.

The worst bit is that people like Vonny Moyes want to tear our hearts out and leave us abandoned in a foreign land. Is that the most important thing in my life just now? Yes it is, and so it should be.
Bob Owen
Chetnole, Dorset

• James Hutton and John Playfair at Siccar Point, staring into deep time. “The winter it is passed and the summer’s come at last”, the same Irish song in the mouths of Rabbie Burns and John Clare.

Poetry. The Book of Common Prayer, and the woman in St Giles’ Cathedral who it so enraged that she picked up her seat and threw it across the church and it exploded into the English civil war. “Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live.” The smell of an NHS ward, nerves, birth, relief, hope, death. From cradle to grave. Aneurin Bevan, who wasn’t sent to parliament to play dressing-up. Emily Wilding Davison hiding in the cupboard. Narnia somewhere behind the coats.

The students on Parker’s Piece drawing up the laws for football. The first match a 0-0 draw, and still billions fell hopelessly in love.

Movement. The Rainhill trials. The Flying Scotsman. The Eurostar. Windrush. Charter flights from Uganda. Ryanair flights from Poland and Lithuania. All the people who wanted to come here, and all the people who ended up stuck here. A nation of immigrant shopkeepers. The ships arriving at Liverpool. The ships leaving Liverpool. The slave trade. The Slave Trade Act 1807. The Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. A dog-eared copy of the Beveridge report. William Blake’s Jerusalem, because the hard work is the work to come.

That is my country. Three lions and polyester England flags mean nothing to me. Flower of Scotland is just noise. I love all these islands and the seas that surround us and join us to the rest of the world. There is strength in union. I believe in community and solidarity and I despise the petty nationalisms that cause us to turn our backs on one another.
Dr Richard Irvine
University of Cambridge

• The yes campaign has conjured up a Humpty-Dumpty world where words (notably “independence”) mean what their advocates insist they mean.

What, in the real world of international politics and neoliberal economics, would independence mean for an aspiring small sovereign state whose champions hope to share a currency (without reasonable levers of control) with a very much bigger and more powerful neighbour, whose banks are internationally extremely vulnerable and risk losing their lender of last resort, whose economy is largely in non-Scottish hands, whose international security will be embedded in an alliance whose central nuclear strategy it rejects, and whose major foreign policy goal is to join an EU in which it will be a tiny voice in an ever-integrating organisation?

We live in times when no government or nation can be independent in any but the most formal (juridical) meaning of the term. Ask the once “Yes we can” President Obama. Even he, the world’s most powerful leader, has usually discovered no he can’t. The people of Scotland will not flourish unless, to use Václav Havel’s phrase, they “live in truth”, and language is central to that. Of course a sovereign Scotland would get the government its people vote for, but that government will have such little room for manouevre that independence will prove to be a sham.

If Scotland votes yes, its government will immediately be confronted by neighbours and others keen to put their own (and invariably more powerful) interests first, and these will decisively limit what Holyrood might do.

To point out the power of the interests of others is not bullying, it is political reality. In international politics the symbol of independence is not synonymous with being free. To suggest otherwise is nationalist fantasy.
Ken Booth

Bill Clinton standing at his desk Standing pose: US president Bill Clinton in the White House. Photograph: Time Life Pictures/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

You make the classic logic mistake of saying those who sit most die earliest – confusing correlation with cause. Standing for long periods is just as bad for your health as sitting too much (Should I stop sitting down?, G2, 15 September). Try standing up most of the day, as in retail work for example. It can cause varicose veins and swollen ankles, but a job is a job. People have to work, and it’s usually doing the same thing for hours. What are people seated in their admin-based roles supposed to do? Ask employers for five minutes every half hour to jog around the office? Still, I did find myself standing up when reading the article.
Emilie Lamplough
Trowbridge, Wiltshire

• While there are many cherished family pet dogs in literature (10 literary mutts, Review, 13 September), others stand out instead by the use their owner makes of them for personal purposes. The fire-breathing Hound of the Baskervilles is sent out to track and kill relatives on the edge of Dartmoor, while Maupassant’s widow Saverini, seeking revenge, trains her dog to tear out the throat of her husband’s killer. Jack London’s The Call of the Wild goes a stage further as the domesticated Buck finally leaves its life as sledge-dog and returns to survive in the wild.
Dr Mark Stroud
Llantrisant, Glamorgan

• Another Last Night of the Proms (Review, 15 September), another lost opportunity for our royal family and senior politicians to show publicly their support for the arts. No wonder music is marginalised in schools – nobody at the top, whatever they says, cares.
Jim Grindle

• The shoes whose heels you click to lead you home should surely be ruby slippers (‘This one could save the world’, G2, 15 September).
Wendy Tagg
Uckfield, East Sussex 

• My neighbours return from holiday tomorrow. Why have you left it to me to break the news about Lucy Mangan? I have my own grief to deal with.
Wendy Paine
Kington, Herefordshire

• The letters have always been on the left, Sue Leyland (Letters, 15 September), just not on the left-hand page.
Steve Till
Upper Farringdon, Hampshire



Even if Scotland votes “no” on Thursday, Britain has another conundrum to answer

Sir, You are right to endorse the answer to the West Lothian question (“Wild West”, leading article, Sept 15) proposed by John Redwood (who, contrary to your assertion, has often called big issues right, such as the disastrous European exchange rate mechanism).

The idea of “English votes for English laws” was the basis for the 2010 Conservative manifesto commitment to set up what become the Mackay Commission in 2012. Devo-max makes implementation of its key principle even more urgent, namely that “decisions at the United Kingdom level with a separate and distinct effect for England (or for England and Wales) should normally be taken only with the consent of a majority of MPs for constituencies in England (or England and Wales)”. This can be given effect by resolution of the House of Commons, rather than by legislation, and would give the English an effective parliament.

There would, however, be consequences for Whitehall. We could never have a Scottish UK chancellor setting English taxes in England at the annual budget but not in his or her own constituency. So Parliament will have to consider how to establish an English executive, with an English first minister and finance minister, along with England-only departments for matters such as health, education and local government, made accountable to English MPs alone.

This does not preclude enhanced functions for counties and cities (rather than for artificial regions), but that would be a matter for the new English executive.

Bernard Jenkin, MP
Chairman, Public Administration Select Committee

Sir, You say in your leader that the best answer for the Union and its nations in the event of a “no” vote in Scotland is not clear. It seems to me to be obvious. If the Scots get devo-max, historically known as home rule, then England and Wales must have the same (Northern Ireland already has own its unique version). That means an English parliament.

This need not be a costly and cumbersome solution because, as has been pointed out by others, English MPs could divide their time between the English parliament and the UK parliament, and could share the Palace of Westminster. The only extra cost would be the setting up of an office for the English first minister to whom the devolved English departments would report. It could also be enacted by the coalition government before the next election, thus being up and running next June.

Any other solution — grand committees or stronger regions — are just fiddling at the edges and would eventually collapse under pressure, as the present arrangements have done.

Lord Horam
House of Lords

Sir, Equitably solving the conundrum which would be posed by the introduction of devo-max and the ramifications of the West Lothian question might prove difficult. Matters apparently of only English relevance could, nevertheless, have indirect implications for other regions. Issues might also come before parliament that were not within the purview of devo-max assemblies but which did not affect England. In that case, presumably only MPs from Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland would be able to debate and vote on them?

Without the benefit of relevant precedents to be drawn upon in Erskine May, the task of future Speakers and Clerks to the House does not seem enviable.

Gerry Jackson
Nether Poppleton, N Yorks

Sir, The alarming fall in the value of sterling (report, Sept 13) has been accompanied by many clear reports on the financial damage that a “yes” vote would bring to Scotland. Without seceding, however, the case for the devolution of Westminster’s power is strong.

The best example of devolution comes from the United States, where individual states can accept the policy decisions of central government while retaining a freedom of action that is the envy of countries in the European Union.

If the United Kingdom could follow America’s devolution policy, it would not only preserve a vital relationship with Scotland but would serve to remind the EU of its commitment to “subsidiarity”.

Professor Maurice Lessof
London N1


Boris Johnson’s scheme signally fails to mention the countless diesel-engined buses, lorries, vans and taxis that dominate city streets

Sir, It is all very well for Boris Johnson to now blame the motorists who purchased diesel-engined cars at the behest of the government for causing life-threatening pollution (report and leader, Sept 13, and letter, Sept 15). This is obviously another easy way to extract more money from hard-pressed motorists.

But what about the countless diesel-engined buses, lorries, vans and taxis that dominate the streets of our cities? Not a single word.

Jeffrey Rose

New Barnet, Herts

It’s quite clear that the police rarely – if ever- enforce this particular rule in the Highway Code

Sir, The Highway Code makes it quite clear that drivers should not park facing against the traffic flow (letter, Sept 15). It’s quite obvious that the police rarely — if ever — enforce it.

