Gazette Letter 16.01.14

Reader Tommy Stewart took advantage of the lovely winter weather and stunning sunsets over the islands last week, with a photograph of Tiumpan Head lighthouse looking over to the mainland hills
Reader Tommy Stewart took advantage of the lovely winter weather and stunning sunsets over the islands last week, with a photograph of Tiumpan Head lighthouse looking over to the mainland hills

Lewis and Harris Select

May I congratulate Eric MacKinnon on his excellent feature with photos ‘The History of the Lewis and Harris Select’ offering over the last few weeks.

As a former football and sport correspondent in Kinlochleven from the age of 12 onwards, as I recall it the delectable setting in which the spacious Island Park, with its mountainous backdrop and along the shores of Loch Leven, never did host any of the big clubs - instead, sporting celebrities attracted to Kinloch seemed to emanate from the athletics track, such as the reputed Kinlochleven Highland Games.

Lachie Stewart, Ian Stewart and others competed, and at the other end of the scale a breathless and wheezing man from ‘The Sunday Post’, who came in a proud last in the gruelling Mamore Hill Race.

Eric MacKinnon’s article also included the Uist and Barra Select; I recall previous Scottish Cup winners St Mirren being invited over and the Select with their own special brand of poetic and expressive island football only narrowly losing 1 - 0 to Saints through a late goal.

Prior to that Rangers had sent a strong squad to play North Uist during the close season and got into trouble with the SFA as a result, as they had not sought permission to do so!

I recall the then North Uist manager, the late painter and decorator Donald John MacLean from Lochmaddy - a mate and fellow Rangers die-hard - saying that he had a shock when he saw all the familiar first team faces disembarking from the plane at Balivanich, as the club had really only expected a youth/reserve squad to be sent out!

As it happened Rangers treated the match as anything but a ‘friendly’, fighting for every ball and using some coarse, colourful language in the process, which marred things a bit and which seemed to display a superior attitude, which as undesirable to spectators.

The story goes that two old timers met up in Uist the morning following the match and one enquired of the other as to the result. He was told 13 - 1 to which he replied “Who for?”

Correct me if I am wrong, but was the North Uist goal scored by loyal Rangers fan John Angus MacDonald from the penalty shot, with Ally Dawson cautioned for the offence leading to it? Apologies if I am incorrect there.

I do hope the big clubs continue to come to the islands in future, as I’m sure they will. Here in the Uists there is always good talent with excellent facilities available to nurture this from an early age.

I see pupils from Balinanich Primary School parading their skills on a flood-lit school pitch on dark evenings which is very encouraging to observe.

Iain Frew.

9 Winfield Close


Benbecula HS7 5LQ

Paying the debt

I wonder as to why the Treasury suddenly offers to pay all of the £1.3 Trillion UK debt leaving an independent Scotland with a clean sheet. Could there be a sting in the tail?

Westminster obviously believes that Scotland’s fair share of UK assets, home and abroad, genuinely exceeds that of UK £1.3 Trillion debt!

That would not look good in the eyes of the world that would deem it as ‘deliberately cheating ‘

Donald J. Morrison,

20 Haig St.Portknockie,


AB56 4NT

Answer to letter

Mr Donald Mackay’s answer ( letters 9/1/14) to my previous week’s question about the role justice and fairness play in God’s predestined selection of the ‘elect’ and ‘damned’ is that they play no role whatsoever, and thinks it foolish, absurd and impertinent of me to even ask such a question.

He compares my query to a sheep asking its crofter owner why it’s being sent to the slaughterhouse, while its flock-mates are allowed to graze on lush pastures for all of eternity.

Well this sheep is still bleating, Mr Mackay, this time about the contradictions expressed in your letter.

Being a Christian, Donald Mackay presumably believes God created human beings in his own image. So where does he believe “puny, fallen man’s” high ideals of fairness and justice came from, if not from God ?

Therefore anyone expressing such concerns would be reflecting those of their maker, while those ambivalent to any sense of fairness or justice would be dishonouring their maker.

Though it’s with the following quote that Mr Mackay really tangles himself up in theological knots: “Complaining about the doctrine of predestination while rejecting the free offer of salvation in Christ would have the most stupid sheep take that man for a fool.”

But according to Mr Mackay’s own reasoning, the only person who could reject such an offer would be one who was predestined to do so.

God would have had to create that man a fool, and many others like him.

This would be a rather perverted inheritance from any loving God to his children.

To complicate matters further in this already complex subject, Mr Mackay’s interpretation of predestination is not shared by the majority of his fellow believers, who offer this alternative version: An omnipotent God has allowed each of us sufficient free will to do good or ill.

Being also omnipresent, God can project himself into the future, and already knows each thought and deed of every person who ever existed.

It was on this fore-knowledge at the dawn of creation that he based his selection of the ‘elect’ and ‘damned’

Debating the relative philosophical and theological pros and cons of the two versions of predestination could fill 100 Stornoway Gazettes without reaching a satisfactory conclusion in the eyes of many.

So I’ll speak no more of the subject except to say to each reader (including Mr Donald Mackay) that whichever lane, if any, of the predestined road you believe yourself to be travelling on, may your God go with you.

Iain M Macdonald



Thinking of others

If any of your readers are planning on making New Year’s resolutions this year, I’d like to make a suggestion. Maybe now is the time for us to look beyond our own lives and think about what we can do to help others.

As we emerge refreshed from the Christmas break, please spare a thought for all those who were unable to take any time off at all. For people with disabilities and those who care for them, Christmas was most likely the same as any other time of year – a hard, unrelenting struggle just to get through the day.

Did you know that two thirds of carers did not get any time off at all this Christmas and four out of ten have not taken a single day off from caring in the last year? This impossible situation is driving them to their wits’ end. Just imagine yourself in their position – how would it make you feel?

I work for a fantastic charity called Vitalise, and I’d like to offer your readers the chance to do something really rewarding in 2014. Vitalise provides desperately needed respite breaks for people with severe disabilities and their carers. the breaks they take at our accessible centres around the UK enable them to regain their strength and restore their ability to cope.

To find out more log on to: or call 0303 303 0147.

Colin Brook, Vitalise