Gazette Letter 30.10.14

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The Picture of the week in our ‘Beautiful Islands’ feature is an image of the ruins of St Columba’s Church, Aignish by Chris Murray.

If you would like to contribute your photos, email: Include your name, address, where the picture was taken and what inspired you to take it, as well as any technical information about the picture.



I’m grateful to Ms Margaret Hicks (Letters 23rd October) for her spirited defence of the SNP Government. Clearly they are so free from blemish that they really didn’t need to introduce RET for the Western Isles; Mr Salmond and his associates could apparently walk across the Minch.

In her letter Ms Hicks ignores the fact that the Scottish Government can only do all the things she lists because we are given a big chunk of the UK taxes. If we had to exist on the Scottish tax take alone it would be a very different story.

Only this week the falling oil price has shown the difference between the SNP claims of oil wealth during the Referendum campaign and the reality. I have no connection with any political party but I am unaware of any evidence that the Conservatives plan to charge for GP appointments as suggested by Ms Hicks.

The point I was making in my original letter was that although the Republic of Ireland has a health service it is not nearly as well funded and resourced as ours and a separate Scotland would be in a similar position.

We have decisively voted No and there is not now the slightest suggestion that our NHS is at risk as a result.

It was a false, dishonourable claim and Mr Salmond’s readiness to spin that sort of tale was what put many people off. Had he been truthful he could have persuaded more, perhaps even me, to trust him and his party. If he had stated honestly that we would need either our own Scottish currency or the Euro, that we would lose many defence related jobs, that EU membership might not be straightforward and candidly spelt out a future of difficult early years but one in which if we pulled together we could create a modern, progressive country, we might just have backed him.

However, and this is one of the things that we senior citizens all know, if Mr Salmond was that honest he wouldn’t be in politics.

R L McCallum

Bishopbriggs, Glasgow


I see that ecumenism had a mention in Rev. Iain D. Campbell’s column this week, and perhaps I may comment on his assertion that there is a right ecumenism and a wrong ecumenism (Viewpoint 23.10.14).

In view of Christ’s words on the subject it’s hard to see how there can be wrong ecumenism, nevertheless the reverend goes with Augustine’s maxim that in essentials there should be unity, and in non-essentials there should be charity. Which rather begs the question why non-essentials should be there in the first place.

My little comment would be that thinking of that order has had its day. For long years we’ve had dyed-in-the-wool baptists, presbyterians, roman catholics, methodists, anglicans, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, and by the hundred if not by the thousand they’ve all pedalled their respective wares and divided from each other over piddling non-essentials.

It’s time they got real or put up the shutters. There’s but one essential in this life and that essential is Christ, that men and women should close with Him, be found in Him, their lives transformed. All else is chaff.

Keith Fernie

Inverness IV2-3RW


An increase to the National Minimum Wage, which came in to effect earlier this month, is certainly a welcome boost for low income workers who are struggling to make ends meet.

With almost three-fifths of low income working households telling us that their financial situation has worsened in the last year, and two in five reporting that their outgoings now outweigh their earnings, this above-inflation rise is a positive step towards easing the immense pressure on household budgets.

However, with over half of the 13 million people in poverty now living in a working household, it is clear that more needs to be done to tackle this issue.

With difficult financial times ahead, we want to make sure that anyone struggling on a low income is aware of all the support available to them. Our free website – can help people check their eligibility for welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.

Our Benefits Calculator also includes a ‘better-off’ function to show users how a change in employment hours or wages, or unemployment could affect their benefits entitlements and overall household income.

With the real impact of wage increases and other economic improvements unlikely to be widely felt for some time, we hope more people in need can access financial support that could make all the difference today.

Alison Taylor

Director of Turn2us

200 Shepherds Bush Road, London W6 7NL


I write to ask for your help in raising awareness of an exciting new annual award for young people.

I am seeking people under the age of 30 with additional support needs in the Outer Hebrides, and right across Scotland, who have acted with true heroism.

The Annie Dow Heroism Award (TADHA) takes its inspiration from Annie Dow, a young woman who has additional support needs who saved the lives of her mother, father, family friend and dog when she bravely raised the alarm after discovering a fire in the middle of the night which destroyed her home.

Made possible by an anonymous donor who gifted £20,000 to recognise Annie’s heroism and that of other young people with additional support needs in Scotland, one overall TADHA winner will receive a cash prize of £2,500 and a specially commissioned TADHA trophy. Two runner ups will also receive £500 each.

Nominations are open until the 31st of December and I encourage anyone who knows a young person with additional support needs who has acted heroically to nominate them!

Information about TADHA, including nomination forms and guidelines, can be found at .

Sophie Dow, Founder of The Annie Dow Heroism Award


Wind farms have often grabbed the headlines with controversial, or overly ambitious plans but here in the Islands the adage ‘small is beautiful’ is proving a popular way to manage this particular type of renewable energy resource.

The latest initiative - due to go online in early 2015 - is the three-turbine project at Beinn Ghrideag in Sandwick.

This will be wholly owned by the community, with all profits made plowed back into services, training and care for people, not only in the immediate local area, but to a much wider population and so spreading the benefits across the region.

Lewis has faced its fair share of large, imposing windfarm plans, which for various reasons have not come to fruition.

But perhaps the Beinn Ghrideag project will become a template for future wind turbine plans - a much better outcome for the community than a large industrial scale project which relatively produces very little in the way of profits for islanders.

If you would like to comment on, or write a letter on this, or any other topic please contact me at: