FROM personal experience I agree 100% with Lesley Riddoch (Our Irish cousins will carry on flourishing long after we are dragged from the EU, January 23). As the Highlands and Islands Scottish National Farmers’ Union convener during the Thatcher years I was frequently in Brussels and Strasbourg. The SNP’s Winnie Ewing, known as “Madame Ecosse”, was a favourite in the EU Parliament.

The welcome we also received was in stark contrast to the atmosphere at Westminster. The chap running the agricultural bureaucracy happened to be southern Irish, and we got along famously. The end result became a £30 million Highlands and Islands development programme which, spread over five years, went into supporting our livestock industry in the hills and uplands.

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Irish cousins will continue flourishing in the EU

For Scottish farming our forced withdrawal from Europe will mean a loss of the Common Agricultural Policy. This EU scheme has helped support a sector which is fundamental to every household economy. Equally important are the EU environmental standards and safeguards currently in place. Fundamental changes taking place in climate, soil fertility and bio-diversity may well affect world food supplies in the not-too-distant future. Avoiding control by Westminster and US multinationals of our most basic requirement is vital. When we secure a referendum I trust the public will consider keeping healthy sustainable food on the family table. Forget party politics, think independence and vote with common sense.

Iain R Thomson

MY wife is Irish. And I support independence. But when looking at Ireland, one has to remember the following things:

1) There is very little in the way of public services. Ireland has a low-tax model that consequently means the government has relatively little money for welfare, healthcare etc. Ireland does not have anything like the NHS – rather everyone must either pay (a lot) of money for healthcare or buy rather expensive health insurance.

2) The Irish economy is very dependant on foreign companies – who set up there because tax rates are low. There aren’t very many “homegrown” Irish companies, which may be difficult if the EU decides to harmonise tax rules (which France has been strongly pushing for).

3) The high growth in Irish GDP has been accompanied by a high level of debt. Ireland has the fourth highest level of public debt per capita in the world (UK is twelfth, for those who like to compare everything to the UK). Which is fine, provided nothing bad happens to the Irish economy. Not to say Ireland is a bad economy, but “flourishing” is probably pushing it a bit. It does OK, but has a lot of risks – and it’s not a great place to be if you are unemployed or need to go to hospital.

Tors Perch-Nielsen

THERE are many things for which Scottish politicians can be, should be – and, as far as we’re concerned, certainly will be – criticised. But Tory attacks on them are lies. While the SNP dithers over a new independence referendum, the anti-democratic Johnson regime plan to go on the offensive. Having starved Scotland of funds, they’re now blaming Sturgeon and co for the Tories’ own failures, and they plan to ride to the “rescue” with funds which they stole from us!

Boris and his gang are planning to spend significant time in Scotland. A couple of days here, instead of a couple of hours. And they plan to make “generous” announcements while here. Much of this alleged “generosity” will be fake; big words which turn out to mean little or nothing. The purpose of this offensive is to make us feel we can’t manage without them; the intention of this offensive is suppression of democracy.

Any time Johnson or any of his crooked cronies show their faces in Scotland, they should be met with open hostility. The Tories have been in power for ten years, they should not get away with presenting themselves as something “new”. They are the same old crew of lying, thieving, hypocritical, privileged prats they always were.

Dave Coull
Secretary, Radical Independence Angus

ISN’T companies like Coca-Cola producing 200,000 plastic bottles a minute, three million tonnes a year, an environmental and social disgrace and a sad indictment of unfettered consumerism?

Doesn’t the need for the Scottish Government’s initiative for a bottle deposit scheme to encourage recycling now seem irrefutable?

And isn’t there a real opportunity for a double public good, by making collection more efficient, if those charities who organise doorstep clothes connections could also organise regular uplifts, their reward the collection value of each bottle, thereby tying recycling with charity giving?

Let’s think outside the box to protect our environment.

Jim Taylor