Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 457

Issue # 457                                              Week ending Saturday 23rd  June 2018

We Cannot Get Away From That Darned World Cup So I Cannot Ignore it
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal
There I was, just about to drive out of the Creed Park recycling centre near Stornoway the other day, when a motorhome pulled up beside me. The driver, obviously a visitor to these islands, said: “Can you help me? I’m looking for a rubbish tip.” Quickly working out which part of the country he was from, I replied: “How about England to win the World Cup?” Well, you should have seen the look on his face. He put the foot down and disappeared in a puff of exhaust fumes ranting on about Geoff Hurst and something that happened in London in 1966. They are still going on about it, these Sassenachs.

You just cannot get away from the World Cup for these three weeks. When you speak to people and tell them how dull it all is, you realise just how many other people are just like you and have no time for the infernal beautiful game. I am beginning to think there are actually more males and 10 times more females who really have no interest in the scores, watching overpaid players, seeing which country wins or anything about the darned competition. We all assume that most other people around us love it - but it isn’t true.

It is just that the ones who go on and on about it. Most of them are barking. Like our dog. I mention him because there was that storm last week. Yes, I know it lifted a marquee or two in the central belt but was it really a storm? I am not so sure. It was certainly a very annoying wind that roared through here. While I suppose it was a great honour having a weather event named after our dog, Hector, we have still not quite worked out how the Met Office knew about his very annoying wind.

Hector’s wind is worse because of his new diet. We have discovered he likes fish. So now he gets his favourite mixed fish dog food which he seems to greatly enjoy. Which is more than be said for all the other occupants of this house who have discovered that the air is not as sweet as it once was. Fishy dog food is quite expensive so I have decided we have to start catching them ourselves. We will start small. I don't think I could land any large fish quite yet. I’m looking for a place where I can catch some small fish to start with. If you know of any, let minnow.

Also, let me know if you like any World Cup anthems. Does We’re On The March With Ally’s Army count? Maybe. No one should attempt a World Cup song and hope it becomes an anthem. Most of them are for England, obviously, but they are awful. Phil Coulter and Bill Martin did one which was repetitively dire in 1970 and who can forget Three Lions? Yeah, everyone. If I tell you that the best known is Football’s Coming Home you will realise it is that irritating one in your head for years. In 2010 apparently there was an unforgettable one by Roland Orzabal, Dizzee Rascal and James Corden. Nor me, haven’t a clue. Not only are they all schmaltzy but they tend to bug the heck out of all the other home nations. They are simply detested - forever. Sorry, Mr Rascal.

So lots of people are making money from the World Cup. Not just the players but in Russia just now but the local population have become all very businesslike and are supplying all sorts of goodies to the visitors from other countries. It was the same in London back when it was there. When was that again? 1964? Yeah, sometime around then. All sorts of stalls sprang up selling memorabilia. The taxman was concerned that not everyone declared their earnings saying: “In the 1800s, one of the MPs decided to introduce tax. In those days it was two pennies in the pound. Some people here seem to think it still is.”

Did you know the Scottish FA was set up by rascals in 1873? Crikey, that’s 145 years ago. Not that I care, of course, because I am not interested in football but is it not a really sad fact that in all that time we have never got past the first round of the World Cup finals competition. Not even once. That is diabolical. Now things could be set to get worse for the representatives of Caledonia. There are rumours that the Scotland football team could also be under investigation for long-term tax evasion. Maybe they have been claiming for silver polish for nearly 150 years.

Removal of Unexploded Device Near North Sea Platform Under Way

Work is finally under way to remove an unexploded device located near a North Sea oil platform.  The ordnance was discovered in the vicinity of the Ninian Central platform during a routine visual inspection in August.  A military explosives expert said it could have the same explosive power as a car bomb.  The platform, located east of Shetland, is owned by Canadian oil firm CNR International and currently has about 200 people on board.