AP Moxham

Great Harwood, Lancs

The sparrowhawk ‘hoovers up’ birds on this private nature reserve — and even took on a rook

Sir, I live on a private nature reserve of about ten acres. It is in a large area of arable land, which is largely bereft of habitat for songbirds. Each year woodpeckers, thrushes and other such birds venture into the reserve. It does not take long for the sparrowhawk (letter, Sept 10) to hoover them up, leaving some collared doves, pigeons, blackbirds and the smaller birds that survive due to weight of numbers. I have even witnessed a sparrowhawk facing off a rook.

Warwick Faville

Badingham, Suffolk

Far from being a gimmick, the interactive whiteboard can prove invaluable as a teaching aid

Sir, Unlike Paul Thomas (Sept 15), I find my interactive whiteboard invaluable. I can draw perfectly round circles, use software to draw complicated graphs and easily refer to calculations from earlier in the lesson as they can be found on the whiteboard pages. I also use it for the co-curricular chess club where pupils can, as a group, interactively tackle chess problems. My teaching would be less effective without it.

Dr Neill Cooper

Head of further maths, Wilson’s School, Sutton, Surrey

The government ‘urgently needs to invest in mental health — and especially in talking therapies’

Sir, We are deeply concerned by the limited provision of psychological therapies in England and Wales. While the government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme has enabled more people to access treatment, years of chronic underfunding for mental health mean that in many areas people have to fight for referral, face unacceptably long waits and have little choice in the therapy they receive. Many services can’t cope with demand and are failing people with mental health problems as a result.

IAPT has been a positive step, but we need to be more ambitious. As prescriptions for antidepressants continue to rise and services struggle to support the numbers of people becoming acutely unwell, the urgent need to invest in talking therapies — and to make the latter a priority — is clear. With the election coming, the next government must ensure that the NHS can offer the full range of evidence-based psychological therapies to all who need them within 28 days of requesting a referral.​

Paul Farmer, Chairman of the We Need to Talk coalition and Chief Executive of Mind

Susan Ringwood, Chief Executive, Beat

Amanda Hawkins, Chair,woman, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Gary Fereday, Chief Executive, British Psychoanalytic Council

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, President Elect, British Psychological Society

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation

Liz McElligott, Chief Executive, National


Only the Muslim states bordering territory seized by Isil can defeat the Jihadist terror group

FILE - This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Across the broad swath of territory it controls from northern Syria through northern and western Iraq, the extremist group known as the Islamic State has proven to be highly organized governors. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File) Islamic State jihadists open 'marriage bureau'

Terrorists: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have carried out their threat to kill British hostage David Haines Photo: AP

6:59AM BST 15 Sep 2014


SIR – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) hopes that broadcasting the brutal murder of hostages will trigger a knee-jerk reaction in Western capitals to engage in military action against it. This would fit its claim that the West is engaging in an anti-Muslim campaign, and the propaganda would bring yet more disaffected young Muslims to its ranks.

Isil can only be defeated by the Muslim states that border the territory it has seized. We should assist these states in preventing the spread of this medieval barbarity without engaging in direct military action.

Alan Stedall

Boarding and families

SIR – As someone who was sent away to boarding school from the age of seven until 19, I agree with Annabel Venning’s comment that day-school children at least have their mums and dads with them. It was not until much later in my life that I realised I was not as close to my parents or sister because I had not been with them constantly during my younger years.

For this very reason, we did not send our children away to school and as a result we are a far more united and close family. Parents should think about this when considering boarding schools and the advantages they offer.

David Hartridge
Groby, Leicestershire

The worst from diesel

SIR – Geoffrey Lean is right to praise Boris Johnson’s proposals to get rid of diesel cars. In our area, the Royal Mail has issued postmen with small diesel vans to carry two men and their bags between rounds. Most of the distances involved are very short, although diesel engines operate more efficiently on long journeys. Where is the sense in that?

Jennifer Cohen
Cheadle, Cheshire

Arctic yachting

SIR – Sam Willis, in his article on the rediscovery at the bottom of the Arctic Sea of one of the ships from Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition, remarks that some intrepid navigators are even waiting to sail yachts through the North West Passage.

The first passage by a yacht in one season was in 1977 by Willy de Roos in Williwaw, a 45ft steel ketch. Some 20 yachts now attempt the passage each year, although it demands the utmost respect.

Dick Dawson
Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

Sinden in opera

SIR – Having longed to take part in an opera, Donald Sinden’s dream came true when he played the non-singing role of the Major Domo in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos at the English National Opera in 1983. He was magnificently outrageous in a costume so elaborate that one critic said it was the first time he had seen an actor upstaged by his own wig.

Nothing, apart from Dame Edith Evans’s celebrated “A handbag?” could have outdone that voice, quivering with excitement when he uttered the word “Fireworks!”

