WE read with some alarm the article by Kathleen Nutt in Monday’s issue concerning the deployment of Scottish police officers in Northern Ireland. It seems that this is being done under contingency plans of the UK Government.

We fully understand and support the concern for the safety of these officers expressed by Mr C Steele of the Scottish Police Federation, but we would like to suggest that the request also has major political implications which cannot be left to pass unchallenged.

READ MORE: Brexit: Scottish police 'first in line' to go to NI after No Deal

Following an article on this topic in another newspaper early in January, we wrote to our MSP expressing our concern and finally, at the end of April, he was able to pass on to us a soothing letter from the Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, the gist of which was that “consideration of requests for ‘mutual assistance’ is an operational matter for Police Scotland”, presumably in this particular case between the Chief Constable of Police Scotland and his colleague of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

It is clear that this present move is not a normal inter-force request but one has been activated by the British Government, as a consequence of the complete mess that ministers have made and are continuing to make in Anglo-Irish relations. They are clearly concerned that troubles may be brewing on the Irish-Irish border and have sent out this cry for help.

If such troubles should come, they will do so as a consequence of policies that have been pursued by Westminster and Whitehall since 2016, policies that have been opposed at every step of the way by the Parliament and people of Scotland, from the vote against triggering Article 50 (90 to 26) to the voting in the recent European elections, in which every district returned pro-EU candidates.

Why should Scotland now be asked to help this Tory government deal with the chaos that it is busy creating, risking the life of Scottish officers in the process? It also has to be remembered that Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and its citizens are now in a quandary not of their making. It is up to this UK Government, by listening and understanding, to ensure that they do not have to face a return of The Troubles. Sending Scottish police officers will not do that.

This is not a normal problem where help might be asked and freely given, in, say, coping with a disaster; people on each side of the border remember with gratitude the prompt dispatch of the Dublin fire brigade to Belfast in 1941. This is a totally different matter, one of international politics.

From the history of Anglo-Irish relations, from O’Connell to Callaghan, it is clear that, no matter how good the intentions were when forces were sent to Ireland, relations soon turn sour and it is the men and women of these forces, embroiled in The Troubles, that become the target of opposition.

This matter has all the power to harm the good relationship between Scotland and Ireland, whether in the latter case there is a revived Assembly in Belfast and Dail Eireann in Dublin or a united Ireland. The Scottish Government cannot allow itself to be manoeuvred into the sending of police officers to Ireland at London’s bidding.

Brian Patton and Robert Mac Lachlan

VONNY LeClerc’s piece on Scotrail did a good, if incomplete, job in highlighting the poor service most rail users can expect from Abellio (Scotrail: This is the human cost of a failing franchise, August 27).

It would appear that Abellio had expected all the new trains and greater numbers of carriages to solve the ever growing problem of capacity. Whilst the 18-month delay in provision of these vehicles leads to further issues with driver training and availability, it cannot disguise the fact that Abellio have put all their eggs in this one basket.

READ MORE: Vonny LeClerc: ScotRail and the human cost of a failing franchise

The budget for standard maintenance/replacement of items like conductors ticket machines is now beginning to affect travel. All too often you can board a train at a station without ticketing facilities, the conductor will say something like “the battery is flat” or “the machine isn’t working”, which is all good and fine until you reach Waverley and find that to get out of the station you have to join the lengthy queues at the newly set up ticket office at platform 14, complete with it’s serpentine crowd control barriers. My last visit found me fourth in the queue for the single issuer, and that took 10 mins to get my ticket. As I departed I looked round at the queue and pitied those near the end of the barriers. They had little chance of getting their exit tickets within the hour. If the train arrives late you can make a claim, but not if Abellio delays you through its cost-saving measures.

Meanwhile Prof Begg and the Greens still pedal the fantasy that there is sufficient public transport such that cars are unnecessary.

D R Turnbull
via email

WAS the capacity problem faced by Scotrail on Saturday really a railway management problem, or was it the fact that the rugby international was timed to coincide with the end of the Edinburgh Fringe? With a bit of foresight and planning surely it would have been possible to predict that two major crowd intensive events on the same day would result in excessive demand on capacity. Awareness of each other’s fixtures could have avoided the crush and delays, as there are only so many trains that can be safely run on the system.

V MacKinlay