Local News for Monday 4th June 2018

Iolaire group slams errors in press
A working party set up to commemorate the centenary of the Iolaire tragedy in the islands has expressed anger and dismay at inaccurate reporting of stories connected with the anniversary. It will be 100 years on January 1st 2019 since the yacht Iolaire sank off Holm, while bringing island men- mostly Royal Naval Reservists, home on leave after the Great War ended. Recent reports have mis-stated the figures of those who died, and incorrectly described the men as soldiers. In a public statement the group wrote: “The Iolaire Working Group is very disappointed to note that the Press & Journal newspaper contains errors regarding the Iolaire. We wrote to the editor of the paper (and) made it clear that the most up to date research shows that it was 201 men who died on that night, with 80 survivors. The paper uses “174 sailors drowned” and then in the very same article states the figure as being “around 200”. When describing the worst maritime peacetime disaster in British waters, it is important that the correct information is used and that each and every man who was lost is remembered in the appropriate manner.”

Heb Alpha ‘saved’ by wind farm grants
Hebrides Alpha, the recovery programme for islanders with addiction has received another £15,000 from Point and Sandwick Trust – the latest instalment in a total of £45,000 since last year. Shona MacLeod, manager of the Hebrides Alpha Project, said the money amounted to nearly half their essential annual fundraising and had made "a massive difference" to the project. The money comes out of the profits from Point and Sandwick Trust's three-turbine wind farm. Shona said: "It has kept us able to sustain the project, basically. Without it, we would be going further and further into debt and the project would soon become unsustainable financially." Hebrides Alpha Trading offers window cleaning, power washing and other services as therapeutic employment for those taking part in the rehab project. People taking part in the project are required to spend two days a week in therapeutic employment and some of them choose to work with Hebrides Alpha Trading. However, the trading arm does not fund the work the charity does. Shona said: "The window cleaning and power washing side of the project is not able to contribute significant finances. We are currently facing real challenges and we are very appreciative of the input of the Point and Sandwick Trust.”

Luxury yacht in port
Tomorrow offers a second chance to see the luxury yacht Variety Voyager, calling into Stornoway on her return trip after a first stop here on Friday. The state-of-the-art mega-yacht is 223 feet long and carries just 72 passengers in 36 suite-style cabins, looked after by 32 crew members. She was newly-built in 2012 and offers luxurious accommodation fitted out with marble, luxury carpeting and real wood, her decks, lounges and restaurant each large enough for every passenger. She’s due to berth at pier no. 3 at 8am tomorrow for a full day and evening in the islands.

Shellfish toxin 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 such as mussels, cockles, or razor fish from these areas may pose a risk to human health and commercial shellfish harvesters have been asked to postpone harvesting until algae levels subside. It is a sensible precaution to avoid eating shellfish from these areas until further notice. The Comhairle is monitoring the situation and will remove warning notices when it improves.

Dry weather set to continue
Despite weather warnings for the Highlands suggesting sudden torrential rainstorms, the Western Isles looks set to stay dry and warm for a good while yet. Forecasts for the islands offer more sunny weather, with the first hint of rain in the longer-term forecast not until the weekend after next.