Warning Over Spate of Illegal Metal Detecting on Hadrian’s Wall

Archaeologists have raised the alarm over loss and damage caused by nighthawks in the illegal search for treasure along Hadrian’s Wall.  More than 50 holes dug by people undertaking illegal metal detecting have been found at the Brunton Turret section of the 1,900-year-old World Heritage Site, government heritage agency Historic England said. Nighthawks, the term for illegal metal detectorists, have targeted the turret and well-preserved section of wall, which was built by the men of the Twentieth Legion of the Roman Army, in their search for ancient artefacts.  The ruins of the Brunton Turret section are surrounded by further buried archaeological remains from the frontier of the Roman empire, which are very vulnerable to damage from nighthawks, Historic England said. The discovery is the latest in a spate of nighthawking incidents along the wall, at Corbridge, Housesteads and Steel Rigg, over the last three years.  All the sites are protected as scheduled monuments where using a metal detector without proper authorisation is a criminal offence. Historic England is calling on visitors to Hadrian’s Wall and Tyne Valley residents to report illegal metal detecting which is “causing loss and damage to our shared cultural heritage”. Mike Collins, Historic England’s inspector of ancient monuments at Hadrian’s Wall, said: “We know that the majority of the metal-detecting community complies with the laws and regulations regarding discovery and recovery of objects from the land.  But the small number of people who steal artefacts and damage ancient sites are breaking the law and robbing us all of the knowledge and understanding that objects from the past can give us.  These nighthawks are committing a criminal offence and we’d like everyone’s help to ensure they are caught. Together we can protect the precious shared legacy that our archaeological sites hold.”  Mark Harrison, head of heritage crime and policing advice for Historic England, said: “Illegal metal detecting is not a victimless crime.  We may never see or fully understand the objects taken or damaged because they have been removed from their original sites with no care or record as to their history or context.”

Take A Walk with Susan in this Very Special Year
Moderator of the General Assembly wants to unite people while celebrating a golden anniversary for women in the ministry.  From a council housing estate in Penicuik to the Moderator of the General Assembly.  The Right Rev Susan Brown’s story could well be a script for a Hollywood movie.  Particularly when you bear in mind that when the 59-year-old first joined the ministry 33 years ago, women in the church were still a pretty rare species.But it will come as no surprise to anyone who has met the engaging Dornoch Cathedral minister that she has reached such heady – and deserved – heights. For her passion has never wavered since she first decided as a teenager to follow her calling.  Susan said: “As people did in the early 1970s, my twin sister Mo and I were sent to church every week.  Mo gave up when we were 10 but I kept going.  I rebelled a wee bit by turning up in my jeans but the auld wifies would miss me if I wasn’t there.  I was about 15 when I felt I was being called to the ministry – even though I’d never met a female minister.  It was just something I felt compelled to do. I toyed with becoming a PE teacher as I was really into hockey and sport but I kept on coming back to ministry.  So I was one of those weird people who headed straight into it when I left Penicuik High School.”  Susan did her four-year Bachelor of Divinity at Edinburgh University, then a two-year post graduate Diploma in Ministry.  As she was only 24 when she was ready to do her year’s probation, Susan decided to do two years ... and landed a pretty plum position.  She said: “I was assigned to St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh – it was pretty mind-blowing.  When you’re young you don’t realise what a big deal it is but it was an amazing training ground.  Gilleasbuig Macmillan, the minister, was a great guy and those two years stood me in very good stead.”  Despite never having had a female minister, the congregation at Killearnan on the Black Isle then had the courage to call Susan as their new minister.  And over the course of 13 years, both she and the congregation managed to transform its fortunes.  Susan explained: “It was a tiny wee congregation when I first arrived. In fact, they were thinking about closing it as the church really was in the middle of nowhere. At first, people were writing to the local paper saying a female minister shouldn’t be allowed. It’s not what women did then. It didn’t take long though – if you do a decent funeral and give a good account of the person’s life, you can usually win people round! And they were an amazing bunch of people – starting from scratch, we managed to fund and build a lovely church hall.  They really were up for anything – it was brilliant.”  In 1998, Susan was invited to apply for Dornoch Cathedral but never dreamed for a second she was truly in the running. I just thought they wanted a woman to apply for it,” she said.  It’s a beautiful church with a history stretching back almost 800 years.  I didn’t think for a moment I’d get it – I was the first female minister there too – and I’m still there, 20 years later!”  However, Susan is having to take a back seat for the next 12 months to focus on the Moderator’s role. It will see her make two foreign trips – to Uruguay and Argentina in October and India and Pakistan in January. Women will be at the forefront of both trips.  She said: “There’s a tiny Protestant church in Uruguay, with a female Moderator there too.  There’s a lot of domestic abuse in Latin America – it’s a very male-orientated society.  So I hope to encourage women in both places to speak out during this very special year for women in the church.”  But Susan is most looking forward to taking forward her theme for the year.  That will see her walking with a host of organisations, bringing people together who may not normally seek out each other’s company.  But the theme is two-fold – to get people walking and talking but also to raise awareness of, and hopefully improve, mental health.  Part of her desire stems from an issue all too prevalent in the Highlands.  She explained: “Suicide is a major issue in the area. I want to get people with mental health issues to walk with me to find out what both the church and fellow human beings can do to help. I’m also going to be walking with women from Women’s Aid. I want to understand the lives of women who are treated badly, simply because of their sex.  And I’m going to be working with the Muslim community to bring them together with Christians to share their stories.  If you walk with someone you get to know them in a different way than you do sitting round a desk with a barrier between you. I also want to organise a geological walk, looking at the environment around us and seeing what stories it tells from a scientific and a Christian point of view.  We used to do it all the time, through pilgrimages, but we’ve lost sight of that.  I truly believe that walking and talking is the best medicine – for our physical and mental health, as well as our spirituality. And if it helps break down prejudices along the way, that will be even better.” On every step of her journey, Susan will be cheered by her husband Derek (58), a chaplain at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, and their children Simon (31) and Hannah (28). And she’s delighted to be Moderator 50 years since the historic decision to ordain women to the ministry. Susan added: “This year is such a special one for women in the Church. It’s a reflection of the women who worked so hard to allow the door to be opened, later enabling people like me to sail through.”

