THE nationalists in Scotland are forever exhorting us to follow the Irish example. Now we have the perfect opportunity to do so. With their heavy defeats in two referendums, where those in power were trying to make Ireland something the people have shown they do not want their country to be, the Irish Taoiseach has stepped down ("Irish premier quits after bruising defeats in referendums", The Herald, March 21). There is a clear lesson here for Europe as well as the countries constituting the British Isles. The ''woke'' factions have eventually gone too far and galvanised the hitherto and overwhelming silent majority into responding. Enough is enough. This is hopefully the start of the return of common sense.

Please, now, can we have a couple of referendums in Scotland as well? The nationalists are always proposing Ireland as the model we should aim for so surely they will concur and it does not involve the UK. The constitutional question was settled in the nationalists' "once in a lifetime" vote in 2014; so can we have only two: on gender and on the SNP Hate Crime Act? That would suffice to ascertain the feelings of our own silent majority.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

A political disaster

ANY minister reading your Letters Pages this week must realise that the Hate Crime Act is a political disaster waiting to explode under the Scottish Government. As demonstrated by your correspondents it is flawed law, absurd, and is rejected as a pernicious attack on the fundamentals of a free society: the right to think and articulate thought. A wise government would keep the Act dormant. An unwise one will pay a heavy political price for activating it.

I for one have no intention of paying any regard to it in the way I think, write, talk and argue. I regard my right to free speech, to say what I think, to offend and be offended, as essential to my cultural, social and political life. I was born in 1937 into a free society, and I don’t intend to die in one that is unfree, where a police constable can tell me what is and what is not permissible.

The Scottish Government is wrong to believe that the hammer of the law is the best way to tackle human relations. A far better way is the cleansing, disinfecting air of open discussion, debate that probes and exposes prejudices, and fearless examination of what makes for our differences as a way of understanding each other, and living together.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.

READ MORE: How can Police Scotland be trusted on hate crime laws?

READ MORE: What have we come to if we praying is to be made illegal?

READ MORE: Put us out of our misery, Sunak. Call an election now

Challenge to our rights

THE Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act which comes into effect on April 1 does indeed feel like an April fool. However it is far from funny and is a real challenge to our right of freedom of speech in Scotland.

I fear it will take away the right to offend and could be used by trans rights activists to try to silence and potentially criminalise women who do not share their beliefs.

Even some supporters of the new hate crime law have concerns, particularly about enforcement, with many saying it is a recipe for disaster.

MSPs made significant amendments to the current hate crime legislation when they were scrutinising the bill in parliament after lawyers, journalists and comedians raised concerns that it infringed on free speech. However, the general feeling is that very understandable concerns remain and the Scottish state appeared to be more willing than it had been in previous times to interfere in people's private lives.

I fear there is a danger of completely malicious complaints being recorded and retained by police and personally urge the Scottish Government to clarify how such data would be handled.

But come April Fool's Day, many eyes will be on Scotland to see just how the new Hate Crime Act will be implemented and if indeed, as many expect, we will see the end to freedom of speech and having an opinion.

Jason Findlay, Glasgow.

• AT the risk of falling foul of the Hate Crime Act in a couple of weeks I might as well get my comments in now: have we ever had a dimmer bunch of politicians in Scotland? There isn’t one in government I would send out for the messages .

Michael Watson, Glasgow.

• JUDGING from the plethora of letters against the Hate Crime Act, I wonder if it will be a crime to hate the Hate Crime Act ?

Ian McNair, Cellardyke.

It will still be lawful to pray

VARIOUS letter writers have reacted to the buffer zones around women’s healthcare facilities with claims that saying the Rosary is to be outlawed and of Putinesque dictatorships. This is, of course, not the case. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is not made lightly and the women involved do not need to run a gauntlet of even silently praying people hanging around outside clinics. It remains lawful to pray and your letter writers’ god or gods will receive those prayers just as effectively wherever they are made.

Brian Dempsey, Lecturer in Law, University of Dundee.

SNP must go after Labour

IT is a measure of the lamentable standard of political debate in this country that the First Minister’s choice of words in expressing a hope that no Scottish parliamentary seats at Westminster will be held by Tories has been represented, with what can only be described as wilful stupidity and dishonesty, as a threat to exterminate all Tory voters (" Yousaf urges voters to ‘make Scotland Tory-free’ as pressure mounts on SNP", The Herald, March 16). But he is making a major strategic mistake in elevating this hope to the status of a plank in his election campaign.

If a majority of English seats are held by Tories, then it matters not a doit or a docken whether they hold a lot, a few or none of the Scottish seats: we will still have a Tory government. And since it seems unlikely that the forthcoming Westminster election will be won by the Tories, what need was there for Mr Yousaf to raise the issue at all? A far more urgent task facing him and his Government is to minimise the number of Scottish votes given to Labour.

Keir Starmer’s party can win at Westminster without any help from Scottish voters. Labour does not need Scotland; and Scotland most certainly does not need Labour, as both its past record and what can be expected from its present policy statements proves beyond cavil. What Scotland needs is independence; and the fact remains that since a popular insurrection is not in prospect, the only means of achieving this is by maintaining the SNP as the dominant political force in Scotland. Of course, this would be easier to do if the party would pull its socks up and start campaigning, not just for victory at Westminster or at Holyrood, but for what is supposed to be its raison d’être: independence.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.

The Herald: Has Humza Yousaf set the SNP's sights on the wrong target?Has Humza Yousaf set the SNP's sights on the wrong target? (Image: PA)

Scrap the Bank of England

EVERY month the Bank of England says inflation is lower/higher than expected; growth is lower/higher than expected.

Every month nothing is as the Bank of England expected. The inference from that?

The Bank of England is clueless and is at the mercy of events. The recent fall in inflation ("Fall in the cost of food helps push inflation down to unexpected low", The Herald, March 21) has little to do with the Bank even though it tries to take the credit. It’s simply shocks to the economy of a year ago working their way out of the system.

So why not scrap the Bank of England altogether? Would anyone really notice? (Other than mortgages might have remained affordable had the Bank not needlessly interfered with a rise in interest rates when the causes of inflation were totally external: Putin etc.) I don’t suggest we throw Andrew Bailey et al on the scrap heap. We could gainfully employ them but on much lower salaries than they currently enjoy.

They could be doing something much more useful, like digging holes and then filling them in again.

William Thomson, Denny.

Disgrace of NHS waiting lists

FOLLOWING a fairly minor stroke last November I received first-class treatment both in the QEUH and with subsequent home visits. Unfortunately several weeks later I experienced vision failure in my left eye. Contact with my own optician resulted in referral (by him) to the NHS opthalmic department. After two weeks with no response (from any source) I contacted my own medical practice. Due polite response indicated "it may be 56 to 70 weeks before you receive a response". Unbelievable. No action for over a year. No verbal/written advice to this effect and here was me daily waiting patiently by the phone.

Assuredly the NHS has many commendable attributes but the ever-growing plethora of waiting lists is a disappointing exception.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.