He loved every minute of it and, although his own part was over in the first act, stood in the wings until the end of the opera at every performance just soaking up the whole experience.

Patricia Countess of Harewood
Harewood House, West Yorkshire

SIR – As a student, I remember being shocked by research showing that elections in Britain were decided, not by the most politically astute individuals, but by “floating” voters unaware of their responsibilities. Jean Blondel, in Voters, Parties, and Leaders, made the point that the factors which made a difference were transient and non-rational.

This may be pertinent to the Scottish referendum, where it is clear that some form of herding or swarming is taking place. A few weeks ago, polls were showing a clear lead by those who intended to vote No to independence. Now they show that intentions are much more evenly balanced.

Importantly, the same polls indicate that the growth in the Yes contingent is led by male Labour voters, whose main objective seems to be to remove the influence of English Conservative politicians from their lives.

In other words, attention has been redirected from the overarching purposes and advantages of the Union to the lower-level aggression of political warfare.

This desire to shake off disliked governments is a world-wide phenomenon. It is being expressed in different ways in different arenas, but the cultural acceptance of others (which keeps societies

Remove Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi from power, and people automatically seek an alternative structure so they can get on with their lives. Initially, there tends to be more than one alternative group that would like to be in charge. But these exist at a lower hierarchical level than the one being replaced.

They are therefore oriented towards conflict, not to co-operation. Western politicians seem not to understand this simple point, and it may be one of the many that the SNP is overlooking. Vicious attitudes are already discolouring some aspects of the Yes campaign.

Tony Plummer
Saffron Walden, Essex

SIR – I have listened to the rhetoric. If the Scots dislike the English as much as is suggested by some, they should vote overwhelmingly to go and live with the consequences. If not, they should vote overwhelmingly to remain and stop whingeing. A finely balanced result will lead to poison for a very long time.

Anthony Hurst
Bridport, Dorset

SIR – My biggest fear is that, in the event of a Yes vote, Alex Salmond will again run rings round David Cameron and get his way on a shared currency.

Anne Wilkinson
Blackburn, Lancashire

SIR – Much has been said of the irreversible nature of a Yes vote. As an interested but disfranchised party, I would like reassurance that a No vote will have equal finality. The damage the campaign has brought to individual and business relationships, as well as financially to the whole country, must be acknowledged, with confirmation that this issue will not be revisited.

Alastair Ramsay
Ivybridge, Devon

SIR – Mr Cameron should resign if the vote goes in favour of independence.

He should not have let the referendum be expedited so rapidly. Such a momentous matter deserved consideration over the lifetime of more than one parliament – in both countries. He should also have insisted on a two-thirds majority, as befits the significance of the decision.

Finally, a more mature approach would have included the devo-max option from the start rather than as a last-minute offer after the postal votes had been cast.

Richard Elsy

SIR – Whatever the result in Scotland, Alex Salmond will have made about 50 per cent of Scots unhappy.

Geoff Piper
Cranbrook, Kent

SIR – The excellent letter from five former First Sea Lords mentions the Scotstoun and Govan shipyards on the Clyde. The Scotstoun yard, formerly the Yarrow Shipbuilding Company and now owned by BAE Systems, has extensive development plans. If completed, the shipyard could be the most modern for building naval ships in the world.

The Ministry of Defence has stated: “The UK Government is clear that companies based in an independent Scotland would no longer be eligible for contracts that the UK Government chose to place.”

If there is independence, the requirements of a Scottish navy would be totally inadequate for the new facilities. Many skilled jobs would be lost in a greatly diminished shipbuilding labour force and also in companies in Scotland supplying components.

Sir Eric Yarrow
Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire

SIR – If there is a Yes vote, will National Savings still be administered from Glasgow?

Peter Hull
Hoo, Kent

SIR – Would Scottish-owned vehicles, in the event of a Yes vote, have to have new national number plates from a new Scottish DVLA?

Alan Beer
Selsey, West Sussex

SIR – Presumably, everyone in Scotland would have to change email addresses to exclude reference to the UK.

Guy Mills
Chideock, Dorset

SIR – If the unthinkable happens, what of the Union flag?

I see no reason to change it. After all, the flag shows our common heritage and that cannot change.

I doubt whether Australia, New Zealand, or indeed Hawaii, will modify their own national flags to reflect Scottish independence.

Professor M M R Williams
Eastbourne, East Sussex

SIR – Never will the proverb of cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face have been more apposite if on Thursday Scotland should vote for independence.

