REGARDING Neil Mackay's article ("SNP Government is stupid to pick this fight with Ireland", The Herald, June 11),

Ireland has never made a formal claim to Rockall. Furthermore, Ireland and the UK have agreed to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundary that places Rockall within the UK's EEZ.

The sole factual argument for the Republic of Ireland is that its mainland is closer to Rockall, than the Scottish mainland is to Rockall. However, the closest permanently inhabited island to Rockall is North Uist at 228 miles. Therefore, Rockall would be within the UK's EEZ (200 nautical miles/230 miles) even if North Uist were to be used to determine the UK's EEZ, instead of St Kilda, which is 187 miles from Rockall.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2012: "UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] states that a rock or islet, such as Rockall, that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of its own is not entitled to an exclusive economic zone or a continental shelf, but is entitled to a territorial sea. The UK claims a 12-nautical mile territorial sea around Rockall".

A 12-nautical mile territorial sea around Rockall equals 599 square miles, which is larger than Fife or East Ayrshire or South Ayrshire or Orkney or Shetland.

The first literary reference to Rockall is in Martin Martin's A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland published in 1703, in which the inhabitants of St Kilda called it "Rokabarra".

Scotland should not renounce any claim over Rockall as called for by Green MSP Andy Wightman (“ MSP says claim to Rockall is collusion in colonialism”, The Herald, June 12), since by any objective opinion, Rockall belongs to Scotland.

Incidentally, Rockall is further west than Ireland and is as far west as parts of mainland Iceland.

Thomas Murray,


NEIL Mackay says that the Scottish Government should not tell Irish fishermen to keep out of UK waters. Irish ships have been fishing off Rockall which is an uninhabited rock in the middle of the North Sea. The UK has long laid claim to Rockall as its territory because the closest inhabited land to it is, by far, North Uist. Ireland and Iceland dispute the claim, though their territories are much further away.

What Mr Mackay fails to mention, however, is that Rockall is inside the boundary of the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and that Ireland and the UK signed an EEZ boundary agreement in 1988. The boundaries have been agreed and Ireland is failing to honour them. It is sheer effrontery by Irish politicians to accuse the UK and Scotland of 'bullying' when the latter have protested about Irish incursions into UK waters.

The reasons that Mr Mackay gives to ignore Irish incursions are that Scotland and Ireland are historically Celtic nations and that a future independent Scotland will need Irish support in the EU. In other words, he advises us to let Ireland walk over us now because it might treat us better later on. I do not think many people in Scotland would support such a doormat policy. We expect people to keep to the agreements that they have signed, whether they are Celts, Gaels or some other tribe. Respect should be mutual, rather than one-way.

Les Reid,


Read more: Neil Mackay: SNP Government is stupid to pick this fight with Ireland

BOBBY McDonagh, former Irish Ambassador to the UK and EU, said this about the SNP's claymore-rattling over Rockall: "The SNP Government, whose principal policy is to seek independence, is forcefully asserting its interpretation of UK rights more than the UK Government itself". I can think of only three possible motives, none of which reflect well on my country..

If it's a belated sooking-up to Scots fishermen, this text I got from a prominent Aberdeenshire fisherman doesn't suggest it's working: "The Scottish fleet are totally mystified on what’s it all about. It will have an ulterior motive but we have not worked out what yet. The Irish white fish fleet is very small and if possible has been decimated by the EU more than we have. It’s the rest who have raped our waters"

It could be another virtue-signalling attempt to show up Westminster, or a "power grab" for a couple of frigates and a big tricorn hat so that Fiona Hyslop can carry out her threat that "vessels will be deployed to take 'enforcement action' against Irish vessels found fishing within 12 miles of Rockall". Pathetic.

Allan Sutherland,


YOUR columnist Pinstripe ("Politicians should forget the spin cycle and deliver the goods”, The Herald, June 10) Pinstripe is remarkably sanguine about the appalling bourach the Westminster system has landed us in. As he is a senior member of the financial services community, he knows that money has no borders, Dark Money even less.

After glossing over the trivia that is the Tory Party, he turns his attack on the SNP. He writes: “Have our roads, railways, hospitals and schools improved on the SNP’s watch?” Well, roads for a start, he is obviously unaware that the first SNP Government intended to dual the A9; this was in its manifesto and would be funded by the money set aside for the Edinburgh trams. The SNP was a minority government so was outvoted and the ruinous Edinburgh trams went ahead, at almost double the budget allocated; the good citizens of Edinburgh are left with the cost, and there is an ongoing inquiry as to what went wrong. On its watch it had the Queensferry Crossing, on time and on budget, and is continuing to dual the A9. The Aberdeen bypass was completed despite legal hurdles and the main contractor going bust.

Problems with the railways are in the main due to the fact that the rail tracks are under the jurisdiction of Westminster, not Holyrood. The Borders Railway was also opened.

The new Queen Elizabeth Hospital was opened in Glasgow, and Dumfries Infirmary and Orkney Hospital and healthcare hub were also opened. There are still problems with some of the hospitals built under PFI by Labour, but sorting them out is ruinously expensive.

There are also problems with schools built under PFI, so some built in that era have had to be demolished and rebuilt. More pupils are leaving school and going on to further education, and unemployment is at its lowest for decades.

Pinstripe is echoing the Scottish Tory leader's “Get on with the day job” which is exactly what the SNP has been doing.

It is becoming clearer by the day that we are heading for a political and economic disaster for the United Kingdom, and while Scotland has been ignored and reviled, the DUP in Northern Ireland is being consulted – and bribed.

Oh, I almost forgot, the SNP abolished prescription charges and bridge tolls, such a plethora of goodies not noticed by Pinstripe.

Jim Lynch,

Edinburgh EH12.