16 January 2015 Shopping
Mary a little better she could manage to get up for breakfast. Gout fading go to Tesco and Co op. Set up bird feeders.
Sir John Mason, who has died aged 91, was an expert in the physics of clouds; as director-general of the Meteorological Office from 1965 to 1983, he transformed the institution into a world centre for global weather and climate prediction and research.
Basil John Mason was born at Docking, Norfolk, on August 18 1923 and educated at Fakenham Grammar School. After wartime service as a flight lieutenant in the Radar branch of the RAF, and after being awarded a First in Physics by the University of London, he was appointed lecturer in the postgraduate department of meteorology at Imperial College, London in 1948.
There he formed a research group to study the physical processes involved in the formation of clouds and the release of precipitation as rain, snow or hail. He also wrote a classic study The Physics of Clouds (1957), in which he provided a mathematical expression of the formation (due to condensation) or evaporation of water droplets in clouds — known as the Mason equation.
He published a second, updated and enlarged, edition of the book in 1971, and in 2010 the Oxford University Press published a reprint in its Oxford Classic Texts in the Physical Sciences series. In 1961 Mason was appointed the world’s first professor of cloud physics at Imperial.
When he moved to the Met Office at Bracknell in 1965, Mason took his Imperial research team with him and, in the early 1970s, proposed a quantitative theory to explain how electrical charges are generated in thunderclouds, showing how they create vertical electrical fields which, under certain conditions, become strong enough to break through air insulation and trigger and sustain lightning storms. For this research he received the Rumford Medal and the Bakerian lectureship of the Royal Society.
The background to Mason’s appointment to the Met Office was the announcement in 1961 by President Kennedy of an ambitious “Global Atmospheric Research Programme” to improve long-range weather forecasting through the use of advanced computational and satellite technology. At the time the British Met Office was largely employed in making routine observations, plotting and analysing them by hand and making short-range forecasts. Mason, with his distinguished record in scientific research and an outstanding reputation as a physicist, was seen as the right man to lead the office into the computer age.
He embarked on a major programme of modernising and equipping the Met Office with the most powerful computers available – a programme that involved major building works and a significant expansion of basic and applied research. By 1983 he had replaced the traditional empirical forecasting methods with objective numerical techniques and extended the reach of the Met Office’s weather monitoring and prediction operations across the globe.
His achievement was recognised in 1977 at a major exhibition at the Royal Society to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, at which the advances made by the Met Office in numerical weather prediction featured as one of the 12 most important British contributions to science during her reign. The success of the programme was a major factor in the decision by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, in 1983, to nominate the Bracknell office as one of two world area forecasting centres (the other being in Washington) whose global forecasts it approved for use by civil airline operators.
A lightning storm over the Dorset coast (ALAMY)
After his retirement from the Met Office in 1983, Mason became director of an Acid Rain Research Project, involving some 300 scientists from institutes affiliated to the Royal Society or the National Academies of Norway and Sweden. Their report, published in 1990, confirmed that acid rain was caused mainly by emissions from coal-fired power stations and found that damage to hundreds of Scottish and Scandinavian lakes has exceeded earlier fears. The results, discussed at a week-long conference at the Royal Society attended by the three Prime Ministers, led the British government to implement measures which have seen levels of sulphur in the atmosphere drop 90 per cent compared with their peak level in the 1950s.
Mason was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1965, served as its treasurer and vice president from 1976 to 1986 and was awarded the Society’s Royal Medal in 1991. A Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society from 1948, he served as president of the society from 1968 to 1970, winning its Symons Gold Medal in 1975 and endowing its its Mason Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the understanding of meteorological processes in 2006. He served as president of the Institute of Physics from 1976 to 1978, winning its Charles Chree Medal in 1965 and Glazebrook Medal in 1972. He was pro-chancellor of the University of Surrey from 1980 to 1985 and president (1986–94) and then chancellor of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology from 1994 to 1996.
John Mason was appointed CB in 1973 and knighted in 1979.
In 1948 he married Doreen Jones, with whom he had two sons.
Sir John Mason, born August 18 1923, died January 6 2015
Simon Jenkins takes aim at the wrong targets when decrying the problems facing the NHS (Here’s what my fantasy Labour party would look like, Opinion, 15 January). It is not GPs or hospital doctors who are holding back the NHS; their hard work means patients continue to receive high-quality care, including emergency care around the clock. Doctors want to do more, but they can do that only if they are given the resources, facilities and staff to do so. For example, a recent British Medical Association survey showed that seven out of 10 GPs felt their facilities were too small to provide extra services, even though GPs want to do more for their patients.
We also need to ensure that the resources we do have are used appropriately: is there really a widespread demand, as Simon Jenkins suggests, for routine GP appointments at 3am? Would the money not be better spent having more healthcare staff available in a range of disciplines in better facilities when patients are more likely to use them? Moreover, calling for people to declare their income when they need to see a GP or have an operation so they can pay means-tested charges would destroy the social solidarity the NHS is based on. There is little doubt that the NHS is under unsustainable pressure and, in a general election year, we need a serious debate, underpinned by the need for healthcare to be free at the point of use, about how we meet the challenges we are facing. Doctors want to be part of these solutions.
Dr Mark Porter
Chair of the British Medical Association’s council
• Your article (Running out of road: exhausted paramedics pick up the pieces of broken health system, 14 January) highlights the pressures on this service. But I wonder if readers realise just how appalling paramedics’ general working conditions are out of the crisis spotlight? As a counsellor I see paramedics when they become too stressed or are traumatised. There are no other professional groups I see who seem to me to be so grossly underpaid and who tolerate such inhumane working conditions, given the level of trauma they deal with. It is not uncommon for them to be spending their long shifts alone, responding to emergency after emergency with no downtime, no time back at the hospital to unload emotionally. We seem to treat them with no respect and as highly disposable objects. The plight of professional groups such as the paramedics is not about lack of funds – there are plenty of people who are paid a fortune by the NHS. It is rather, as always, that the professional power groups get the biggest slices of the cake.
