THE tragic fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is a catastrophe for French history and culture.It is no small blow to Scottish history and culture also, as many significant events of Scottish history took place in Notre Dame.

On Sunday April 24, 1558 Mary, Queen of Scots married Francis, Dauphin of France in a wedding which was hugely ceremonial.There were five cardinals present in the cathedral and most of the population of Paris were present in what was a hugely joyous occasion.The main entrance to the cathedral was altered to allow public viewing of the ceremony. A union between Scotland and France was openly discussed and if the marriage had developed over the years this would probably have taken place, thus changing Scottish history. However, Francis died of a middle ear infection the following year and Mary returned to Scotland, much to the chagrin of John Knox.

Earlier in the century Mary’s father, King James V, had also married the Princes Madeleine of Valois, in a similar hugely colourful ceremony in Notre Dame. However Madeleine was not a healthy young woman and died shortly after her arrival in Scotland of consumption or tuberculosis.

Part of French history died in the fire at Notre Dame, but no small part of Scotland’s history also.

Alan Clayton

ONCE again, I find myself sending my sympathies to the people of Paris and greater France, but this time no-one was killed although one fireman was injured. Paris et Francais, nous sommes avec vous.

No matter your religious beliefs or none, you cannot be anything but saddened by the devastating fire

that swept through the “THE MOTHER” Cathedral of France, the point from which all distances are measured in France. I recall as a recalcitrant youth of 15 being dragged round (my feelings at that time) the great cathedrals of Europe by my parents, including Notre-Dame, and climbing the many stairs in Quasimodo’s Tower.

I saw the first internal pictures this morning on the news and apart from the shock of the damage to the 800-year-old wooden roof, which was virtually destroyed, thanks to the original massive stone construction the internal vaulted roof remained relatively undamaged apart from where the collapsed spire broke through. A tribute to those ancient architects, builders and last night the firemen of Paris.

I was immediately reminded of the second fire at the “Mac” and how it had been attributed to happening during renovation work and the lack of adequate fire-fighting equipment while the works were being carried out. This latest devastating fire at one of the symbols of our common European heritage sharply reminds us that if we want future generations to enjoy and appreciate it, then we must be prepared to provide 21st-century fire protection at all times and proper building fabric maintenance no matter what the cost.

It should also serve as a wake-up call to all those responsible, be it national or local government or private companies, that the provision of sprinkler systems now becomes a priority in high-rise properties similar to Grenfell Tower.

Charlie Gallagher

I HEAR that Jeremy Hunt is “uncomfortable” about British citizen Shamima Begum receiving legal aid. Begum is not known to have caused the death of anyone in Syria or elsewhere, and seems to have spent most of her time having babies and trying to keep them alive.

Consider for a moment a hypothetical case, a white British tourist smuggling heroin in the Far East, whose activities could well be the cause of multiple deaths once the drugs reached their destination. Facing the death sentence, she would receive unquestioned support, with no apparent discomfort for UK ministers. The difference? A very large racist, Islamophobic elephant in the room, I think.

Derek Ball

THE Scottish Trade Union Congress, Holyrood and the radio has been debating the possible alternatives to very regressive local council tax. It is more than ten years since Scottish Socialist Party had MSPs proposing an income-linked Service Tax that would make Scotland a fairer country and raise more money for local services such as schools and sports facilities as well as rubbish collection.

This would be easy to collect using the same methods already used to collect income tax. It would not only raise more, but mean that the majority of people would pay the same or less, and only the richest would pay more while the poorest in one of the world’s richest countries would pay nothing.

Norman Lockhart

LET me see if I have got this right? The Tory government brings in the repellent “rape clause”, taking much-needed funds from struggling mothers, and the Labour party in Scotland attacks the SNP while the Tories sit smirking, egging them on – just as Labour does every week in the Scottish Parliament. How the Tories in Scotland must love the support of their wee Labour pals.

David McEwan Hill
Sandbank, Argyll