I AM astounded by Michael Fry’s revisionist views of the Highland Clearances and the kelp industry (Kelp proposals are banging in line with 21st-century economic ideals, December 4).

Firstly demeaningly referring to the Gaelic society as “the peasant economy”. Peasants they may have largely been, but they were bearers of ancient noble Scottish Gaelic culture that the ensuing Clearances virtually destroyed. And then to say the kelp industry produced “mixed blessings” and “kelp became the main source of income, overtaking the produce of the croft” and “and so kelp made it’s contribution also to the forces that brought on the Clearances” – how utterly naive and wrong!!

The kelp industry was a result of the Clearances where people were moved to marginal coastal areas, living marginal existences NOT in crofts and were forced to eek out a pitiable existence gathering and burning kelp. It was not a blessing but a curse after being cleared off their land. He says this was a division of labour that made communities much richer! No it did not! It robbed them of their lands and their heritage and consigned them to pitiable, mean existences living on marginal lands on the coast – and not in coothy crofts which many did not have access to until the Crofting Act of 1886 which granted folk some security of tenure!

What a ridiculous time-line betrayal of the Clearances and an insulting portrayal of the vile kelp industry as some benign yet profitable choice of Gaels when in reality their position was the result of the Clearances and a marginal existence with no choice but to “work” (aka slave) in the kelp industry or die of utter destitution. Some choice and blessing!!

Crìsdean Mac Fhearghais
Dùn Èideann

READ MORE: Kelp proposals are bang in line with 21st-century economic ideals

I READ my first copy of The National recently, delivered courtesy of our local Yes hub.

It was nice to see articles written from a different political perspective than those we are accustomed to. However, I have just read Michael Fry’s commentary on kelp dredging and was fairly disgusted by his derogatory attitude towards people and places in Scotland connected with the kelp debate, as well as his dismissal of the Green Party (a nice way of keeping good relations with fellow independence supporters).

It was journalism that I would expect to see in The Sun (when I last read it about 30 years ago) rather than in a newspaper that purports to be supporting the people of Scotland.

Mallaig is a bustling place now and has much improved over the last decade. This is mainly due to tourism, much of it based on the surrounding wildlife which will most certainly be affected by kelp-dredging, and by other small local businesses.

There are few places in Scotland that wouldn’t welcome 40 jobs, but not at the cost of putting other small, local-run businesses under threat. Similarly in other coastal communities that are working hard to develop their own sustainable businesses.

I attended the debate at Holyrood and I was highly impressed with the incredible diversity of the people who had come to support the amendment. There were young people – who clearly knew more about wildlife and communities

than Michael Fry, and with a better use of language; there were supporters of our incredible coastal environment, there were fishermen from many different camps; and there were business people whose already-existing businesses are threatened.

It was clear from Roseanna Cunningham’s statement in the debate that she was reluctant to support the amendment and perhaps this explains the tone of Michael Fry’s article. It does seem strange that it is the first time I have seen The National being on the same side as Unionist newspapers.

One statement from Michael Fry that I would agree with is that “kelp proposals are bang in line with 21st-century economic ideals”, ie that they have more interest in companies and shareholders than with communities and their workforce.

Ronnie Mackie

READ MORE: Arguments in favour of kelp dredging don't add up​

WHAT a fabulous idea of reader Roy Pedersen’s in yesterday’s National to develop Cockenzie as Scotland’s Europort (Letters, December 6). From a practical point of view, driving heavy lorries 400 miles to Dover or Southampton on busy motorways is wasteful and expensive.

More importantly, Scotland will always be at the mercy of the UK Government if it does not have its own trade link to the continent. We need ships travelling directly to Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia from the east coast of Scotland, as we had for 300 years in the old days of the Hanseatic League – we had more sense then! Castles like Craigievar in Aberdeenshire, completed in 1726, were built on the wealth of this trade.

Surely It must be the highest priority of the Scottish Government to develop this site now the opportunity has arisen.

Susan Grant

READ MORE: Letters, December 6