One last thing. There is a solution to ambulances queueing up at A&E. Although ministers keep exclaiming that there is no more money for the greedy NHS, all over the service money is being lobbed at dead-end projects, new IT packages that will not work and expensive management consultants. But, of course, those are different budgets.
• In 2010 my son-in-law gave up work to do four years’ paramedic training. During the first year the government announced there would be no further recruitment of ambulance technicians (a job he needed while undertaking the three-year paramedic degree). As he successfully completed his access year, the government then announced that the NHS would no longer finance the three-year paramedic degree course – requiring him to pay £9,000 a year like other degree courses. Unable to face a debt of £27,000, my son-in-law found alternative work and, lost to the NHS, he uses his skills as a volunteer with RNLI.
• Lord Ashcroft is wrong to perpetuate the myth that lack of explanation lies behind wide rejection of the Lansley reforms (The Tories are still toxic on the NHS, Opinion, 14 January). They were only too well understood. We all know that high standards and cost-effectiveness are not evenly spread. We know, too, that bureaucratic tendencies and inefficient practices are found where there is inadequate management, in private as well as public organisations. Evidence is not adduced that profit-seeking firms are more beneficial to the service.
The government’s proper role is to set the overall structure, the parameters and the funding limits, within which the NHS is accountable. Excellence in leadership, effectiveness and efficiency must be demanded, along with continuous review and development. Cynically shrugging off responsibility to arms-length operators driven by profit is not acceptable in an agenda for “modernisation”.
Lord Ashcroft is right about one thing: we need a proper conversation about all of this.
Newcastle upon Tyne
• Sarah Boseley (More money is certainly needed – but that’s not all, 14 January) and your front-page report miss the core problem that compared with other western countries we get our NHS on the cheap.
Based on US Bureau of Statistics data, research shows that in 2008, the latest date for which we have data, we are 17th out of 21 countries. Worse, over the past 20 years, our average was 20th.
Greece and Portugal, which used to have higher child mortality rates than Britain, spend 9.5% and 10.2% of their national wealth on health to the UK’s 8.7%, and now have substantially lower child deaths rate than Britain. When recognised in this way, the solution becomes obvious: that the UK should match the average health spending of other western countries.
Research professor in psychiatric social work, Bournemouth University, and emeritus and visiting professor, department of psychiatry, University of Southampton
• The decision by NHS England to de-list a number of drugs from the Cancer Drugs Fund for use in treating blood cancers is worrying (Boost for cancer fund as drugs list pruned, 13 January). Patients with many types of leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma can now live for many years with a good quality of life, thanks to the development of new drugs. While not all types of blood cancer are curable, decades of research have led to incremental increases in survival times that could eventually lead to cures. It is a mistake to dismiss the importance of any drug that can give precious extra months or years to patients and can prevent considerable suffering.
If we are serious about beating blood cancers and other forms of cancer, the government, NHS, charities and pharmaceutical companies need collectively to find a sustainable way to make these and the next generations of effective drugs available to patients who need them.
Professor Chris Bunce
Research director, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research
George Monbiot (Equality before the law? Throw it on the corporate bonfire, 14 January) highlights one of the most disturbing and potentially devastating attacks on democracy now being played out by the US, UK and 12 other EU members. To claim that the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is primarily a trade agreement is nonsense. The trade agreements already in existence may require some fine tuning, but the addition of TTIP is anything but a tweak to existing arrangements.
Our own government and opposition parties are strangely mute on the subject. How can it be fair, reasonable or democratic for any government to put their country and their electorates in a position where a small number of international corporations can sue us over laws that affect their profits, using a legal system designed only for them? It is totally abhorrent.
Interestingly, that infamous “loony of the left” Tony Benn was forecasting events such as this as far back as the early 70s. I urge every MP to read The Best of Benn. Page 57 is a good place to start: this section covers a speech entitled Multinationals and World Politics, which he made to a conference of international business leaders, and which was coolly received. About 40 years ago, he said: “In short, multinational companies employing thousands of people, controlling great resources, with a vested interest in territorial development and with reserves of capital and know-how to protect, have become states and must expect to be treated as such… The single biggest political issue of the 70s, 80s and beyond is the need for the democratisation of power.”
Our democratic system has never been under so much pressure as it is today and it is time for people, regardless of their party allegiances, to wake up to the fact. Do not let TTIP happen.
Harrogate, North Yorkshire
• It is more than paradoxical that our government is proposing to sign the TTIP at the same time as it is about to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The provisions for “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS), divorced from the citizens’ own judiciary, are nothing more than the creation of a modern analogue of the Plantagenet-era parallel system of ecclesiastical courts with the exclusive right to try miscreant clergy.
Macclesfield , Cheshire
Had the seven-year-old girl not told her mother about being tied to a chair and humiliated by a classroom assistant, Rachael Regan, more crimes might well have been committed (Teaching assistant bully taped girl pupil to chair, 9 January).
Parliament passed legislation in 2009 requiring schools to notify parents of significant incidents involving the use of force. However, soon after coming to power, the coalition government dismissed this duty as red tape. Following pressure from children’s charities, the parliamentary human rights select committee and teachers’ unions, ministers conceded that the duty served the best interests of children.
Michael Gove then asked his behavioural expert, Charlie Taylor to undertake a review. This took about five weeks and Taylor’s three-page report concluded that the duty was a “bureaucratic burden”, and it has been on the scrapheap ever since. No matter, apparently, that the safeguard was the result of the equally shocking case of a six-year-old with special educational needs who was repeatedly physically restrained at school, the full extent of which came to light only after her mother put in a freedom of information request.
John Crace’s sketch (Welcome to the house of love, 15 January) suggests that Ofcom will decide the line-up of leaders’ debates before the election. This is not the case. Ofcom has no role in determining the structure, format and style of any broadcast general election debates that might take place. This is up to broadcasters. Ofcom’s role is to set rules governing the minimum allocation of party election broadcasts, a duty placed on Ofcom by parliament. The broadcasters are able to allocate additional party election broadcasts, to major parties and others, and have a duty to ensure all coverage is fair, impartial and gives due weight to a range of voices.