Mayday Call Sparks Major Search Operation

Emergency services were launched on Monday night after HM Coastguard and several fishing vessels picked up a spoken mayday call in the Moray Firth off Macduff. The four man crew of Macduff lifeboat launched just after 6pm and were tasked with searching the inshore coastal area around Tarlair in response to the spoken mayday call.  It stated that there were three people onboard a vessel and they were abandoning ship. No further transmissions were received for the duration of the search.  Lifeboats from Buckie and Fraserburgh were also launched to join in with the search along with the HM Coastguard helicopter from Inverness and local Coastguard coastal rescue teams.  Buckie and Fraserburgh lifeboats performed a costal search from their respective stations as they made their way to the main search area off Macduff.  An extensive search of the area from Troup Head to Portsoy was carried out by the three lifeboats who were assisted by two fishing vessels the Sardonyx and Fisher Boys. The search began inshore and finished roughly 6.5 nautical miles out.  The search was suspended at around 10:30 pm with all boats stood down to return to station.  Macduff lifeboat coxswain Chassey Findlay, who took the helm of the lifeboat for the search said: "Visibility was good during the search and the sea state was moderate, so if there was anything to be found by the lifeboats, HM Coastguard or the search and rescue helicopter I am confident that it would have been spotted.  I would like to thank the skippers and crews of Sardonyx and Fisher Boys who came to assist during the search.  The crews of these fishing vessels put their trips on hold to help with the search and this goes to show what a strong bond there is within the fishing communities along the north-east coast."  Macduff RNLI operations manager Roy Morrison said: "Obviously with nothing being found during the search we are still concerned that a vessel may have been in trouble and would like to bring this to a conclusion. "I would urge anyone who saw anything last night or if anyone has any additional information to call Aberdeen Coastguard."