Richard Symington
London SW17

SIR – Given the dubious tactics of some Scottish nationalists now being revealed, can we be assured that every precaution is being taken against vote-rigging on Thursday?

More hangs on the outcome of this vote than upon a general election.

Michael Allisstone
Chichester, West Sussex

SIR – In this weekend’s St Leger, the last classic horse race of the year, Alex My Boy came eighth of 12 runners, with Scotland coming last.

Tony Derbyshire
Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire

Irish Times:

A chara, – Despite having lived in Edinburgh for a number of years, being married to a Scotsman and a regular visitor there, I have no idea how the Scots should vote in Thursday’s referendum.

We in Ireland should not make the mistake of imposing our ideas of nationalism on Scotland. Many Scots see no contradiction in considering themselves both proudly Scottish and proudly British. Many in the older generation will vote No to independence not because they fear change but because they do not want to give up their British identity and the ties forged through two World Wars. But for many of the younger generation, being part of the UK merely means being ruled by English Conservatives in London, regardless of the fact that the Scots don’t tend to vote Tory.

If they vote Yes, despite the dire warnings of the political and corporate establishment, they will do so because they want to be masters of their own destiny. Those of us used to the limitations of parliamentary democracy might consider their aspirations to be a little naive but we can only admire their passion.

Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s historic vote, it will be the right decision for Scotland because it will be made by the Scottish people themselves. We wish them well. – Is mise,




Sir, – In its promotional information the Royal Bank of Scotland states that, “We put our customers’ needs first. We will listen and then help you find solutions that meet your needs. We are there whenever you need help. We will take personal responsibility when you need support from us. We are fair and honest.”

Strange then that it would announce a move to London should Scotland vote Yes.

It would seem that the help and support about which it boasts is to be extended to all countries except its own – the very one included in its title. – Yours, etc,




Co Tipperary.

Sir, – Once more, Diarmaid Ferriter gives a lead in an area of some importance (“Scottish referendum issues need response in Republic”, Opinion & Analysis, September 13th). – Yours, etc,


Gilford Road,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – I am not too sure that Diarmuid Ferriter is right when he advises that “a senior Irish politician … should respond to the issues the [Scottish] referendum raises”. As he said himself “context, perspective and reality” demonstrate that Scotland has a different history. Pontificating from us about what happened here in different times is, therefore, the last thing that is needed in a knife-edge referendum.

For example bragging that “the Free State achieved political stability and implemented an independent foreign policy”, while true, was highly conditional on neither Hitler or Stalin gaining the upper hand in Europe in the second World War. Our independence would not have lasted half an hour if either of those ruthless totalitarians had taken over Europe.

If that had happened, and their political descendants were still in power, there would be no EU of 28 democracies to which a free Scotland could apply for membership.

The different context, perspective and reality, therefore, indicate that we would be better advised to leave the Scots to decide their own future. – Yours, etc,


Shielmartin Drive,


Dublin 13.

Sir, – Will the UK become the SK (split kingdom)? – Yours, etc,




Co Mayo.

Sir, – I have heard it asked in the run-up to the Scottish referendum whether Scotland’s 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 it will do so with both the head and the heart. – Yours, etc,


Ráth Chairn,

Áth Buí­,

Co na Mí.

Sir, – All this talk about the Scottish independence vote going down to the wire is utter rubbish. Take no notice of the recent polls showing the Yes and No sides running neck and neck. Mark my words,this referendum is not too close to call; the Scots will vote overwhelmingly to remain part of the union. They may be brave but they ain’t stupid! – Yours, etc,


Beacon Hill,


Co Dublin.

Sir, – As a Scot married to an Irishman, living happily in Ireland these past 35 years, it surprises me to hear Irish citizens espousing the unionist position. It is an inexpressible pleasure to live here in a sovereign state, where citizens have the right to govern themselves.

Apart from the important issues of Scotland’s separate and distinct identity and culture, there has long been a democratic deficit. Scotland is currently ruled by a Conservative Westminster government, having elected only a single Conservative MP out of a possible 59.

Lack of autonomy infantilises a people. It is time for Scotland to leave home, and grow up. This will take courage. I wish Scotland good luck in finally taking charge of its own affairs. – Yours, etc,


Stable Lane,

Crofton Terrace,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Regardless of the outcome of this week’s Scottish Referendum, Scotland is on an irreversible path to independence. David Curran (September 13th) asks “if not now, when?” No time like the present, I suggest. As Macbeth says, “if it were done when ‘tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly”. – Yours, etc,



Westport, Co Mayo.