Director of content standards, Ofcom
• Sorting out who should appear in election debates is not rocket science (Report, 15 January). Four nations make up the representation at Westminster. There should be one debate in England featuring all the leaders of the English parties that have representation at Westminster. As these parties also campaign in the other UK nations, with the possible exception of Labour and the Lib Dems in Northern Ireland, the debates in these areas should feature “national” parties too – again, with qualification resting on having representation at Westminster. That would mean the Tory, Ukip and Green leaders would probably appear in four debates while Messrs Miliband and Clegg would appear in three.
Cllr John Marriott
• Roger Mosey (The BBC must enforce the empty chair, 15 January) doesn’t get it. Despite the best efforts of Thatcher and Blair, our system remains a parliamentary, not a presidential, one. Would Attlee have triumphed over Churchill, or Major over Kinnock, if the elections of 1945 and 1992 had been trials by television? Such individuals working as leaders of a team surely have more to contribute than the winners of a beauty contest in which the glib Salmonds of this world are likely to win over the thoughtful Darlings. It is about the “greys” at least as much as the Greens.
High Peak, Derbyshire
• Roy Hattersley pulled out of Have I Got News For You and was replaced by a tub of lard. Perhaps replace David Cameron with a condom.
Michael White’s mention of Commander Bill Boakes (Comedy candidates, 15 January) will have awakened happy memories for older Londoners of a war hero who was one of the most persistent and colourful candidates ever to have brightened the British electoral landscape. I had the privilege of lodging in his house as a student between 1959 and 1961, when he was the leader, and perhaps only member, of the brilliantly named Admiral (Association of Democratic Monarchists Independently Representing All Ladies). There is a wonderful photograph of him sporting a bowler hat, briefcase, rolled umbrella and roller skates, in the commemorative book of the Daily Mail London to Paris Race, in which he skated from Marble Arch to Westminster Pier to publicise his campaign for city-centre helicopter landing sites. They don’t make candidates like that any more.
Speculating on the benefits of the crude oil market price crash (G2, 14 January) is pointless. We’re in a poker game – the Middle East Opec producers have already said openly it doesn’t matter to them how low the price falls; they won’t cut production. It’s clear the aim is to ruin the producers who can only function at high prices. Once they fold their hands, Opec can set the price back up where they want it. Perhaps G2 should run a feature instead on what will happen when our oil industry collapses.
Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire
• Suzanne Moore’s neologism, faithophobia (15 January), is a wonderfully apt term for describing the aversion atheists have towards respecting ideas based upon myth and superstition, in other words religions. Might I propose an antonym: atheophobia, a term for those who fear ideas based upon reason and rationality?
• Being barged out of the way on pavements is, it seems to me, more prevalent nowadays (Manslamming? Come off it, 13 January). The worst are often either those immersed in texting, or groups talking among themselves three abreast. A good technique I’ve found is to stand stock still as you come up to them. They will then go around you instead of bumping you out of the way. Try it.
• I certainly remember the French labelling on one side of the HP bottle (Letters, 14 January). Aged seven, I impressed my dad, who was reading the French side, by translating all the ingredients for him. He hadn’t realised the label was in English on the other side (my side) of the bottle. One of the few times I ever managed to impress him.
• It’s been a few days since you’ve printed a seasonal photo of the deer in Richmond Park. I hope they are all doing fine. Perhaps you could commission a photo of some really wild deer in Scotland. Then you wouldn’t need to crop out the dog-walkers. An otter would be nice.
Sir, Local government should be congratulated, not condemned. Your leader (“Reinventing government”, Jan 14) correctly states that funding for local government by 2016 “will have fallen by 37 per cent in real terms since 2010” — the largest reduction imposed on any part of the public sector.
We have faced up to this challenge. Local government has innovated, procured more services from the private sector and charities, and delivered an efficiency programme that has protected and improved our services. These measures have necessitated staff reductions, but the fact that we buy temporary staff through agencies has a purpose: using agency staff can have many advantages, allowing us to be flexible in the face of fluctuating demand, and keeping our permanent workforce to a minimum. Temporary staff avoid local government pension contributions, holiday and sickness entitlement and potential redundancy costs.
Recruiting frontline social workers is a national problem and we are all too heavily reliant on agency staff in this area out of necessity, not choice.
Local government is doing more than its fair share to help restore the public finances of this country.
Leader, Kent County Council
Sir, It should not be a shock that councils have been rehiring staff at an astronomical cost. This situation is true across government and is in no way confined to local authorities. This is borne out of officials prioritising short-term savings and failing to plan for long-term needs. Ultimately these savings come to naught because government departments and councils realise they need the resources they have cut, and that their cuts have been too deep. Lessons must be learnt. A lack of long-term planning cannot be allowed to happen again.
National chairman, Defence Police Federation
Sir, Local authorities have brought on themselves the problem of having to hire agency social workers.
Relatively low pay, crippling workloads and a culture of blame and bullying have created an intolerable environment. Agency social workers suffering this can walk away, and this freedom is often an attraction. If local authorities are going to avoid the expensive “revolving door” of agencies, they must treat their own workers better.
Sir, The explosion in the use of former staff as consultants is due to the tax advantages gained by charging via a private service company (PSC). These have a place in the economy for those who do short-term contracts for a variety of separate employers, but the rules should be enforced so that individuals whose income derives mainly from one source, even if on different projects, should be taxed under PAYE even if paid via a PSC. For many this would double the tax paid on such income.
Bishops Cleeve, Glos
Sir, One reason why so many former council staff work for agencies is that the standard council agreement covering voluntary redundancy contains a clause prohibiting staff from working for a council. Working for an agency is OK.
Woodford Green, Essex
Sir, You propose that local authorities involve charities and the private sector in the delivery of services. The novelty of this suggestion, at least as regards charities, is illusory: the National Assistance Act of 1948 made specific provision for the involvement of charities. It is sometimes worth looking back, in order to see forward.
