Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed confirmation from the Ministry of Defence that the HMY Iolaire is to receive protected status.
Baroness Goldie, Minister for State at the Ministry of Defence, recently wrote to the MSP advising that the site of HMY Iolaire will be designated as a protected place under The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 effective as of 2 September 2019.
The islands MSP has been campaigning over the course of the last year for the Ministry of Defence to give the site protected status.
HMY Iolaire sank on 1 January 1919 after striking rocks two miles from Stornoway where families were waiting to welcome home World War I naval personnel. 79 servicemen survived and 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.
Alasdair Allan commented:
“The story of the Iolaire is one of the saddest ever told in the islands. There was barely a family on the island that didn’t lose a relative in the disaster. This was a subject that was essentially too painful to be talked about in the islands for at least sixty years, and even now it is still very raw in people’s minds.
“I am delighted that the Ministry to Defence has acceded to calls from myself and others in the community to recognise the Iolaire as a military maritime grave. As well as protecting the site, the designation also commemorates the sacrifice of those who served their country in a time of war and lost their lives so tragically close to home.
“Over the course of the last year we have seen a wonderful series of commemorative events to mark the centenary of the disaster. These events have, for many people, brought a very belated sense of peace, and the feeling that something inexpressible has at last been expressed, and with honour. It is fitting that as these events have drawn to a close, the Iolaire will finally receive official recognition as a military maritime grave.”