10 November 2014 Prep

I jog around the park I still have arthritis in my left knee, but I manage to get round the park. A busy day sort out the spare wheelie bin wash it and put in in the car

Mary’s back much better today, breakfast weight down trout for tea and her back pain is still there but decreasing.


Thurston Hopkins was a photojournalist for Picture Post who captured a poodle in a passenger seat and an urchin down a coal hole

Thurston Hopkins on a cattle ranch in Australia, circa 1953

Thurston Hopkins on a cattle ranch in Australia, circa 1953 Photo: THURSTON HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES

6:07PM GMT 06 Nov 2014


Thurston Hopkins, who has died aged 101, was a photojournalist for Picture Post whose subjects ranged from the sinister to the sublime.

During the 1940s and 1950s Picture Post was to Britain what Life magazine was to America: a photographic portmanteau of the nation at work and play and an introduction to more distant worlds. Hopkins brought his eye for the comic, romantic and cinematic to the magazine.

His photographs are often tales of the unexpected: a sofa sitting in the garden at a debutante’s party; a boy emerging from a coal hole in Indian headdress; an old woman dragging a wicker basket as big as a boat down an alley in Assisi.

Although a versatile and reliable staff photographer on the magazine from 1950 until 1957, Hopkins’s first love was illustration and his second was writing — in 1946 he had arrived in London to consult George Orwell about the possibility of a writing career. The camera, said Hopkins, paid better than the brush or the pen.

Godfrey Thurston Hopkins was born on April 16 1913 in south London, the son of a bank cashier with literary ambitions, and was educated at St Joseph’s Salesian School at Burwash in Sussex, Montpelier College in Brighton and then at Brighton College of Art, where he studied graphic illustration.

While earning a precarious living as a book and magazine illustrator, he was engaged by a Fleet Street agency to design grandiose illustrations to accompany exclusive photographs of Edward VIII . When the abdication crisis scuppered the job, the agency’s owner lent him a press camera on a three-month trial.

During the war Hopkins worked in the RAF Photographic Unit in Italy and the Middle East , acquiring a taste for travel and being much impressed by the omnipresence of Picture Post, then almost a national institution. He also wrote articles for Vision, a magazine he had set up with fellow RAF officers, which led to one of his articles being accepted by George Orwell for the socialist weekly Tribune.

A couple walking their poodle, 1954, by Thurston Hopkins (THURSTON HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES)

In the late 1940s Hopkins used his service gratuity to hitchhike around Western Europe with his Leica. Selected sequences, submitted as dummy layouts with text and captions, won him his first Picture Post commission. He arrived for his interview at the magazine on the day in 1950 when its long-serving editor, Tom Hopkinson, was fired for refusing to spike a Bert Hardy feature on UN atrocities in Korea .

A slight, neat figure with thick-lensed glasses, Hopkins (“Hoppy” to his friends) was the personification of cool professionalism. Whether photographing Ingrid Bergman or the Liverpool slums, covering major stories in Africa or capturing the atmosphere of Kensington Gardens on a Sunday, he brought the same diligence to the job .

Though an admirer of Henri Cartier-Bresson, he refused to be shackled by the renowned photographer’s insistence on seizing the “decisive moment” and enjoyed arranging pictures so long as authenticity was not lost. One of these staged pictures was his famous photograph of a poodle sitting up front in the passenger seat of a chauffeured limousine.

A couple during a ball at Oxford, 1952, by Thurston Hopkins (THURSTON HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES)

Off duty he would talk eagerly about books, music and painting — and, an abiding passion, early film-noir, the source of his interest in night-time compositions. “I accompanied him as a writer on a number of British and foreign assignments,” recalled the journalist David Mitchell, “and in 1952 humoured his penchant for shadowy nocturnal scenes by smoking a midnight Gauloise with the towers of Notre Dame in the background for a feature on the river Seine.”

In 1953 Hopkins went on assignment to Tonga with the feature writer and Tonight programme reporter Fyfe Robertson. Two years later Hopkins, then 42, married Fyfe’s 25-year-old daughter, Grace Robertson, herself a talented photographer. It was a successful marriage, producing two children and a mutually supportive working relationship.

Hopkins photograph of a boy hiding in a coal hole, 1954 (THURSTON HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES)

Following the closure of Picture Post in 1957, he worked for a period in advertising, during which his wife was for a time his driver and assistant; he later lectured at the Guildford School of Photography.

From the mid-1980s, in semi-retirement in a cottage at Seaford, Sussex, he was content to act as an expert aide to Grace during her belated recognition — after more than 12 years’ primary school teaching she returned to work as a pioneering female photojournalist.

Examples of Hopkins’s work are held by the V&A, the Arts Council and the MoMA in New York. Yet Hopkins did not consider photography to be an “art” and had not expected his pictures “to have any sort of permanence”. Indeed he claimed always to have felt that “there was something faintly ridiculous” about enslavement to a mere machine. When his trusty Leica — “the little monster” — was put aside he enjoyed painting richly textured abstract canvases.

Thurston Hopkins is survived by his wife and by their son and daughter .

Thurston Hopkins, born April 16 1913, died October 26 2014


EC President Jean-Claude Juncker Holds Press Conference Jean-Claude Juncker. ‘Surely the president of the European commission – a former prime minister of Luxembourg – must agree that there must be a common European policy on corporate tax deals.’ writes Peter Stammers. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Millions of ordinary European citizens have known for years that Luxembourg, one of the six founding members of the Common Market, is a premier-league tax haven (Luxembourg and Juncker under pressure over tax deals, 7 November). The 80 journalists in 26 countries leaking 28,000 tax papers have confirmed the enormous size of the wholesale tax avoidance by national, multinational and transnational companies. Whether this will produce any more than a short-lived shock-horror from the politicians is doubtful, especially if the media does not keep up the pressure.

My blog,, has highlighted companies claiming tax relief on interest paid on loans that are either artificial or the cost of a leveraged buyout. It’s now de rigueur for companies as diverse as Boots, Heathrow Airport, Manchester United and privatised utilities to avoid tax. It need not be so as the UK government could set limits on the amount of tax relief that can be claimed, as is done in other major European countries.

In France tax relief is set at 75%, in Holland there is only 100% tax relief on interest paid if the debt is less than double the equity, which is the value of all the company’s assets after allowing for all the debt and/or liabilities. In Germany, tax relief on interest paid is limited to 30% of Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation).

Overshadowing all the artificial loans is Jean-Claude Juncker’s deal with Vodafone to give them an artificial tax credit in Luxembourg of £17.4bn. Vodafone does not even trade in Luxembourg, but the tax credit can be set against their UK and other EU profits for years to come.

The government admits to £35bn a year tax avoidance, but others estimate it much higher. Whatever the actual figure, the outcome of wholesale tax avoidance by large companies is austerity. There would be no need for austerity if companies stopped avoiding tax and successive governments stopped allowing them to do so.
Michael Gold (@radicalmic)

• The exposure of the huge scale of tax avoidance involving Luxembourg clearly highlights the need for global action to end this abuse of the world’s tax system. This is a global issue which affects both the richest and the poorest countries of the world.

The current plan from the G20 to tackle tax avoidance will not be sufficient to put an end to these scandals. David Cameron should use next week’s G20 leaders’ summit to signal that the job is not done.

