Bank

22 November 2014 Bank

I still have arthritis in my left toe I am stricken with gout. But I manage to get to do the housework and I go to the bank.

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

Obituary:

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska – obituary

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska was a daughter of Poland’s national hero Marshal Jozef Pilsudsk and flew Spitfires for the Allied cause

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska, centre, during the war

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska, centre, during the war

5:25PM GMT 21 Nov 2014

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Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska, who has died aged 94, was the younger daughter of the pre-war Polish leader and military hero Marshal Jozef Pilsudski; after the German invasion of her country, she fled to Britain, where she served during the war as a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary.

Jadwiga Pilsudska was born on February 28 1920 in Warsaw, the younger of two daughters of the Polish “chief of state” by his then mistress Aleksandra Szczerbinska, whom he was unable to marry because his first wife, Maria, refused him a divorce. They married after Maria died in 1921.

Many Poles regard Pilsudski as their greatest national hero – the man who helped Poland regain its independence at the end of the First World War after 125 years when it had been wiped off the map. In the year Jadwiga was born, he led Polish troops to a stunning victory over Russian Bolshevik forces in the Soviet-Polish war of 1919-20. If his later record, as de facto dictator of Poland from 1926 to his death in 1935, remains more controversial due to his internment of political opponents, his vision of a multi-ethnic Poland, tolerant of different peoples and faiths, is one which continues to inspire many Polish democrats.

From their earliest years Pilsudski’s daughters, Jadwiga and her elder sister Wanda, joined him in public appearances. Brought up in Warsaw and educated at a private school, they lived for some time in the Belweder Palace, which now houses a museum dedicated to their father, and at Milusin, a small manor house at Sulejówek (about 12 miles east of Warsaw), that had been given to the Marshal by his soldiers.

Jadwiga’s interest in aviation began in childhood. From building model aeroplanes, she graduated to flying gliders in 1937 and went on to gain her pilot’s licence.

After leaving school in 1939, she wanted to study aeronautical engineering at Warsaw’s Technical University, but her plans were interrupted by the German invasion that September. Shortly afterwards she fled with her mother and sister to Sweden before being evacuated on a special flight to England, where she embarked on a degree in Architecture at Newnham College, Cambridge.

February 1940 saw the foundation of the ATA as a civilian service dedicated to ferrying aircraft around the UK for the RAF, and Jadwiga soon made the first of several attempts to join the new service.

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska with officers during the war

By the spring of 1942 there was an increasing demand for ATA pilots. British women pilots had been recruited from the early months of the war, and in the spring of 1942 the first American women pilots arrived. They were the largest group of overseas ATA pilots. Excluding those from the Commonwealth, the next largest, and certainly the most colourful, were the Poles. From 1940 there had been a steady trickle of Polish male pilots; among the June 1942 contingent was the young and attractive Jadwiga.

Initially she flew training and light transport aircraft before graduating to fighters such as the Hurricane and Spitfire (her personal favourite). Before transferring to a new aircraft type, pilots spent a brief period sitting in the cockpit to familiarise themselves, and then, using a standard checklist, they took off on their first flight .

Jadwiga, who was described by her superiors as “ of above average skills”, rose to be a second officer and this allowed her to fly Class 4 aircraft, which included advanced twin-engined aircraft such as the Wellington bomber and the Mosquito in addition to fighters and transport aircraft.

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska (second from right) with other ATA pilots during the war

After two years with the ATA she decided to return to her studies and in July 1944 took leave of absence to enrol at the Polish School of Architecture at the Polish University Abroad, housed at Liverpool University, from where she graduated in 1946. In 1944 she had married Lieutenant Andrzej Jaraczewski, a Polish naval officer, with whom she had a son and daughter.

After the war they remained in political exile in Britain. For a time Jadwiga worked as an architect in the urban and regional planning department of the London County Council, before she and her husband founded a small company producing lamps and furniture of her own design.

She never took British citizenship, instead using a Nansen passport (for political refugees) pending the day when she could resume full Polish citizenship.

Her daughter, Joanna, returned to Poland in 1979 and married the Solidarity activist Janusz Onyszkiewicz (who would serve two terms as Poland’s Minister of Defence in the 1990s). Jadwiga waited until the fall of communism in 1990, when she and her husband and sister returned home, settling in Warsaw, where Andrzej Jaraczewski died in 1992.

With her sister, Jadwiga co-founded the Jozef Pilsudski Family Foundation, and in 2000 they persuaded the state to return the family manor of Milusin, where plans are now under way for the construction of a museum dedicated to their father.

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska in later life (AP)

For her wartime service in the ATA Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska was awarded the Polish Bronze Cross of Merit with Swords, and in 2008 she was presented with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by the Polish president Lech Kaczynski.

Her sister Wanda died in 2001. Her children survive her.

Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska, born February 28 1920, died November 16 2014

Guardian:

Professor Janet Beer Professor Janet Beer, vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, is one of only 35 women among a total of 170 higher education vice-chancellors. Photograph: Anna Gordon

Having worked in the field of equality legislation, I reject the suggestion that it dictates to people and controls what they can say or think (Paul Mason, G2, 17 November), as was claimed in a Sheffield University study. From Britain’s first Race Relations Act of 1965 to the 2010 Equality Act, such legislation merely seeks to ensure that members of minority groups are equally entitled to choose where they live, work or are educated, living fulfilled lives without being hampered by other people’s prejudices.

Anyone who wants to throw a private party for redheaded lesbians excluding blond heterosexual men is free to do so, but must never exercise those prejudices when employing people or letting them accommodation. The great achievement of race relations legislation since 1965 has been to make racial prejudice socially unacceptable enough to make people hesitate before expressing it. That some people still display it is regrettable, but must be accepted as part of the diversity of human beings.

I write as the widow of a black Jamaican, with a Ghanaian-born son-in-law and an Irish-Canadian grandmother from Quebec. I am also descended from a Huguenot pastor who escaped from Roman Catholic persecution in France in 1686 eventually to settle in Holland, which entitles me to live in England’s oldest immigrant housing scheme, in Rochester.
Jane Hammond
Rochester, Kent

• The dismal plight of many women in academia makes depressing reading (Low pay, brief maternity leave and few senior roles, Education, 18 November). In higher education in Britain just 35 women are vice-chancellors out of a total of 170, women form only 17% of the professoriat, and nearly three-quarters of the posts paying more than £57,000 are held by men. The plight of pregnant academics and mothers with young children was particularly distressing to read.

