Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Sunday ferries

<![CDATA[ Free Church, Kenneth Street, Stornoway
I was taken with a dose of the incredulities yesterday when I heard that the Free Church in the Western Isles has contacted the Scottish Executive, asking them to reverse Caledonian MacBrayne's decision to operate a ferry on Sunday between Harris and Uist. The argument that the Church uses is that the company rode roughshod over the population of Harris, who had objected to the Sunday sailings.

In previous postings on this issue, I have made clear that I respect everybody's religious convictions. I just feel that the Free Church is being unrealistic in their request. Calmac have an obligation to provide life line ferry services, within a framework of local requirement and operational possibilities. A request was tabled with the company, by a North Uist councillor, for a ferry on Sunday. This would enable Uisteachs to visit relatives in hospital in Stornoway, and generally afford people the freedom to travel on any day of the week.
On top of that, ferries have operated in and out of the Southern Isles on a Sunday for years, within the Western Isles area. And planes have been flying out of Stornoway airport for a number of years now. From a legal point of view, the Church hasn't got a leg to stand on.

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