A more fundamental rethink of the world’s tax system that includes all countries – including developing countries – as equal partners, is still urgently needed to ensure all companies pay their fair share of tax, wherever they operate.
Murray Worthy
Tax campaign manager, ActionAid

• The common feature in all of these artificial tax structures is the ability to deduct from tax interest payments on loans, no matter how large – a feature available to companies, but not to UK households. An examination of the Guardian’s list of global companies engaged in these tax deals reveals that the largest group comprise banks and other financial corporations. Global financial corporations, as well as many other private non-financial corporations, will undoubtedly continue to find a way to take advantage of these handouts from the state as long as they remain available, and the principle of tax deductibility of interest for companies remains unchallenged. Most of these companies would continue to be profitable without these handouts (shouldn’t they worry if they weren’t?), so why does the state continue to provide them with limitless opportunity to reduce their taxes?
David Marks

• What a great spy story – can you get John le Carré to write it? The plot: GCHQ’s monitoring of lawyers’ communications discovers the true extent of tax avoidance in Luxembourg. SIS is tasked to stimulate the leak of 28,000 documents to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Meanwhile the PM tries to prevent the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as president, and fails. Hence a fallback on publication of the ICIJ findings, and the PM urges Nigel Farage to demand a no-confidence debate in the European parliament to unseat the president (and SIS is tasked to seek alternatives should it fail). And George Osborne, as chairman of the secret interdepartmental committee on international tax, strokes his cat and smiles to himself as he considers his future…
David Lund
Winscombe, Somerset

• Surely the president of the European commission – a former prime minister of Luxembourg – must agree that there must be a common European policy on corporate tax deals, just as there has to be a common policy on the free movement of labour within the EU.
Peter Stammers
Banstead, Surrey

• Some of your readers may be interested to learn that if they use a credit card to purchase tickets with Abellio Greater Anglia, the transaction is recorded as having taken place in Luxembourg.
Professor Richard Clogg

Finance ministers meet in Brussels to discuss EU budget ‘The record shows that the one thing George Osborne has been consistent about is getting elected, whatever the cost to his integrity,’ writes Martin London. Photograph: Wiktor Dabkowski/Dpa/Corbis

So next February George Osborne is going to redeem £218m 4% consols (From Waterloo to the Somme, UK finally pays off war debts, 1 November). A good headline, but where’s the substance? As there is no budget surplus at present, the redemption will presumably have to be funded by issuing new government bonds at the current annual coupon rate of 0.5%. But for equivalent undated loan stock, this presumably means that £800 will need to be issued to redeem 4% consols with a nominal value of £100, as £800 would be their current market value. In other words, there would appear to be no saving whatsoever – it just seems to be political posturing. Or have I missed something?

There is a more general issue that never seems to be debated in the press. If the government has issued debt, someone must own it. Fifty years ago the vast majority was in fact held by UK pension funds, banks, insurance companies and the Bank of England: in other words, for all intents and purposes we owed money to ourselves. By recycling money via interest payments, the effect was essentially to redistribute income. The real impact of the government selling bonds was at the time they were issued, usually to enable the authorities to divert private sector demand for goods and services into producing explosives, etc, to progress the war effort. Today with a third of the national debt owned by overseas interests, things are rather more complicated.
Richard Morris
Emeritus professor of accounting, University of Liverpool

• Is George Osborne a fan of Carol Ann Duffy (Osborne’s sleight of hand: turning EU £1.7bn bill into £850m victory, 8 November)? His speech on the EU £1.7bn payment, in which he repeats the word “bill” no less than five times in the same sentence, is weirdly reminiscent of her poem Weasel Words. Any conclusions?
Sue Rainbird
Cardigan, Ceredigion

• Tesco, so we are told, “brought forward” payments from suppliers, which had the effect of presenting their accounts in a favourable light (Report, 30 October). What is the difference between Tesco’s accounting practices, and those of George Osborne, who “brought forward” a scheduled rebate and claimed it as an £850m victory? Perhaps someone who knows about these things can explain the difference. Someone from the Serious Fraud Office, perhaps?
John Buckley
Burniston, North Yorkshire

• Some people listen to what Osborne says today; some of us remember what he said yesterday. When Gordon Brown was chancellor, Osborne said Britain should be more like Ireland. When banking proved to be a tin god, Osborne said, if we weren’t careful, Britain could be more like Greece. Osborne claimed that his austerity programme would balance the budget in one parliament. Now he says this failure is the result of the European economy not growing because of austerity. (He’s never been clear if the European failure is due to too much austerity, or too little.) Osborne said he would rebalance the economy with the march of the makers. Instead he launched another property boom, with the introduction of subsidised mortgages for voters priced out of the market, by untaxed monies from abroad flooding in to buy up British property. Then he gets ambushed by EU budget contributions of £1.7bn that he didn’t see coming. Now he claims to have cut the bill by half, but cannot say when the budget rules were changed to give him this vainglorious victory.

The record shows that the one thing Osborne has been consistent about is getting elected, whatever the cost to his integrity.
Martin London
Henllan, Denbighshire

Peers Come Under Fire Over Lords For Hire Allegations ‘If the unemployed, sick and vulnerable are going to have their human rights breached to curb their ‘dangerous habits’, then so should MPs,’ writes Julie Partridge. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty

Given that MPs accused of abusing the unreformed expenses system will escape official investigation after the Commons authorities destroyed all records of their claims (Suzanne Moore, 4 November), shouldn’t they now be issued with a pre-paid expenses card of the sort the Tories want to give the unemployed (Report, 30 September)? What are MPs’ expenses but a form of benefits? If the unemployed, sick and vulnerable are going to have their human rights breached to curb their “dangerous habits”, then so should MPs, who have proved that they are feral and cannot be trusted. MPs should be forced to shop at predetermined shops. No longer should they have the ability to save money or pay other bills that come up. MPs, like the sick, should be demeaned, have no right of autonomy, and have their dignity taken away.
Julie Partridge

England No place for a wax jacket. Photograph: Eye Ubiquitous/Rex

Interesting that Erwin Olaf (My best shot, 6 November) should recognise that there might be different ways of interpreting a picture. An alternative view of his best shot is that it encapsulates hackneyed and offensive stereotypes of female sexuality, ridiculing age and fetishising youth. The war to which he refers is a construct predicated upon the nature of the male gaze rather than women’s intergenerational relationships.
Pattie Friend
Isleworth, Middlesex

• Anyone unable to travel to Dorset to visit Slepe Heath (The return of the native heathland, 6 November) can get a good idea of the place by listening to Gustav Holst’s orchestral masterpiece Egdon Heath, a wonderfully evocative piece of music.
Michael Short
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex

• I share Alan Greenslade-Hibbert’s unease at the sexist distinction between men’s and ladies’ jackets in the Guardian ad (Letters, 8 November). But that’s not the reason why I cannot order one. While we are still in the bonfire season, whether for Guy Fawkes or for Samhain (Letters, 6 November), I can’t buy a wax jacket in case it melts in the heat. I’ll stick to my waxed garment until this is resolved.
Judith Eversley

• The wittiest slogan I’ve seen was on the back of a T-shirt worn by a man at a model railway exhibition (Letters, 8 November): “If you can read this I’ve left my anorak on the platform.”
Heather Parry
Watford, Hertfordshire

• One of the amazing murmuration shapes captured in Eyewitness (7 November) looked very like a whale, right down to its perfect tail. Probably just a fluke.
Ryan Arnold (12)

Mohammed Fahmy, Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed From left, Mohammed Fahmy, Canadian-Egyptian acting bureau chief of Al-Jazeera, Australian correspondent Peter Greste, and Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed in a Cairo court. Photograph: Hamada Elrasam/AP

Last month, Egypt’s leading newspaper editors signed a declaration pledging near-blind support for the Egyptian state and vowing to ban criticism of the police, army and judiciary from the pages of their publications. In a remarkable display of both professional integrity and personal bravery, several hundred Egyptian journalists have now signed a counter-statement rejecting this attempt by their bosses to gag reporters and silence their work.

We, the undersigned journalists and media professionals, stand in solidarity with our Egyptian colleagues in their struggle for a free and independent press. Intimidation of the media has been a central tactic of every Egyptian regime in recent years, and the fight by journalists to resist such intimidation has been a vital component of the country’s broader battle against state tyranny. Egypt’s rulers must know that their attempts to repress any form of public scrutiny or dissent will be met with fierce opposition, not just by local reporters but by the wider international community of journalists as well.

Egypt today is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be working in as a journalist. Although the absurd show trial and subsequent imprisonment of three al-Jazeera English correspondents generated global headlines earlier this year, many other victims of the state’s crackdown on free speech have gone largely unreported. In total, 11 journalists have been killed since the beginning of the Egyptian revolution in 2011, and nearly 70 more, both local and foreign, have been detained since the rise to power of President el-Sisi in July 2013.

At a time when a draconian anti-protest law has condemned thousands of young political activists to prison, when NGOs are facing a web of oppressive legislation restricting their activities, and when the scope of military trials against civilians is expanding, the role of journalists in holding those in power to account is more vital than ever.