Sir, – The major flaw in Ian Paisley’s psyche, leading in turn to his deathly, divisive agenda, whatever his latter-day sainthood, is characteristic of all religious fundamentalists – a misguided, destructive belief in having an exclusive grip on the truth; that, absurdly, one has a divine mandate, heaven forbid!

History is ill-served if this dehumanising force is airbrushed by dint of political correctness or not speaking ill of the dead. – Yours, etc,


Station Road,


Dublin 13.

Sir, – There was absolutely nothing of the Nazarene in this man. It is only when he became first minister, ie achieving power, that he had his Damascus moment. Blessed are the true peacemakers – Gandhi, King, et al – for they walk with the angels. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – No, nay, never, no, nay, never no more. – Yours, etc,


Ballyraine Park


Co Donegal.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole (“Paisley: a firebrand who learned to compromise”, September 13th) has captured the essence of the man and all he embodied, including his change of heart when his lust for power overcame his religious convictions! Thank you, Fintan, for allowing me to read and move on. – Yours, etc,


Elderwood Road,


Dublin 20.

A chara, – I never knew that the Rev Dr Ian Paisley’s middle names were Richard Kyle, until your editorial of September 13th (“From firebrand to peacemaker”). The initials of his forenames lend themselves to an acronym that is rather apt for a man who got under the skins of so many. I’ll spell it out, lest I be accused of being obscure – IRK!

May the “big fella” rest in peace. – Is mise,



Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – The widespread, though not universal, praise for Ian Paisley – his warmth, humour, ultimate willingness to compromise – from politicians of all hues gives the impression that they, ultimately, are more impressed by the persona and skills of one of their own than they are by the suffering, sometimes intentional, they have caused people at large.

They form a self-congratulatary, insulated clique more inclined to listen to one another than they are to the rest of us. – Yours, etc,


Ceannt Fort,

Mount Brown,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – Despite Ian Paisley’s political “conversion” during the last decade of his life, the fact remains that throughout the previous several decades of his involvement in front-line politics in Northern Ireland he was a zealous bigot.

His oratory continually encouraged violence and his actions always opposed political progress.

His “no surrender” philosophy helped to prolong the killings on this island and handicapped any efforts towards ending the political stalemate between the Catholic and Protestant communities.

It was Paisley who played an integral role in bringing down the Sunningdale Agreement (through the loyalist-led Workers’ Strike in 1974). It was Paisley who opposed Irish governments’ legitimate role in finding a solution to the Troubles (for instance, in his opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985). And it was Paisley who refused to wholeheartedly endorse the Good Friday agreement of 1998 (even though the peoples of both the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland voted in favour of this agreement via a referendum on either side of the border).

Yes, during the last years of his life Paisley did agree to power-sharing with the once despised Sinn Féin/IRA, as he himself described Martin McGuinness and his motley crew. However, this does not absolve him from his past actions.

While he may never have had actual blood on his hands, his bigoted deeds and words will forever stain his legacy. – Yours, etc,


Department of History

and Politics,

Liverpool Hope University,

Hope Park,


Sir, – Will the pretending finally stop? Ian Paisley “the peacemaker, the statesman, the man of principle, the man who said yes, the big man”. Ian Paisley was bigoted, sectarian, ignorant, rude and very dangerous. When civil rights marchers asked for basic civil rights, the “great man” met them with a mob. His life was dedicated to intolerance, the stirring up of hatred, and his rights were the only rights that mattered.

Then when the winds of change finally came, his ego made him the peacemaker. A peacemaker does what is right for the greater good of all, not himself. John Hume is a peacemaker; Paisley was just a pathetic opportunist. – Yours, etc,


Upper Dargle Road,


Co Wicklow.

Sir, – On the passing of Ian Paisley I am reminded of the phrase, if the God you worship hates the same people you do, then maybe your God is of your own creation. – Yours, etc,


Westbury Drive,


Dublin 22.

Sir, – An important aspect of the current debate on direct provision that is being overlooked is the practice of placing suspected victims of sex trafficking in centres which are not safe or secure.

This practice is not only a failure of Ireland’s international obligations to protect victims but leaves women and girls within reach of the criminal gangs running a multimillion euro network of prostitution and trafficking in this country.

It is unacceptable that women, who are traumatised after years of exploitation, are being left neglected by the State and are in immediate danger of further abuse, threats of violence to withhold evidence against their abusers and in some cases a return to a life of prostitution.

In addition the placing of victims of sexual abuse and rape in mixed-sex accommodation is unacceptable.

