News - Naidheachdan

TRACK RECORD OF BROKEN PROMISES & DISTRUST FOLLOWS MR GOVE, SAYS ISLANDS MSP

The planned power grab on Holyrood could leave Scottish fishing exposed and at the mercy of Westminster for years unless the Tories provide concrete details of their plans, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has said.

While the Scottish Parliament has withheld its consent for the UK government’s EU withdrawal bill, the legislation allows Westminster to legislate over the heads of MSPs over fisheries – despite these powers being expressly devolved under the Scotland Act.

This risks Westminster being able to further barter away any of Scotland’s fishing interests over a seven-year period as the Tories scrabble to cut post-Brexit trade deals.

The SNP has warned that Michael Gove cannot be trusted to represent Scotland’s fishing interests, having stated just a year ago that “powers over agriculture and fisheries that are currently held by the EU will be devolved to Holyrood” – a promise they are now desperately seeking to backtrack on.

Farmers have already seen that Mr Gove's word cannot be trusted, with outrage at the Royal Highland Show in recent weeks when he failed to give assurances that the long-promised review into the allocation of £160m of convergence funding would go ahead.

Furthermore, the fact that it was a Tory government that took Scotland into the Common Fisheries Policy, despite being told by advisers it meant Scottish fishermen would be “expendable”, will live long in the memories of Scotland’s fishing communities.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“The Tories think they can do what they want to Scotland’s fishing sector and get away with it.

“They made a firm commitment just last year that fishing powers would return to Holyrood after Brexit – a promise they’ve now reneged on.

“That’s because Michael Gove and the Tories will never put the interests of Scottish fishing first.

“They want to retain the right to sell our fishermen down the river, bartering off rights and quota to cut deals with Europe on trade.

“Despite Michael Gove’s ‘great reveal’ yesterday, he still couldn’t put a figure on how much the Scottish fleet will be able to catch after Brexit. What we got were weasel words.

"That should set alarm bells ringing in the industry – that the Tories still consider Scotland’s fishermen ‘expendable’ as they were in the negotiations when we first went into the EU; and that they remain so on our way out.”

SNP MSP for the Western Isles Alasdair Allan is calling on the Ministry of Defence to designate the wreck of HMY IOLAIRE as a protected place under The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

HMY Iolaire sank on 1 January 1919 after striking rocks two miles from Stornoway and only yards from the shore where families were watching to welcome hundreds of World War I servicemen home.

Eighty-two servicemen survived and over 201 servicemen died in this tragic incident. Around a third of those known to be lost were never recovered from the sea and the wreck remains their final resting place.

Within weeks of the disaster, the Board of Admiralty sold the wreck to salvage contractors, however, following representations from victims’ families and friends and in Parliament, the Admiralty and the contractors agreed that operations for the salvage of the wreck should not proceed so long as any bodies remained unrecovered. 

This New Year’s Day marks the centenary of the disaster and there are a range of events taking place in the islands to commemorate those who were lost.

Alasdair Allan MSP for the Western Isles said:

“The sinking of HMY Iolaire off Lewis on the Beasts of Holm has left an indelible impression on the islands of Lewis and Harris.

“There was barely a family on the island that didn’t lose a blood relative in the Iolaire disaster and even now it is still very raw in people’s minds. As we approach the centenary of the sinking, it is important that the site is designated as a military maritime grave to both protect the site and commemorate the immeasurable sacrifice of those who served their country in a time of war and lost their lives so tragically close to home.

“I hope the Ministry of Defence will consider this request.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has today stepped down from his role as Minister for International Development and Europe in the Scottish Government.

The islands MSP has served as a Government Minister since 2011, first as Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages in the Government under former First Minister Alex Salmond before being appointed his latest role in Nicola Sturgeon’s Government after the 2016 Holyrood elections.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“I would like to thank both the First Minister and the former First Minister Alex Salmond for allowing me the opportunity to serve in two successive Scottish Governments. It has truly been an honour.

“Representing the people of the Western Isles in Scotland’s Parliament is the greatest privilege I have ever had, and my first and foremost duty. My constituency spans 130 miles and encompasses 13 inhabited islands. Balancing both my roles as the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Na h-Eileanan an Iar and a Government Minister has proved more than a little logistically challenging at times. I am greatly looking forward to be able to spend even more time in the islands that have been so welcoming to me since I first moved here more than a decade ago, and that I am now proud to call my home.