Surely vice-chancellors, with their combined IQs, can come up with some solutions to these issues. Is it not time these blatant inequalities in higher education were addressed?
June Purvis
Emeritus professor of women’s and gender history, University of Portsmouth

So Prince Charles thinks he will be well placed to relay public opinion when he becomes king (Report, 20 November). He has a staff of 124, dresses like his grandfather and hires his own personal airliner (at taxpayers’ expense) to fly to Nelson Mandela’s funeral. His favourite pop group is the Three Degrees. I can’t think of anyone better to represent me.
David Gerrard
Hove, East Sussex

• Those writing of the lack of recognition for Tommy Flowers (Letters, 18 November) may be heartened to know that a street in a new housing estate on the site of the Bletchley outstation in Eastcote, Middlesex, appears to be named after the wizard of Dollis Hill.
Andrew Calvert
Eastcote, Middlesex

• Perhaps the council in the New Era estate scandal (Report, 20 November) should compulsorily purchase the estate? Issuing CPOs to landlords proposing above-inflation social housing rent increases might take a lot of “financialisation” out of housing altogether.
Wendy Bradley
Sheffield

• Perhaps your subs, when describing the likes of Kim Kardashian, could bear in mind this limerick: There was a young lady from Madras, / Who had a most wonderful ass; / Not round, plump and pink, as you probably think, / But grey, with long ears and ate grass (Letters, 17 November).
Robert Proctor
Nottingham

• Jonathan Freedland (Opinion, 15 November) did not mention that the spacecraft for the comet mission was built by Airbus Defence and Space UK or that the Open University and Rutherford Appleton laboratory developed a key instrument on board Philae – both major successes for British workers, who deserve our congratulations for their faultless design and manufacturing.
Huw Jones
St Clears, Carmarthenshire

• I suggest that the comet is about the size of Barry Island near Cardiff, but easier to get to (Letters, 18 November).
Wyn Thomas
Swansea

How’s this for an opening line: “We caught a cold when we were coming” (A translator’s incisive essays explore the inner life of fiction, Review, 15 November). It was this howler that prompted my husband, Erich Fried, to make a bid as translator of TS Eliot – or so he told me (and I don’t think he could possibly have made it up). He translated almost anything; I know of only two texts he baulked at: Jesus Christ Superstar (and that wasn’t because he didn’t like the text) and, predictably, Finnigans Wake, apart from about 12 pages. A recent BBC programme credited his translation of Under Milk Wood as making Dylan Thomas famous in Germany, shortly after his death.

Incidentally, Erich translated straight into German poetry at (only a slow-ish) dictation speed. I was painting him while he translated Shakespeare, so I know. It astonished and appalled me in equal measure.
Catherine Boswell Fried
London

David Cameron in Brisbane: what was his gloating over the economies of the eurozone supposed to achi David Cameron in Brisbane: what was his gloating over the economies of the eurozone supposed to achieve? Photograph: Glenn Hunt/AFP/Getty Images

George Monbiot’s call for “a government commission on post-growth economics” should be urgent parliamentary business (Growth: the destructive God that can never be appeased, 19 November). All MPs should read the article, and they should tell us how they respond to some relevant questions. Do you realise that economic growth today demands more fossil fuel combustion that exacerbates disastrous climate change? Do you believe the UK could create a steady-state economy? Do you agree that social justice in a steady-state economy would require major reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor? Do you agree that the survival of most of the human race depends on these issues? Are you desperately worried about the world your grandchildren will inherit?

Britain led the world in the industrial revolution with economic growth: could we now take the lead in a steady-state revolution with zero economic growth?
Michael Bassey
Newark, Nottinghamshire

• The G20 in Brisbane was a missed opportunity to reinvigorate the global economy. Instead of stimulating new international action, its red-light warnings have been used by David Cameron to pre-empt criticism of any forthcoming downturn in the UK economy (Cameron fears second global financial crash, 17 November) and dismissed by Ed Miliband as irrelevant to explaining any future UK failures (Miliband mocks PM over ‘excuses’ for borrowing, 18 November). The sad truth is that Britain should have been playing a leading role before and during the G20 to mobilise support for multilateral actions of stimulus and balanced global growth, on which the health of the world economy depends. Global actions of stimulus briefly succeeded in 2009, though sadly were abandoned before they had taken hold on a global scale, though not before they had demonstrated some real success. The global economy grew 4% in 2010. A fuller agenda of what was and is still required was set out in the Stiglitz commission report presented to the UN general assembly, which dealt with both short- and medium-run actions, as well as providing specific proposals for diminishing financial risks and strengthening global institutions. Until such actions are pursued seriously, protecting the UK economy from a global downturn will be whistling in the wind.
Professor Richard Jolly
Lewes, Sussex

• The prime minister’s decision to announce his fears about the instability of the global financial system (Opinion, 17 November) was surprising. What was his gloating over the economies of the eurozone supposed to achieve? I questioned Mario Draghi, chair of the European Systemic Risk Board, in the European parliament on this unhelpful behaviour. He refused to comment. Given the crucial role that confidence plays in the world of finance, it appears that Cameron is himself becoming a systemic risk. I do hope that he is not risking the future of the continent’s financial system merely to score some political points at home.
Molly Scott Cato MEP
Green, South West England

• Red warning lights have been flashing for some time on our fragile recovery, based on the usual housing bubble that has now burst leaving thousands of households  in dread of an interest rate rise. Running a country is not the same as running a business or a household, described by one economist as the zombie idea still walking. As the national debt is historically low, it makes sense to borrow at low interest rates to invest in the rising generation, too many of whom have been sacrificed on the altar of the deficit. Our children are tested to death but not educated to have the skills necessary to find employment, and feel they are on the scrapheap. We do not employ them, or house them, but we do lock too many of them up in overcrowded prisons where the suicide rate is rising.Another £30bn worth of cuts will reduce us to consumers of privatised public services rather that citizens in a democracy.
Margaret Phelps
Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan

• Am I the only one to treat the news that the economy is not growing; as good news? We live on a planet with finite resources. I can see no difference between an economy that relies on growth and a pyramid selling scam.
Rod Thompson
Camborne, Cornwall

'Don’t damn all GP surgeries because of your personal bad experience: fdind a new practice' – Corinn ‘Don’t damn all GP surgeries because of your personal bad experience: fdind a new practice’ – Corinne Haynes. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images

I am a GP, just in from work (8.40pm) after a day at my surgery. Just a normal day, not a late night. And no, I am not a martyr to the NHS. I am just trying to make sure that all my patients are seen, all my correspondence from hospital colleagues is dealt with, all my results are read and filed, all my letters written, all reports I have been asked to do (which are not strictly part of my NHS work, but there is no one else to do them) are completed. Actually, I did not do the last bit. That will have to wait until the weekend, in my own time. Am I smiling now? No, I am seething with rage at Mary Dejevsky’s hatchet job on general practice (Most of us just want a GP appointment and a friendly smile at reception, 19 November).

We get the health service we pay for. In fact, according to international studies, we get more than that: we get extremely good value for our taxes. In GPs we get, in the main, highly skilled and highly motivated people who continue to give all they can despite a fall in their income in real terms of 16%, despite a fall in the proportion of the total NHS income that goes to general practice of a similar amount, despite demands for instant access, telephone appointments and email service, and despite an ever-more-complex and ageing population to care for. We need a real debate on what we want from our health service, and how it is going to paid for. What we don’t need is being told how to do our job when we are more aware than anyone else of the shortcomings of general practice.
Dr Robert Bennett
Oxford

• I was a GP partner until I left at the age of 53. My wife was a GP partner until she left at the age of 49. The stresses of trying to cope with ever-increasing demand with ever-tighter finances proved intolerable. Most receptionists are polite and professional but cannot create additional appointments with clinicians who already have a full workload from the moment they arrive at work to the moment they leave. I would suggest Mary Dejevesky arranges to spend time observing the situation in a medical practice. If she is then able to offer constructive criticism, I am sure it would be welcomed.
Dr Paul Cassidy
Huddersfield

• I read with interest Mary Dejevsky’s column on the difficulties of getting an appointment with “your” GP. Although prior to the 2004 contract individual GP partners were responsible for a registered list of patients, the new contract gave the practice responsibility for a registered population. There has always been a tension between access, continuity and cost. Over the last 10 years, with the shift towards a consumer society, demand for instant access has been greater than for continuity, eroding the central relationship of a patient with a GP. This has been particularly true of the more vocal majority, often with less need, resulting in political moves to incentivise practices to provide quicker access at the expense of those who need continuity of care. Relationship continuity with your GP is important for patient experience, and evidence shows outcomes are improved, particularly in those with complex needs, but in addition it enhances doctor resilience, much needed at a time of workforce crisis with fewer than 25% of new graduates choosing general practice.

In my own practice we have always prioritised continuity and all patients have a named GP. In order to continue to prioritise continuity but still manage increasing demand for access, as well as an increasingly part-time workforce, we have introduced small teams so that if the patient’s named GP is not available the patient sees only one or two other GPs.

GPs have worked out for themselves what is needed, but much is subject to the whims of our political masters, out of our control. The politicians are recognising the importance of continuity, hence the introduction of a named GP for over 75s, and from April 2015, for every patient. I welcome wholeheartedly a return to placing continuity at the heart of primary care, but there will continue to be a tension between access and continuity unless more resources, both in term of money and GPs, are found.
Dr Naureen Bhatti
London

• Mary Dejevsky has misunderstood the information that the Care Quality Commission has published for every NHS GP practice in England. She discovered that a local practice’s “overall score was a presentable five out of six”. For each GP practice, the CQC combines 38 indicators into an overall score. It then uses this to assign a practice into one of six priority bands for inspection. Band 1 is the highest risk and Band 6 the lowest. A practice’s priority band for inspection isn’t an “overall score” and shouldn’t be interpreted as such.
Dr Alex May
Manchester

• I must be lucky where in live, in a Merseyside village: I can nearly always get an appointment on the day I call (if I phone at 8:30am), the staff are pleasant, and I have no problem with repeat prescriptions. But for those who aren’t so lucky, aren’t they being defrauded? GPs are paid per head, so if a practice reaches a situation where it can’t offer an appointment, the GPs need to work longer shifts. It’s as simple as that.
David Garner
Southport, Lancashire

• Like Mary Dejevsky’s husband, I have a long-term condition – and yes, continuity does matter. Yet it can take two to three weeks to obtain an appointment with the doctor with whom I am registered. If I don’t care for that, I can join the telephone free-for-all on the dot of 8am to obtain an appointment with a newly employed salaried doctor I have never heard of. Even this has taken, on one occasion, almost 20 minutes of constantly re-dialling.

My wife has to work abroad for her company from Monday to Thursday, so Friday is her only opportunity for an appointment. She was recently offered one four weeks in advance – and not even with the doctor of her choice.Why should we be denied adequate healthcare because of the failings of our local GP practice?
Rob Stubbs
Wirral, Merseyside

• Perhaps Mary Dejevsky should just change her doctor. My local practice cannot be the only one where one can see the doctor of choice, phone for an appointment whenever convenient, discuss possibilities with a practice nurse or a friendly, knowledgeable, smiling receptionist. Any matters of practice that cause problems can be discussed at a patient participation group. It is great. Don’t damn all GP surgeries because of your personal bad experience: find a new practice.
Corinne Haynes
Nottingham

We write in response to your article about Andy Miller’s legal action against the Daily Mail (Media, 14 November). While we did not comment before publication, we now wish to draw some errors to your attention.

The overall thrust of your article was that the Mail had unreasonably dragged its feet when it could have resolved matters quickly and simply without recourse to the law. We dispute that interpretation.

It is wrong to suggest that Mr Miller initially only asked for an apology and modest legal costs. In fact he always sought damages, and indeed early on was seeking £200,000 – over three times what he was eventually awarded.

Associated always accepted that the article contained an inaccuracy, offered to correct it and made an offer of damages and costs. This was rejected by Mr Miller, who, using a no-win no-fee arrangement and the iniquitous After the Event insurance – in which the premium is only ever paid by the defendant if they lose – embarked on his legal case.

Associated has not appealed against several judgments in Mr Miller’s favour, rather it appealed the initial high court judgment, lost that appeal before the court of appeal and most recently was refused permission to appeal by the supreme court.

The legal action has to date taken five years, not six, since the Daily Mail were first notified by Mr Miller of his claim in July 2009 and we dispute that the costs bill would be anything like £3m.

The costs of this case have been grossly inflated by a punitively unfair system under which, through 100% success fees and ATE insurance, defendants’ costs are trebled, while claimants take no financial risk and have little incentive to settle.

In a case involving damages of £65,000, such huge sums should be of considerable concern to the entire newspaper industry, including the Guardian.
Liz Hartley
Head of editorial legal services, The Daily Mail

Independent:

Times:

Sir, The appalling and brutal murders carried out in a synagogue in Jerusalem during morning prayers this week (“Deaths push Jerusalem to brink of holy war”, Nov 19) are to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The desecration of the sacred, taking life in a house of prayer, is the absolute antithesis of faith and of what we stand for. This attack on people at prayer is yet another example from across the globe of violence in the name of religion, which undermines religious freedom. We appeal to the believers of all traditions to denounce such attacks wherever in our world they take place and to call for an end to religiously motivated violence.

The Most Rev Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury
Ephraim Mirvis Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra

Sir, There is, rightly, outrage at the synagogue massacre; there should also be outrage at Benjamin Netanyahu’s response, which will ensure the cycles of “getting even” go on. It seems we are lacking a statesman capable not only of halting this spiral of violence but even understanding it.

Dominic Kirkham
Manchester

Sir, Foreign secretary Philip Hammond calls for peace between the Palestinians and the Jews. Surely he should be calling for peace between Palestinians and Israelis, whether the Israelis be Jewish, Druze, Christian, Bahá’í or indeed Muslim. The tragedy is that a separate state called Palestine would not have such a variety of believers.

