Obey all the rules

Migrants should be acquainted with the law – it’s common sense

Women who immigrate to Ireland – we are informed by the Irish Family Planning Association – are unable to travel outside of the country to obtain abortions. The obstacles in their way are “insurmountable”, says the IFPA.

There’s an element of cart before horse in this claim. If you are migrating to another country, one of the first things you need to do is acquaint yourself with the law of the land. If you move to the United States, be aware that you cannot, in most states, enter a bar and buy alcoholic liquor under the age of 21. If you move to Sweden, be informed that Swedish law forbids men to buy women for sexual services. Sweden is also draconian in prohibiting cannabis, and you may be handed a custodial sentence if you trade in it. By the same token, if you are coming to Ireland, understand that abortion on demand is not the law in this land.

Any immigrant woman with a problem pregnancy needs help and support, for sure. But if anyone seeks immigration rights or asylum in the Republic of Ireland, it is only common sense that the law should be clearly explained.


Christmas revival of home-knitted jumpers

Little Prince George – Kate and William’s16-month old son – has been photographed wearing a fetching home-knitted jumper. I hope this will prompt a fashionable revival of home-knitted clothes for young children, in place of the artificial fabrics which have so predominated.

It would be good news for the Irish garment industry, whose home knits are so outstanding in quality. Mrs Kitty Joyce, who died last month aged 84, was a pioneer of such organic clothes, woven in tweeds and wool, in her shop Cleo in Dublin’s Kildare Street. I purchased a similar gansey there recently for my grandson – knitted and designed in Ireland with Irish wool and even prettier, I think, than Prince George’s!


Cheques are under threat of extinction

2014 draws to a close and the cheque has still survived, against all the efforts of the big banks to have it abolished. The banks don’t like the cheque as it makes work for bankers, poor darlings.

I am glad that the cheque has not yet been quite killed off, although it is constantly placed in death row. Cheques are extremely useful to anyone doing business in a small way. They can be a boon to charities – in Britain, it was mainly the protests coming from charity organisations which stayed the hand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer from making the cheque officially redundant. Charities would lose considerable revenue without cheques. The BBC broadcasts a weekly “good cause” appeal, and when eliciting financial support, donors are given the choice of contributing by cheque.

A cheque is safe: nobody is going to “hack into” your cheque. It can be photocopied as proof of payment. If lost, it can be cancelled and re-issued. Friends can share the cost of an outing by popping a cheque in the post – say you’ve gone out to a meal in a group and someone wants to offer to pay a share. For any writer, a modest royalty cheque is always welcome.

For older people who feel vulnerable to break-ins and burglaries, it is a comfort to be able to pay small bills by cheque, without stashing large sums of cash in the house. When it comes to popping my Christmas dues in the collection box, I still write a cheque.

The cheque may be considered archaic by the powers that be, and each year is threatened with extinction, but I hope it will hang on for a while yet. Maybe like the gramophone record – which has seen a revival recently – it may even come back into fashion.