Local News for Wednesday 24th May 2017

Eilidh still missing in Manchester
Members of the family of 14-year-old Eilidh Macleod are still anxiously awaiting news, as the Barra teenager remains unaccounted for in Manchester following Monday night’s bomb blast. Eilidh’s friend, 15-year-old Laura Macintyre, is seriously ill in hospital in Manchester, with parents Nan and Micheal and older brother Niall at her bedside. Both girls are pupils of Castlebay School, and were at the concert in the Manchester Arena where a suicide bomber detonated an improvised device, killing 22 people. Searching for Laura are her grandparents, Roddy and Marion and aunt Margaret MacNeil, who yesterday appealed for help on social media to track down the two girls. Her post has been shared over 120,000 times.
Isle of Barra neighbour and parliamentary candidate Angus MacNeil has been acting as a media spokesman for the families. He told Isles FM this morning: “We are very worried for both the girls and saddened that something like this could have happened during what should have been a happy occasion. Everyone on the island is numb, shocked and saddened and there is a feeling of deep sorrow and sympathy for the families, as well as anxiety to know how the girls are.”


Transocean foots Coastguard bill
The owners of the oil rig which grounded at Dalmore last summer have forked out £400,000 to help meet the costs of the biggest multi-agency emergency response operation in island history. Transocean, who owned the rig Transocean Winner, paid the money to the Maritime Coastguard Agency after last year’s huge operation, involving paid teams of response workers and volunteer teams from Western Isles coastguard. Transocean Winner grounded at Dalmore last August during storm winds, and spent two months under repair and recovery before being taken away from Lewis onboard the heavy load carrier Hawk. The drilling platform has since been decommissioned and scrapped in Turkey.
 
Postal voting packs out today
Postal voting packs are being despatched from the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Election Office today, as the first of two waves of postal ballots to be sent out. Nearly 4,500 island voters are now registered to vote by post. Depute Returning Officer Derek Mackay urged voters to take the time to read all the instructions within the pack before voting. A second batch of postal packs, for those who registered for a postal vote just before Monday’s deadline, will be despatched on May 31st.
 
Point representatives on STV debate
Two representatives of Point Community Council are to take part in tonight’s live election debate with the party leaders on STV. The debate is to be aired live on STV
 
NHS and Argos link for healthy start
NHS Western Isles has joined up with Argos on a new campaign to raise awareness of the Healthy Start scheme for pregnant women and families of young children up to four years old. Every time you buy something from Argos, your till receipt will show information about the Healthy Start scheme, set up to ensure pregnant women, new mothers and young children, can get free healthy foods and supplements. These supplements can be obtained from your GP surgery, health visitor or midwife, and Healthy Start vouchers can be exchanged at all Co-op outlets, Tesco and many more rural stores, from the Butt to Barra.
 
Machinery Operating in Castle Grounds
Stornoway Trust began using machinery in Lews Castle grounds yesterday, as they started a mulching operation which will continue to the 6th of June. There is an exclusion zone of 200m around the operational site which will be marked with threshold signs and policed by a banksman at all times, to ensure continued safe access within the grounds. The works will clear debris and weed regrowth to allow follow up weed control and replanting over the next 18 months.