Tamara Selig
Stanmore, Middx

Sir, I have found that when someone shouts at me, shouting back rarely makes things better. My daughter is in Israel at present. I would feel more confident about her safety if the Israeli government took a more measured approach to the inexcusable terrorist murders.

James Goldman
London NW4

Sir, Thousands of Israelis, both Jews and Muslims, including the president and heads of both religions, attended the funeral of Zidan Saif, the Druze policeman killed in the attack. In this deeply conflicted part of the Middle East where the positions of the Arab Muslim and Israeli Jewish parties appear intractable, the Druze, a Muslim community living in Israel, should be seen as a model of cooperation on which to build.

Dr R Rosenfelder
London NW6

Sir, Your correspondent Catherine Philp puts the cart before the horse (“Jerusalem braced for holy war”, Nov 20). The conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours did not begin as “territorial and political,” now “morphing into religious war.” Its origins were always fundamentally religious in nature — the notion of Jewish self-determination in any part of the “Dar el-Islam” [The House of Islam] being a challenge to Islamic jurisprudence.
Israel’s chief rabbinate may have forbidden Jews from entering the Temple Mount, but other rabbis have ruled differently. In any case, it is for each individual Jew to make up his or her mind on this issue. If Christians and Moslems can pray at this site, why not Jews?

Professor Geoffrey Alderman
University of Buckingham

Sir, It is 20 years since Baruch Goldstein slaughtered 29 Muslims and wounded 125 others as the prayed in the Mosque of Abraham in Hebron. His house was not demolished and though some of his supporters in the extreme right-wing Meir Kahane group were briefly held, it was the Palestinians of Hebron who were punished for this atrocity: their movements became ever more restricted, and half their mosque was converted into a synagogue.
As we rush to condemn those who have applauded the synagogue attack in Jerusalem, let us remember that Goldstein’s grave became a place of pilgrimage for Israeli settlers — more than 10,000 visited it before it was demolished by the Israeli government.

Brigid Waddams
Batcombe, Somerset

Sir, We welcome the government’s leadership in announcing that it will pledge £720 million to the Green Climate Fund. This new UN fund will channel finance to help developing countries adapt to the effects of a changing climate and invest in sustainable development.

Our organisations see first-hand how urgently this money is needed to help the poorest and most vulnerable people protect themselves from changing climate — which is already disrupting harvests. The need to support at-risk communities and habitats will intensify if emissions are not urgently reduced.

The UK joins countries including France, Germany, Japan and the US in making a significant pledge to the fund. This start-up money paves the way for a global climate agreement next year. However, if the Green Climate Fund is to fulfil its vital role, we urge all governments to continue to honour their commitments and further strengthen their ambition.

Chris Bain
Director, Cafod

Loretta Minghella
Chief executive, Christian Aid

Mark Goldring
Chief executive, Oxfam

David Bull
Executive director, Unicef UK

David Nussbaum
Chief executive, WWF-UK

Sir, Greg Hurst (“Textbook case of sloppy work” Nov 20) unfairly represents teachers as “preparing worksheets rather than refining their teaching and planning stimulating lessons”. Most teachers discover very quickly that textbooks should be used alongside a variety of resources and activities. This does include worksheets, but very rarely in productive classrooms is this the only method employed.

Liam Morgan
Head of history, Shiplake College

Sir, I am at a loss to understand why, with free movement of labour in the EU, our interest rate policy should be determined by the rate of UK employment (“Delaying a rise in interest rates now could come with a high price later”, Nov 19). Tightness of the labour market will depend also on unemployment in the rest of the EU. When labour is short, immigrants come in instead of wages going up. There will probably be ample labour supply from the EU and elsewhere for the foreseeable future. This applies to professionals as well as more general workers. Many overseas universities now use English as the language of teaching. My Dutch granddaughter recently had an English-language viva for her master’s degree in maths at a Dutch university, and earlier attended maths courses in English at the University of Stockholm.
john jackson
Keswick, Cumbria

Sir, I agree with Libby Purves (“There is no justice for those falsely accused of abuse”, Nov 20). Between 2007 and 2010 I was one of a three-person team of barristers employed by the Crown Prosecution Service in London as Specialist Rape Advocates. Our role was to provide pre-charge advice to the police in cases of sex abuse and rape and to take cases to trial once we had sanctioned charges. The idea was that the police would have one person dealing with their case, which was intended to support and reassure complainants while ensuring that weak cases were not prosecuted. Sadly, we were not deemed to be cost effective and the unit was disbanded. The police and prosecution agencies need to work together to ensure that complainants feel free to speak out but also to ensure that any person accused of such a crime has his or her side of events investigated too. It serves no one to allow weak cases to come to court and in my opinion causes further harm and distress to vulnerable victims. We need a criminal justice system that treats complainants and the accused fairly. We also to debate on how we can fund this so that the police have the training and resources to carry out investigations thoroughly and the CPS has the expertise necessary to ensure that weak cases are not put before a jury in the first place.
Sarah Le Foe
London SW6

Sir, The report (“‘You wonder if it will ever end’, says head cleared of child rape”, Nov 20) was unsettling in its description of howJames Bird and his family had suffered as a result of an abuse allegation prior to his acquittal. What was more unsettling was the comment by “a CPS spokesman” that “it was important to distinguish between evidence that a person had lied about allegations, and a jury deciding evidence was not strong enough for a conviction”.

So what happened to the principle of innocent until proved guilty? Until we have a “not proven” verdict, it would be best that (anonymous) CPS bureaucrats adhered to this principle and even, perhaps, accept that they are capable of mistakes.
Richard Rigby

Long Melford, Suffolk

Sir, Libby Purves draws readers’ attention to the effect of false allegations of sexual abuse on the lives of the accused and their families. Sadly false accusations of sexual abuse, domestic violence and drug abuse are rife during divorce proceedings in the UK Family Court. They waste court time, cause damage to already vulnerable children and are costly to defend, both emotionally and financially. The perpetrator is rarely penalised by the court and cannot be named.

Family Court reform is long overdue. The perpetrator of such serious perjury should be “named and shamed” at the conclusion of the case and costs awarded to the accused.

This might dissuade divorcing couples from resorting to serious false allegations and allow the Family Court to focus on protecting genuinely “at risk” children.
Rita Kubiak
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks

Sir, Although it is appalling that abused children were not always believed in the past, the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction.

I was recently in a dentist’s waiting room, alone, reading a magazine. A mother and her daughter came out of the treatment room. The woman went to pay and the child wandered into the waiting room. I looked up, said hello, and went on reading. The child ran back to her mother and I heard her say “Mummy, that lady asked me if I wanted some sweets but I said no.” The woman then told her she was a very good girl.

