“THAT the Westminster establishment has suggested an alternative to the ‘Beaufort's Dyke’ Ireland-Scotland crossing (‘Union-boosting’ tunnel bid misses out Scotland’, January 8) should not come as a surprise. The business case from its English-centric point of view will always be the crossing that best suits it – and Scotland’s would aye come second. As a bridge-builder Johnson has very few credentials.

Professor Alan Dunlop, with whom I have discussed this project as an element in Scotland’s long-term planning for an independent nation, prefers the Stranraer crossing, possibly skirting north of the “million tons of explosives” buried deep in the Beaufort Dyke chasm. He is quoted as saying that an Anglesey crossing would not bring economic benefit to Scotland: that’s very clear. Westminster money, when it becomes available, most certainly will not go to Stranraer when there is another option.

READ MORE: ‘Union-boosting’ Northern Ireland tunnel bid misses out Scotland

The suggestion that our First Minister “settle her differences with Johnson and Westminster” in the hope of getting the latter to invest in south-west Scotland is indeed a faint hope – unless, that is, if the Hon MP for Dumfries and Galloway shows a great deal mair spunk than he has shown so far.

England will, not surprisingly, build the tunnels it feels to be in its best interests: an Anglesey crossing, or Fishguard crossing for that matter, would take another 40 years. Scotland – and the business case surely is now quite attractive – must believe it will build the Stranraer or Mull of Kintyre crossing in cooperation with Ireland within the next 20 years.

Scotland’s best interests may lie in the latter much less expensive option (a 12-mile bridge to the Mull of Kintyre versus the 32-mile tunnel and entry/exit ramps to Stranraer), using the “saved” money to help the Cowell Fixed Link Working Group with their current plans to connect Helensburgh, Dunoon, Rothesay to Tarbert. This would simultaneously bring development to the Highlands, connecting right into the Central Belt, and through England to Europe. An inexpensive pre-feasibility study would settle the issue.

But this is not just a bridge or a tunnel. The project must be seen in the framework of long-term master plans for both Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and be integrated with the potential for business and industrial development, environmental sustainability, repopulation, increased immigration, provision of social services, rail infrastructure etc etc. We look to Holyrood to see beyond each five-year parliamentary term and set up Scotland’s First 25- and 50-year development plans now. Something for the voter to ponder over and give some substance to the “dream”.

Dr Gordon G Benton
Newburgh, Aberdeenshire

I HAVE not yet heard any letter from the Catholic bishops to Catholic voters this new year. I imagine that if one is written, it may well be like their letter before the last General Election. This was simply a reminder of what we as Catholics believe, and to understand why we believe it.

I would remind Anne Smart (Letters, January 7) and indeed Kevin McKenna (Why the shower of vindictive ultras at the top of Scotland’s Catholic church should be ashamed, January 8), that almost since its very beginnings, Scotland has been a Christian country. For 1,000 years that Christianity was Catholic Christianity, and for the last 450 years largely Protestant. It was from the Jews that Christianity inherited the Ten Commandments. These were very precise and clear: “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother”, and so on. By and large, the legal systems and the legislation of all the countries of the Western world have been based and built upon these commandments, and it is true to say that without Christianity Western democracy simply would not exist.

READ MORE: Religion should be kept out of politics

Christ was the fulfilment of the law and the prophets and endorsed all of these Commandments, and added to them the Beatitudes. Also, He insisted that the sick should be cared for, the hungry fed, the poor clothed, the homeless housed and the afflicted comforted. As to the abuse of small children, Christ voiced the strongest condemnation of all on this. Not long ago, some statistics showed that the highest number of convictions for child abuse had come from the business community and the second highest from the teaching profession. I haven’t noticed journalists calling for the abolition of the business community or the elimination of the teaching profession. That is no doubt because the vast majority of people in these professions have never had the slightest intention of sexually abusing young children. The same should be understood about Catholics.

READ MORE: Why the vindictive ultras in Scotland’s Catholic church should be ashamed

Catholic Christianity has always recognised the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. These things may have to be made clearer in the times we live, just as has been recently emphasised by Pope Francis, that not only is a waging nuclear war wrong, stock-piling the nuclear war-heads in case of need is even itself wrong. As to abortion, there are Catholic charities which come to the support of young girls who have unplanned pregnancies and also console those who regret their abortions, and no-one understands better than they do the pressure, the penury and the vulnerability of young women in these circumstances, and the pressure they are often put under to abort their bairns.

We know the commandments. We know we are all sinners. We know the precise and clear names of vices and virtues. But what do “values” mean? What does “progress” mean? What does “inclusive” mean? Anything at all that politicians deem to be politically correct. So, politics becomes a religion.

One of the benefits of Western democracy has been the development of representative government. You no longer need to own land, or have property, or even be a man, in order to send members to parliament whom you trust will represent your beliefs. As Catholics in Scotland we are only 700,000, but I would like to think that even we may ascertain whether or not our politicians can properly represent us.

Lesley J Findlay
Fort Augustus