Local News for Friday 27th April 2018

Ferry problems ‘kicked into long grass’ - Comhairle
The Chairman of the Comhairle's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has called for government intervention in the crisis over ferry services to the islands, claiming that Transport Scotland and CalMac Ferries Ltd have "kicked complaints into the long grass" in the hope that they may just go away. Cllr Uisdean Robertson referred Islands and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf MSP to a period of unprecedented disruption to ferry services across the Clyde and Hebrides network, with services cancelled and a warning from CalMac that more trouble will recur throughout the summer. The call comes as CalMac admitted the troubled vessel MV Clansman will have to return to dry dock for more technical repairs in June. CalMac were trying to reassure customers that, despite unavoidable disruption, passengers could trust their ferry journey to all 26 island destinations to run. Cllr Uisdean Robertson said, "I have personally been inundated over the last several weeks by a huge amount of complaints regarding the levels of service, the extent of disruption and the lack of effective communications by CalMac. The non-availability of a single vessel, the MV Clansman, has had wide ranging implications across the network. The lack of resilience and spare capacity in the fleet is unacceptable and must be dealt with by the Minister as a matter of urgency.”

Foodbank use driven by debt and benefit change
The Trussell Trust this week published findings on foodbank use in the Western Isles, showing 616 occasions over the past year when three-day emergency food supplies were given to people facing crisis, by Eilean Siar foodbank. 227 of those packages went to children. The Trust’s research showed that debt, the essential costs of housing and utility bills increasing referrals, and benefit delays or changes are all forcing more people to ask for help. Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said the findings were a concern to everyone. He said: “One referral here in the islands is one too many, never mind 616. Foodbanks are run by passionate individuals who seek provide a safety net, and act as a last-resort for those living in poverty. I commend the hard-work of those involved, particularly with the foodbank in Stornoway and the newly established foodbank in Uist.

Hostile campaign will see fishing boats sold - MP
Fishing vessels will be sold and go out of business if the UK Government’s attitude to crew members from beyond the European Union does not change, according to Western Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil. Mr MacNeil is calling on fishing interests to lobby the UK Government over the Home Office's so-called ‘hostile campaign’, which has led to crew shortages in the west coast of Scotland. Mr MacNeil said: "I worry that the fishing industry may have been affected by the hostile ethos. I know people personally who are talking of selling their fishing boats because of the lack of crew and it is time that skilled seamen were allowed to come to work in the west coast of Scotland. The Home Office need to up their efforts, show some support for the west of Scotland fishing industry and find a solution – it is imperative that this happens sooner rather than later before fishing boats are sold."

Stop abuse of Gaelic, says MSP
Idle abuse of the Gaelic language must be called to a halt, and young Gaelic-speakers encouraged to feel proud of their language, according to MSP Alasdair Allan. Dr Allan this week addressed the Scottish Parliament in Gaelic, as did a number of other MSPs, saying that negative attitudes from parts of the media and Scottish society are out of step with widespread support for the language. Dr Allan was speaking for the Scottish Government in a debate welcoming the launch of the new National Gaelic Language Plan by Deputy First Minister John Swinney. He said: "It makes a huge difference what people without Gaelic say about Gaelic. If they praise the language, young people will be proud that they have Gaelic. If anyone in the media or politics mocks Gaelic, young people will grow up with the idea that Scotland doesn't care about their own Gaelic heritage."

Peppa Pig Walk
Youngsters are being encouraged to splash in muddy puddles for a fund-raising event being held tomorrow at Bayhead Play Park. The Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle Walk has been organised by three-year-old Bethany Macleod, with some help from her mum Michelle, to raise funds for Save the Children. It’s a half-mile loop from the park and around the Porters Lodge, with a bouncy castle to add excitement before the start at 11am and fancy dress very much encouraged! Find out more and donate to support the children from the link on our Facebook page. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-macleod4

This weekend’s sport includes a big home match for Stornoway Rugby Club, hoping for points as they meet Aberdeen Grammar, who are still looking for a win this season. Kick-off at Bayhead is at 3pm tomorrow. Lewis Camanachd are away to Lovat and the weekend’s football includes league matches tonight between Lochs and Back and Carloway v Aths, kick-offs at 6.30pm. The first Co-Op Cup round 1 match is due to be played between Iochdar Saints and Ness at 12 noon tomorrow.