Had I been an elderly man, and in another setting, the outcome could have been very different.

Elizabeth Clarke
Sheffield

Sir, Libby Purves draws attention to the consequences of our focus on the predominance of “victims”. It would appear that an allegation of sexual assault amounts to a statement of fact, ie, the facts are as the “victim” states them to be. It is an inconvenient fact that the allegation might be open to interpretation, unsupported by evidence and, experience tells us, could be a lie. It is dangerous to make the “victims” views the sole arbiter of action,which seems to be the current trend.
Jim Howard
Newton Abbot, Devon

Sir, How times have changed (“Bring in law to protect under-12s home alone”, Nov 15). I was left alone in our house in Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, just after the war when I was aged 6-8 years. I had my little dog, Rex, with me. Once I played with a lighted newspaper and a towel over the fire caught light. Sometimes I sat in a corner shop doorway with another lad until the pubs closed; we were safe as houses. I think.
Bill Oxley
Appleton, Warrington

Telegraph:

Benefits and EU migration; the harmful NHS Bill; why pubs are closing, and Sir John Everett Millais, the Pre-Raphaelite who lets his hair down on screen.

David Cameron is likely to come under pressure on the subject of Europe

Amid fears that more disaffected MPs will defect to Ukip, on the eve of the Rochester by-election, strategist says David Cameron ‘would want to recommend leaving’ if a better deal could not be agreed for Britain Photo: Getty Images

7:00AM GMT 21 Nov 2014

CommentsComments

SIR – David Lidington, the minister for Europe, says that Norway and Switzerland have to accept free movement of people from the EU without having a vote to influence policy (report, November 20). The British Government’s guidance for people moving to Switzerland says: “If you apply for welfare benefits, you will lose your right to remain in Switzerland.”

That sounds like the right kind of freedom of movement to me.

Guy Lachlan
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

SIR – There will always be fundamental irreconcilable differences between our British view of the freedom of movement of people into our country and the view of the rest of the European countries.

We are an island nation which has defended its shores throughout history and, until the open-door policy under the last Labour government, this had given us a feeling of security and control.

The opening of our borders coincided with the rise of international terrorism and the failure of immigration controls to identify thousands of illegal migrants entering and disappearing in our country.

England’s population density of 419 people per square kilometre is the highest of any of the main European countries, and compares with Germany at 233, Italy 192, Denmark 125, Poland 124, France 111, Portugal 109, Spain 92, and Greece 81.

To continue to allow unhindered access to this country is unacceptable, and if the EU decides to make this its bottom line, then it will persuade many of us who up to now have been reluctant to consider an exit from Europe that there is no other option.

Brian Storey
Longstowe, Cambridgeshire

SIR – Should British EU renegotiations go badly, Oliver Letwin “would want to recommend leaving”. Why the weasel words? Surely he would either recommend it, or he wouldn’t. Who or what might stop him? Is he sending us a coded message about David Cameron’s real intentions?

R A McWhirter
Zurich, Switzerland

SIR – Mr Letwin cannot guarantee that renegotiation with the EU will be successful. However, I can guarantee that we will be told that it has been successful.

Mr Cameron is determined Britain will stay in the EU. His record is such that one cannot believe a word he says to the contrary. Unsuccessful renegotiations will be massaged in the same way as the debacle over the EU’s “surprise bill” for 1.7 billion.

David Pound
Charwelton, Northamptonshire

SIR – “EU must change or we quit” says your headline on Mr Letwin’s remarks. I have a better idea: we quit now and rejoin if it does change.

Brian Gilbert
Hampton, Middlesex

Harmful NHS Bill

SIR – As NHS doctors, we are deeply concerned about the misguided and potentially disruptive National Health Service Bill being debated today.

The Bill’s proponents claim it will remove competition from the NHS and guard against “privatisation” by repealing key clauses of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

We believe this would be a backwards step for patient care, reorganising the NHS in a top-down way at a time when it needs to be looking ahead to the huge challenges of the future. These were set out in the NHS England Five Year Forward View, and we urge all politicians to support it rather than using the NHS as a political football.

Suggesting that GP commissioners have a “privatisation agenda” is an ill-informed attack on the clinical leadership which improves services and helps patients.

Dr Michael Dixon
Chairman, NHS Alliance
Dr Jonathan Steel
Dr Barbara Rushton

GP and Chairman, South Eastern Hampshire CCG
Dr Ivan Camphor
GP and medical secretary of the Mid-Mersey Local Medical Committee
Dr Jude Mahadarachi
Dr P Charlson
Dr Gillian Francis
Dr Andrew Hardie
Dr Priyada Pandya
Dr John Mosley
Mr Sheo Tibrewal

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
Professor Simon Taylor-Robinson
Consultant Hepatologist

Parental blushes

SIR – Paddington is rated PG. Having been to see the film Mr Turner, which has a 12 rating (with accompanying adult), I wonder how anyone could feel that the gratuitous sex scene would be suitable for any age.

Annie May
Macclesfield, Cheshire

Hit and miss exchanges

SIR – I took part in four foreign exchanges in the Seventies. After graduating, I took a postgraduate degree in France, which would have been impossible without the knowledge absorbed through exchange.

The language skills I learnt have been enormously useful throughout my professional life.

N R Clift
London EC2

SIR – The day my German exchange arrived in 1976, Field Marshal Montgomery died. Throughout her visit, the television, radio and press were filled with Second World War stories, endless images of tanks, battles and Nazis.

These days, I speak passable French and Italian but no German.

Hilary Bentley
Alderney, Channel Islands

Why pubs are closing

SIR – Even if the Small Business Bill is passed, I do not believe it will make a noticeable difference to the rate at which pubs are closing. The proposed legislation affects tenants of companies that own more than 500 pubs, so it will have an impact only on a small proportion of pubs.

But replacing beer ties with higher rents could actually be a positive development. In the current system, tenants pay breweries or pubcos for every pint served. The more beer that is sold, the higher the payment. Should the legislation go through, causing breweries and pubcos to offset their loss of income by charging higher rents, every pint sold in excess of the expected sales will result in extra profit for the publican.

The fact is that there are too many pubs. Supply outstrips the demand, so inevitably some publicans struggle to make a living. If the Government is simply trying to stem the alarming rate at which pubs are reported to close, it would do better to ensure that the economy remains buoyant.

Larissa Lowe
Thomas Eggar solicitors
Crawley, West Sussex

Online GP errors

SIR – Readers should be aware that information in the Care Quality Commission ranking of GPs online is not always to be trusted.

My own practice was downgraded because the CQC thought that none out of 68 patients asked in the latest GP Patient Survey was able to obtain an appointment or speak to a GP or nurse. The correct figure (available on the GP Patient Survey website) is 63 out of 68 patients, which, at 92 per cent, is the second best score in the county. As they say: garbage in, garbage out.