Hundreds of Egypt’s journalists have courageously declared their rejection of “rule by one opinion”. We stand with them, and encourage colleagues around the world to do the same by adding their names to this statement –
Jon Snow Channel 4 News, Aidan White Director, The Ethical Journalism Network, Roy Greenslade Professor of journalism, City University and columnist for the Guardian and Evening Standard, Patrick Kingsley Egypt correspondent, the Guardian, Jack Shenker Former Egypt correspondent, the Guardian


I am one of those foreigners with dual nationality who has been living here most of his life (“They also served”, 8 November). I have never worn a poppy. I shall do so once poppies become a remembrance not only of British soldiers fallen in the battlefield but also of the innocent victims from Dresden to Iraq. In this way, the Queen at the Cenotaph will be also paying tribute to those unjustly killed in her name.

With all their colourful glamour, the memorial poppies at the Tower are given a grotesque meaning. The equation of one fallen serviceman with one poppy betrays a lack of perception of what war is all about. Fallen soldiers and innocent victims should be remembered together, without distinction. No field could contain the number of poppies needed to include all of them.

Agustin Blanco-Bazan
London NW8


Your article (8 November) looks at the wars Britain has been involved in since 1945.

If you did a similar exercise for the century between the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1815, and the start of the First World War, in 1914, you would see a similar pattern.

There were very few wars directly between the great powers, and such as there were – Crimea, Franco-Prussian, Russo-Japanese – were nasty and brutish, but short.

The almost continuous asymmetric colonial wars, interspersed with wars about “national interest”, were about coal – now they are about oil fields.

That was why August 1914 found so many in Britain expecting the war to be over by Christmas. Let us hope we don’t wander into another big conflict through a similar concatenation of delusion.

Nik Wood
London E9

Elizabeth Churton (“You are what you wear”, 8 November) is pictured sporting an enormous poppy. It’s no surprise that such a flamboyant demonstration of what Jon Snow termed “poppy fascism” should be allied to such unwavering dogma about pupils’ attire.

Ms Churton describes uniform as “part and parcel of the way in which we communicate with each other”. Quite.

Marc Patel
London SE21

The clamour to retain “the poppies” at the Tower seems in danger of missing a conceptual aspect of the work. It is intentionally transient. If it is gone too soon, so, too, were the lives it commemorates.

The shorter and more intense the flowering, the more powerful will be what remains: memory. If the impermanence of the work causes regret at the untimely loss of the physical, the moral is: carpe diem.

Peter Dodge
London WC2

Am I the only person who has had enough of the First World War? War, war and more war. How about peace, peace and more peace instead?

When my dad was alive, the last thing he ever wanted to hear about or talk about was the Second World War. And when his dad was alive, the last he ever wanted to talk about was the First World War. Give peace a chance.

Ray J Howes
Weymouth, Dorset

PM’s bluster damages our credibility

Less than two weeks after David Cameron blustered in Parliament that, under no circumstances, would we pay the increased contribution to the EU budget demanded by the European Commission, we have a deal, trumpeted by George Osborne as a victory for the UK (“Osborne accused of accounting trick to claim cut in EU bill”, 8 November). It was always obvious that we would have to pay the increase, as it was based on a calculation mechanism to which all EU members, ourselves included, had agreed.

What is really worrying is the bluster repeatedly shown by Cameron in his dealings with the EU.

He begins by flouncing out of the centre-right mainstream in the European Parliament, tying himself to fringe parties, and damaging his chances of forming useful alliances with the main centre-right parties in Europe.

He is one of two EU leaders to bluster unsuccessfully against Jean-Claude Juncker, with whom he now has to work and who has the power to influence the outcome of any renegotiation of the conditions of our membership of the EU. He blusters on about limiting immigration from the EU, one the four main freedoms on which the union is based, a stance which he should have known would be unacceptable to our European partners, even before Angela Merkel put him in his place.

The bluster about the budget can serve only to erode his image and credibility in the EU still further.

It is obvious that the bluster is the result of the Ukip threat to the Tory vote and Cameron’s chances of remaining PM after next year’s election. The real worry, however, is that it merely serves to reduce Cameron’s negotiating power with our increasingly frustrated European partners, who will feel less and less inclined to accommodate him, and us. This risks forcing him into a position where he has no choice but to recommend a “No” vote in a future referendum on EU membership.

Bluster should not determine an issue so fundamentally important to the future of the UK.

David Barker
Surbiton, Surrey

Light the blue touchpaper …

I take issue with John Rentoul (5 November) over Guy Fawkes Day bonfires and fireworks. He has the concept upside-down.

Bonfire night is not “a chance to glorify Guy Fawkes”. The annual celebration is of the discovery and foiling of the plot against the king and Parliament. So, really, it is a festival to remind each generation of the risks of terrorism and the fate in wait for traitors.

We burn the effigy, recite the poem and teach our children how to look out for danger. Quite a modern message.

Claire Johnson
Sevenoaks, Kent

I was so pleased to read Sidney Alford’s informed appraisal of fireworks and how they enrich life (letter, 8 November). I envy him his laboratory.

I would, however, remind readers of another forbidden tradition – the tradition of street fireworks. Where are the squibs, bangers, jumping jacks, torpedoes and serpents that many of us grew up with?

There will have been accidents, mostly minor. But I suspect it was their effectiveness in puncturing bourgeois composure and detachment that has led to their suppression.

We have nothing to compare with the tracas and mascletas with which the Valencianos still purify and purge the streets of their city at fiesta time.

R W Chaplin

I feel it was rash, even reckless, of you to publish Mr Alford’s letter about home-made fireworks.

I fear that Mr Alford is in danger of being overwhelmed by applicants wanting to become adopted grandchildren.

Vivienne Cox
London W4

Your cancer ‘battle’ could be my ‘struggle’

Isn’t the whole point of Elena Semino’s research that cancer patients vary in their reaction to “battling” metaphors? Some, such as Charles Garth (letter, 6 November), have no problem with them. I hate them, as do most cancer patients I know.

Professor Semino’s work highlights a real issue. It is surely a mistake to dismiss it as “politically correct silliness” when we should be considering its implications. After all, we cancer patients are just like any other cross-section of humanity. Some words and phrases communicate better with some individuals than others. What’s “silly” about taking that on board?

Christine Howarth
Maidstone, Kent

Directors’ cliches worth more than boos

A more appropriate response than booing at the opera (“A chorus of boos”, 7 November) would be general hilarity and a chorus of “Emperor’s new clothes”. I suggest a rebate on the price of each opera ticket for directors’ use of lazy clichés as follows:

Dominatrix-style outfit for foil to saintly heroine: 50p.

Proto-fascist black-clad gun-toters: 50p.

Removal of clothes and pseudo bonking on stage: £1.

Chorus costumes from the local charity shop: £1.

Pointless (and endless) use of revolving stage: £1.

Non-processions to obvious processional music: £1.

On a ticket price of approximately £45, that would give me a tidy little discount each time I attended an opera production.

Glynne Williams
London E17

Not much grace in an insult

Grace Dent (7 November) seems strangely insensitive. I thought John Lewis’s Christmas ad was charming and delightful. OK, it’s sentimental, but what’s wrong with that? Lighten up, Gracie!

But the worst thing she did was to use “bedwetter” as an insult, which is on a par with “spastic” or “four-eyes”. You can try too hard to be funny, and this time she missed the target.

John Hodgson
Barston, West Midlands


Sir, There is a still cheaper way to remove the bottleneck in the A303 at Stonehenge rather than build a tunnel (Thunderer, Nov 8). Simply widen the existing road into a dual carriageway.

Even a brief inspection of aerial photographs of southern England’s prehistoric monuments will show that they are closely connected with roads and pathways. It is a misconception that Stonehenge stood in splendid isolation on Salisbury Plain. The two roads close to Stonehenge might be as much a part of the historic site as the stones themselves. Turning Stonehenge into something it never was is neither historically accurate nor good use of public funds.
Roger May

Emsworth, Hamps

Sir, Re your leader (“The Price of Peace”, Nov 7) Stonehenge is adjacent to the oldest east-west way in England and does not require silence in which to be admired. The tunnel idea will only put the current congestion underground, a hellish thought. Spend the £600 million on continuous dual carriageway from Amesbury to Mere. In line with the closing thought in your leader, I heartily agree that the new carriageway at Stonehenge should be a viaduct to afford a better view of the monument.
Simon Latham
East Knoyle, Wilts

Sir, I cannot see why you would need a ridiculously expensive tunnel when it’s quite possible to simply sink the roadbed to a depth that conceals the height of a lorry (“Dig road under Stonehenge to end traffic jams, says CBI boss,” Nov 7). It would be far simpler to have attractive sloped banks and use the excavated soil to contour and sculpt the terrain and regrass it to be exactly as it looks now.
Lady Pakenham
Warminster, Wilts

Sir, Why not relieve congestion on the A303 by making Stonehenge the centre of a mile-wide roundabout? This could be done by making the A303 heading west into a one-way, and therefore wider, road. The traffic from the west could be diverted on to the two A roads that skirt the site to the north, before it rejoins the A303 heading towards London.
Ray Quinlan
Ashtead, Surrey

Sir, A 4km bored tunnel near to Stonehenge was favoured by English Heritage’s archaeologists in the 1990s. It was archaeologically ideal, but fiscally impossible.

