<![CDATA[ The debate about Sunday sailings across the Sound of Harris has hotted up considerably in recent weeks. In my role as observer, I am writing this with a slightly lopsided smile on my face. Because it's a debate on a background of double standards.
Let's list the facts.
Sunday, the Sabbath, should be kept as a day of rest. As a day of religious observance. In accordance with the Scriptures, according to some sectors of society. Others, not so deeply religious, just want a day which does NOT involve fuming at the rush-hour queues on the Manor roundabout, at the check-out queues in Somerfields or the Coop. No rushing kids round to and from school, or extraneous activities. No work. Just blissful idleness.
There are no ferries to or from Lewis. No buses run on Sunday either.
As things stand, late February 2006, the following things already happen in the islands, which have been going on for quite a while.
Planes fly in and out of Stornoway airport.
Ferries ply between Uig (Skye) and Lochmaddy (North Uist).
Isn't it crass that there can't be a ferry between the same island of North Uist and Harris? The argument that Uisteach cannot visit relatives in hospital in Stornoway over the weekend does carry some weight, I believe. And why can't there be if only ONE ferry between Stornoway and Ullapool on Sunday?
The filling station on Sandwick Road in Stornoway is open on Sundays, and it does a roaring trade by all accounts. It's the only place open between Port Nis and Leverburgh. Eighty miles apart.
Buses do run on Sundays, to ferry people to and from church. Why not put on a busservice in Summer, to take the tourists round the West Side? At the moment, if you haven't got a car with you (as a tourist) you're stuck on Sundays. Not very convenient, really.
Further south, I'm told that the spinal route from North to South Uist is very busy with people from the North going South to visit a pub. The Coop in Castlebay is open for a few hours on Sunday.
Across the area of the Western Isles, there are glaring inconsistencies in service provision, which, if challenged in court, would not stand up for one minute. Again, I respect local custom. But it should not go to the extent that people are inconvenienced.
I suggest that everybody abandons their entrenched positions and work together to find a solution. Is that too much to ask? ]]>