Local News for Friday 14th July 2017

Man’s body found in Barra
Western Isles Police yesterday made an appeal for information after the body of a 32-year-old man was recovered from the shoreline at Traigh a' Ghoirtein in Barra. The man had been reported missing at 10pm on Wednesday, and his body was recovered by a Coastguard helicopter at 7am yesterday as emergency services were searching for him. Police said there were not believed to be any suspicious circumstances and the man's next of kin have been informed, but that they wanted to establish the man's movements and were keen to speak to anyone who saw him walking from Castlebay towards Vatersay any time from 2pm onwards on Wednesday. He is described as 5ft 10in and, when last see,n he was wearing a green top and brightly coloured trainers. Detective Sergeant Iain Morrison said: "Our thoughts are with the gentleman's family and friends at this difficult time. I would ask anyone with information which could help establish his final movements to make contact with Police on the non-emergency number, 101."

Parliamentary notice for HebCelt
Hebridean Celtic Festival has been recognised for its economic and tourism impact in a motion to the Scottish Parliament, presented by Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant. Mrs Grant has asked the Parliament, currently in recess, to congratulate and commend the organisers and volunteers who run the not-for-profit event. The motion recognises that HebCelt is “firmly rooted in the community and is almost entirely managed and produced by voluntary effort”. It also praises the record-breaking 2016 festival which generated £2.2 million and helped safeguard 40 tourism-related jobs, while highlighting the event has been worth £20 million to the islands’ economy over the last two decades. HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “Planning and running the festival takes a lot of time and hard work by a great many people, so it is very rewarding when that is recognised.”

Government’s ‘commitment’ to second ferry
HebCelt’s success has added to a transport headache for the Isle of Lewis, and Scotland’s Transport Minister has been trying to find a second vessel to serve the Stornoway Ullapool route next week. The route is approaching capacity, with CalMac warning that anyone without a reservation, especially over the weekend after HebCelt, is unlikely to be able to travel. Foot passenger places must also be booked, on a route where most expect availability at short notice. Islands MSP Alasdair Allan says that securing a second vessel on the Stornoway – Ullapool route remains a "priority" for the Scottish Government. The £42 million MV Loch Seaforth replaced the MV Isle of Lewis in 2015, bringing improved capacity and reliability, but, Dr Allan said, it was now clear that she is at capacity in the busy summer months. He said: “In many ways we have become victims of our own success, with record numbers of tourists enjoying our island hospitality in the summer. With Calmac now advising foot passengers to book online we clearly need to be looking at securing an additional vessel to the Loch Seaforth. The Transport Minister has been attempting to find a vessel but has so far been unsuccessful in finding a suitable one in the open market. This underlines the importance of investment in new vessels and the Scottish Government has demonstrated its commitment with the new £97 million dual-fuel ferries currently underway at Ferguson's shipyard in Port Glasgow, with one designed specifically for the Uig Triangle."

Faclan reaches the ultimate
Another major festival for the islands, the Hebridean Book Festival, Faclan, has announced its theme and programme for this year. The theme for this year's Faclan at An Lanntair is Ultima Thule - a place in mediaeval geography beyond the borders of the known world. Among the programme’s highlights will be a topical talk called Winter is Coming, looking at how the medieval world has informed the HBO blockbuster series Game of Thrones, with a special screening of the first episode of the series. A silent film of Iceland from 1925 and a new book by Adam Nicolson, owner of the Shiant Islands, also feature in the programme, now available on the An Lanntair website

Isles MP gets international role
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has been confirmed again as Chair of Westminster’s Select Committee on International Trade, a post he held prior to the General Election. Select committees work across parties to scrutinise the work of Government departments. Mr MacNeil says that, during Brexit negotiations, International Trade will be a big issue. Mr MacNeil said: “With the Government actively looking for new trade deals across the world, there will be much work for the committee to do to ensure that this Tory Government get the best possible outcomes for Britain and for Scotland. Failure would expose us to the threat of tariffs for our exports and increased costs of raw materials and products on imports. This could have serious implications for fishing, textiles and other industries, not just in the Western Isles.”

Shellfish warning
Monitoring work undertaken on behalf of Food Standards Scotland has identified raised levels of shellfish toxins in East Loch Roag in Lewis. Eating shellfish from these areas may pose a risk to human health and harvesting has been postponed until algae levels subside. It is a sensible precaution to avoid eating shellfish from these areas until further notice.