WITH what are now almost daily instances of breakdown in Calmac's aged fleet ("Calmac daytrips to Mull 'not advised' after ferry breakdown", The Herald, July 15), why is the proposal of the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee still being kicked into the long grass by the triumvirate of CMAL, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government?

The Mull and Iona Ferry Committee identified an eminently suitable catamaran nearing completion in the Far East available for £10 million. It was felt that this vessel could be made fully compliant with all Maritime & Coastguard Agency regulations for a further £2 million. CMAL's contention was that it was unsuitable and non-compliant.

Not to be fobbed off, the Mull committee crowdfunded a report from Strathclyde University Naval Architecture Department which confirmed that the vessel could be fully compliant at a total cost of £12 million. Indeed, the report concluded that this vessel was by far the safest of some 150 ferries assessed.

This proposal, which could save the taxpayer some £40-£50 million together with a wait of five or six years, was submitted to Paul Wheelhouse, the then Transport Minister, in April with an urgent request that it be actioned before the pending purdah period. Nothing happened.

Given that this vessel is, hopefully, still available, now, at a cost of around a quarter of the price of a CMAL-commissioned replacement for the Isle of Mull, why is this simple, though only partial, solution to the aged fleet problem being ignored? It should be grabbed with open arms with more such vessels being commissioned. It is ironic that many of these highly successful catamaran designs are from the pen of a Scotsman now domiciled in Australia.

Of the Pentalina, sadly not now available, a retired Calmac master pointed out that if she could operate in the Pentland Firth, she could easily cope on any of the CalMac routes.

Procurement is not the strongest suit of the Scottish Government, but the people of Mull deserve a swift solution which they will not receive if CMAL is permitted to commission another oversized vessel with a lead time of some six years, again squandering vast sums of taxpayers' money.

J Patrick Maclean, Oban.


CALMAC is shortly to publish a pamphlet for all intended tourists to Scotland, and has asked the Proclaimers to record an accompanying CD of one of their well-known works – with amended lyrics. The chorus now reads: "Islay no more, Mull no more, Lewis no more, Arran no more, and (surprisingly, given the length of the crossing), Millport no more. Other islands may/will be added in due course.

There is talk however that the Dick family in Largs, who used to run popular evening fishing trips, may be handed the franchise for Millport – though just forget the car.

George Dale, Beith.


DR Bruce Halliday (Letters, July 15) argues for a UK football team. Forgive me for questioning his motives, but the idea that any UK Prime Minister would even discuss an end to the four nations teams would be beyond stupid.

I am no separatist but I would defend the right of Scotland within the United Kingdom to field a national team to my last. Fifa and Uefa of course know that the historic position of the Home Nations could be seen as anomalous but they also fully recognise the passion and of course the commercial value to the game of the Home Nations.

Not everything is political, Dr Halliday. Let’s keep politics out of football, as indeed the Fifa rules require.

John Dunlop, Ayr.


IAN Tomney (Letters, July 15) makes reasonable points in favour of replays rather than penalty shootouts to decide drawn football finals. However, as these matches come usually at the end of a long season, with new players set to arrive and old ones to depart, and with a relatively brief break before training starts for the new season, I am not sure the clubs, players and even the fans (more ticket costs) would agree, particularly with the possibility of the match being drawn again, and again.

If for whatever reason result certainty is preferred on match day, in the event of a draw after extra time why not decide on the numbers of corners won to encourage attacking football, or even on the the numbers of red and yellow cards received to discourage foul play?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.


IT brightened my day to see Paisley again referred to in your columns, this time in Russell Leadbetter’s Remember when... feature in which he describes David Hayman’s role as actor and director of Paisley Patterns (later known as the Slab Boys Trilogy) during the 1983 edition of Mayfest ("Hayman got on his bike for the Citz", The Herald, July 14). A review in the Sunday Standard in 1982 referred to the trilogy as a "theatrical triumph".

This trilogy from John Byrne, who grew up in Ferguslie Park, speaks powerfully, with attitude and humour, of the reality of working class life in the west of Scotland in the 1950s-1970s and is regarded by many as one of the outstanding works of literature of 20th century Scotland.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.