The Care Quality Commission calls this process “intelligent monitoring”, but I’m not sure that “intelligent” is the word I would use.

Dr Jonathan Sleath
Hereford

A Pre-Raphaelite lets his hair down on screen

SIR – At a recent screening of Effie Gray, I was interested to see portrayed a long-haired and bearded John Everett Millais (above right).

The John Ruskin portrait by Millais, which was shown being painted in the film, is dated 1853-4. Contemporary representations of Millais by William Holman Hunt in pastel and chalk (left), and a medallion by Alexander Munro both show him clean-shaven with short hair. He appears similarly in photographs. On the other hand, the more hirsute Barbizon artist Jean-François Millet sported a fine head of long hair and full facial adornments. Was this artistic licence?

Martin Adlam
Winforton, Herefordshire

Potholes and a dearth of buses outside London

SIR – This week, many south-western roads and fields have been flooded. In Devon, most roads are filled with potholes.

The Dawlish railway line has yet again been under siege by storms and the new sea wall has been damaged.

Urban councils receive 40 per cent more funding per head from the central government than rural councils do, which means that Devon county council has to choose to prioritise services for the needy above road maintenance.

Londoners enjoy a massive per-head public investment in transport, and have more transport links available to them than anywhere else in the country. In 2011, for example, the per capita subsidy for Londoners was £2,730, while in the South West it was just £19. The North will get a billion-pound boost from HS2 and HS3.

Is it any wonder that the rest of Britain feels oppressed by the metropolitan elite?

Linda Hughes
Newton Abbot, Devon

SIR – While motorists will surely welcome a new government initiative to improve Britain’s roads one would hope that this £15 billion will not be spent entirely on widening motorways and brand-new road schemes.

Throughout the country, the majority of existing roads are in a deplorable state and urgently in need of major repair.

Richard James
Nailsea, Somerset

SIR – “They walk between stations in Paris” is the excuse for terminating HS2 at Euston and not St Pancras for onward travel to Europe.

The distance between these stations – five furlongs – is too short to take the Undergound or bus and too long for some with luggage to walk, possibly in the rain. Some form of free shuttle, light railway or covered travelator would be helpful.

Stuart Robertson
Aboyne, Aberdeenshire

Bank fine? Not fine

SIR – Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined millions of pounds for its computer failings.

Because of the bail–out in 2008, the taxpayer owns two thirds of RBS. Thus the taxpayer pays the fine.

Those responsible pay nothing. It’s a meaningless paper–shuffling exercise.

Ian Anderson
Wick, Gloucestershire

Gnashing sachets

SIR –I’d like a ban on all sauces produced in sachets.

They are nearly impossible to open without the use of your teeth, and then produce a most unsatisfying smudge of your favourite condiment. I am not sure about their green credentials either.

Sam Kirkaldy
Sevenoaks, Kent

Irish Times:

Sir, – When the original water charges were announced the Government went to great lengths to inform the public that the charges had been set by an independent regulator. Much play was made of the word “independent”. The new water charging regime was determined by the Government not the independent regulator. Why do we need a regulator when the Government for political reasons takes unto itself the role of setting the water charging arrangements and tariffs. Sadly the “independence” of the regulator is another casualty of this great water debacle. – Yours , etc,

DONAL O SULLIVAN,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Sir, – If memory serves, the justification given by the Government for water charges was to conserve this wonderful natural resource by charging per unit, encouraging us to be economical in its use. It now seems the new charges are to pay the salaries at Irish Water. – Yours, etc,

BILLY HYLAND,

Naas,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – The news that local authorities will be obliged to pursue council tenants who do not pay their water charges should not unduly worry anyone, if past experience is anything to go by (“Council tenants face rent increases and possible eviction if water bills not paid”, November 20th).

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Kildare County Council levied water and refuse charges. There was a well-organised campaign of non-compliance, and such was its scale that the local authority was reluctant to take people to court. It threatened to have the charges levied against the property so that in the event of a sale they could be recovered.

Of course, this never happened, which meant that those of us foolish enough to have paid them effectively made a “voluntary contribution” to the authority’s coffers. If this was the experience when it pursued money it was owed, it’s hard to see a more enthusiastic response when it’s someone else’s money. – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN McMAHON,

Naas,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – We have a known cap on charges to 2019 and a promise of a future cap beyond. Against that background, one has to ask the question why we are spending millions of euro on water meters and their ongoing installation, which is a red rag to a bull to the general public when their value and use are rendered obsolete by these new proposals. – Yours, etc,

DEREK MacHUGH,

Foxrock, Dublin 18.

Sir, – The row about water charges puts me in mind of a trait that has been shared by successive Fine Gael leaders. That of naivety. From Fitzgerald to Bruton to Kenny, Fine Gael leaders have steadfastly believed in the decency and good sense of the Irish citizen and legislated accordingly. They all came a cropper as a result. Fianna Fáil leaders like Haughey and Ahern have always had an instinctive understanding of the Irish people. They knew that we don’t want to pay more for decent public services – we want disposable income and lots of it. And, boy, did Bertie oblige us. As the health service stagnated we gorged ourselves on treats – drink, restaurants, holidays and cars. We all drank at the trough and we loved it.

With regard to Irish Water, Enda Kenny needs to understand what Fianna Fáil leaders have always understood: disposable income matters to the Irish; public services do not. – Yours, etc,

CONOR O’MAHONY,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Colm McCarthy writes, “There are numerous industries in Ireland which must inevitably be operated as monopolies. These include electricity transmission and distribution, the gas network and the water industry” (“Water charging arrangements will prove to be temporary”, Opinion & Analysis, November 20th).

Equating finite, concentrated, fossil fuel and a renewable, widely distributed resource like water in this context is guff of the highest order. A citizen may haul water from a well with no more capital than the price of a bucket; comparing this to drilling rigs, gas wells, pipelines, pumping stations and the capital-intensive infrastructure required to extract, process, move, store and deliver fossil fuel is laughable.

In Ireland tens of thousands of households provide their own water individually, or collectively as part of community-owned cooperatives. In France, 36,681 communes provide drinking water and manage waste water. Only in Ireland, and perhaps North Korea, would public administrators and academics think that the best way to deliver a widely distributed, renewable resource to a widely distributed population is by an “efficient” centralised monopoly. The real surprise is not that Irish Water turned into another HSE but that anyone thought any other outcome was likely. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN SWEENEY,

Kilnaleck, Co Cavan.

Sir, – This week, Senator Paul Bradford warned us, “We must not give in to mob rule now of extreme left-wing socialists who look back to a panacea of the Soviet Union and North Korea”. Noel Coonan TD then warned us “we are facing what is potentially an Isis situation”.

And they say Leinster House is a dull, humourless place! – Yours, etc,

WILSON JOYCE,

Chapelizod, Dublin 20.

