Local News for Thursday 25th May 2017
Eilidh Macleod – tragedy for island family
Fourteen-year-old Barra schoolgirls Eilidh Macleod has been named as one of the 22 victims of Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester. Her friend Laura Macintyre remains seriously ill in a Manchester hospital. Eilidh’s death was confirmed by her family in a statement released this morning. They said: "Our family is devastated and words cannot express how we feel at losing our darling Eilidh. Eilidh was vivacious and full of fun. She loved all music - whether it was listening to Ariana or playing the bagpipes with her pipe band. As a family we would like to express our thanks and gratitude for the support and kind messages we have received at this difficult time."
Family friend and neighbour Angus MacNeil, who has been supporting both families as they awaited news of the girls, said: "We are all simply heartbroken and thankful for kind thoughts of so many others round about us across the islands and beyond"
Flags at all council offices and at schools across the islands are flying at half mast today, and a statement from civic leaders is expected later. Campaigning in the General Election, which had already been suspended since the bombing on Monday, will not resume in the islands for the foreseeable future.
Yesterday the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Brian McGee, visited island families and said Mass in Castlebay together with island priest Fr John Paul Mackinnon. The Bishop also visited Castlebay School, to speak to teachers and staff. Bishop McGee said: “This is a time of terrible anguish for the MacLeod and MacIntyre families. Spending time with the relatives of both girls was a reminder of the human cost of acts of terror. Such acts leave families broken, lives scarred and innocence destroyed, my thoughts and prayers are with the families at this traumatic time.”
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has offered extra support to staff and pupils at Castlebay School, and is also in discussions with the SQA regarding the exceptional circumstances for pupils in Castlebay sitting exams in the coming week.
Two JustGiving pages have been set up for those who wish to make donations to support the costs incurred by the families of Eilidh and Laura. Donations totalling almost £40,000 have been made between the two.
Threat level raised at Western Isles hospitals
NHS Western Isles has put in place enhanced security at all island hospitals after the UK Prime Minister announced a national decision to raise the terrorist threat level to critical. Hospital visitors at Western Isles Hospital, Uist and Barra Hospital and St. Brendan’s are asked to report to reception before continuing their journey to appointments or to visit patients and to use only the main entrance for general access. The Emergency Department access will be available only for emergencies. At Western Isles Hospital access via Day Hospital will be closed until further notice. In Uist & Barra Hospital the Emergency Department entrance door will become a one-way entrance until further notice, while at St. Brendan’s Hospital doors will be locked and a notice placed on the front door, by the doorbell. Visitors to the hospital are also being asked not to take unnecessary bags or containers of any description in to any facilities, and not to leave any items unattended. While there is no reduction in the delivery of local NHS services, everyone should continue to remain vigilant and if they become aware of any suspicious activity or are concerned for any reason, call 999 in emergency, 101 if it is not an emergency, or contact the police counter-terrorism hotline on 0800 789 321.