Disruption to the Castlebay-Oban service was discussed at a meeting in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Wednesday 15 January).

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, hosted the meeting between representatives of the community in Barra and Vatersay and Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

The MSP requested the meeting with the Islands Minister, who is the Scottish Government Minister with responsibility for ferries, to discuss the disruptions to the Castlebay-Oban service and the alternative arrangements made.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented: “This was a really useful opportunity for community representatives from Barra to engage with the Minister directly on the unacceptably frequent periods of disruption the island has suffered in recent months.

“I am grateful for the Minister’s attention to this issue. We discussed the need for CalMac to take a much more pro-active approach when bad weather or technical issues arise, the total unsuitability of using a vessel like MV Isle of Arran to replace MV Isle of Lewis on any route as long as that between Oban and Castlebay, and the need for more opportunities for community engagement with Transport Scotland.

“Barra’s lifeline ferry service is the longest and most challenging in CalMac’s network. Ultimately, there needs to be much wider recognition of that fact, and Barra needs to be treated on a much more equitable basis when it comes to future vessel re-deployment decisions.”

Councillor Donald Manford commented: “I was very pleased with the tenor or our discussions and the understanding for our concerns. I look forward with confidence to exploring new innovative ways of delivering the service.”

Photograph shows (L-R): Councillor Donald Manford, Brian Currie, Theresa Irving, Alasdair Allan MSP, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Donald Joseph Maclean and Eoin MacNeil.