“I would also like to thank all those who I have worked with over the past seven years for their help and support, and I pass on my best wishes to the new Ministerial team.”

ISLANDS MSP BECOMES LATEST WESTERN ISLES LIFESTYLE LOTTERY PLAYER

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan met with the Team of the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery (WILL) this week to learn more about the Lottery’s success and how proceeds have already benefitted every age group across his Constituency. The local MSP also became the latest islander to sign up for regular tickets via the Lottery website www.westernisleslottery.co.uk.

Since its launch in August 2017, support has steadily increased and an average of 1,650 tickets are currently purchased for each Saturday night draw. The more supporters who join in, the higher the weekly Prize Pot rises and the more that can be returned to their area. In just 10 months, a total of £53,765 has been raised to date, with £15,300 having been shared out in Weekly Prizes and £38,500 having been returned to the Community.

The Lottery is on target to raise an amazing £65,000 within its first year of operation. With more Supporters joining in with just £1 per week via the website www.westernisleslottery.co.uk, there is no limit to the amount that can be raised and distributed.

Ensuring a fair distribution of raised funds was important to the Team and a postcode system was devised whereby proceeds of any ticket purchased in a particular area was directly returned there. Six established groups across the Western Isles take responsibility for ensuring their funds are utilised as effectively as possible in their own respective Communities.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“It’s great to see such a fantastic local initiative take off and flourish.

“With the Western Isles Lifestyle Lottery, people can be sure the proceeds are kept within the islands and that local causes will be supported. A number of groups right across the length of the Western Isles have already benefited.

“I warmly congratulate the Lifestyle Lottery team on the amount raised so far and I look forward to seeing if I have won in Saturday’s draw!”

Emma Fraser, on behalf of the Lottery Team, commented:

“We can only continue to work hard at developing the Lottery which, in turn, can only be successful with continued public support. The more Supporters who sign up, the higher the weekly Prize Pot will go – giving more incentive to others to also join. Our motto is ‘Where There’s a Will There’s a Way’ – and we have already shown how beneficial a home grown Lottery can be to our Islands”.

Loss of mobile phone signal is causing major disruption for residents of Uig, Isle of Lewis and local politicians are calling on the mobile phone operator to take urgent action to resolve the situation.

Angus MacNeil MP and Alasdair Allan MSP have been in regular contact with EE over recent days and weeks after many constituents contacted them to report repeated disruption to the network in the Uig area.

The poor signal for EE customers is caused by ongoing works to upgrade the mast to a 4G service, however Mr MacNeil said customers have not been kept well informed and are becoming increasingly frustrated.

He said: “This situation with EE has been ongoing for several months now and my constituents are fed up by the lack of communication from the mobile phone operator.

“I understand that progress is expected to be made this week but I will be maintaining pressure on EE to sort this out and inform their customers.

“The mobile phone signal is so important to communities, particularly in the busy tourist season, and at the moment these communities are not getting the service they deserve and indeed the service which customers are paying for.”

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “To go a month without any mobile reception and to be given no clear idea of what the problem is or when it will be fixed is an intolerable situation to place Uig residents into, especially as we approach the height of the tourist season.

“EE need to update their customers in Uig and get this problem resolved as quickly as possible.”

John Maciver, Chair of Uig Community Council said: “The situation in Uig is nothing short of a shambles. We have had no mobile signal for almost a month without any information from EE to customers. At a peak time in the tourist season, we are very vulnerable should there be an emergency in such a remote community.”

ISLANDS MSP LENDS A HAND AS PART OF VOLUNTEERS’ WEEK 2018

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan visited Eilean Siar foodbank on Monday to lend a hand as part of Volunteers’ Week 2018.

The islands MSP saw first-hand the work that goes in to processing food donations and preparing them for collection.

Foodbank usage in the Western Isles has increased year-on-year since Eilean Siar foodbank was opened in 2013. In the last year there were 470 three-day emergency food supplies given to people facing crisis.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“The foodbank volunteers in Stornoway do hugely valuable work helping those most in need.

“While I regard it as a scandal that in 2018 people are struggling to the extent foodbanks are necessary, we should cherish the fact that our community has such dedicated and selfless people willing to give up their time to act as a safety net and last-resort for those living in poverty.

“I learned a lot from my visit and it was amazing how much we were able to do in the space of just an hour. Anyone can help out and I am told there is always a need for volunteers. I would encourage anyone who is thinking of volunteering to get in touch with Volunteer Centre Western Isles on 01851 700366 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

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