Sir, The Nolan principles state that public services should be accountable and open. If a public service, for instance a parks department, is contracted out to a private provider, to whom are they accountable, shareholders or residents? People want local services to be accountable. They do not elect councillors to nod
through a series of private
Sir, We need to put the brakes on the idea that Britain is not safe for Jews (News, Jan 14). We are living in a wonderful time for British Jewry, and any suggestion to the contrary simply isn’t true. Yes, people are worried. But the results of the Campaign Against Antisemitism survey do not tally with the experiences of those I meet daily. Britain is not an antisemitic country. The idea that we are living in something resembling 1930s Europe is not credible. In Britain today, we have a government working with the community to combat antisemitism. Twenty-first century Britain is a great place to be a Jew.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
Sir, Apropos “Cancer deaths under 80 ‘will be eradicated’ ” (News, Jan 14), I wonder if I reached 85 too soon?
Dr Frank Newton
Sir, Pigs have much higher intelligence than cows, yet many of them are reared indoors. We readily eat bacon, ham, sausages and chops. What’s the difference between that and drinking indoor milk (Leader, Jan 10)?
Sir, David Terry’s letter (“My dear Wilson”, Jan 14) reminds me of the distinction in the Fifties and Sixties between amateur and professional cricketers.
Amateurs’ initials came before their names, professionals’ after. There was a splendid, and possibly apocryphal, announcement at Lord’s correcting a misprint in the scorecard – “for FJ Titmus read Titmus FJ”. Confusingly, in the light of Mr Terry’s letter, amateurs were accorded a title — Mr ER Dexter — but professionals not — Trueman FS.
Sir, It is not surprising that students with a degree and experience are the most prized by graduate recruiters (News, Jan 12). However, opportunities to get work experience are still too often limited by student means, or entered into via personal or family networks. This gives students from privileged backgrounds an unfair advantage.
Fairness could be achieved if universities developed partnerships with businesses to both embed internship into courses and to get companies’ input on the design of degree programmes.
Vice-principal, Pearson College, London WC2
In response to Telegraph’s articles on sexual assault at university, a group of politicians, students and victim support groups are demanding changes.
Twenty people have signed a letter asking for clearer policies, including eight cross-party MPs and representatives of the National Union of Students and Rape Crisis.
The Telegraph’s reported that one in three women experience sexual assault at university and told the stories of students who were not given proper support when attacked by a fellow student. Read the full letter of demands below:
SIR – As the deadline for Ucas applications arrives, we are appalled at the poor level of support that many universities give to those students who are sexually assaulted.
A Telegraph survey (report, January 14) found that one in three female students have been sexually assaulted, while a home office report in January 2013 found that full time students have an increased risk of experiencing sexual violence compared to other women.
But unlike employees, who are given clear protection from employers, many university students have no recourse other than the police when sexually assaulted by other students. Some universities refuse to investigate claims or discipline attackers, leaving students to study and live alongside their attackers. Many have poor counselling services, unclear policies on how the university will respond to sexual assault complaints, and no obvious member of staff who handles concerns about sexual assaults.
We are asking Universities UK to develop guidelines on how universities should respond to complaints of sexual assault. We’re calling on the Government to work with professionals in the sector to produce guidance on how universities should handle sexual assault. This would send a clear message to universities that sexual assault cannot be ignored, and must be addressed sensitively and thoroughly.
Toni Pearce, president of the National Union of Students
Katie Russell, spokeswoman for Rape Crisis
Sarah Green, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition
Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project
Dimitrina Petrova, chief executive of Equal Rights Trust
Mark Castle, chief executive of Victim Support
Claire Burke, founder of Respect Yourself
Professor Nicole Westmarland, Co-Director, Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse
Jeremy Todd, chief executive of Family Lives
Miranda Seymour-Smith, chief executive of The Fawcett Society
Michele Burman, professor of Criminology at University of Glasgow
Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North (Con)
Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for the City of Durham (Lab)
Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston (Lab)
Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge (Lib Dem)
Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West (Lib Dem)
John Leech, MP for Manchester Withington (Lib Dem)
Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow (Lab)
Yvette Cooper, shadow Home Secretary, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Lab)
Funding for cancer drugs; respecting religion; duty to the law over party politics; the new Creme Egg recipe, and the Dutch forger who fooled Hermann Goering
SIR – I read with sadness that 25 cancer drugs will no longer be available on the NHS, with the effects to be felt especially by those with breast, prostate and bowel cancer. What made me sadder, though, was the lack of attention drawn to the decision by the Cancer Drugs Fund to de-list Avastin for second-line treatment of advanced ovarian cancer.
This cancer affects 7,000 women in Britain each year, claiming a life every two hours. Despite this, awareness of symptoms is poor, leading to late diagnosis. Without a government-funded national symptoms awareness campaign, ovarian cancer will continue to be diagnosed late. At late stages there are few treatment options – and the CDF’s decision has reduced these further.
Women with ovarian cancer deserve access to the best treatments. We are calling for NHS England to work with pharmaceutical companies who make drugs like Avastin and new treatments such as Olaparib – a PARP inhibitor licensed by the EU but still unavailable in Britain – to make these treatments rapidly available to women who have so few choices.
Acting Chief Executive, Ovarian Cancer Action
SIR – Most cancer drugs are routinely funded outside of the Cancer Drugs Fund, which provides a supplementary funding route for a relatively small number of cancer drugs that would not be approved for NHS use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
The CDF’s budget will grow from £280 million in 2014/15 to an estimated £340 million from April 2015.
The de-listed drugs were assessed by a panel of independent experts, who considered effectiveness, quality of life and cost. None of the drugs showed evidence of prolonging life by more than three months, and many had nasty side effects with a serious impact on quality of life. If more evidence on clinical effectiveness or quality of life becomes available, the CDF would be happy to reconsider any treatment.