Another solution is to construct a relatively short cut-and-cover tunnel west from Stonehenge Bottom past the stones for a kilometre or so. The two dual carriageways could be stacked one atop the other, in a trench along the existing A303 footprint that would destroy no further archaeology.
Professor Norman Hammond
Harlton, Cambs

Sir, A tunnel will not alleviate congestion on the A303, except for the short distance past the monument. There is still more than 45 miles of single carriageway between Amesbury roundabout and the junction with the M5 at Exeter, interspersed with dual carriageways. The single carriageways suffer terrible tailbacks during the holiday season. The tunnel will only move the congestion two miles down the road.

ben beveridge

Warminster, Wilts

Sir, The answer is to build a second carriageway to the south, adjacent to the A303 before swinging northwest to avoid Winterbourne Stoke.

rosemary gairdner

Berwick St James, Wilts

Sir, The land about Stonehenge is grazed, which makes it easily visible from the A303, but it was probably erected in a forest clearing. As children, my sister and I competed to win the parental penny for being the first to spot Stonehenge; a tunnel will be very boring.

rodney preece

East Meon, Hamps

Sir, I have just taken a train to Cornwall and eaten lunch on the way. It was Britain at its best, on a British Rail-era, but well-refurbished high-speed train with superb locally sourced food and the best service.

Who in their right mind would want to drive all the way on the A303, even after the Stonehenge tunnel has been built?

james miller

Sir, The UK is a world leader in craft, yet craft education is at serious risk. This is why we support the Education Manifesto for Craft and Making, being launched in the House of Commons today.

Craft generates £3.4 billion for the UK economy, with 150,000 people employed in businesses driven by craft skills, in engineering, science, design, architecture, fashion and film. Making contributes to cognitive development and fosters wellbeing. It develops creativity, inventiveness and problem-solving.

Between 2007 and 2012, following changes in education policies, student participation in craft-related GCSEs fell by 25 per cent. In higher education, craft courses fell by 46 per cent. This comes when elsewhere around the globe investment in creative education and making is rising.

We make five calls for change: put craft and making at the heart of education; build more routes into craft careers; bring the entrepreneurial attitude of makers into education; invest in craft skills throughout careers; and promote higher education and artistic and scientific research in craft.

Rosy Greenlees, executive director, Crafts Council; Professor Geoffrey Crossick, director, AHRC Cultural Value Project and Crafts Council chairman; Kirstie Allsopp, broadcaster; Nigel Carrington, vice-chancellor, University of the Arts London; Edmund de waal, artist and writer; Peter Lord, creative director, Aardman; Kevin McCloud, author, broadcaster and designer; Grayson Perry, artist; Sir Terence Conran, The Conran Foundation; Diana Beeden-Simpson, The City of Leicester College; Jo Bloxham, curator, Collector and Crafts Council Trustee; Jean & John Botts; Professor Andrew Brewerton, Plymouth College of Art; Alison Britton, Royal College of Art; Professor Bruce Brown, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, University of Brighton (Crafts Council Trustee); Jane Bryant, Artswork; Deborah Bull, King’s College London; Anthony Burrill, designer; Matthew Burt, Furniture Maker; Catherine Bush, City and Guilds UK; James Bustard, director, National Glass Centre at the University of Sunderland; Lesley Butterworth, National Society for Education in Art & Design; Jules Campbell, The Middle East Bureau and Crafts Council Trustee; Daniel Charny, professor of design, Kingston University; Tommaso Corvi-Mora, Corvi-Mora Gallery; Professor David Crow, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester School of Art; Matt, Doris, head of community programmes,; Professor Linda Drew, Glasgow School of Art and chairwoman of CHEAD; Julia Rowntree and Duncan Hooson, Clayground Collective; Mark Dunhill, representative board member for the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA), dean of academic programmes, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London; Michael Eden, Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design (MIRIAD) and Crafts Council Trustee; Clare Edwards, National Centre for Craft and Design; Nicholas Ford, The Ernest Cook Trust; Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, writer and broadcaster, former rector of the RCA; David Gauntlett, University Of Westminster; Judy Glasman, dean of School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire; Sir Nicholas Goodison, former chairman, Crafts Council; Richard Green, The Design & Technology Association (D&T); Sarah Griffin Curator; Professor Martin Hall, University of Salford; Lindsey Hall, Real Ideas Organisation; Rupert & Robin Hambro, Jo Hambro & Hambro Perks; Barney Hare Duke, British Ceramics Biennial; Andrew Harrison, Spaces that Work Ltd and Crafts Council Trustee; Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama; Jan Hodges OBE, The Edge Foundation; Professor Dorothy Hogg MBE, jeweller; Jenny Holloway, Fashion Enter; Amy Hughes; Lisa Jeffery, Hove Park School and Sixth Form College; Corinne Julius, Design and Applied Arts Critic and Chair Visual Art & Architecture Section – The Critic’s Circle; Walter Keeler, ceramicist; Christine Lalumia, Contemporary Applied Arts (CAA); Celine Larose, Vacheron Constantin; Sir Stuart & Lady Lipton ; Billy Lloyd, Maker; Fiona Logue, Craft Scotland; Patricia Lovett MBE, Hernewood Studio; Professor Bill Lucas, professor of learning, University of Winchester; Tina Mabey, Madeline Mabey Trust; Kate Malone, Kate Malone Ceramics; Shonagh Manson, Jerwood Charitable Foundation; John Mathers, Design Council; Mark Miodownik, Institute of Making, UCL; Jennie Moncur, Jennie Moncur Studio; Professor Jeremy Myerson, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art; Lyanne Nicholl, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST); Peter Nutkins, headmaster, Humphrey Perkins School; Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr, vice-chancellor, University for the Creative Arts; Peter Pearce, West Dean College; David Perry, Comino Foundation; Susanne Rauprich, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services; Alison Richmond, The Institute of Conservation (ICON); Beverley Rider, designer and Crafts Council trustee; Charles Savage, Craft Central; Ros & John Senior, collectors; Richard Slee, artist, Professor Emeritus, University of the Arts, London; Martin Smith ; Brian & Hana Smouha, collectors; John & Lady Sorrell, The Sorrell Foundation; Erica Steer, Devon Guild of Craftsmen; Deyan Sudjic, Design Museum; Sean Sutcliffe, Benchmark; Vanessa Swann, Cockpit Arts; Pauline Tambling, CEO, Creative & Cultural Skills and managing director, National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills; Peter Taylor, director, Goldsmiths’ Centre; Sheila Teague, Wright & Teague; Dr Paul Thompson Rector, Royal College of Art; David Tootill, Southbank Mosaics; Clare Twomey, artist and Crafts Council trustee; Patricia Van Den Akker, The Design Trust; Tamsin van Essen, Artist; Dagmar Walz, cultural consultant; Leigh Willott Emma Bridgewater; Robin Wood MBE, chairman, Heritage Crafts Association

Sir, Helen Rumbelow (Notebook, Nov 7) is unjust in stating that “Elizabethans liked killing Roman Catholics”. It is true that Pope Pius V, challenging Cranmer’s Divine Right of Kings principle (that secular rulers held their authority directly from God, not through the church), had claimed to have released Elizabeth’s subjects from their allegiance. However, her intelligence services only pursued priests, their protectors and active conspirators. The Catholic Church only recognises about 20 martyrs from Elizabeth’s reign. There were Catholic commanders in her Spanish wars. She herself favoured Catholics like Byrd and (probably) Shakespeare; and each time Miler McGrath, her crypto-Catholic Archbishop of Cashel, outraged her Irish officials, he simply crossed to England, confident that Elizabeth would back him.
Tom McIntyre
Frome, Somerset

