Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Friday, March 31, 2006

Sunday Sailing Angers Churches

MV Loch Portain
Churchmen and councillors on Scotland's Western Isles have denounced the decision by Caledonian MacBrayne to begin a Sunday ferry service to Harris, an area which has traditionally observed the Sabbath.

There have been calls for the directors and managers of the publicly owned company not to proceed with a service which objectors claim would assault the dearly held values of Harris and Lewis. But the signs are that CalMac's ferry Loch Portain will soon cross the Sound of Harris on a Sunday with speculation that April 9 could be the launch date.

The launch of such a service face of opposition from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (The Western Isles Council). Harris councillor Morag Munro said the company must take account of the strength of local feeling as reflected in the 711- name petition from Harris and Berneray/North Uist, the communities most affected, who opposed the service. She won support for the council to "...convey to the board of Caledonian Mac-Brayne the dismay at the utter contempt and disregard that they have shown both to the democratic wishes of the community and the decision making procedures of the council".

The council will also invoke the freedom of information act, so that Caledonian MacBrayne makes available its evaluation of the viability of the Sunday service.

There was outrage from presbyterian manses as well. The Rev David Murray of the Stornoway Free Church Continuing said: "This is yet another example of the money grabbing, culture destroying commercialisation imposed on the islands of Lewis and Harris against the will of God, and most of our people."

But opinion is divided. North Uist/Berneray councillor Archie Campbell, who has campaigned for the Sunday service along with four of the other five Uist councillors, said the predominantly presbyterian island of North Uist had a Sunday ferry service since 1989, but there was still traditional Sabbath observance.

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