AND, yet again, we cannot get the result we need to get out of our tournament group to reach the knock-out stages (‘Last-gasp heartache for Scotland’, June 24).

There can be no doubt that the Tartan Army did its level best to encourage our players and, if we qualify for the group stages of the next tournament, the team will be followed by the undimmed enthusiasm of our fervid supporters, who will travel in hope, though not much expectation.

What can we put our stumbling at the final hurdle in the last minute of added-on time down to? Is it attributable to a lack of self-belief or quality in the team, the desertion by Lady Luck, or the failure of the whistler to keep his appointment with Specsavers before that last game? You pays your money, you drinks your beer and you takes your choice!

One thing is for sure: the departure of the Tartan Army from Germany will put a big dent in the German economy if it depends upon the volume of beer consumed by the followers of their national teams. Our boys certainly go over and above the call of duty in that regard. They will be sorely missed.

But behind the misery of our last-ditch exit,we should all be lifted by the glorious exploits of the Glasgow Warriors, who last week won the United Rugby Championship in Pretoria against all the odds as the underdogs. Head coach Franco Smith took his team back to his old stomping ground and brought them home victorious, having instilled in them a never-say-die spirit.

Let us mourn the wreckage of our footballing hopes in the Euros but let us celebrate the magnificent achievement of our victory in the final of a great rugby tournament against the favourites, which smacks of the thrill Scotland experienced when a Scottish football team, composed entirely of west of Scotland players, won the European Cup in 1967 against the hot favourites – and was the first British team to do so.
Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


There's always next time ...

THE old saying that “hope springs eternal” was vividly illustrated by the fate of the national team at the European championships. Yes, Scotland had some key players missing through injury and yes, we ought to have had a penalty against Hungary, but across the three group games we were generally insipid and unadventurous.

Plaudits to the Tartan Army for spending a lot of money in their determination to support Scotland. Dare I say, “Still, there’s always next time ...”?
R Matthews, Glasgow.


School vote was a free and democratic one
JODY Harrison’s article, “School defends replacing head girl role after backlash from parents” (June 24), explains that the pupils of Williamwood High School have elected two boys as “captains” after a democratic vote by pupils. There seems to be a bit of a stooshie now as it’s basically an unintended consequence of changing a decades-old system of one head girl and one head boy. It does also suggest that people should be careful of what they wish for.

Marion Calder, a director of the For Women Scotland campaign group, suggests to us that multiple studies show that girls are willing to vote for boys but that boys will only typically vote for boys – quite a profound claim to make.

Just to be clear, it appears that a free democratic vote that resulted in the election of two boys as captains is now being questioned, indeed possibly challenged. If Ms Calder’s inference is correct then any school with a majority of boys will elect boys as captains, resulting in a reduction in girls holding key positions. Maybe all these experts should carefully consider the laws of unintended consequences before making major changes. It’s similar to those who demand a referendum then want another one when they lost it.
John Gilligan, Ayr.


Buffer zones at abortion clinics
JOE MacEachen and James Hardy (“Pro-life lobby have power”, Letters, June 24) are of course entitled to their anti-abortion views but their outrage at the result of the vote to set up buffer zones around clinics providing abortions is frankly hysterical. 

Mr Hardy asks if the buffer zones are needed to prevent what he calls “the ugly and self-evident truth about Scotland’s brutal abortion horror” fully leaking out.  This is clearly rubbish. Stopping campaigners from trying to intimidate staff and patients outside clinics does not stop campaigning in more civilised and (dare I say) more Christian ways.

Mr MacEachen is also worried that the buffer zone legislation will be followed by the legalisation of assisted dying and the abolition of Catholic schools, both long-overdue reforms.

Opinion polls have shown that over two-thirds of Scots support the right for those of sound mind with a terminal illness to ask for a speedy and dignified death. Those who oppose this, and prefer to have a possibly prolonged and distressing death, should of course have the right to palliative care. But they have no right to deny others a dignified death.

As for Catholic schools, how can anyone justify the continued funding by taxpayers of special schools promoting a religion which, as the census results show, only 13.3% of Scots belong to? These schools were set up at a time when Scotland was a largely Christian nation but when many within the dominant Protestant church overlooked the call to love their neighbours. The result was that serious anti-Catholic discrimination was then rife. Those days are long past so there is no longer any justification for special state-funded schools for Catholics.
Alistair Easton, Edinburgh.


Another gender fiasco on the way?
LUKEWARM at best from the start,  it seems the SNP have now abandoned the Cass Review.
It was a review that was welcomed by the entire world community. So, how inappropriate  was it that John Swinney could march at the weekend and hold aloft a banner claiming there should be a ban on conversion therapy for some troubled young people, struggling with gender problems? Dr Cass was quite clear that a blanket conversion therapy ban would prevent the right counselling for some young people in a confused state over gender. 

It would seem Mr Swinney wants to deny these troubled young people real help and prefers to side with those who would blindly ban any counselling treatment of any kind that did not fit in with their own preconceived ideas of what is best. This unfortunately has another GRR fiasco written all over it.
Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.