Such are our failings in this area that Ireland has been criticised by the US state department, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

Notwithstanding those international bodies, as a modern democracy which prides itself on equality and justice we owe it to these women and girls to provide them with every possible support as they attempt to restart their lives. – Yours, etc,


Chief Executive,

Immigrant Council

of Ireland,

Andrew Street,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – In response to my recent article on Donald Caird (“Retired Church of Ireland archbishop led his community to places they had not been”, September 2nd), the former bishop of Cork, the Right Rev Roy Warke, rightly observes (September 11th) that the first woman priest to be ordained in the Church of Ireland in the Republic, Janet Catterall, was ordained in that city.

That is why I stated that Rev Ginnie Kennerley was “one of the first” women ordained in the Republic.

Indeed, as a young solicitor’s apprentice in 1990, I was present in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral when Rev Catterall was ordained and congratulated her afterwards as someone coming from another religious tradition. I am at one with the bishop in feeling that my native Cork’s pre-eminence in this (as in other) matters must never be occluded. – Yours, etc,


Bangor Road,


Dublin 12.

Sir, – It would seem to me that Minister of Health Leo Varadkar’s medical training is aiding him in his brief, as I believe it did in his previous ministry. I suspect he is applying “Loeb’s Laws of Medicine” to his new portfolio, a modified version of which is as follows: (1) if what you’re doing is working, keep doing it; (2) if what you’re doing is not working, stop doing it; (3) if you don’t know what to do, do nothing; (4) never let the treatment be worse than the disease.

It’s early days, but other Ministers might learn from this refreshing approach. – Yours, etc,


St Philomena’s,


Waterford City.

Sir, – Ireland is a wonderful country and it’s not surprising to read reports that tourism is a growing part of the economy. That said, the condition of the loos at Busáras in Dublin are not helping. In short, the toilets are filthy and badly in need of repair. Doors are broken, some locks are non-existent and some sinks are not working.

If Ireland is to continue winning the tourism game, safe, clean and functional loos are critical for the traveller at one of the country’s main transportation hubs. – Yours, etc,


Fairfield Road,


British Columbia,


Sir, – On September 12th, you revealed details of a confidential submission by the Department of Health to the Government on the front page of your newspaper, while on page 8 the confidential parts of one of the delegates to the International Naturist Congress were concealed behind the front page of a provincial newspaper.

What does “confidential” mean, this weather? – Yours, etc,


Grosvenor Court,


Dublin 6W.

Sir, – The “freestanding Corgi” in “Get some Highland bling for your home” (September 13th) is in fact a freestanding West Highland Terrier, a dog I lament every day since that bitter time in July 2012 when he was called to the big kennel in the sky. Hamish, never forgotten! – Yours, etc,


Oakwood Grove,


Dublin 22.

Sir, – Teenagers are reading less and the teenagers that do read are branded “swats” or “nerds”. Books provide a healthy escape from the stresses of everyday life as a student. While many teenagers and young people do read, there are still a large number that should be encouraged to do so. This could be done by setting up libraries in schools or providing students with even one period a week to read. – Yours, etc,


Raheen Gardens, Limerick.

Sir, – One of my father’s favourite stories was when he asked a paper boy in O’Connell Street in Dublin one evening if he had a copy of that morning’s Irish Press. “It’s news I’m sellin mister, not history” was the curt reply. – Yours, etc,


Iona Villas,

Dublin 9.

Irish Independent:

The acquittal of Oscar Pistorius on the charge of premeditated murder raises significant issues about the relationship between the judgements of juries and those of experienced judges.

The conclusions of Thokozile Masipa, the judge in the Pistorious case, have been widely criticised. It has been claimed that justice has not been served, as the judge’s conclusions were based on technical legal issues and not driven by where the evidence obviously pointed. It has been assumed by many that trial by jury would have produced a different verdict, basing judgement on the deliverances of common sense, reaching conclusions that any reasonable person would supposedly reach.

The unwarranted assumption here is that ordinary people chosen at random and applying their common sense can arrive at a fair and reasonable verdict based on the evidence and that they are capable of reaching a verdict beyond reasonable doubt and without prejudice.

The notion of common sense is based on the view that in the ordinary course of life we do not have time to engage in lengthy analysis in making decisions. The over-analysed life is unliveable.

However, common sense can easily degenerate into common nonsense. It is not an alternative way of knowing distinct from the exercise of intelligence.

Trial by jury tends to focus on persuading 12 people to reach a certain conclusion. This is intensified by the introduction of victim statements, assuming that the cold rationality of the courts needs to be supplemented by raw expressions of feeling.