History in Making As Crofters Seal Land Deal
A group of East Sutherland crofters have finally taken control of their future with a £300,000 land buyout - and created the first job in a century in the area!  The Garbh Allt Community Initiative (GACI) has purchased the 3000 acre West Helmsdale crofting estate from landowner Sutherland Estates.  The land comprises four townships south of the Helmsdale River.  GACI chairwoman Anne Fraser said it had taken nearly two years to achieve the buyout and plans were already underway to improve the area.  "We are delighted that the process to buy the land has come to fruition.  The process was made simpler by the fact that the land was offered to the community by the Sutherland (Estates) family, and we are grateful that we didn’t have to go through the process of an aggressive buy out, which could have taken much longer,” she said.  "The land  is made up of a majority of croft land in the areas of Marrel, West Helmsdale, Gartymore and Portgower and the attached Hill ground, south of the river and village of Helmsdale.  Garbh Allt (meaning rough burn) is the name of the burn that runs through the land area.  We felt it was appropriate to attach a meaningful name to the company.   As most the land is under crofting tenure the community is mindful of the legislation that rightfully protects croft land however we have hatched plans, having consulted the community in the first instance, that will allow us to develop the area to make it self sustaining. We have plans to improve the land and infrastructure, as well as working to make the area a more attractive place to live.  There is a lack of employment in the Helmsdale area so we are looking at ways that we can build jobs into the management of our land. The area is of significant importance with regards to its connection to the Land League movement; its geological importance; its archaeological interest; and it natural flora, fauna and wildlife. The plan for the future will be to look at how we make the most of these resources in a way that compliments and betters the crofting way of life. We have a part time development officer who is ready to start work officially with us.  That is the first job created in the initiative area for about 100 years, and we see this as being just the start.  We , the directors, have been working hard since July 2016 to make this happen.  We have had support and assistance from many people.  Scottish Land Fund and SSE BOWL fund were the sources of funding for the costs associated with the purchase of the land.  They have also funded three years of the part time development worker post.  Community Land Scotland has been a great help, as has HIE - Eilidh Todd particularly - and the Big Lottery.  We see this as just the start of things.  We are keen to get on and work with the community to make this an even better place to live.  We are planning to have a formal celebration later in the summer to mark this monumental event and look forwards to involving people in that." The buyout was made possible with a £29,918 award from the Beatrice Partnership Fund. The Scottish Land Fund had already previously granted £273,000 towards the purchase.  There are 178 individual crofts and common grazings on the estate with 103 tenanted and a 75 owner occupied. It is estimated that 56 people are actively engaged in crofting. A community ballot gave 95% support in favour of buying the land.

Argyll Estate Which Inspired the Dam Busters Raid Put Up for Sale
It was the site of a secret testing ground for the Second World War operation that inspired the film The Dam Busters and boasts its own “private pub”.  Now the 1,041-acre Glenstriven Estate has been put on the market with a price tag of £2.8 million.  The country estate in Argyll, which overlooks a majestic loch and is a popular pheasant hunting ground, was used as a testing ground for the wartime “bouncing bomb” operation featured in the 1955 film. The estate, bought by the current owners, the Blacker family, in the early 1980s, boasts a 1860 country house, sporting facilities and woodlands and coastal gardens, as well as The Glenstriven Arms – a former generator building converted into a private pub. The setting, on the banks of Loch Striven on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll, was a secret site where prototypes of the bouncing bomb designed by aircraft engineer Barnes Wallis were tested. It is believed approximately 200 inert bombs were dropped in the loch during training runs before 617 Squadron’s successful night-time raid on hydroelectric dams in the Ruhr Valley, Germany’s industrial heartland, in May 1943. Locals were evacuated from the area during the tests so that they did not know what was going on. A member of the Berry family, who owned the estate at the time of the tests and were the only people allowed to stay in the area, has previously spoken of the family being moved to the back of the house and curtains drawn before the tests were carried out.  Loch Striven was believed to have been chosen for the bomb tests because the landscape resembled the area of Germany where the bombs were to be dropped.

Historic 7ft Claymore Stolen From Isle of Canna Museum
The theft of a centuries old claymore sword from a museum on a Scottish island has sparked a nationwide police appeal.  Police Scotland said a 400-year-old broadsword was removed from Canna House on the Isle of Canna, one of the Small Isles. It is believed to have been taken sometime between Wednesday, June 6 and Saturday, June 9.  The 7ft sword - which dates back to the 17th century - is described as a two handled broadsword with a double edged blade, a wooden grip and a stamped fleur de lys. The National Trust for Scotland have spoken of their “concern” over the lost relic. The organisation’s operations Manager for the Islands, Alan Rankin said:  “We are very concerned that this significant piece from Canna’s collection appears to have been stolen. It’s been an important part of the house’s rich and unique collection for decades.  We are doing all we can to support the police with their enquiries and would urge anyone with any information to contact Mallaig Police Station.” Police Scotland officer Constable Neil Davies said: “Incidents like this are extremely unusual in the Small Isles and I can assure people we are working to establish what has happened to the sword.  We would like to speak to anybody with information which could help with our enquiries. There is no indication that entry was forced to the museum so anybody who was at Canna House over this period may have information which could assist us.”

