I greatly enjoy walking the dog in the Castle Grounds. Until recently, that is.
Now, it has become a form of torture, as I pass charred mature trees – the result of the rhododendron burning programme that has been going on, in the name of the Stornoway Trust, I presume.
We know that the non-native rhododendron is a plague which is threatening to suffocate everything else. This has to be dealt with. But if you or I set fires resulting in the unspeakably sad damage that as is there for all to see now, we would be charged with vandalism.
It’s not as if we had not been there before: the dead trees resulting from last year’s burnings are witness to that. If lessons were learned then, they have not been passed on to those who are presently stacking up cut rhododendron wood round about tall, mature trees, and setting fire to it and them!
How anyone can think that a tree can survive being cooked in this manner is beyond me.
And why is anyone starting any kind of fire on a day like Thursday, 26th June, when an extremely stiff Easterly wind was fanning the flames, and carrying embers all over to start more unplanned fires?
When I speak to people about it, the blame game starts. It is always someone else’s fault that the right thing is not being done.
But, what is done is done. What I want, is for the burning to STOP. Now! And never restart again. Before we end up helping the rhododendron to destroy our heritage.
Can no one in authority be found to end this process, and find a better one? Can it be that no one really cares?
What are visitors to the island going to think of a people who cannot manage to preserve the only mature woodland they have?
Please, for pity’s sake, can someone somewhere do something to end this irresponsible madness.
If the cringeworthy uniform to be worn by Scots competitors at the Commonwealth Games is an example of Scottish decision making, it will do much to swell the ‘No’ vote in the Independence Referendum. Frankly, one would not do this to a sofa!
John Eoin Douglas
7 Spey Terrace
In recent weeks I have read one or two readers defining tradition in spiritual beliefs as meaningless.
We all surely know that all tradition is not meaningless, as many of the traditions carry good values and principles.
We have to find balances in many areas of life, and spirituality is not alone here.
So, best not to throw these constructive qualities out with the bathwater, just for the sake of seeking out rights and wrongs on any issue, or subjects that come to our weak natured, tunnel visioned minds.
God’s blessings to all, he who works in mysterious ways, and that us humans do not seem to be able to interpret very well.
Aonghas Eoghainn Mhoir,
Gearraidh na Monaidh,
Uibhist a Deas
Ghost of Mrs Thatcher
At next year’s elections for Westminster, there will be a simple choice; either we elect a Tory or a Labour Government.
But before that we have another choice – a Referendum on the question of Scottish Independence.
The present Conservative Government have drastically cut the social security safety net, and this has hit the most vulnerable in our society.
At the same time they have supported the London bankers who recently voted themselves massive 35% increases in bonuses, and are taking legal action to try and stop the EU from restricting bankers’ bonuses to one year’s salary.
The recent rise in UKIP will push Tory policies still further to the right, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a pact is formed between themselves and UKIP before next year’s Westminster elections.
If the Tories win, as I expect they will, the ghost of Mrs Thatcher will return to haunt Scotland, unless we vote YES for Independence on the 18th.
During the Thatcher era we had 50 Labour MPs at Westminster, powerless to do anything about the devastation of Scottish industries which were taking place.
With the Tories set to mop up most of the Liberal Democrat seats in England at next year’s election, even in the remote possibility of Labour winning every seat in Scotland, Scots would still be under the yoke of a right-wing government which we didn’t elect.
It is known that so far only 30% of the proposed cuts have been instigated, the very worst is yet to come and our people are already dying.
That prospect makes me more determined than ever to vote YES at the forthcoming Referendum on Independence.
13 Kings Court,
Beauly IV4 7GG
As a Coalition of leading independent and third sector providers of children’s services we are delighted to see the Scottish Government investing an additional £4.5million to increase young people’s skills and training opportunities in its response to the Commission report led by Sir Ian Wood on getting young people into training and employment.
We particularly welcome that this investment includes plans to assist young people with additional support needs (ASN) to gain better access training and employment programmes, as well as a commitment to improving the lives and prospects of care leavers.
Young people with ASN are nearly four times more likely to be unemployed than their wider peer group.
They are more likely to die prematurely, be unemployed, be addicted to drugs or alcohol and be imprisoned.
We further welcome the proposals for foundation apprenticeship pilot programmes and greater collaboration between schools, colleges and local authorities.
The introduction of programmes like this will provide the vulnerable groups that we work with, many of whom boast excellent skills, with the ‘work ready’ skills and abilities necessary for them to be able to enter into sustainable employment.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition