THIS week's readers' letters to the Advertiser includes views on 'net neutrality', the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier and a thank you message from the British Red Cross.

To have your say on any local issue, email with 'Letter' in the subject line of your email. Please keep your contributions as short and to the point as you can, and remember to include your name and address.

We also need a daytime phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be published. Happy writing!

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AN IMPORTANT recent event in the USA has once again raised the issue about how we, as a western nation, can uphold the freedoms and liberties that make up our country and its culture as a primary foundation.

The freedom to express, speak and think are the qualities that made, and still make, our culture, particularly in the arts, so envious to other nations. This is why so many people respect those qualities.

However, in recent years, those qualities and freedoms have been increasingly under threat from censorship of many kinds – from collective political correctness to thought-up rules from the powers-that-be.

Most recently, the US Federal Communications Commission decided on December 14, by three votes to two, to roll back regulations on ‘net neutrality’ from Title II to Title I status.

This means that all data on the internet will not be treated equally, but will be subject to corporate decisions on what should be in the fast lane, the slow lane – or neither.

The task of getting your information online will be the equivalent of having to choose packages which decide what should and should not be shown, depending on what the cable company wants, rather than you, the consumer.

The Irish Republic is also debating whether to allow fines of up to €10,000 and/or up to five years in jail for the spreading of so-called ‘Fake News’ (aka alternative and independent voices, which include the average viewer to this paper, without even speaking) under the Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017.

Our right to protest depends on information getting up the same road, not via authoritarian patrols within the road.

Our right to speak our mind depends not on the seas around us being subject to a naval blockage/embargo, but via the air, open and free to fly and land wherever you want with the only physical resistance being in the air.

But as a population, has it become the case that we are so sleepy that we no longer have the ability to say ‘no’?

The following quote by George Orwell in his book 1984, which I bought recently, sums up why we never seem to care about ever occurring political issues around the world, even if they threaten to take away our most basic freedoms and liberties.

“Football, beer and above all gambling filled up the horizons of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”

If people living in Argyll and Bute, West Dunbartonshire and elsewhere in Scotland do not bother saying ‘no’ to the freedoms they love being taken away from their grasps, then the only place they deserve to live in, for being obedient workers rather than smart, critical thinkers, is a Communist or fascist-style police state dictatorship.

Jonathan Rainey, Silverton, Dumbarton

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The recent leak on the new Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, widely covered in the national media, is utterly irrelevant to the vessel’s future.

Whilst the leakage has sensationally been quoted as 200 litres per hour, that’s only 44 gallons per hour: I’ve bailed more out of a rowing boat.

More importantly, the vessel was designed 20 years ago and is clearly not fit for modern warfare, with its ancient computers even running an elderly version of Windows for warships.

The aircraft HMS Queen Elizabeth was built to carry will not arrive for several years – and when they do, they will also be built to similarly antiquated designs.

Far better to repurpose the ship as a replacement Royal Yacht. With Britain’s impending exit from the European Union, the new ship would excel for royal visits promoting British trade and diplomacy throughout the world, as were undertaken so sucessfully by the previous HMY Britannia.

It would certainly give the new generation of royals something to do that would generally be perceived as useful even by the most ardent republican.

The vessel is large enough to throw garden parties on deck, or to be used as a base for overseas sales displays of UK manufactured military equipment – even if we can no longer afford to purchase such kit for our own armed forces.

John Eoin Douglas, via email

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On behalf of British Red Cross in Scotland we would like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible volunteers across Scotland who have once again risen to the challenges 2017 has thrown our way.

Unfortunately the last 12 months has seen a succession of emergencies across the UK including terror attacks, floods and a devastating fire.

No matter what the incident, volunteers across the country have been willing to drop everything and offer help.

Here in Scotland we have supported people when nursing homes have had to be evacuated, supported communities cut off by snow, been there for young people to stay safe on nights out, and supported people who feel lonely and isolated throughout the year.

This year we are supporting the NHS in Scotland as they prepare to meet the challenges of winter by assisting with early discharges and support at home so people can regain their independence.

2017 may have been an unforgettable year for all the wrong reasons, but the enduring spirit and the power of kindness across Scotland will be its lasting legacy.

We are indebted to our volunteers, but we are also actively looking for more.

We have launched Community Reserve Volunteers – an easy way to volunteer in your community when a crisis hits.

It’s something everyone can do to make their community stronger, it only takes ten minutes to sign up, and you’d only be called on in a big local emergency. Find out more at

Next year will undoubtedly bring a host of new challenges across the UK and overseas, but thanks to donations from the general public and the dedication of our volunteers, millions of people facing crisis will continue to be helped by the British Red Cross..

Marie Hayes

Director of Independent Living, Red Cross Scotland