Grave Problem for Islanders As Mull Runs Out of Cemetery Space
Islanders are being told they will have to die before the local council will sell a plot in which they can be buried.  Cemetery space on Mull is now so tight that the practice of pre-buying final resting places has been banned.  Councillor Mary-Jean Devon told a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s Oban, Lorn and the Isles area committee that the crisis has been looming for years.  Now islanders are not being afforded the peace of mind of sparing their next of kin unnecessary worry by getting their funeral plans in order before they die.  Ms Devon said: “People are really concerned that they are not going to have a grave to be buried in.  You can’t buy in Tobermory, Salen, Dervaig and Calgary. “  The independent Mull councillor added: “I have been trying for 18 months to get something done, I have been asking questions for a long time, but have got no answer.  Fionnphort cemetery is full and they can’t expand that one, but they can expand the others.”  Ms Devon added: “We need to do something out of consideration and respect for people, particularly elderly people.  There have been people diagnosed with a terminal illness and they couldn’t buy a lair to be buried in, in their own island.  That was last year and we got it sorted eventually, but it was so distressing for the family that people have to fight for a lair.”  Mull undertaker Billy McClymont said: “There is a moratorium on Mull, you can’t buy a lair on Mull unless you are dead. It’s pretty bad, they are not allowing people to buy them. Tobermory is down to nine lairs now, for a town the size of Tobermory, with 800 to 900 people, to only have nine graves available is pretty severe.  You could use them in a couple of months, what are they going to do then?”  Mull is the second largest island in the Inner Hebrides and Mr McClymont said: “Calgary cemetery is full and has been like that for years but if you want to be buried in one part of Mull, you don’t want to be buried miles away, you want to be buried in the  cemetery where your family are.”  An Argyll and Bute Council spokesman said: “A feasibility study is currently under way to establish how an expansion of the cemetery at Beadoun near Tobermory could be carried out.  The process is in the early stages and any expansion would depend on capital funds being available.”

Flights to Isle of Skye ‘Likely to Resume’
There is a 70/30 probability that flights to Skye will take off again within two years, Loganair has predicted.  Managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “The Skye economy is a world apart from when the previous service ended 30 years ago. There is enough of a population base and it is far enough away.  It’s sensible and feasible to look at.”  Mr Hinkles said Skye was well above the four-hour minimum road or rail journey time required to make an air route sustainable.  He said aircraft similar to the 18-seat Twin Otter, which lands on the beach at Barra, would be suitable.  Any larger plane to Broadford “would require massive investment that’s not going to happen.”  Mr Hinkles said: “We’re doing a piece of work on this. There is a 70/30 probability of it happening in the next two years. It is more likely to happen than not.” Loganair, which previously operated flights there from Glasgow, is part of a group with Highland Council examining the feasibility of restoring the air link. Any service is likely to go out to tender as it would require Scottish Government support.

Scottish Anger Over ‘Shady Cash Grab’ At Edinburgh’s Fort Kinnaird

The Scottish Government has accused the UK Westminster Government of “conning” Scotland after a share of Fort Kinnaird retail park was sold for £167 million.  Part of the Edinburgh mall has been sold to London-based M&G Estates, a fund which has begun moving some of its operations to Luxembourg because of Brexit.  Fort Kinnaird, the Crown Estate’s most valuable asset in Scotland, was not included in the list of Scottish properties to be managed by Crown Estate Scotland following the passing of the Scotland Bill in 2016. SNP MSP Richard Lochhead said: “The UK Westminster Government no doubt wants this shady cash grab kept below the radar – but Scotland is simply being conned. Just two years ago UK ministers refused Scottish Government requests to devolve this site to the new Crown Estate Scotland, and it’s now clear that there are 167 million reasons why.” He added: “Not only that – it’s a bitter pill to swallow that whilst Crown Estate Scotland is looking to sell off assets to raise funds to invest in its portfolio, its UK counterpart is currently undertaking a multi-billion pound redevelopment of its central London assets – the funds from Fort Kinnaird would have been a significant amount of money for Crown Estate Scotland.”  The Crown Estate is a £13 billion real estate business which returns all its profits to the Treasury, some £2.6bn over the past decade.  According to the SNP, the Crown Estate is undertaking a £1.5bn redevelopment of its properties in London, while Crown Estate Scotland is having to sell off a tenanted farm in Fochabers in Moray to raise revenue. The nationalists are demanding that Scotland receives the full £167m. Mr Lochhead said: “Had this site been devolved, the Scottish Government could have reinvested such a huge windfall in transforming Crown Estate sites across the country, including Glenlivet and Fochabers estates, and villages and harbours in my constituency, and other sites across Scotland. Instead, the cash is disappearing from right under our noses. The UK Westminster Government needs to play fair and give Scotland the money we are owed to help support our communities particularly in our more rural and coastal areas.”  A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: “The Scotland Act 2016, agreed by both Holyrood and UK Parliament, agreed that assets held in joint venture structures, rather than by the Crown Estate alone, were not included in the transfer to Scottish ministers.  The Crown Estate held a 50 per cent interest in the Gibraltar Limited Partnership, with the remainder held by the Hercules Unit Trust, advised by British Land.  This partnership owned Fort Kinnaird and Gallagher retail park in Cheltenham, England and was due to end in September 2019; the partners decided not to extend. Fort Kinnaird is now owned in a new joint venture established between Hercules Unit Trust and M&G, and the Crown Estate has resumed sole ownership of Gallagher retail park. The Scotland Act 2016 provided that proceeds from the Gibraltar Limited Partnership would return to the Crown Estate.”