Sir, I acknowledge Thea Boddington’s irritations regarding the word “geek” (letter, Nov 6) used as a pejorative when referring to highly skilled computer engineers, but surely it is a word in flux. I am a “lady of a certain age” and use it always in its modern form and as a compliment; I’d love to be considered clever enough with modern technology to be called a geek.
Lesley Russell
Kingston upon Thames

Sir, Matthew Parris, while praising the Uber minicab company, says, “Black cabs must adapt or die” (My Week, Nov 5). Black cabbies are doing just that. Mr Parris has a choice of several smartphone apps (eg. Hailo, Taxi Too, Get Taxi) to summon a black cab. By using one of these apps he will get a driver who has passed the Knowledge of London (several tests have shown that black taxis consistently outperform Uber minicabs on journey times); has had to pass a separate driving test in order to obtain his or her taxi licence; and has undergone a full enhanced criminal record check. Uber certainly is not “the biggest thing in public transport for years”.
Andrew Buggey
Licensed London taxi driver, North Weald, Essex


The Monument to the Women of World War Two must be brought to the attention of the British public

We will remember them: Monument to the Women of World War Two, unveiled in 2005 on Whitehall, London

We will remember them: Monument to the Women of World War Two, unveiled in 2005 on Whitehall, London Photo: Alamy

7:00AM GMT 09 Nov 2014


SIR – There is a 22-foot bronze monument at the end of Downing Street, next to the Cenotaph, which does not enjoy the recognition or status it deserves.

The Monument to the Women of World War II was unveiled at a ceremony in 2005 by the Queen and dedicated by Baroness Boothroyd, who was a patron of the monument trust. It is the Cenotaph’s other half. As a pair they represent the heroic actions of men and women in wartime Britain. The men fought for King and country, but most of all they fought for women, children and homes.

Millions of women, from teenagers to pensioners, were prepared to fight the war on the home front — at kitchen sinks, in factories making bombs and bullets, knitting socks or driving tractors, buses or trains. They did whatever it took, for as long as it took, to ensure their sons, brothers and fathers had a nation to return to.

John Mills, one of our greatest living sculptors, used clothing and uniforms on the monument to symbolise the women’s wartime spirit. The name “Smudge” is etched on an Auxiliary Territorial Services hat in tribute to Edna Storr, a gunner who volunteered before her 18th birthday and was later involved in the campaign to build this monument. She was not allowed to fire missiles at the enemy, so instead she aimed the gun for a man to pull the trigger. Handbags represent the women’s stash of food coupons and recipe books for potato peelings. Coats symbolise the jobs that were vacated by men, then adopted and adapted by women.

As the only surviving female trustee of the monument campaign, I believe more needs to be done to educate the British public about this important monument.

A proposal to put a miniature version of the sculpture in the House of Commons has been raised and I am in talks with companies about using smart phone technology to promote the site and engage future generations in the commemoration of the women of the Second World War.

Peri Langdale
Former trustee, Monument to the Women of World War II
Ripon, North Yorkshire

SIR – When the Prime Minister reopened London’s Imperial War Museum in July this year, following a £40 million refurbishment, he said it would form the centrepiece of commemorations for the centenary of the First World War.

Fast-forward a little more than three months and the museum’s ability to play that kind of role in the future has been seriously undermined by cuts in government funding that will leave it facing an annual £4 million shortfall.

The museum is proposing to close its unique library, which supports much of its exhibition work as well as providing an invaluable resource for the public.

Up to 80 jobs as well as other services are also under threat as the museum seeks to plug the funding gap. The popular “Explore History” facility, offering access to the collections and staffed by professionals, may have to close. Supported educational visits to the museum’s sites at Duxford, HMS Belfast and the Churchill War Rooms may also fall under the axe.

As we remember the sacrifices of the fallen this Remembrance Sunday, Prospect has launched a petition calling for the Government to reverse its short-sighted funding cuts and protect the Imperial War Museum.

Mike Clancy
General Secretary, Prospect
London SE1

SIR – The recent photographs of our troops leaving Camp Bastion in Afghanistan might lead people to believe that our mission there is over. It is not.

As we gather to commemorate the fallen today, we must not forget the hundreds of British troops who, as winter closes in, are still fighting out there.

Commanded by Lt Col Mark Gidlow-Jackson, 400 soldiers from 2nd Batallion The Rifles regiment have just deployed to Kabul. There they face snipers and car bombs as they support the Afghan army and police and protect VIPs and British troops training officer recruits at their new academy.

My point is that all our troops are not home yet, and won’t be for some time to come.

Richard Drax MP (Con)
London SW1

SIR – On this particularly important Remembrance Sunday, I wish to make a plea with regards to the words of Laurence Binyon, which expressed the nation’s grief.

More often than not he is misquoted as having written “They shall not grow old” rather than “They shall grow not old”.

The difference is small but significant, because it makes one reflect still more on what is being said.

Robin Bryer
Closworth, Somerset

SIR – The Tower of London poppies have exceeded any expectation of public appeal. They are an inspirational and spectacular display and images have swept around the world.

I hope the installation will remain in place for a few more weeks.

Jean Birch
Rayleigh, Essex

SIR – The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, claims that our “tough” drugs control policy is failing and advocates a “smarter” approach, abolishing prison sentences for drug addicts and concentrating on treatment.

These and other policies dealing with offenders are not working as well as they should because of the dithering of our political leaders with regards to punishment, treatment and rehabilitation.

Drug addicts and abusers should not be left out in society to fend for themselves. Some kind of custodial remedy must apply, whether it be in prison or a secure hospital. If they go back to drugs when they are released, they should be returned to custody.

Far more resources should be devoted to stamping out drug trafficking, with dealers and importers facing severe sentences. The present “tough” policy is a misnomer. We need to be much, much tougher on dealers and users if we are to banish the drug trade once and for all.

George K McMillan

Nitrous oxide risks

SIR – I, too, wrote to Richard Branson to point out the inherent explosibility of nitrous oxide – almost half the energy of TNT even before you add fuel – after Virgin’s first accident in 2007.

Bulk liquid explosives respond badly to mechanical disturbance, because of compressive heating of any gas bubbles present. N2O must in any case be handled in burstable pressure vessels, and it remains explosive in a gaseous state.

There is another common oxide of nitrogen, dinitrogen tetroxide, which is in many respects easier to handle and not itself explosive. It largely compensates for this lack of internal energy by being a more powerful oxidant.

Peter Urben
Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Rural black spots

SIR – The Government’s proposal to cover rural black spots by network roaming is risible.

I live on top of a hill with open views of the countryside but cannot get even 2G coverage from any of the four named providers. Improved mobile coverage is likely to be as ineffective as the Government’s promise of faster broadband to rural areas.

Rural communities are grossly under-represented and are losing shops and pubs at an alarming rate. It would seem that nobody, politician or otherwise, will fight for our impoverished services.

John Parkinson
Wistow, Huntingdonshire

Non-stop taxes

SIR – After reading Janet Daley’s article I got to thinking. Both my husband and I have worked all our lives. Neither of us have smoked or drunk, and we haven’t inherited any money. We saved and paid taxes on our income.

When we retired we lived on our pension – again taxed after being taxed as earnings. I have now improved my house by having an extension built, on which I have to pay tax to the builder – again from previously taxed earnings which were then taxed as a pension and finally as VAT.

Now, having been frugal, worked, saved, and improved my house, I am being threatened with a mansion tax.

Eileen Caisley
Solihull, West Midlands

SIR – Janet Daley points out how voters are rejecting politicians. This conclusion is borne out by the mid-term elections this week in America, in which the Democrats lost control of Senate, giving the Republicans full control of the Senate. Two years’ stalemate in Washington will follow.

Meanwhile, there is little hope of any party getting an overall majority in next year’s general election in Britain. The Liberal Democrats may get wiped out completely, Ed Miliband is unpopular, and there may be a large contingent of Scottish SNP MPs elected to Westminster intent on wreaking havoc.

Timothy Stroud
Salisbury, Wiltshire

Hold the applause

SIR – Alan Titchmarsh claims that he does not “care a hoot if people clap between the movements of symphonies”. He should care.

The convention of not applauding between movements is born not out of cultural elitism, but out of courtesy and respect for the demands of performance upon an artist.

Great performances require not only technical excellence but emotional engagement; the performer must identify with the emotion as it is expressed and articulated in the music.