Sir, – Has the Government calculated how much it will cost the exchequer to administer the €100 rebate or has it not thought that far ahead? – Yours, etc,

BRENDAN BUTLER,

Malahide, Co Dublin.

Sir, – “Taoiseach tells Ministers to go out and sell revised water charges to public” (Front Page, November 20th). Good luck with that one, lads. I just hope you’re not on commission. – Yours, etc,

DERMOT O’SHEA,

Churchtown,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – I refer to Kathy Sheridan’s article “Telling the grim truth about prostitution” (Opinion & Analysis, November 19th). As a “much-loved daughter of middle Ireland” myself, I strongly oppose the views expressed and the overall tone of the piece.

Poverty drives women into the industry, and it is this which we “lefty liberals” must seek to eradicate, not consenting adults having sex. It’s very clear that Ms Sheridan finds sex work distasteful, to put it mildly. However, this debate is not about how any one person feels about the trade, it’s about the right to work in safety, a right currently denied and which will continue to be denied under the new legislation.

The further assertion made that “significant numbers are drawn in as children under 18” is false, and used by abolitionists around the world. Last year Turn off the Red Light repeatedly claimed that there were 19 victims of child prostitution in the Republic of Ireland. The then minster for justice Alan Shatter told them to stop using that figure because it simply was not true.

Finally, Ms Sheridan speaks of those who can’t be doing with “peer-reviewed studies”. I find that assertion ironic, because the evidence from around the world points to decriminalisation as a preferred model to protect the most vulnerable in the industry. That evidence comes from the World Health Organisation, the UN Aids body, and medical journals, to name but a few.

It’s clear from recent communications from Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald’s office that it is her intention to press ahead with the criminalisation of clients. Were this to happen, those who are already vulnerable will suffer all the more, as I explained to the Minister in person last week. In the end, good law must never be based on an ideological sending of a “message”, rather it should be based on evidence. Evidence which is in abundance. – Yours, etc,

LAURA LEE,

Ayrshire,

Scotland.

Sir, – I’ve never watched Love/Hate so I’ll have to accept Kathy Sheridan’s description of episodes from it. Certainly, if the State hadn’t made the disastrous mistake of criminalising recreational drugs – if drugs were  taxed, controlled and regulated, with addictive drugs available to registered addicts to be taken in a controlled setting – fewer people of whatever social class would be forced into prostitution to pay for them. And it’s undoubtedly true that prostitution – like indeed many other lifestyle-choices – is not a path that most people would want to encourage members of their family to go down.

The proposed “Swedish model” legislation will hurt people who have no economic alternative to selling sexual services, as well as customers who may get caught in the net. (Significantly, it will offer some disabled people, who may have no other outlet for physical intimacy, an unpalatable choice between criminality and perpetual celibacy.)

The example Kathy Sheridan gives of the illegality of the trade in human organs is not well chosen, since if the proposed legislation were applied to that trade, it would result in the absurdity that I would be allowed to sell my kidney, but someone suffering from kidney failure would be arrested for trying to buy it!

This is a complex area and the discussion needs to take full account of the complexities. The debate should of course objectively weigh up the relevant evidence, but it should also focus on the central issue of the limitations of law regarding voluntary, private relations between adults, without being sidelined into other issues. – Yours, etc,

PAUL O’BRIEN,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – Prostitution is a gender issue, a class issue and an ethnic issue. It is overwhelmingly men who buy sex, and mainly poor women from impoverished regions of the world who are involved in prostitution. As someone who for many years has been involved in researching prostitution and violence against women, my concern is that forthcoming Irish legislation must challenge the subordination and degradation of women, especially in relation to those from disadvantaged groups.

The flow of foreign women into Ireland for the purpose of prostitution started in the early 2000s, and coincided with the Irish prostitution industry moving from street to indoor prostitution. What we now have in Ireland is a highly lucrative, internet-based, indoor prostitution trade worth an estimated €180 million. The networks of control are highly internationalised. Irish indigenous criminals are linked to eastern European, central European and African gangs. These networks ensure a highly ethnicised prostitution sector in Ireland. A staggering 51 separate nationalities of women are involved, with between 800 and 1,000 women engaging in prostitution at any one time.

Prostitution is not only about payment of money for sex. It is about economic and sexual power and the ability to give commands and control women. It assumes that men are entitled to have their sexual needs met through the paid bodies of women, and that there should be a special group of women available for this purpose.

The psychological, physical and emotional damage that prostitution causes to women is well documented.

The prostitution industry is based on inequalities between women and men. Such inequalities arise from poverty, the increasing sexualisation and pornographication of female bodies in popular culture, and from histories of violent abuse in both childhood and adulthood that underpin many women’s entry into the sex industry.

Prostitution is, therefore, both a cause and consequence of gender inequality. Criminalising the purchase of sexual acts, decriminalising those who sell, and providing specialist support to women to be able to leave prostitution are measures that directly address gender inequalities. – Yours, etc,

PATRICIA

KELLEHER, PhD

Beara,

Co Cork.

Sir, – As the immigration debate returns to the forefront of American political debate, I note that you refer in several of your reports to “undocumented” Irish people in the United States (“Obama paves way for illegal Irish immigrants to visit home”, Front Page, November 21st).

Do you also refer to migrants who are illegally resident in Ireland as “undocumented”? “Undocumented” is a euphemism that seeks to obscure the fact that the people being described are illegal immigrants.

There is lots of room for debate about whether the immigration policies of the United States – or of Ireland – are just. But weasel words never help. – Yours, etc,

NIALL STANAGE,

Washington, DC.

Sir, – I see the Taoiseach has called on the US president to allow undocumented Irish immigrants to return home on visits pending a new immigration and citizenship system being established. Perhaps as an encouragement to Mr Obama, Mr Kenny he would do the same for undocumented immigrants into Ireland. – Yours, etc,

PETER MOONEY,

Cabra, Dublin 7.

Sir, – The Taoiseach hopes US president Barack Obama will help the undocumented Irish in the United States by allowing them a path to citizenship and the right to travel back and forth to Ireland in the meantime. If that is the case then there would be no difference between the privileges of an illegal immigrant and a legal one.

Why is there an expectation that undocumented Irish should have such “rights” when they wilfully violated the law by immigrating illegally to the US in the first place? Like Ireland, there is no guaranteed right for anyone born outside of the US to live there but only through the application process put into place. The Taoiseach and I would surely agree that Ireland’s borders and immigration processes should also be respected.

The Taoiseach could also do a great deal of service to Irish citizens by holding them to a higher standard than lawbreaking. While it is easy to feel sorry for those who can’t travel home to their native land for a friend’s wedding or a family funeral, let us not forget their irresponsibility in not thinking things through long before overstaying a 90-day holiday visa. – Yours, etc,

JACK KELLY,

Haddonfield,

New Jersey.

