Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Minister Apologised over Sunday Ferries"

The Lord's Day Observance Society has revealed at an annual rally that it received an apology from transport minister Tavish Scott over CalMac's plans for a Sunday ferry service to Harris, but he refused to intervene.

The gathering of the Stornoway branch heard that two representatives of the society - the Rev Andrew Coghill and former Western Isles Council convener Donald Mackay - had attended the meeting in Edinburgh along with Harris councillor Morag Munro, MSP Alasdair Morrison and Murdo Gray, who represented Western Isles Council.

In March, the company announced the introduction of the new service the day before the issue was due to be debated by the Western Isles Council and despite a petition from people in Harris and Uist with 711 signatures opposing a Sunday service. CalMac then caused further anger by providing three services a day on the Sunday and also introduced it on the day of the Free Presbyterian Church communion services in April.

The Rev Coghill said it had been pointed out to the minister that six years ago the ferry company stated in a letter it would not introduce a Sunday ferry service without first seeking the views of the council.

Mr Coghill said it had been treachery by the government-owned ferry company to announce the introduction of the Sunday ferry the day before the council meeting when it was due to be debated and when CalMac already had a petition totally opposed to it.

He said: "The transport minister was respectful but made it clear he was not going to intervene in the company's operational matters. I feel he had decided what he was going to say before he came to the meeting.

"He did acknowledge that things had been done wrongly and badly.

"He apologised to us for that, and said he would look into it."

Mr Coghill said that they had been given no assurance from the minister that the situation on the Sound of Harris ferry service would be reversed or that there would be no introduction of a Sunday service on the Stornoway-Ullapool route.

He said that, while many might have felt that it was a waste of time for the delegation to meet with the tansport minister, it was important to put forward their point of view and the claims of the Christian community.

He added: "We will go on to do all we can to hold fast for the Lord's Day."

The branch secretary, Angus Mackay, said that they would consider the possibility of submitting a petition to the Scottish Parliamentary Committee on the issue.

The rally was addressed by international speaker and author Dr Joseph A, Pipa, president of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in South Carolina

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