This is not an easy task, especially in multiple movement pieces which tell a coherent story and have the power to transport an audience into a world beyond the physical confines of an auditorium.

Applause between movements, although at times understandable, inevitably breaks the emotional engagement of the performer. At best, it is an unnecessary distraction. At worst, it can impair the capacity of an artist to perform to the best of his or her ability – a tragedy for both artist and audience.

Margaret Greenwood
Didmarton, Gloucestershire

Last stop London

SIR – How silly of Duncan Rayner to imagine that the designers of HS2 might have risked London being cut out by allowing “northerners” to get on a train in Birmingham or Manchester and get out in Paris or Brussels.

HS2 is a commuter train that will bring more jobs and wealth to London.

Michael Keene
Winchester, Hampshire

Brits on wheels

The Morgan 3 Wheeler has been updated. Photo: Andrew Fox

SIR – Thank you for your wonderful article about the resurgent “Moggie” three-wheel car.

The whole piece sums up what it means to be properly British and slightly eccentric. It should be required reading for those wanting to understand some of the more obscure elements of Britishness.

Peter Owen
Claygate, Surrey

Optimistic forecast

SIR – After hearing the news that the Met Office is to spend many millions of pounds on a new “super computer” to replace its current machine, which also cost millions, I happened to catch the weather forecast on the BBC for the Midlands region. The forecaster used the word “hopefully” four times to qualify his interpretation of the weather for the next 24 hours.

If this is a measure of confidence in the very short term, what are the odds on the 100-year forecast being correct? Hopefully someone will still be here to find out.

W Fred Sandell
Pailton, Warwickshire

Irish Times:

Mon, Nov 10, 2014, 01:08

First published: Mon, Nov 10, 2014, 01:08

Sir, – The support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by Chambers Ireland (November 1st) is misguided.

The proposed inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism in TTIP and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) would give secret decisions in boardrooms overseas more control of Irish education than the Department of Education.

The ISDS clause places the interests and profit of private corporations ahead of the interests of citizens and society. It would give private, for-profit education companies the right to challenge, before international tribunals, not domestic courts, any government measure that they feel interferes with their profits.

A US congressional report in 2012 was damning of the “forprofit” education sector there, citing a 64 per cent student dropout rate.

It found that over 22 per cent of their revenue was spent on marketing and 19.4 per cent taken in profits. Just 17 per cent was spent on instruction.

It detailed “substandard academic offerings, high tuition and executive compensation, low student retention rates and the issuance of credentials of questionable value”.

TTIP applied here would provide judicial protection to these discredited education speculators and would discriminate even against domestic companies. The ISDS circumvents the domestic court system and poses real and serious dangers to democratic decision-making and governments’ right to regulate.

As a matter of urgency the Irish Government and Ireland’s new European commissioner should oppose the inclusion of the ISDS mechanisms in both the CETA and TTIP.

The EU Council of Ministers has already excluded the audiovisual sector from TTIP, based on the public interest goal of preserving and promoting cultural and linguistic diversity within the EU. – Yours, etc,


General Secretary,

Irish Federation

of University Teachers,

Merrion Square,

Dublin 2.

Mon, Nov 10, 2014, 01:07

First published: Mon, Nov 10, 2014, 01:07

Sir, – Recent coverage of the issues surrounding prostitution could easily give an impression that this is a trade that people enter into freely and is part of the service sector which just happens to be illegal.

Unfortunately this impression is far from reality and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions remains firm in its view that prostitution is exploitation and not employment.

Our involvement in the Turn Off the Red Light campaign dates back to 2010, when a motion was passed at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) women’s conference. Since then we, and our constituent unions, have been active in the democratic processes on both sides of the Border, making written submissions and presentations to the justice committees in the Oireachtas and at Stormont.

We accept the evidence of An Garda Síochána that most of the cash generated from prostitution goes to organised criminal gangs, both foreign and domestic, and reject the notion that pimps and traffickers will become model employers overnight if given the opportunity to do so.

Globally trafficking for sexual exploitation puts $99 billion into the pockets of criminals each year.

The notion that persons who threaten their victims with violence, exploitation and abuse will suddenly start respecting our labour laws, pay proper wages and respect normal working hours beggars belief. Furthermore the notion that legalisation will improve the situation of those involved is incorrect, and will lead to the continued perpetuation of degradation and abuse.

The assertion made by several of your contributors that the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign is some conspiracy that involves the religious right, radical feminists and trade unionists working together is a notion which is equally fanciful.

A simple online check of the membership confirms the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign campaign includes frontline emergency workers, business people, rape crisis centres, farming representatives, student representatives and many others.

Working together we have also secured the support of political parties including Labour, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil – with many more individual representatives from other parties, including the Fine Gael members of the Oireachtas Justice Committee. These groups, far from condescending to others, are advocating on behalf of those whose horrible reality they witness, and which is expressed by those seeking support.

Furthermore, this horrible reality, while inherently linked to the trafficking of persons, in addition blights long-term residents and citizens of this country. – Yours, etc,


Director of Regulation

and Social Policy,

Irish Nurses

and Midwives Organisation,

The Whitworth Building,

North Brunswick Street,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Once again I am in awe of Una Mullally (“Don’t lean in, barge in”, Opinion & Analysis, November 3rd). There is a myth that abounds today among some women that gender equality has been achieved. Feminism as an idea, a collective bargaining position or attitude can now be packed away with other embarrassing relics of a bygone age.

The number of female colleagues who have spouted the rhetoric “I’m not a feminist!” to me is simply frightening. The same women who will continue to be referred to as girls long after womanhood has flourished, who will be paid less then their male counterparts, who will continue to be underrepresented in the boardroom and in government and who will be denied reproductive freedoms. While real world and online misogyny flourished, feminism somehow became the dirty word. Now the threat of rape on social media is a much more meaningful way of voicing distaste for what a female commentator has to say. No debate, just a demeaning threat of violence and violation intended to silence.

As Ms Mullally states, women must be socially palatable to be heard and understood. In my short professional career to date, I have been instructed on numerous occasions that to be listened to by any male superiors, I must be demure and always polite. Never direct, aggressive or emotional. In short, women must be palatable. It is an affront to me that certain female politicians in this country are undermined largely by media and ridiculed by the voting public if they are perceived as being abrasive or “screechy”. It is not what they are saying but how they are saying it, the timbre of their voices, if you will, that is actually alienating some people. A complaint I have never heard levelled at a male politician. These things are not palatable. They are actually abhorrent.

To any men having trouble embracing feminism and who are bemused and wondering what is it that women want, let me tell you! We want exactly the same things you already have and we are sick of asking nicely just to be heard. – Yours, etc,


Kilmessan, Co Meath.

Sir, – I still vividly remember the morning of November 8th, 2013. The wind howled through the trees and sheets of rain battered the buildings. The noise was deafening. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, hit the 16 islands and 14 mainland barangays of the municipality of Concepcion in the Philippines. It is only now, one year after the disaster, that a sense of normality is finally returning to our communities and our lives.

When the typhoon hit Concepcion, the devastation was immense. More than 5,000 houses were destroyed with a further 4,000 heavily damaged. Rooftops were blown off buildings, trees were ripped from the earth and roads quickly became blocked by debris.

It was two full days before contact was made and before any assistance could reach us.

The day after the typhoon struck, we began clearing the roads so that aid relief could get through to the affected towns.

Looking back, we were lucky in a way; we had fewer than 20 casualties while neighbouring towns reached more than 100. But the damage to people’s homes and livelihoods was colossal. It has been a long hard road to get back to what life was like before the disaster.

Concern Worldwide and other humanitarian agencies arrived quickly in the wake of the typhoon and began distributing assistance. With homes flattened and families bereft of belongings, the immediate needs were food and essential items such as tarpaulins to create shelter, cooking utensils and solar lights. Clean, safe drinking water was provided. The relief effort helped people to recover from the shock and enabled people to feed their families.

Fishing is central to our existence. However, the typhoon destroyed the coral reefs which sustain fish stocks in our seas. The amount of live coral reef was reduced from 85 per cent to 15 per cent, significantly reducing the amount of fish available. Fishermen who would typically collect 5-10 kg of fish per day were now only able to get a third of that at most. The fish that were available were smaller and less valuable in the marketplace.

