News - Naidheachdan

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan was earlier today elected convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Gaelic.

Cross-Party Groups provide an opportunity for MSPs of all parties, outside organisations and members of the public to engage on a particular cause or subject.

The Cross-Party Group on Gaelic has input from organisations such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig, An Comunn Gàidhealach, Comunn na Gàidhlig, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, MG Alba and others.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“Tha mi fìor thoillichte gu robh buidhean thar-phàrtaidh airson na Gàidhlig ga mo thaoghadh mar neach-ghairm. S’e onair a th’ann, agus tha mi gu math taingeal son an obair a rinn Ceit Nic Fhorbhais BPA anns an dreuchd suas dhan an diugh.

“Tha mi a’ creidsinn gu bheil cothrom againn anns a’ Phàrlamaid a mhìneachadh gu luchd poileataigs cho cudthromach ‘s a tha a’ Ghàidhlig anns na coimhearsneachdan agus anns na sgoiltean air feagh Alba, agus cho cugallach’s a tha staid a chànain fhathast.  Tha mi geur a thòiseachadh leis an obair seo.”

“I am delighted to be chosen as convener of the Cross Party Group on Gaelic. It is an honour, and I am very grateful for the work which Kate Forbes MSP has done in this role up to now.

“I believe there is a real opportunity for us to explain to the Parliament the importance of Gaelic to communities and schools the length of Scotland, and also how fragile the language remains. I am keen to get started on this work.”

ISLANDS’ MSP QUESTIONS TORY “RED LINES ON FISHING” CLAIMS IN SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan earlier today highlighted the need for the Scottish seafood industries to retain tariff and barrier free access to the EU single market. The islands’ MSP had raised a Topical Question in the Scottish Parliament asking for the Scottish Government’s response to the UK Government’s position that the current Brexit deal will guarantee the UK “full, sovereign control over our waters.”

The Prime Minister has claimed in the House of Commons that the deal will remove the UK from the Common Fisheries Policy and allow the country “to decide for ourselves who we allow to fish in our waters.” However, the withdrawal agreement concluded by the UK Government makes an explicit link between future trade agreements and access to waters.

The MSP has highlighted the inconsistencies in the UK Government’s rhetoric with the reality of the withdrawal deal’s contents and noted that the deal risks disrupting lucrative Scottish export sectors like the seafood industry.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“It is deeply troubling that the UK Government does not recognise the serious potential to harm our seafood industries. Westminster has given the Scottish Government no role whatsoever in these discussions despite their critical importance to the Scottish economy and to constituencies like my own.

“Island seafood exporters already face enough obstacles as it is in getting their produce to continental markets in time, and the last thing they need is the addition of further barriers to trade. This inept Tory Government have failed to offer any detail on a future trade agreement with Europe post-2020, and there is a very real danger we could see lorry-loads of produce going to waste as drivers sit in enormous queues waiting for customs checks.

“I wholeheartedly agree with the Cabinet Secretary’s comments — to Theresa May, Scottish seafood interests appear to be expendable.”

ISLANDS MSP RAISES RAISES FUTURE OF FISHING QUOTAS AT FIRST MINISTERS QUESTIONS

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan today raised the implications for fishermen of the recently published draft declaration on the future UK-EU relationship during First Minister’s Questions.

The draft statement was recently agreed by UK and EU officials and sets out the structure for the future UK-EU relationship, with full negotiations to take place on it after the UK exits the EU.

Section 75 of the agreement states that “the Parties should establish a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares.”

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“Only last week, Scottish Tory MPs wrote to the Prime Minister stating they would not support an agreement with the EU which would prevent the UK from independently negotiating access and quota shares.

“Now that the draft Political Declaration on the future UK-EU relationship has become public, it is becoming clear in places like the Western Isles that, once more, fishing will be a bargaining chip to be used in post-Brexit trade negotiations.

“The UK Government seem determined to turn themselves into a minnow negotiating with a shark when it comes to these negotiations. This is yet another reminder why this Tory government cannot be trusted to protect Scotland’s fishing communities.”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has voiced his concern about rising foodbank usage in the Western Isles, after figures showed a 26% increase compared with last year.

Figures published by Britain’s biggest foodbank provider, the Trussell Trust, showed that 289 three day emergency food parcels were provided to people in crisis by foodbanks in the Western Isles between 1st April 2018 and 29th September 2018, compared with 229 for the same period in the previous year.

Across Scotland, foodbank use has risen by 15%. Foodbank providers have said the rise is largely due to the in-built minimum wait of five weeks for a first payment for those migrated to Universal Credit – with many more people forced to wait even longer than five weeks. The Trussell Trust has called for ‘urgent changes’ to Universal Credit, while the SNP have consistently called for a halt to the roll-out of the scheme.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“It’s incredibly concerning that foodbank usage in the Western Isles continues to rise. While the volunteers at the Stornoway and Balivanich foodbanks do incredible and selfless work, it is shameful that in a country as wealthy as Scotland these facilities are needed.

“With Universal Credit having recently been rolled out to the Western Isles there is real concern these figures could get even worse unless its many problems can be fixed, and cuts to it are reversed.

“Far from austerity being over - as was recently claimed - the UK Government’s austerity agenda continues to take its toll on struggling families.

HHP’s existing scheme at Tom Na Ba, Galson was complemented by four new homes, which were officially opened by Alasdair Allan MSP on Monday 12 November 2018.

Alasdair Allan commented:

“It was great to visit Katie in her new house today, and was an honour to declare all four new houses at Tom na Ba officially open.

These are high quality houses of just the kind that there is a huge need for in the islands, not least in rural areas. The Scottish Government have provided major funding to build the houses here, and it was a good example of the Scottish Government, the Comhairle and HHP working together. With very significant Scottish Government funding for housing on the table, I hope we will now see more families throughout the islands get the new homes they need to ensure our communities thrive. Meanwhile, I congratulate the families in Tom na Ba on their new homes.”

 

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan on Friday 9 November chaired a Ferries Summit in Benbecula. The islands MSP organised the summit to discuss the significant disruption and timetable changes ferry services for Uist have experienced over the course of the last year.

The Scottish Government Minister with portfolio responsibility for ferries and islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, and the Managing Directors of Calmac and CMAL were in attendance along with agencies such as HITRANs, HIE and Transport Scotland, community and business representatives, and local councillors.

The summit discussed issues such as vessel deployment, booking systems, economic growth in Uist and the impact of disruption on local businesses, transport connectivity, tourism’s role in the local economy and updates on current and future investment in services and infrastructure.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“This was a very useful and productive meeting. By getting all the key players in the same room we were able to have a comprehensive look at Uist’s ferry services. I would like to thank all those who took the time to attend, especially the Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP, and Uist Councillors for their help in organising the summit.

“There was an assurance that the Government would investigate any potential vessels for leasing that were viable and fulfilled the objective of providing resilience across the network. The Minister agreed, amongst other things, to see what could be done to improve Calmac’s booking system, with Calmac also to review how passengers are kept up to date in the event of cancelled or delayed sailings.

“With the financial constraints the Scottish Government faces as a result of a budget cut of nearly £2 billion since 2010 by the UK Government, it is important that we make the best possible case that we can for further funding and investment in ferries services. I think the summit has certainly strengthened that case.”

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