The jury trials of the Birmingham Six, Judith Ward, the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven – all wrongly convicted – should have sent a warning sign to all involved in shaping our system of law. These miscarriages of justice were overturned, not by a jury, but by the cold exercise of the law.

Admittedly, there are real moral issues about inequality of access to the law, mostly as a result of the variability in the quality of representation in the courts. It is often said that the wealthy can buy their way out of trouble.

Philip O’Neill, Oxford, England


Home Rule @ 100

I was very glad to see your “Home Rule @ 100” supplement (September 13), and that a long-forgotten John Redmond is at last receiving the attention he deserves. I was, however, puzzled by the choice of “The 10 main Home Rule Players”. While Parnell (First Home Rule Bill, 1886) and Redmond (Third Home Rule Bill, 1912-14) obviously deserve to be listed, the absence of Justin McCarthy (Second Home Rule Bill, 1893) is baffling.

Overshadowed by Parnell before him and the 1916 rebels four years after his death, McCarthy’s significant contribution to the Home Rule cause has been largely overlooked.

McCarthy’s conciliatory chairmanship of the Irish Parliamentary Party (1890-96) ensured that the Party did not subdivide further after the Parnell split. McCarthy maintained the vital Irish Party alliance with Gladstone’s Liberals. After the 1892 general election, McCarthy and his 71 Irish Party MP colleagues, acting in unison, made it possible for Gladstone to have his Second Home Rule Bill passed by the House of Commons in 1893. Had that Bill not been passed by the Commons that year, it is unlikely that the Liberals would ever have returned to the issue again.

McCarthy is the critical link between the 1886 and 1912-14 Home Rule Bills. He therefore deserves to be included in any list of “Top 10 Home Rulers”.

Eugene J Doyle, Dundrum, Dublin 14

Your otherwise excellent supplement on “Home Rule @ 100” was marred by the repeated use of “Kitty” in relation to Mrs O’Shea, lover and later wife of Charles Stewart Parnell.

She was, in fact, generally known as “Katie” – though she preferred to be called Katherine. “Kitty” was Victorian slang for a prostitute and it was first applied to Mrs O’Shea by the egregious Tim Healy, and it stuck. It was singularly inappropriate given her essentially uxorious relationship with Parnell.

Felix M Larkin, Academic Director, Parnell Summer School, Cabinteely, Dublin 18


Yes in Scotland? Don’t bet on it

Contrary to the mass media coverage that the referendum in Scotland can go “either way”, please permit me to make the following prediction: The possibility of the “Yes” side winning the Scottish referendum on independence is as remote as me winning the Irish Lotto and the Euro Millions this week.

Vincent J Lavery, Dalkey, Co Dublin


Taking the Lord’s name in vain

Please allow me the chance to appeal to all who write for your newspaper to refrain from using the name of Jesus as an expletive, or for colourful emphasis or simply to gain attention.

It is a holy name and the name of the beloved Son of God. The principle, common to all of us, of wishing to protect our good name, holds good in this case also, I believe. Thank you.

Fr Freddy Warner, Portumna, Co Galway


All that I can’t leave behind

I have nurtured my iTunes music library over recent years.

Apple have greatly disturbed this library by dumping a new U2 album into it. I neither asked for nor wanted this mediocrity. This is a gross invasion of privacy by a band and company who seek to impose their selective tastes on the general public.

K Nolan, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim


Behind the Middle East chaos

Everyone is rightly saddened by the death of David Haines, the British aid worker who was recently butchered. This was a horrific act. We must see the complete picture in this disastrous situation.

Britain and the US invaded Iraq, based on a pack of lies, 11 years ago. They are also still fighting in Afghanistan for some reason. In those two countries combined, around a million people have been killed by Western forces. Then you had Libya, where around another 30,000 people were killed, in addition to the destruction caused. Huge amounts of weaponry have also been sold to that region. The result – chaos.

In order to gain control of the Middle East, and it’s resources, much of the Muslim world has been trashed. And, if that wasn’t enough, we’ve seen the UK and US back Israel’s recent raid, which killed another 2,100 Muslims in Gaza.

Let’s be clear, I am in no way justifying what Isil/Islamic State are doing. This is no excuse for their barbarity, but the totality of the breakdown in the Middle East has to be examined in order to be addressed.

Name and address with editor


Remembering Anne Devlin

This Thursday marks the anniversary of the death of Anne Devlin, the faithful friend of Robert Emmet. She suffered severely at the hands of cruel crown agents.

Anne Devlin’s headstone at Glasnevin tells of her many noble qualities and how she lived and died in “obscurity and poverty”.

Remember her with pride.

J A Barnwell, Dublin 9

Irish Independent


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