Redeveloped Waverley Mall ‘Will Lure Both Shoppers and Tourists’

Plans to transform Edinburgh’s Waverley Mall reveal a new vision for the “gateway to Edinburgh”, featuring rooftop gardens and European piazza-style area. Moorgarth, asset manager for the owner of the mall immediately adjacent to Waverley train station, has submitted proposals for substantial investment which they hope will revitalise the 1980s shopping centre.  The centre is connected to Waverley train station which serves over 29 million passengers per annum and is currently home to 35 retail units.  Space for more shops, restaurants and leisure units will be created on the new roof terrace while retaining the inside food court. The terrace will open onto Princes Street with steps leading down to an open piazza area.  The revamped centre would aim to attract high-end shops and restaurants with an emphasis on showcasing the best of Scotland.  Waverley Mall began life as the Waverley Market, a Victorian structure which predated the neighbouring Balmoral Hotel and housed many independent fruit and vegetable retailers.  Since opening in 1984 the modern mall has undergone several rebrands, being known as the Waverley Shopping Centre, Princes Mall and finally Waverley Mall.  Plans for the updated three-storey building feature an increased level with space for a restaurant offering views across Princes Street gardens and the Old Town.  Developers also included plans to make the centre a social area capable of hosting concerts and events at night.  Tim Vaughan, CEO of Moorgarth said “This has brought about a vision that looks to return areas of the mall back to the original market concept, whilst looking to create something of real quality and vibrancy within the heart of the city. Along with improved roof space, the new entrance and widening of the pavement on Princes Street are all about establishing a greater sense of arrival into Edinburgh that capitalises on its unique location. Through innovative design we can create a truly destinational scheme offering facilities that Edinburgh currently doesn’t have. We must evolve to meet demands for residents, businesses and visitors.”

New Landmark Overlooking Loch Etive Will Tell Ancient Story

A new landmark overlooking Loch Etive in Argyll telling an ancient story is to be unveiled on Saturday.  The landmark, at the site of Ventient Energy’s Beinn Ghlas wind farm, was commissioned by the original landowner. Sam Macdonald, who owned the land, commissioned Scottish sculptor and public artist David Wilson to design and build the “Sheiling for Deirdre and Naoise”.  The Deirdre and Naoise story was a particular favourite of Sam’s late wife Evelyn and is one of the most significant early stories of Irish history. Edinburgh-headquartered Ventient Energy is contributing funds to the unveiling ceremony of the Sheiling.  The sheiling – a Gaelic word for a hut, or collection of huts, once common in wild and lonely places in the hills and mountains – is being officially unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday being attended by Michael Russell MSP and Mark Hanniffy, the Consul General of Ireland to Scotland, along with more than 100 guests and local dignitaries.  Irish President Michael D Higgins is sending a message of support as he is unable to attend the ceremony. The sheiling, situated near one of the turbines on the Ventient Energy wind farm, will have the appearance of being on the site for 1,000 years due to its historic features and will look across the stunning Scottish landscape to where Deirdre and Naoise lived in the 7th C AD. The story, which links Ireland with Scotland, was first featured in the Glenmasan Manuscript which is held in the National Library in Edinburgh. It is the 780th anniversary of the manuscript in June and Michael Russell MSP is also involved in that celebration.

