IT was great to see the Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and European Commission chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, stand in Brussels this week and call for the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland to be “as open as possible” after Brexit .

Kenny said he did not want Brexit to bring back customs posts and the “old style border”. This was supported by Juncker.

After the UK leaves the EU, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, will become an EU external border, with potential consequences for people’s movement and for trade.

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The Republic has a considerable amount to lose from Brexit due to its geographical, historical, cultural and economic ties with the UK if Brexit turns ugly. Its economy is vulnerable to changes in its trade environment – even more so given the UK Government’s desire to leave the single market and the EU customs union.

This situation has clear relevance for Scotland, forced out of the EU against its will, and it would be scarcely credible that the EU would take note of the situation in Ireland but then turn a blind eye to an independent Scotland.
Alex Orr


AS a member of the SNP I was disappointed that the recent budget took no firm steps to address the widening income disparity in Scotland. The rejection of Labour in Scotland at the General Election was a clear sign that the party which used to stand for greater equality and social justice had failed.

The SNP replaced Labour in being seen as the party that represented a new vision of a more equal Scotland. That is going to be the vision that for most of us will drive the enthusiasm for a Yes vote at the inevitable Referendum.

By its caution over fiscal policy and its failure to address the need for higher income tax (the fairest way to achieve more equality) the Scottish Government is in danger of distancing itself from the other pro-independence parties, who realise that a move to more just taxation (such as we had in the 1960s under Tory and Labour governments!) would start to help rebuild a free Scotland into a more just and equal society.
Rev Dr Iain Whyte
North Queensferry

OVERALL, Derek Mackay should be congratulated on his first budget which is fairly well balanced considering the limitations and the number of unknowns in the newly devolved and untested powers over only part of personal income tax (MSPs pass Scottish Government’s budget, The National, February Friday 23).
John Jamieson
South Queensferry

THE board of the BBC will not have read today’s grudgingly respectful comments by Patrick Harvie on the future of the BBC in Scotland but their aides will have and gleefully reported back to their lords and masters the joyous news that the Jocks have fallen for it again!

But what has Scotland really gained from this announcement? Jobs for a coachload of journalists has to be good news, I suppose, though I seem to remember that a certain D Trump got away with defiling Scotland using a similar sop.

A news programme at 9pm too? But Scots, like everyone else, have lives and therefore who – apart from those journalists and perhaps Mr Harvie – will be watching it?

And the new channel with a similar budget to BBC4: gosh! Tonight’s BBC4 programming is fairly typical of their output. There’s World News at 7pm-7.30pm (at least they have that bit right) but after that it’s non-stop repeats until close down – including two and a half hours of repeats of repeats shown earlier in the evening! So good times ahead for fans of Dr Finlay’s Casebook and the White Heather Club then but not much cheer for the rest of us.
Dave Brackenbury

IT would be easy to fill a page or two with irrefutable examples of anti-SNP spin and opinion offered as news by certain Reporting Scotland newsreaders however, with one sentence, Alan Hinnrichs (Letters, The National, February 23) summed up the raison d’etre of the BBC: “The BBC is state propaganda disguised as an autonomous public sector broadcaster.”

With the British state rocked to its corrupt foundations by the 45 per cent Yes vote, I expect every BBC department to be exploited to keep the Scots “onside” in future.

Therefore, forgive me if I refrain from doing cartwheels over yet another BBC TV channel, as I believe that for as long as public service broadcasting is controlled from London, winning an independence referendum will be very, very difficult.
Malcolm Cordell

I AM in total agreement with L McGregor concerning the whiff of rodent! At present most television seen by all the family at once is probably about meal time, maybe around six o’clock, when most see what goes for news. After this time, settling in to watch a programme of choice will be the priority, and it will be a rare bird who breaks off a favourite to watch the news at 9pm.
James Ahern
East Kilbride

BEFORE seeing Peter Craigie’s follow up letter in Thursday’s paper, I came across a Guardian article on the Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree offered by Oxford University, which – I read with growing incredulity – is a qualification held by many current and former MPs (including many ministers), political advisors, civil servants and thinktank members.

Considering the numerous economic messes perpetrated by our governing classes I do wonder about the quality of the economic element in this degree.

I am sure your average Scot in the street is quite capable of working out that the addition of £30 million to the amount of money which the BBC spends in Scotland out of the £325m licence fee raised here will still be under 50 per cent so is not a very good bargain. Simple arithmetic trumps fancy degree.
Ann Rayner

THERE is widespread consternation among sportspeople about the reduction in public spending on sport, caused in large part by a decline in the National Lottery.

I am shocked to see just how much sport depends on the Lottery: 40 per cent of its income. Does anybody remember that when the Lottery was introduced in the 90s, fears about public funding were calmed by Tory assurances that the money would be used for extras, not as mainstream funding? What short memories we have.
Derek Ball