Sir, – In light of the US decision to seek to regularise the lives of thousands of undocumented Irish living in America, can our Government be inspired by this and regulate the lives of asylum seekers in our country who have for years been left living in limbo awaiting a decision about their case, living in unsuitable accommodation, without the right to work and having to survive on less than €20 a week? – Yours, etc,

COLM O’BRIEN,

Tallaght,

Dublin 24.

Sir, – Regarding Frank McNally’s droll piece about the use or non-use of the humble comma (An Irishman’s Diary, November 21st), I’m reminded of that classic newspaper account of a documentary about country music legend Merle Haggard, which contained this quite ambiguous sentence: “Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall”. I think the use of the Oxford comma in that particular sentence would have eliminated any misunderstanding about the relationship between Messrs Haggard, Kristofferson, and Duvall. – Yours, etc,

PAUL DELANEY,

Dalkey,

Co Dublin.

Sir, — Further to Ronan McGreevy’s report “Call for Dublin’s Spire to be renamed ‘An Claidheamh Soluis’” (November 16th), why rename a superfluous monstrosity which is neither inspiring or enlightening? – Yours, etc,

MICHELE SAVAGE,

Dublin 12.

Irish Independent:

Every now and again you hear someone say that a person ‘needs a hug’. It’s become a sarcastic put-down, depicting a needy or over- precious, self-involved mini-me mentality.

Given the battering we as a people have taken, no one should be surprised at the need for a little TLC. In fact, the Civil Defence should be on every street corner handing out comfort blankets and we should be getting envelopes with happy pills – remember the iodine? The default position for most of us when put under pressure is to pull up the drawbridge and retreat behind whatever emotional shield we can find. As REM sang, ‘everybody hurts sometime’. But where do we go to find the strength to keep on keeping on?

The voice from the pulpit has spoken over the heads of the people for too long, it now bounces back with a hollow ring. Pope Francis is trying very hard but the old guard are holding him back. The Dalai Lama is also living proof that rocky is the road of the peace maker. Perhaps we have become too used to being followers. If we just reached out more to each other – having first reached into ourselves – we might find the connections to the real truths that give meaning to our private struggles. We are the culmination of the efforts of all who have gone before us, and our children need us to lay down safe and peaceful paths.

Didn’t some long-haired bohemian from another time say love thy neighbour; and then there was that Scouser who said ‘all you need is love’.

A smile, a baby’s gurgle, a child’s reaching arms, a hand-shake or even a friendly greeting can be enough to lift a leaden heart. So let none of us say we can’t do our bit.

M O’Brien

Greystones, Co Wicklow

When will Kenny see ‘reason’?

I have spent the last two days listening to my Government implying I am not being “reasonable” with respect to the current water charges issue. My husband and I both work full-time so we can afford to run our modest family home and pay for the significant mortgage shortfall on the apartment we unfortunately bought in 2008 before the property crash (which the government and banks directly caused). Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?

We pay property tax and tax on any rental income on a property we do not want, but which we cannot sell due to negative equity and the fact that the Government has done nothing to help us and people like us. Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?

I have my child in full-time childcare which breaks my heart every day. I also cannot give my child a brother or sister as we cannot afford the childcare costs it would incur with us both having to work to meet bills. Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?

I spent eight years gaining an advanced education in order to contribute to this economy and earn enough money to support my family. Despite a recent salary increase, I receive only €60 per month extra take-home pay due to the significantly increased PAYE and USC I must pay. I still cannot afford to pay into a pension fund despite being in my 30s now. Is that not reasonable to Mr Kenny?

And now, because I am refusing to spend what very little disposable income I have on yet another tax for water charges – which I already pay for many times over in the array of other taxes I pay – Mr Kenny and his Government imply that I, and others like me, are unreasonable. Shame on them. Enough is enough. It is Mr Kenny and this Government who are not being “reasonable”.

Elaine McSherry

Dublin 24

Time to call off the protests

The anti-austerity, anti-water charges groups have succeeded in their campaign. They have to be credited with harnessing the public anger and forcing the Government to make the changes recently announced.

But now they should fold up the tent and get off the stage.

We have to be honest and recognise that we have to pay something towards the provision of clean, drinkable water. There is no pot of money available through higher or alternative taxes. They have won the war; let them keep their powder dry for future battles.

Eamonn Kitt

Tuam, Co Galway

New package, same charges

With great fanfare, the Government announced the new water charges on Wednesday.

At first glance, I thought it was good, with the cost being reduced to €3.70 per 1,000 litres, plus the payment of the €100 ‘conservation grant’ – but how that is going to encourage conservation, I have no idea.

On a quick calculation I estimated that I would be paying less than originally envisaged, when the first charges were announced – or so I thought. Then later, I realised that they were abolishing the 30,000 free litres for each household and the water charges tax relief announced in the last Budget.

So, I re-calculated and found that if a two-person household used 70,270 litres in a year, this would cost €260, less the ‘conservation grant’, meaning a net cost of €160.

Then I calculated the same usage under the original charges, allowing myself the free 30,000 litres, and charging the remaining 40,270 litres at €4.88 per 1,000 litres and arrived at a sum of €196.52, less tax relief of €39.30, giving me a net cost of €157.22.

Unbelievably, the new charging structure is costing households more, where they only use up to 70,270 litres, and it is the same result for single-occupant households where they only use up to 43,240 litres. The way the new charges were announced, you would have thought that every household was going to have lower charges. Not so, and this Government thinks it has all been put to bed now.

Frank Fitzpatrick

Portmarnock, Co Dublin

At least we can still have a bath

So convinced am I that Enda is right, I did it. So convinced am I that Leo has the health of the nation back on track, I did it. And so convinced am I that Michael will have money gushing back into the economy, I did it.

Yes folks, I stared down my own financial demons, ripped off the financial shackles that held me down so long, looked to the future with confidence and, and . . . had a bath. On behalf of the Irish people, I would like to thank the Troika for bringing us back to the Promised Land.

Eugene McGuinness

Address with editor

Balance so lacking in the media

The hysteria being promoted by the Irish media in relation to the water charges in a country that has had an €80bn bailout and is, as a consequence over-borrowed, shows the Irish media in very bad light.

The lack of any balance in the coverage of the Irish water issue is nearly as damaging to the health of our democracy as the failure of most of the Irish media to challenge the decisions of the powerful during the boom, since those decisions eventually bankrupted the country and necessitated the bailout.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Pledge to protect our children

I was delighted to see the Taoiseach found time to meet Louise O’ Keeffe, who won her long struggle for justice in the European Court of Human Rights. After listening to her interview on ‘Prime Time’, I do hope Mr Kenny and his Government take on board every word this brave lady had to say and come up with some positive answers before Christmas, as promised. Remember, this is about protecting vulnerable children in our schools.

Brian Mc Devitt

Glenties, Co Donega

Irish Independent

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