Boost for Controversial Flats Plan At Aberdeen Quarry

A controversial scheme to build 299 flats at a historic Aberdeen quarry is a step closer to being approved.  Plans to create the development at Rubislaw Quarry has been met with stiff opposition from residents in the west end of the city, with more than 300 objections lodged with Aberdeen City Council.  Now, in a major breakthrough for developers, planning officials have approved the scheme with the final decision to be taken by councillors on planning committee next Thursday.  Rubislaw Quarry was in operation from the mid 18th Century and produced more than 6 million tonnes of Aberdeen granite, which was dispatched across the country for projects such as Waterloo Bridge, the docks at Portsmouth and the Bell Rock Lighthouse.  It has been abandoned since the 1970s with the quarry, which is surrounded by houses and office blocks, since filling up with water. The proposed £68m development, which is being put forward by Canadian real estate investment fund Carttera, will sit over 10 storeys and will include a gym, a bistro and museum.

Glasgow Unveils 4000-strong Volunteer Team for 2018 Euro Championships

Suzy Perez Cameron and Yash Patel were at Kelvingrove Museum as the Glasgow 2018 European Championships unveil Team 2018, a 4,000-strong volunteer workforce. The championships, which take place between 2-12 August, will involve 3,000 athletes from 52 countries competing in sports including cycling, golf, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon.

Scotland's Cultural Strategy Chief to Lead Transformation of Paisley

One of Scotland's leading arts administrators is to take charge of the legacy of Paisley's bid to become a UK city of culture.  Leonie Bell, has been drawing up a new national cultural strategy for the Scottish Government for the last 18 months, will lead efforts to transform the Renfrewshire town over the next few years.  However the move means she will not be returning to her job as director of arts at Creative Scotland, where she was seconded from at the beginning of last year to work with the government on its new culture blueprint. She will now head up a new Paisley Partnership which has been set up to build on the momentum developed by the town's UK culture capital bid. It lost out to Coventry to host the title in 2021.  Ms Bell, who will start her new job in the autumn said: "I am so excited to get started. Paisley is brimming with potential – and it can lead the way for the rest of UK in showing how a town can use culture to transform itself.  Culture offers so many opportunities for communities – it is fundamental to who we are and why we are. Paisley is such a deeply and distinct cultural town – both in terms of its history and contemporary culture. You only need to walk around it for five minutes to see that – with such wonderful buildings and spaces as the abbey and the town hall."

Tech Sector Boom Delivers £3.9 Billion Boost to Economy

The scale of the boom being seen in Scotland’s technology sector is underlined today with new figures showing thousands of jobs have been created as part of a multi-billion pound annual boost to the economy.  Data from industry body Tech Nation shows job numbers in the sector in Scotland rose by 8 per cent last year to over 48,000, with average turnover per employee also hitting £80,000.  The report highlights the contribution of three Scottish tech hubs – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee – which together contribute three-fifths of Scotland’s total tech turnover of £3.9 billion.  The Tech Nation report comes hot on the heels of last week’s announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May that the Scottish capital will be the location for Scotland’s first artificial intelligence and blockchain accelerator, run by Wayra UK in partnership with the University of Edinburgh. It is expected to create almost 400 more jobs for the sector.  Gerard Grech, chief executive at Tech Nation which analyses the industry’s contribution annually, said Scotland is one of the “jewels in the crown in the UK’s tech sector” and cited the success of the likes of Skyscanner and FanDuel. “Scottish companies have continued to add jobs and are actively meeting up and collaborating across the sector. It is great to see that Scotland’s strengths in artificial intelligence and in data science are helping to bring forward many new start-ups,” he said. The report highlighted how latest figures show that the number of technology start-ups in Edinburgh is accelerating thanks to initiatives such as CodeBase, the UK’s largest tech incubator. It said Glasgow’s lower living costs are attracting a new generation of tech start-ups and workers, with a strong focus on areas such as data science and space.  Dundee continues to be dominated by the gaming industry, with the city’s talent stemming from renowned computer science and gaming courses at the University of Dundee and Abertay University. Cally Russell, chief executive and founder of Edinburgh-based shopping app firm Mallzee, said: “These are exciting times to work for a tech start-up in Scotland. There’s a real community spirit and a strong start-up ecosystem here in Edinburgh which really spurs you on to succeed. We are lucky to have lots of very talented people in Edinburgh thanks to the great universities and the appeal of the city itself as a beautiful place to live and work, with a strong heritage in technology and business, it really is a fabulous place to start a business.”