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Monday, June 17, 2024

Western Isles Taken For Granted Ferry Chaos Must End

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People in the Western Isles have been taken for granted by the SNP government and deserve political champions willing to speak out on ferries, the economy and environment, Anas Sarwar has said. 

The Scottish Labour leader hit out at the SNP government’s handling of the CalMac ferry crisis ahead of a visit to the islands this week, and promised that Labour would offer islanders and effective and campaigning voice in the next general election.  

Speaking ahead of a tour of the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency with Torcuil Crichton, the prospective Labour candidate for the islands, Mr Sarwar lambasted the SNP government’s handling of the ferry crisis.

Catastrophic delays in building two new ferries on the Clyde and a lack of effective political oversight on maintenance and a proper ferry replacement programme have left parts of the Western Isles without a functioning ferry service over the Easter period.

In South Uist islanders are being offered a once in a week service for the next month due to the ongoing breakdown crisis which has knocked out three major vessels and left gaps across the Cal Mac’s west coast service.

Commenting , Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: 

“The SNP’s neglect of the islands and their vital ferry services are coming home to roost with a broken down timetable that leaves islanders with only a once in a week lifeline to the mainland.

“That is simply unacceptable.

“If there had been effective political representation from the islands day after day on this issue in Westminster and Holyrood the situation would not have come to this.

“The people of the Western Isles deserve so much better than they have had from the SNP. Scottish Labour is ready to provide the change that the Western Isles need.”

Torcuil Crichton, Labour’s candidate for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said: 

“The ferry crisis in the Western Isles has gone from farce to despair.

“People are already angry that the SNP government has shown so little effort to resolving the issue.

“The latest development makes some people question whether the SNP government have any long term commitment to the islands.”

Mr Crichton added:

“The lack of oversight that led to this shows how crazy it was that no one from the Western Isles was on the board of Cal Mac or CMal as this situation developed.

“The public appointments system has to be shaken and islanders must be given a voice in running the ferry service.”

Mr Sarwar and Mr Crichton are due to meet a number of community and business representatives over the next three days as they travel through the islands accompanied by Labour Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant.

Mr Crichton said:

“Labour will listen and Labour will raise a voice for the islands.

“We will hold a Scottish government in Edinburgh to account and we will connect the islands directly to an incoming Labour government at a general election.”

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