Any patient currently receiving a drug through the CDF will continue to receive it, and drugs which are the only therapy for the cancer in question will remain available. Also, clinicians can apply for a patient to receive a drug not available through the CDF on an exceptional basis.
Sean Duffy FRCS, FRCOG
National Clinical Director for Cancer
SIR – The NHS’s drug parsimony is not new. In 1979 my father, aged 73, died in a Merseyside hospital three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Due to his age, NHS rules allowed him only morphine. To avoid a similar fate, I moved to America.
I am now 70 and, thanks to access to good clinical care, in excellent health.
Jacksonville, Florida, USA
(Heathcliff O’Malley/The Telegraph)
SIR – Your correspondents who think that one is duty-bound to respect other people’s religious views are mistaken.
With religion, as with anything else, respect has to be earned. Many would find it difficult to respect a religion which regards women and gay people as inherently inferior; which believes that any questioning of its tenets is at best something that needs to be closed down and at worst tantamount to blasphemy and deserving of the death penalty.
This, of course, used to be a fair characterisation of Christianity. Fortunately this is, on the whole, no longer the case.
SIR – In Saudi Arabia, Raif Badawi, a blogger who created a liberal online forum, was convicted in May of insulting Islam and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes. He reportedly received the first 50 lashes in a flogging last week in Jeddah.
What action will our Government and the Prime Minister take to protest at this barbaric sentence – or will no action be taken in case we upset our commercial interests in that country?
SIR – Yesterday BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ran a piece with the reporter Sima Kotecha asking Muslims in Slough about the attack on Charlie Hebdo.
I was appalled to hear a supermarket manager expressing the view that, given the perceived insult to the prophet, while there would not be open rejoicing, few Muslims of his acquaintance would be mourning the killings in Paris.
Utterances of such callous statements cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. One can only hope the Slough man is wrong in his estimation of his fellow Muslims; one dreads to imagine what future awaits us if he is right.
Duty to the law must come before party politics
SIR – The Government fully deserves its chastisement by Peter Oborne for attacking the rule of law (“Hypocrites jumping aboard the Magna Carta bandwagon”).
The Cabinet contains the holder of a great, historic post who is under an explicit duty to protect the rule of law. That is the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling. Yet the legislation which he has brought forward in this Parliament has consistently attracted severe censure from the distinguished lawyers who advise the House of Lords as it goes about its work of scrutinising in detail Bills that emerge from the Justice Department.
The Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, of which I am a member, recently published a report on the office of Lord Chancellor, reviewing its position nearly 10 years after Tony Blair’s hasty, bungled reforms. In his evidence to the committee, Mr Grayling did not accept that, as Lord Chancellor, the defence of the rule of law rested ultimately with him alone. We therefore recommended that he should be instructed “to ensure that the rule of law is upheld within Cabinet and across Government”. We also recommended that, in future, the holder of the post should be a person “willing to speak up for that principle with ministerial colleagues, including the Prime Minister”.
Britain must have a Lord Chancellor who puts duty to the law above party politics.
SIR – Jacqueline Heywood’s seat-less commuting reminded me of a fellow passenger who, frustrated by the lack of courtesy on a crowded train, cried: “Are there no gentlemen in this carriage?” An elderly bowler-hatted gentleman peered over the top of his newspaper and replied: “Plenty of gentlemen, madam; just no seats.”
Barrow Street, Wiltshire
Long paper trail
SIR – John Butler’s sixth variant of the farmer’s guide to the new agricultural policy schemes, sent by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, weighs 1lb 14 oz.
My friend, a farmer, greeted me this week with: “Four foot seven inches”.
“What is?” I asked.
“The pile of documents on my office floor that Defra has sent me in 20 years,” he replied.
I dread to think of the weight and the cost – both financial and to trees – of producing all of this.
West Quantoxhead, Somerset
The Dutch forger who fooled Hermann Goering
A 2010 exhibition in Rotterdam of forgeries by Han Van Meegeren (AFP/Getty Images)
SIR – Next month, Dulwich Picture Gallery is to hang a fake painting in its gallery to see if visitors can spot the impostor.
During the Second World War, the Dutch painter and ingenious forger Han Van Meegeren sold fake Old Masters to the occupying Germans. His greatest triumph was a sale to Hermann Goering, a well-known collector. After the war, Van Meegeren was charged with collaboration, because officials thought he had sold Dutch cultural property to the Nazis. The charge carried a potential death sentence.
No one believed he could have fooled Goering — so he painted a “Vermeer” before official witnesses.
Eggs for Ed
SIR – Changing the Creme Egg recipe is an outrageous attack on the nation’s cultural heritage that must not be tolerated. Though I have never supported socialism, if Mr Miliband were to pledge to nationalise Cadbury’s, I would have to give serious consideration to voting for him.
Dr Bertie Dockerill
Shildon, County Durham
SIR – Who is going to tell Evan Davis, presenter of Newsnight, to unbutton his jacket when he sits down?
Gomersal, West Yorkshire
SIR – I have just filled out my tax return online. The confirmation reference number I was given has 6 numbers and 26 letters. If you count every grain of sand on Earth, and then count and add every single drop of water on Earth, and repeat this 20 times, the total is roughly the same as the permutations that my reference number gives.
Even more puzzling is why the Government wastes my tax paying for Google ads when its website is the top search result anyway.
SIR – In December I received a tax demand from HMRC. On page three of four was the amount owed: £0.04.
Globe and Mail:
Sir, – Dr Brendan McCann (January 15th) generously acknowledges the contribution of general practice in preventing emergency admissions to hospital. He makes the widely accepted point that primary care is cheaper than hospital care. The King’s Fund health research charity has calculated that seeing a GP costs £31, attending an emergency department costs £114 and the ambulance that takes the patient there costs £235 a journey.
While these are UK prices, they are likely to bear up here in Ireland. I look forward to the time when our ambulance colleagues can triage appropriate patients into well-equipped primary care and out-of-hours centres as we need more options for urgent care that is not yet an emergency or may never become one. This would be an appropriate healthcare experiment for our system to plan facing into next winter. There is a large health services research literature developing on urgent and emergency care and all of which points to problems in the broad system rather than in one area. Merely fixing one area will not do it. – Yours, etc,
TOM O’DOWD, MD
Professor of General
Trinity College Dublin,
Sir, – There has been much discourse in recent days regarding the crisis on trolleys. The Trojan work carried out by all of the staff of emergency units throughout the country during the increased pressure and congestion of the last weeks has undoubtedly saved many lives.
The needs of patients who are acutely unwell, who will not recover without the aid of medical intervention, who are beyond the scope of what general practice can deliver, are best served by our colleagues in emergency departments throughout the country.
The levels of congestion, peaking at over 600 on trollies in previous weeks, is as a result of a logjam in the system, the occupation of hospital beds by those who are medically discharged but for whom the appropriate step-down or home supports are not available. Increased resourcing would help alleviate this to some extent. Of course, better homecare packages and a robust and responsive Fair Deal scheme would help.
But what of those presenting acutely unwell? Acute injury due to some form of trauma is hard to prevent. The congested lungs of inefficient hearts, the strokes that arise from gradually accumulating clots dispersed by abnormal heart rhythms, the wheeze and breathlessness of clogged and damaged airways, the damaged toes and retinas of diabetes, the pale, pulseless limbs arising from hardened arteries are the acute manifestations of chronic poor health. At this stage of their illness patients appropriately arrive into the acute medical service, sometimes via emergency departments but ideally through acute medical assessment units.
General practice within a functional primary care framework is where chronic diseases are prevented, or if they exist already, their worst effects are mitigated. Resourcing general practice and primary care, concentrating on chronic disease management, gives us the best chance of reducing some of the burden on the hospitals, but more importantly saving patients the shattering distress of trolley-based care.
We recognise that this will take years and perhaps even a decade to have an effect but as well as trying to solve this year’s crisis we must look to the future and invest now in reducing unplanned admissions.
Like the arbitrary threshold which determines a “crisis in trolley numbers”, the acute catches the attention. Concentrating on the chronic is required if we are to stem the erosion of dignity, health and resources. – Yours, etc,
Dr DARACH Ó CIARDHA,
of General Practitioners,
4/5 Lincoln Place,
Sir, – The debate on the emergency department overcrowding crisis in the letters page has generally been very informed and constructive. However some of the comments made in yesterday’s Irish Times expose a conflict of opinion that highlights the different views that hospital-based specialists and community-based generalists have on the health system.
It is generally accepted that different levels of analysis can yield different perspectives. Our hospital colleagues are excellent at focusing on diseases, illness and obvious disabilities and providing care for those issues in an isolated problem-orientated fashion.
In general practice we deal more with complexity and uncertainty. We utilise the knowledge we have of our patient’s medical, family, social and psychological history that is developed by having a trusting, ongoing relationship with the individual to provide personalised, patient-centred care.
The paradox of primary care is that while specialist care for individual diseases might be rated a higher quality than general practice led-care, overall patient outcomes are much better and more equitable with a lower spend on resources if a GP is the principal doctor.
It has been well proven in many reputable studies over the last two decades involving millions of patients on both sides of the Atlantic that increasing the number of GPs servicing a population reduces the death rate in that community. It also reduces the rate of out-patient attendances, emergency department attendances and, with the rare exception, in-patient admissions. The data also confirms that if a patient can get to see their own personal GP, it accentuates these benefits.
Having a specialist knowledge of diseases and illnesses in the absence of a personal knowledge of the patient increases the chance that the decision-maker will admit the patient to hospital.
There is a lot of US data on the numbers of unnecessary inpatient deaths annually due to medical errors. These are predominantly due to medication errors in emergency departments and acute admissions. No doubt the stresses that our health system is currently being exposed to will increase the chance of such a negative event. Shouldn’t we be trying to reduce these risks to our patients? – Yours, etc,
Dr WILLIAM BEHAN,
Sir, –The vast majority of front-line staff in the National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade have already received a significant level of formal and on-the-job training in addition to the professional experience gained since qualification and, as a result, they already have the training required to refer patients to the most appropriate care pathway (primary care/GP, self-care or emergency department) but are simply not permitted to do so by ambulance service management.
Married to the protocols issued by the regulators for pre-hospital care (the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council), National Ambulance Service and Dublin Fire Brigade staff are left with very little option than to bring the vast majority of patients to an emergency department.
What is needed is for the protocols issued by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council to change their emphasis from transporting patients to “discharge” or “refer to appropriate healthcare provider” where appropriate and for ambulance service management to empower and give confidence to their staff to make the most appropriate decision for the patient.
Several volunteer organisations such as St John Ambulance and the Order of Malta have trained the public and their members to refer or transport a patient to an emergency department only if necessary. Despite the lesser experience and qualifications of the majority of these volunteers, this approach has served those unlucky enough to need their assistance for over 100 years.
Perhaps the professionals can take a leaf from their book? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It is right to raise the issue of positioning of ambulance stations as a crucial factor in the delivery time of sick patients to our hospitals and a perusal of the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council regional maps of this issue will show that a poor turnaround time is not unique to the west of Ireland. It is wrong, however, to presume that the quality of healthcare can be the same in rural areas compared to large urban areas and this gap will widen as many new treatments, as in stroke care, for example, become a reality .
I remember this debate in Leeds with the closure of a rural Yorkshire emergency department whereupon my mentor remarked that “if you live up the dales, you live up the dales – beautiful scenery, no traffic, little crime but not as good healthcare”. It’s time we stopped being disingenuous to the public. It is simply not possible to deliver many time-dependent high- tech treatments to rural areas efficiently or at all. It’s not popular to say so, but it is a fact. – Yours, etc,
RONAN COLLINS, MD
Rathgar, Dublin 14.
Sir, – Today, as always, the people of Ireland stand united with the people of France.
With thousands of messages of solidarity with France, the people of Ireland immediately reacted to the horror of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Thousands joined the French community in marches, gatherings, vigils in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. From Ballina to Cavan, Dún Laoghaire, Waterford, Wexford, Longford, Kilkenny, Killarney and Portlaoise, to name but a few, letters, cards – many in French – flowers and children’s drawings illustrated the deep bonds between our two countries and our people around shared values.
The barbaric attacks were aimed at making all of us fear, feel disoriented, disunited.
Together with the people of France, the people of Ireland have sent a very clear response.
Not only shall we not be afraid but we are ready, each of us, to rise and stand in active support of freedom, in support of our journalists and policemen, to fight for the values that are core to our societies.
Your messages, the support of President Michael D Higgins, the presence of the Taoiseach at the head of the republican march which gathered millions in Paris, the strong expression of solidarity by all the leaders of the parties in Dáil Éireann during a solemn session, the moving mobilisation of the representatives of all faiths at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, they all express the particular depth of the relation between Ireland and France, our common belief in the values of liberty, equality, fraternity and our joint commitment for peace and tolerance.
Je vous remercie de tout mon coeur. – Yours, etc,
Ambassador of France
Sir, – Like it or not, this is one of the biggest stories of our decade. The images are central to the story and readers should be allowed to make up their own minds.
The decision of The Irish Times not to publish is based on a view with a very low horizon.
A thousand years ago images of Jesus were destroyed for fear these images would became subject to idolatry. Their destruction was not about image-making per se. It was about the perception of the use of such images. Hence we have the modern word “iconoclastic” (“image breaking”). These were fears belonging to their own time and are not fears pertinent to this time. “Iconoclastic” Christian and Muslim images on manuscripts are periodically on display in the great museums of the world. Everyone should be more informed about the meanings of images, both Christians and Muslims. Images should not be hidden and should be discussed, even if they are satirical scribblings.
I would have preferred if The Irish Times had printed the cartoons and justified it with an unequivocal defence of free speech.
Now I am off to my local newsagent to pick up the latest copy of Charlie Hebdo (ordered last week due to demand) to make up my own mind. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Your decision not to republish the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons was measured, reasonable and, above all, sane. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Charlie Hebdo is an obnoxious publication which seeks to give maximum offence to people of faith. Puerile comics are best ignored by people of faith. God cannot be harmed by the blasphemies of mere mortals. Tragically, this was not the approach taken by fanatics claiming to act in the name of Islam. When impiety and militant secularism becomes strident and when it scoffs loudly, the response of Catholics and their fellow Christians must be to maintain calmly, and all the more insistently, the truths of the faith without compromise. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In your editorial of January 10th, you describe the prospect of Northern Ireland’s devolved taxation powers as “a powerful new tool to attract investment”.
Stormont’s problem in trying to capitalise on that will be the undevolved political powers that will inhibit such investment, including David Cameron’s promise to hold a referendum on the UK leaving the EU.
Why build a factory in Derry and risk your access to markets being restricted by customs tariffs if the UK leaves, when you can locate 30km away in Letterkenny and benefit from an economy firmly locked into the EU family? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The reduction of the rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland will certainly be welcomed by existing businesses as they will pay less tax and it probably would help to attract more inward investment in the longer term.
However, lowering corporation tax will come at considerable cost as it involves a major reduction in the annual block grant transferred by the London treasury to Stormont. If the rate is reduced to 12.5 per cent, the chancellor of the exchequer has suggested that the transfer of funds to Stormont could be reduced by up to £400 million per annum.
This inevitably will mean that Stormont will have to reduce public expenditure in areas such as schools, hospitals, welfare or agriculture grants. So the ordinary people will suffer as existing businesses enjoy paying less tax.
It is surprising that there has been no comment from the health sector, teachers or farmers. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – Further to “Tribunal drops ‘obstruction’ findings” (Front Page, January 15th), that’s good news for Ray Burke, then, and lots of others apparently. It was big of the Mahon tribunal to apologise. But, as usual, it is the taxpayers who are left carrying the can. Who is going to apologise to them? – Is mise,
Sir, – Observing the process of divestment of school patronage from religious institutions is like watching an uphill slow bicycle race on a glacier. Apart from the two Catholic schools which merged in Dublin 8 to create a vacant building for Educate Together, to date just one school – a Church of Ireland primary school in Co Mayo – has been transferred to another patron.
Pouring water onto the already slippery slope, Rev Patrick Burke (January 12th) writes that the “the people on the ground aren’t as keen; in fact the reason that the idea isn’t progressing is because of ‘huge local hostility’”.
How does Rev Burke square this claim with the results of the 2012 Department of Education surveys which showed parental demand for change of patron in 28 of the 43 areas surveyed? (“‘Catholic first’ school admissions policies may be illegal, January 3rd). Less water and more progress please. – Yours, etc,
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.
Sir, – For years, the origins of the wealth of former taoiseach Charles J Haughey has been a great wonder and puzzlement to a great many people.
To me, it was never a wonder at all. It was always crystal clear.
Back in October 1987, I sent a letter to the then taoiseach, with a helpful little piece of advice to him that successfully running the country was no gambling matter.
To add impact to my message, I enclosed a lottery ticket for him to use if he ever wanted to have a flutter. I mentioned in passing to him that while the odds were greatly against it, this lottery ticket gift of mine might – just might – turn out to be a lucky winner for him.
Shortly afterwards I received a letter, dated November 18th, 1987, from the office of the taoiseach, and signed by his private secretary, which read as follows:
“Dear Mr Hayes-McCoy, – The Taoiseach, Mr Charles J Haughey, TD, has asked me to thank you for your letter of October 28th, and for your lottery ticket. The Taoiseach greatly appreciates your kind offer of assistance and he will bear this in mind.”
All of which goes to explain why there has never been any doubt in my mind as to where Mr Haughey’s legendary millions originated. – Yours, etc,
Sandymount Road, Dublin 4.
With thousands of messages of solidarity with France, the people of Ireland immediately reacted to the horror of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Published 16/01/2015 | 02:30
With thousands of messages of solidarity with France, the people of Ireland immediately reacted to the horror of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Thousands joined the French community in marches, gatherings and vigils in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. From Ballina to Cavan, Dun Laoghaire, Waterford, Wexford, Longford, Kilkenny, Killarney, Portlaoise, to name but a few, letters, cards – many in French – flowers, and children’s drawings illustrated the deep bonds between our two countries, our people, around shared values.
The barbaric attacks were aimed at making all of us feel fear, and feel disoriented, disunited.
Together with the people of France, the people of Ireland have sent a very clear response.
Not only shall we not be afraid but we are ready, each of us, to rise and stand in active support of freedom, in support of our journalists and policemen, to fight for the values that are core to our societies.
Your messages, the support of President Michael D Higgins, the presence of the Taoiseach at the helm of the republican march which gathered millions in Paris, the strong expression of solidarity by all the leaders of the parties in Dail Eireann during a solemn session, the moving mobilisation of the representatives of all faiths at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral – they all express the particular depth of the relations between Ireland and France, our common belief in the values of liberty, equality and fraternity and our joint commitment for peace and tolerance.
Je vous remercie de tout mon coeur.
Ambassador of France to Ireland
Confront ‘merchants of death’
The Holy Book of the Koran reads: “God states …’If anyone kills another soul unless the soul is causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had slain all mankind’.” (Koran 5:32).
The Christian Bible tells us: “Thou shalt not kill.” But then Christianity goes on to say “…unless it is in a war that is considered ‘just'”.
So both religions say it is wrong to kill unless the enemy is “corrupting the earth” or the enemy is unjust.”
Incidentally, when will the issue of those ‘merchants of death’ who manufacture the weapons of death and destruction and make massive profits from governments around the world be brought into the conversation regarding modern-day warfare?
Vincent J Lavery
Irish Free Speech Movement
Dalkey, Co Dublin
Don’t republish insulting images
After rightfully condemning the terror attacks in Paris, Dr Ali Selim stated that he would seek legal advice if any sources in the Irish media published, or republished, an insulting image of the Prophet Mohammed.
This responsible act should be welcomed rather than berated. If an Irish media source knows that there will be a measured response to the publication of an insulting satirical image then perhaps it will think before it prints.
On the other hand, if a senior Irish Islamic scholar is seen to be stepping up to defend a deeply held religious position in face of a worldwide outcry in defence of “democracy and free speech” then fanatical elements will also have reason to refrain from knee- jerk reactions.
The question we should all ask ourselves is, what kind of society could possibly emerge when people request free rein to knowingly incite other sections of their community?
Menlo, Co Galway
Spike in hospital emergencies
I listened with interest to several interviews with Health Minister Leo Varadkar. He dealt with the situation as it was and not as he would wish it to be, as his predecessor did. In each interview three issues arose. 1. Hospitals having to cancel elective surgery; 2. The changeover of junior doctors in January with the consequent lack of continuity; and 3. Patients not being discharged at weekends.
As this spike in hospital emergencies occurs at this time every year, surely it is a ‘no-brainer’ to: 1. Don’t plan elective surgery for January; 2. Change the date of junior doctor changeover or only change half the number at one time; and 3. Like all other crucial public services, i.e. ESB, gas, transport, etc, discharges should take place on a seven-day week basis. Weekend discharge would also be more convenient for most families.
Don’t joke over President’s height
Impressionist Oliver Callan’s jousting with Mark Patrick Hederman on RTE’s ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ radio show on January 12, over the Abbot of Glenstal Abbey’s objection to the lampooning of President Michael D Higgins’s physical attributes, made for rather painful listening.
Not that I entirely agree with Abbot Hederman, but I do sympathise a little with his argument that Michael D’s short stature – something he can do nothing about – should not attract relentless comedic attention.
Empathising with Abbot Hederman is not a matter of religious allegiance for me; it’s just that I’ve long come under the spell of the abbot’s quasi-mystical persona from afar!
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
Exercise did not help my ME
As an ME/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patient who has tried Graded Exercise Therapy (GET), I was deeply upset to read the article ‘Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome ‘can benefit from exercise” (Irish Independent, January 14).
In fact, GET made me worse, not better.
You see, ME patients suffer from a range of symptoms, one of which is Post Exercise Malaise (PEM), where a patient’s body “crashes” after mental and physical exercise.
The extent of PEM differs between patients, as ME/CFS presents itself in mild to moderate to severe in form. Those severely affected are bedridden.
I can’t and won’t speak for other ME/CFS patients, but I can speak for myself, as a patient who has lived with this debilitating condition for over three years (I contracted it when I was 30 years old).
My symptoms range from debilitating fatigue, nausea, lack of concentration, PEM, sore throat, sore ears, muscle pain, joint pain, swollen glands, electric shocks in my fingers, torso spasms and insomnia. Different days throw up a differing variety of symptoms.
If GET did cure ME/CFS, I’d be better by now, having tried a programme under the supervision of a consultant for 18 months.
Instead of increasing exercise, we had to pull back on my exercise, as my body continually crashed.
As a regular reader of your paper, I encourage your journalists to further investigate ME/CFS and look forward to reading well-founded articles concerning research in the field of ME/CFS.
Marie Hanna Curran
Colmanstown, Co Galway
Farming out our problems
While drinking tea in a pub, I met a farmer who I took to be about 65, without asking him his age.
He told me that he had been sent to “help out” on his childless uncle’s farm, a day’s travel away, when he was seven years old, as his own family’s farm was too small to be eventually divided between himself and his brother, and he was the sibling chosen, thus solving two problems at one stroke.
This got me thinking about Enda Kenny’s “great little country to live in” remark, over half a century later.
These days, remarkable progress has been made in that we now see so many people emigrate instead, to some other state, far, far away -some galaxy, if our betters could arrange it, as out of sight and mind is a damn sight better than the opposite.
It turns out that the gentlemen in question was actually a bachelor of 80, which goes to show how deceptive appearances can be.
I did not have the heart to ask the farmer if some relation had been sent to help him.
Ballina, Co Mayo