To combat this, we instigated a coral transplantation programme with Concern. This is helping to restore the coral to previous levels. Alongside this, it was vital to rebuild fishing boats in order to ensure people were able to earn a living.

We have established a municipal disaster risk reduction council, which strives to make us more prepared and less vulnerable to future typhoons. Buildings are now being constructed to be more resilient to high winds and heavy rainfall. We now have designated evacuation centres. We monitor weather patterns in typhoon season to predict what areas will be affected and how bad the effects are likely to be.

To the good people of Ireland, to the Irish public, I know that your heart was with us when we were hit by the typhoon. Thank you for helping us during the difficult time after the disaster. The Irish people will long be remembered by the people of Concepcion. God bless you! – Yours, etc,


Mayor of Concepcion,

Iloilo Province,

The Philippines.

Sir, – The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is gravely concerned by the findings of the DIT employee engagement survey (“Dublin Institute of Technology staff concerned at lack of ‘clear vision’”, October 27th). The findings indicate a considerable degree of alienation and discontent among staff, with only 35 per cent considering themselves valued and only 29 per cent believing DIT’s leadership team manage the institution well. Only 20 per cent believed that senior leadership listened to and responded to their views, and 8 per cent were “currently being harassed or bullied at work”.

It is somewhat ironic that the first staff heard about the results was through the national media and is completely unacceptable that the response from the institute’s president is that the worrying findings are merely a case of staff “getting things off their chest” rather than being indicative of deeper systemic problems in terms of communication and consultation. Is the president of DIT attempting to suggest that the results do not reflect deeply held views from highly committed staff who succeed in delivering high quality education to students despite the considerable obstacles being placed in their way? These include cuts in funding, unsustainable teaching loads and, as the survey results and response to them show, management indifference to their views.

TUI notes from the findings that bullying and harassment are areas of considerable concern. We note that fewer than half reported their complaints because of a belief that nothing would happen or that they would be victimised. This is entirely unacceptable and TUI is now demanding a review of bullying procedures and an investigation into the high levels of bullying reported by staff.

A 2013 TUI survey of members in DIT, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght found that 69 per cent of respondents were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the consultation process used by their institute relating to the proposal to move towards a Dublin technological university.

Regrettably, it would appear that little notice was taken of these results and that the wilful exclusion of staff views is now the norm in many of our institutes.

TUI will not be signing up to new institutional structures unless staff are fully involved in their development, and TUI will oppose any developments which are nor based on full consultation with staff and which do not place collegiality at the core of decision-making processes. – Yours, etc,




Rathgar, Dublin 6.

Sir, – Dr Jacky Jones’s article was a timely and enlightening commentary on the public understanding of health and lifestyle (“Little things are really huge changes that don’t happen overnight”, Health + Family, November 4th). The blurring of the distinction between the two is evident in the practices of some health and fitness clubs. At Christmas, members of some fitness clubs in Ireland will be encouraged to take part in events that involve the consumption of 12 pints of alcohol over the course of one night in 12 different pubs. Somebody will benefit from this, but it is hard to imagine that it is the members of the fitness clubs themselves.

Women’s health in other clubs seems to be predominantly about losing weight in order to conform to certain societal images of women, and the messages about the importance of self-confidence and self-esteem posted by the clubs on social media sites are frequently disingenuous, empty and insincere. For example, female members can expect to be targeted in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and will be encouraged by the clubs to compete in “events”so that they can fit into the LBD, otherwise known as the little black dress. It appears that Christmas leaves some health and fitness clubs in Ireland the worse for wear in more ways than one. To use Dr Jones’s term, the “lifestyle police” definition of health for the members of some fitness clubs, particularly for women, is as narrow and as constrictive as the little black dress itself. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.

Sir, – There is an “elephant in the room” side to U2 so obvious, so obtrusive and so fundamental that it can paradoxically easily be missed. No other form of entertainment remotely matches the impact of a U2 concert on local business people and their families. Bono has regularly created the time and taken the trouble whenever possible to say hello to some of our key business contacts and to other political, artistic and human rights leaders of the local scene. It is not the slightest exaggeration to say that an interview with the pope or the president of the US or (for those so minded) Fidel would pale by comparison. Everywhere they travel in the developing world, just as in most countries of the developed world, U2 have meetings with the heads of government and state. The benefits for Irish business and Ireland-related objectives and for the awareness of the existence of our country have been immeasurable. Before becoming a businessman, I served in five countries as an Irish diplomatic representative. It is easy for us to overlook the fact that was painfully obvious in those days that, until about 20 years ago, most people around the globe had never heard of our country and that most who had knew little or nothing about us. U2 changed that. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – I fully concur with David McMahon (November 3rd) that a mood of casual menace broods over parts of the city centre. I recently got off the Dart at Tara Street station to witness a crowd of loud-mouthed and aggressive youths drugged up to their eyeballs. They were screaming obscenities. On my walk down towards Temple Bar, there were more people roaring obscenities. These scenes are commonplace all around the city centre. It’s time anti-social behaviour was taken seriously by the powers that be, or our society will start to decay and we will lose our city to fear. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Irish Independent:

Now that the human remains from the Meath bog have been identified as those of Brendan McGraw, one of the IRA’s Disappeared, can we expect to see Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald displaying his poster in the Dail chamber and demanding a minutes silence in his honour?

This unfortunate man was a victim of a war crime, disappeared at the whim of a murderous organisation who, we’re now being told, was supposedly made up of “decent people.”

Then there’s the Sinn Fein Disappeared – their spokespersons who disappeared from the airwaves for a couple of weeks in the wake of Mairia Cahill’s rape and cover-up allegations, only to reappear when a Sunday Independent poll showed Sinn Fein support rising throughout the country. Now it seems that whenever Adams wants to discuss the likelihood of rain he will be accommodated by RTE News.

Fresh rape allegations against IRA men and seriously bizarre twitter behaviour from him will definitely be a no-no in future it seems.

Eddie Naughton, Dublin 8


No child can be forgotten

Madam – The piece by Mairia Cahill (‘Vulnerable Children left unprotected’,  (Sunday Independent, November 2) is both informative and thought-provoking.

It reminded me of the wider issue of protecting vulnerable children in all walks of life, but especially those in foster care.

The recently published Interim Report from the Child Care Law Reporting Project supports the setting up of a number of Family Courts in order to ensure consistency and continuity of care and support for the most vulnerable children and parents in our society.

Some of these children have themselves been subjected to neglect or physical, emotional or sexual abuse in the past – and fostering can be a real support and safe haven for children.

An issue that needs to be addressed is the quality and consistency of care provided by foster families.

The vast majority of foster families provide a loving, caring and nurturing environment for children. Many of these families work closely with the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) to ensure optimum care is provided.

However there is a minority of foster families whose quality of care is not what it should be.

In some foster families the foster children are sent straight to their room on coming in from school, not allowed access to the TV remote control or to the fridge, and must absent themselves from the room when the family’s friends or relations call in.

Such families treat their foster children as paying guests, rather than as children in need of tender, loving care.

Thankfully such foster families are in the minority, but with agencies crying out for families to foster children, it is incumbent on all agencies to carefully monitor the welfare of such children

With so many social workers weighed down with heavy case loads, it is inevitable that some children will fall through the cracks.

There is an onus on all of us in society to ensure that the welfare of such children is not compromised further because there are not enough social workers employed to monitor their progress, development and well-being.

Sean O Briain, Drogheda, Co Louth


Hysteria of some water protesters

Madam- Regarding Irish Water, a sizeable section of households have their own supply, so they are not affected. Many households have their own septic tank so will only pay half. The majority of the remainder will pay less than €10 per week as things stand and this will probably be reduced further. This is not excessive – about the price of two cigarettes per day – and can be afforded by most households.

The controversy has been whipped up by Sinn Fein, the Anti-Austerity Alliance and other left wing groups for popular political gain. The sooner people realise this the better. Most people at the marches last Saturday just foolishly jumped on the bandwagon and most of those interviewed could not give a coherent reason as to why they were there.

Yes, mistakes have been made in setting up Irish Water. It has been too rushed and the need for PPS numbers is questionable. However the principle of water metering is correct. You should pay according to usage the same as any utility.

In Co Limerick there used be a flat charge of €127 up to some years ago, which was foolishly abolished. The notion that water supplied to your house is a human right is a nonsense. It such a right existed, then every house in the country, regardless of location, would be entitled to a supply. What would that cost?

