UNISON is aghast at the decision of the city council to grant permission for a far-right organisation, the Scottish Defence League, to march through the streets of our capital city on Saturday.
It is an absolutely abhorrent decision, the effects of which are amplified by the timing of the march – right in the middle of the Festival. It beggars belief that on one hand we welcome millions of people of different race, colour, sexual orientation and religion to our city whilst on the other hand we allow a far-right organisation that prejudices against the very people to which we extend our hospitality.
The SDL would have us believe that they march for improved rights for our squaddies. The reality of the situation, however, is much darker and a lot less savoury.
The SDL, through many of their far-right blogs and social media space, have said that their march intends to “highlight Islamic problems” such as terrorism and child grooming.
I need only draw attention to Anders Brevik, the IRA, UVF and ETA to show that any insinuation of terrorism being an “Islamic” problem is nonsense. For child grooming, I would draw attention to the recent cases of Jimmy Saville and Stuart Hall.
It is unacceptable that any vile message of hate towards any section of society is allowed to take place on our streets. It is especially abhorrent in the middle of an international and multicultural festival.
I would therefore urge any person wishes to oppose this disgraceful march to attend a counter demonstration that starts at 12pm on August 17 in Chambers Street.
We can only hope that such a catastrophic failure in common sense does not take place in the future.
UNISON members reflect the wide diversity of cultures in our society. As such our banner will be proudly at the counter-demonstration.
Andrew Barnett, branch secretary, Infirmary Street, Edinburgh
It’s bordering on hypocrisy
There is more than a little irony to note that the UK government is considering legal action against Spain over the imposition of border checks in Gibraltar when it is saying that those same controls would be imposed on Scotland on independence.
Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, is part of the EU. In essence border checks are permitted, because neither Britain nor Gibraltar are part of the Schengen group of countries which have ended such checks.
However, the UK is now resorting to gunboat diplomacy to try to end this and the next step could be a formal complaint to the European Commission in Brussels, where it could be argued that Spain was in breach of European Union law by preventing free movement.
Contrast this with the warnings from the UK Government that an independent Scotland would have to adopt the same Schengen criteria, despite already being part of the EU, and be forced to impose border controls.
The same arguments being used by the UK Government against the imposition of border controls between Spain and Gibraltar could equally apply between an independent Scotland and England. Yet again the UK Government has been caught resorting to hypocrisy and scaremongering.
Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh
Help pupils to take those first big steps
Thousands of pupils have prepared to start primary and high school for the first time as the new school year gets under way.
While some youngsters take this big change in their stride, others can find it a difficult time – along with their parents.
The transition from nursery to primary and from primary on to secondary school can be difficult, moving to a bigger school, leaving friends behind and being surrounded by older children. It can be a scary time and some children cope better than others.
ParentLine Scotland, the national, confidential helpline and email service provided by Children 1st, wants to remind parents and carers they are on hand to help. Anyone who is concerned about or caring for a child or young person can contact ParentLine Scotland on 08000 282233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and support.
Jill Cook, ParentLine manager, Children 1st, Edinburgh
NHS not getting the message on calls
It is not surprising that patients miss outpatient appointments without telling the hospital (News, August 9).
When I started treatment at Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion in May, I was given an appointment card with a phone number direct to the ward.
I recently had to phone them. I dialled this number and a recorded message told me to call another number. This number rang and rang for a time before it was answered.
Then someone asked which hospital I wanted. They then put me through to a line, which was eventually answered by a machine asking me to leave a message.
I left my message and had to stay in for several hours waiting for someone to call me back. At the hospital I asked why there was all this delay, and was told that the phone is in a room with just the answering machine. When someone from reception has time, they go and listen to the messages.
Mary Nisbet, Belhaven Place, Edinburgh
Gull cull would be a vote-winning move
Councillor Lesley Hinds doesn’t seem to have the pulse of Edinburgh folks on one issue, with her dismissal of a seagull cull (News, August 9).
Most of us would welcome one. To say “a cull . . . would be extremely difficult within existing legislation”, appears to mean it is possible – if the council has the will. Citywide it would be appreciated and a vote winner. Let’s see some action on this.
Graham Davidson, Sighthill, Edinburgh