THE many millions of taxpayers' money lost already on the ferries fiasco at the Ferguson Marine yard at Port Glasgow , and the blame game now emerging from the Holyrood inquiry (“Sturgeon 'shafted us' over contract price for ferries”, The Herald, February 6), together justify the call by Jim McColl for a public inquiry with all the players testifying under oath as to their involvement.

The whole sorry shambles reeks of incompetence and a cavalier attitude to the use of public fund, but as such an inquiry is in the gift of the Scottish Government, and the First Minister and the (now ex ) Finance Secretary in particular appear to be up to their respective necks in it, no doubt they will resist that in case it confirms existing doubts about their ability to govern competently an independent Scotland.

So far the focus has been on the past, but what about the future, with the yard now nationalised so that taxpayers as the new owners are liable for the present and all future costs of this contract? Apparently the two vessels are lying rusting, one with buckled and thus unseaworthy plates, and the other remains just a hull. The impression is that no serious work is ongoing on a daily basis as they lie rotting. If that is correct, what is happening to the yard workforce? Presumably keeping it at pre-nationalised levels in terms of quality and quantity would be necessary if the vessels are ever to be completed, so are they being paid to do nothing? Are we taxpayers not entitled to be kept informed by our new management team at the yard on the progress of the contract, the expected costs of completing it and when the vessels will be delivered?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.

IN his evidence to the Parliamentary Committee, Roy Pedersen, a member of the Scottish Government's Ferry Industry Advisory Group, cited corruption as a possible contributory factor in the fiasco at Ferguson's. Given the allegations made by the former owner of the yard, it is now incumbent on the First Minister to appear before the committee in order to clarify the Government's role in the awarding of the contract.

Duncan Macintyre, Greenock.

I READ with interest and incredulity your front-page lead article today on the Ferguson Marine situation.

Being in the building trade (but not shipbuilding) for the past 40 years and dealing with most forms of building contract I have seen a marked deterioration in accepting responsibility and Jim McColl's remarks seem to me to be a prime example of "the big boy did it and ran away".

It is hard for me to believe that a man who became a successful businessman and billionaire actually went ahead on a contract that didn't have the "I"s dotted and "T"s crossed. It is surely a debacle of his and company's own making and now the Scottish people are picking up the tab for the rescue and the blame, apparently.

Own up' Mr McColl. You and your company made a pig's ear of it.

Ken Mackay, Glasgow G44.

THE Scottish Government runs education with poor results. The NHS seems to be the least worst in the UK (perhaps). Prestwick Airport was a £40 million disaster.

Today, we hear that the ferries will cost £200 million, and while Jim McColl, a spectacularly successful businessman, can’t deliver the contract, the Scottish Government with a spectacularly unsuccessful business and financial record can.

The First Minister appears to have prematurely announced the contract to the detriment of the delivery of the vessels.

Scotland has a long history of producing innovators, geniuses and world-changing individuals. What a pity that there has never been one in the government of Scotland.

From the 2014 White Paper until today, the SNP has demonstrated poor financial management with profligate spending and the highest taxes in the UK mitigated only by free prescriptions and free university education for strictly limited numbers of Scots.

Can we be independent? Absolutely, but not too soon please!

John Leonard, Falkirk.

NICOLA Sturgeon is running out of places to hide February is already looking like a really bad month for the SNP and March looms. In the last 24 hours we have seen Derek Mackay resign on the very day of his own budget, the ferries disaster unfolding, the number of deaths amongst the homeless rising, John Swinney "persuaded" to extend the remit of the inquiry into Curriculum for Excellence and Scottish hospital plans hit by more delays. Can even a diehard SNP supporter really put hand on heart and say the SNP is still doing well?

Nicola Sturgeon has adopted this position, so far, but the cracks in the road are now turning into huge potholes. We are all experiencing them. It is not independence, nor even the SNP getting back to the day job that we need, it is too late for that. The Holyrood 2021 election might not be about independence at all.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.