People need to get a sense of proportion, stop being fooled by left wing groups and an excitable media and stop the hysteria.

B Swanton, Limerick


Someone has to pay for the water

Madam – Gene Kerrigan is losing the plot if he really believes that anything is deliverable by Government ( or any other body) free of cost; that everyone behaves responsibly with water, electricity, gas, sewage, open fires etc; or that without meters, use can be monitored accurately.

Massive publicity campaigns have been running for years to encourage people to cut back on electricity, gas, and water use, and in Dublin in particular, to stop washing cars, watering gardens and yes, leaving taps running in cold weather.

The septic tank saga has uncovered another story of neglect and potential pollution to water sources.

Every water connection should be metered no matter what the outcome of the current debacle led by our hapless public servants and politicians yet again. General taxation means the responsible users ( who pay it) subsidise those who waste water (knowingly or otherwise).

When we moved into our house in 1972 we paid rates and a separate water charge to Cork County Council. Then Fianna Fail told us if we voted for them, we wouldn’t have to pay rates, water charges or even tax the car. The most sophisticated voters in the world gave them the biggest majority ever? Wake up Ireland and ask your favourite political campaigner, where is their tooth fairy?

T. Murphy, Ballincollig, Co Cork


Irish politics needs some new leaders

Madam – I walked in Leixlip on Saturday with over 1,000 people objecting to Bord Uisce and its outrageous carry on. Some people didn’t or couldn’t pay at all. Others objected to the arrogance and stupidity of Kenny in particular and all his lackeys in general.

Meanwhile, Gerry Adams makes all the right noises in public. He doesn’t want water rates. That’s fine. He was never a member of the IRA. He never defended the cowardly bastards who put bullets into the heads of our friends and schoolmates back then. And he didn’t lie about the young girl who was raped and abused.

Enda Kenny set himself up as the man who was going to clean up politics. We believed him and rowed in behind him and accepted all the hardship, but now he has shown himself up to be the greatest dunce we have ever had. He’ll have to go. Adams and Burton will have to go. Leo Varadcker will have to take over Fine Gael. Micheal Martin needs a chance, Independents need a leader. Then there will be hope for the country.

Dave Boyle, Leixlip, Co Kildare


Gene has reduced me to tears of joy

Madam – The tears of laughter caused by Gene Kerrigan’s wonderfully descriptive word picture regarding the possibility of his older self having to calculate whether or not he will be able to afford to flush his toilet, are blurring my words as I type.

Could you please commission Tom Mathews to produce an apposite illustration?

Ciaran Casey, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin


Pride in the water marchers

Madam – It is with pride that I looked at the news this evening and witnessed the call to arms by tens of thousands of the so-called little people. The unemployed, the old age pensioners and others, parading in their thousands out in the streets of Ireland, protesting against this water charge that the Government is attempting to foist on us. This is another attempt to cripple the poor and destitute.

Right from the start the setting up of this body has been a disaster. Those who were brought in to run the project were, it seems, more concerned with bringing in revenue than fixing the water supply.

Only a tiny minority of those employed in this new body had to apply for these jobs.

There was no control on salaries or bonuses, payments for those who were found not to be doing the job right, as well as huge increases for those who were, seen to be the order of the day with little or no Government interference. We have still no idea what the charge for water will be. We are getting daily hints from Government about possible reductions, in an attempt to appease the masses.

Then there is German finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, telling us how we are the envy of Europe in the way things are progressing here.

I feel sure that the next item on the agenda will be borrowing a couple of hundred billion to get the country up and running again, all guaranteed by the State of course.

Michael O’Meara, Killarney, Co Kerry


What if others refused to pay

Madam – Could I ask a question of the “hey-hey-hey, we won’t pay” brigade? Who are they proposing should pay instead?

It costs money to clean water and deliver it to our taps. Water is a basic right, we hear – but so is food and I don’t hear anyone proposing we get it for free.

The people of Ireland better get real – the national debt stands at about €200bn. What if the international financiers look at the placards and say: well, hey-hey-hey, we won’t pay either?

It’d be back to the lads and lassies dancing at the crossroads – presumably with a convenient well nearby to slake their thirst.

John Hogan, Glin, Co Limerick


Con inspired St Pat’s Cup win

Madam – Last Sunday we came in our masses from a square of land on the banks of the Camac of Inchicore to the bright lights of the Aviva Stadium. It was a journey we had taken before, but for once the Inchicore Roar was dredged up from the depths of our the souls, as St Patrick’s Athletic won the FAI Cup for the first time since 1961.

We also had a benign angel on our shoulder – the Colossus of Castle Island, Con Houlihan, who graced Richmond Park for many years until his sad passing in August 2012.

This one’s for you, Big Fella: a triumph dedicated to King Con!

Mark Lawler, Kilmainham/Inchicore, Dublin 8


Inhumane end for exported animals

Madam – As an animal lover I was disgusted to learn of the 1,500 lambs sent to be used in Islamic rituals in Singapore (Fiona O’Connell, Sunday Independent, 2 November).

These unfortunate lambs were slaughtered without even being stunned having endured a 16 hour plane journey in temperatures of 30C heat. Earlier last week we also learned of the barbaric treatment of the cattle exported to Libya.

Those who love animals had hoped the new Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 would bring Ireland into the modern world in our treatment of animals. Perhaps those involved in this grisly trade should consider Jeremy Bentham’s sentiment: “The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer?”

Eila Moloney, Limerick


Terror moments stay with you

Madam – I wish to commend Brendan O’Connor on the article he wrote which was published in last weekend’s Sunday Independent, regarding Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein President and former Provisional IRA terrorist. It was uncannily spot-on in its analysis of the man and indeed the other men mentioned.

Having grown up in the Ardoyne during the Troubles we all knew full well that both he and his mentor Joe Cahill and several others were sociopaths of the worst order. “Provisional Taliban” is an apt and fitting description of their mentality. This I can say with some considerable feeling having once in the early 70’s found myself at the point of the gun of one of his (Adams’s) Provo shooters.

Had it not been for the fact that I was well known in Ardoyne and had some school friends whose names I quoted, I am certain I would not be around to write this. You do tend to carry moments of sheer terror such as this around with you for the remainder of your life.

Once again my thanks, and as Ben Bradlee might have said… “the truth is what matters!”

John Jordan, Model Farm Rd, Cork


The long wait for the Disappeared

Madam – With all the upsetting bad news, I feel so sad looking at the dignified stance of the families of the Disappeared, praying to get back the bodies of their dead for proper funerals.

Many know something but are saying nothing. The truth always comes in the end.

Kathleen Corrigan, Cootehill, Co Cavan


1916 ‘snub’ is felt by others

Madam – John Drennan reports (Sunday Independent, 2 November) on the alleged hijacking of 1916 commemorations, for political ends, and the snubbing of the rebels’ descendants.

For the descendants of members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Royal Irish Regiments, the Royal Irish Constabulary, the Dublin Metropolitan Police, the so-labelled “English” and Irish civilians, including children, killed in this deadly and unprovoked onslaught, is not the politics/mindset of those alleging and those doing the “hijacking” and “snubbing” well exposed?

Ken Morrow, Belfast


Many reasons not to vote Sinn Fein

Madam – Fair play to Stephen Costello (Sunday Independent, 2 November) for giving six reasons not to vote for Sinn Fein/IRA.

However I would go further and say there are 1,800 reasons not to vote for Sinn Fein/IRA – that’s the number of people murdered by the IRA, plus all the people maimed and injured.

Noel Peers, Torremolinos, Spain

Flag is for equality, and freedom

Madam – I agree with Niamh Horan (Sunday Independent, November 2) that we should reclaim our national flag from the nationalist minority who have laid claim to it and restore it to all citizens of our Republic.

Our flag represents ideals that do not belong to narrow nationalism, but instead fit comfortably alongside civic nationalism which promotes freedom, tolerance and equality for all.

John Bellew, Dunleer, Co. Louth

Our flag festival promotes goodwill

Madam – I read with interest the piece by Niamh Horan (Sunday Independent, 2 November) on reclaiming our flag.

The 1848 Tricolour Celebration in Waterford City has been highlighting the history of our flag since 2011, creating significant goodwill and bringing ambassadors from the US, France, and Canada together to celebrate the history and meaning of the flag.

Jonathan Brazil, Waterford City

Sunday Independent


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: