17 January 2008 Edition

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Mála Poist

Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected] No attachments please

The unreal Enda Kenny

WAS Enda Kenny serious when he asked Brian Cowen to oust Bertie Ahern as leader of Fianna Fáil?
Cowen has already been annointed by Bertie as the next Fianna Fáil leader (and therefore Taoiseach) so why on earth would he upset the Fianna Fáil faithful (and Bertie) by even appearing to jump when a Fine Gael leader told him to?
Fine Gael cannot be taken seriously.
Dublin 12

 New book on Fidel

THOSE READERS who enjoyed Sean O Floinn’s profile of Fidel Castro in the December 20 issue of An Phoblacht might be interested in the recently published book entitled My Life: Fidel Castro (published by Penguin). Based on more than 100 hours of conversation between Castro and Ignacio Ramonet, editor of the French magazine Le Monde Diplomatique, the book covers everything from Castro’s early years to the guerilla struggle against Batista and from his reflections on Che Guevara to the most recent developments in the Cuban revolution.
Ramonet explains that “one of the objectives of these conversations with Fidel Castro was to allow one of the most implacably attacked figures in the world of the last fifty years, and at the same time one of the most censored, to have his say, to make his argument to the world.” He adds that “at no time...did Fidel put any limit on the questions or issues that we could discuss.”
The question and answer format of the book provides a rare insight into the ideas and opinions of Fidel Castro and the historical experience of Cuba’s socialist revolution.
 Jim Upton,
Montreal, Quebec.

Solar, not nuclear

In connection with the British Government’s recent announcement about nuclear power, there is absolutely no need for nuclear power in the Britain (or anywhere else in Europe) because there is a simple mature technology that can deliver huge amounts of clean energy without any of the headaches of nuclear power.
I refer to ‘concentrating solar power’ (CSP), the technique of concentrating sunlight using mirrors to create heat, and then using the heat to raise steam and drive turbines and generators, just like a conventional power station. It is possible to store solar heat in melted salts so that electricity generation may continue through the night or on cloudy days. This technology has been generating electricity successfully in California since 1985 and currently provides power for about 100,000 Californian homes. CSP plants are now being planned or built in many parts of the world.
CSP works best in hot deserts and, of course, there are not many of these in Europe! But it is feasible and economic to transmit solar electricity over very long distances using highly-efficient ‘HVDC’ transmission lines. With transmission losses at about 3% per 1000 km, solar electricity may, for example, be transmitted from North Africa to London with only about 10% loss of power. A large-scale HVDC transmission grid has also been proposed by the wind energy company Airtricity as a means of optimising the use of wind power throughout Europe.
The potential is absolutely massive. Less than 1% of the world’s hot deserts could produce as much electricity as the world currently consumes. A report from the American Solar Energy Society says that CSP plants in the south western states of the US “could provide nearly 7,000 GW of capacity, or about seven times the current total US electric capacity”.
Coordinator of TREC-UK,

Synthetic accents

Is it just me, or are others also appaled at the spread of a new synthetic mid-Atlantic accent across Ireland? While the phenomenon seems over the past few years to have been particularly prevalent among younger people, particularly girls, it now seems to have carried up the age ladder.
For many years the makey-up ‘Dort’ accent was confined to certain parts of Dublin but this is no longer the case and this awful blight now afflicts many parts of the country.
For centuries, the English spoken in Ireland has enjoyed a diversity of beautiful local accents, many of them influenced by the Irish language. These gently shifted in intonation as one travelled from county to county. The latest development is a shame that threatens to replace this rich tapestry with a boring monoculture, influenced presumably by a surfeit of American TV programmes.
On the same issue it appears to be the policy of RTÉ, not to promote regional accents and to make all its announcers etc. conform to one ‘RTÉ accent’, which nobody in the real world that I know ever speaks. One might expect this from the official broadcasters of former imperial powers, like the BBC, but even the British stations no longer restrict themselves to upper class accents of Oxford and Cambridge and now actively promote presenters with north of England, Welsh and Scottish accents. A further example of the slavish neo-colonial mentality and lack of imagination that is the stock in trade of ‘the national broadcaster’.
Baile Átha Cliath 3.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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