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Containment could have been less rigid

SDL protesters in Perth.
SDL protesters in Perth.

Sir, – Regarding the article by Paul Reoch in The Courier (September 27) while I agree that the police response was warm and efficient, I attended the counter demo as part of a contingent of Perth Green Party to protest at the Scottish Defence League’s recent needless visit to Perth.

While the police were warm and friendly the counter demo was infiltrated by at least two SDL members who were quickly weeded out by the police and spent the next couple of hours on their mobiles outside the city hall while waiting for the rest of their gang to be uncaged.

There were also masked counter protesters from outside Perth who looked very intimidating.

While I understand the need for the police to ensure the situation was contained, the one thing I would suggest if the SDL again dare to show (or not show) their faces on the streets of Perth is that the containment of the counter demonstrators should be less rigid.

This was mainly a demonstration of the local people of Perth united against fascists.

While many others from all over Scotland came to support the local people it was obvious by the number of prams and young children accompanying their parents that this was very much an outpouring of local feeling against right wing fascists from outside Perth trying to tell us what to think.

Most had to leave early as it became quite a squash and at one stage I was in great danger of hitting innocent protesters with my placard.

Elspeth Maclachlan.
122 Dunsinane Drive,


Time to ban rugby in schools

Sir, – Leading doctors have written to health and child welfare officials about the dangers of spinal injury in school rugby and there’s clear scientific evidence that head injuries sustained by children playing contact sports can lead to serious life-long brain impairment and dementia.

Many secondary schools deliver such high-impact collision sports as a compulsory part of the physical education curriculum from age 11.

I believe this is wholly unacceptable.

No child should be forced out on to a rugby pitch against their will no matter what the school’s history.

Some will say ‘it never did me any harm’ but until recently they would have said the same about the sadism, sexual abuse and violent punishment which were the norm in most boarding schools.

Such iniquity is now prohibited – as should be compulsory rugby.

Rev Dr John Cameron.
10 Howard Place,
St Andrews.


Need to defend democracy

Sir, – If you are a small country like an independent Scotland as opposed to part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland then you are likely to make different choices.

An independent Scotland would not have chosen to squander billions of pounds of oil revenues whereas successive Labour and Conservative Governments at Westminster did so in order to thwart Scottish independence.

An independent Scotland would probably have had to settle for the Icelandic option of jailing the bankers rather than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland option of bailing out private banks with money from the taxpayer.

It is also the case that an independent Scotland could not possibly fund nuclear weapons whereas the main political parties in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland seem to think we have countless billions to spend on nuclear weapons not forgetting the money we have spent trying to sort out Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Scottish parliamentary parties, with the exception of the Scottish Conservatives, rather ironically given that David Cameron was Conservative Prime Minister in 2014, deserve great credit for saying that it is about democratic choice for the Catalans and not independence that is the issue at stake on Sunday October 1 2017.

Peter Ovenstone.
6 Orchard Grove,


Largesse should be extended

Sir, – At last Perth and Kinross Council seem to have resolved the problem of St Paul’s church with the purchase and proposed conversion to a public performance space at an estimated cost of £2 million.

It sounds like a decent way forward, but I do have one question, which is why they have decided to retain the spire?

It will only add greatly to future maintenance costs; there are, after all, plenty of other church spires in the city.

There are, in addition, numerous dilapidated churches in Scotland, an outstanding example of which can be observed on Blairgowrie’s Reform Street in the shape of the now defunct South Church.

Perhaps Perth and Kinross Council could now extend the largesse with which they disburse the Perth and Kinross ratepayers cash on questionable projects in Perth City, to purchase, and either convert to public use, or demolish this eyesore in our town.

Iain Keay.
3 Moyness Park Crescent,


Support living languages

Sir, – Richard Burdge laments the introduction of a Gaelic element to the logo for Police Scotland, arguing that all Gaelic speakers can read English.

Can everyone also read the Latin logo ‘Semper Vigilo’?

Mr Burdge misses the point that Gaelic is a living language that has a unique, historic, and ongoing value to Scotland’s identity and culture, and that Gaelic Medium education is burgeoning throughout Scotland, with a new generation of young bi-lingual speakers entering society and the workforce.

Not only do Gaelic speakers have a natural right to access public services in that language, which is native to Scotland, but the country as a whole is enriched by giving the language the respect and status of a national language.

The cost is tiny, but the symbolism is great.

The support for an important part of Scotland’s culture should be celebrated, not bemoaned.

Brett Patterson.
Spottiswoode Street,


Respect tradition

Sir, – May I congratulate Richard Burdge on his wonderfully surreal and satirical edge in his recent opinion piece in The Courier?

Like a latter-day PC Plod, he waves his truncheon in the direction of those who would defend the spending of what he confesses is a ‘relatively small amount of money’ on adding a few words of the Gaelic language to the insignia of Police Scotland.

He does this by claiming that the tongue is an ‘effectively dying language’.

Yet he overlooks the words ‘Semper Vigilo’ that decorates these self-same chariots.

Or even the fact that the word ‘police’ itself comes from a long-dead tongue.

‘Quo Vadis’, Mr Burdge, as they say in downtown Balgown (derivation – from ‘Baile Ghobhainn’, the Gaelic for ‘blacksmith’s steading.)

Methinks you have arrived in a cul-de-sac of your own contradictions and confusions.

Perhaps we ought to send out a tri-lingual chariot to rescue you.

Donald S Murray.


A lucky escape for A9 cyclist

Sir, – I read about the Dundee cyclist who had a close shave with a police van (The Courier, September 27).

The incident brought back memories of when, during the 1970s, I cycled the A9 from Bankfoot to Luncarty for work.

One dull and wet morning at 5.30am while cycling between the verge and the white line allowing room for passing traffic a large van passed so close that the rear mudguard hit my bicycle.

I was catapulted into the air and landed on my back.

The vehicle did not stop, leaving me lying at the side of the road until a lorry stopped.

I was shaken and the driver slowly helped me to my feet.

This Good Samaritan of the highways then drove me to hospital in Perth.

I was lucky, only requiring treatment for a broken arm and a fractured hand.

On that morning the angels were with me – I could have died.

This certainly was a case of a driver not giving due space to a cyclist and represented the only incident of its kind in cycling the A9 summer and winter for 19 years.

Thomas Brown.
3 Church Place,