Death of former Comhairle Convener

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is flying its flags at half mast following the death of former Convener of the Comhairle, Donald M Mackay OBE.

Mr Mackay represented the Lochs area of Lewis from 1978 to 2003. During his 25 years on the Comhairle he served as Chair of many Committees including Education, Development Services and the Policy and Resources Committees. He was also a pioneer of Renewable Energy in the Western Isles and a strong advocate for the Gaelic language.

In 1994 Mr Mackay was unanimously elected Convener of the Comhairle and proceeded to lead the Council through a very productive period with a series of bridge and causeway projects including the construction of Berneray Causeway and the Scalpay Bridge.

Comhairle Convener Norman A Macdonald said: “Donald was an extremely able Councillor who rose to the top but always remained a servant of the people who elected him. He was a fine ambassador for the Western Isles both at home and abroad and was a champion of the Gaelic language and the development of the Comhairle’s bilingual policy. Donald was Convener of the Comhairle at an exciting time for the Western Isles and he was the first Convener of the Comhairle to welcome a serving Prime Minister to the Islands when Tony Blair came to open the Scalpay Bridge in 1997. Donald was a fine man, much beloved by his family and friends. He was of great assistance to me as a new Councillor and he showed much kindness. He served his community and the wider community of the Western Isles well and was highly respected both within the Chamber of the Comhairle and throughout Scotland. He was a true gentleman. Our thoughts are with Norma and his children, Donald Murdo, Cathie Margaret, Angus and Norman.”

Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “Donald was a man of great political vision. He steered the Comhairle out of some difficult years and was Convener during a time of great developments for the Islands. Not only did Donald oversee many of the fantastic construction projects that linked our Islands for the first time but he also had a vision of what the future could offer to the Islands in terms of Renewable Energy. At that time, Donald was sometimes a lone voice and yet he continued to lead the way. In addition to his vision of the future Donald also had a great respect for the traditions of the Islands and was a formidable campaigner for the Gaelic language and the indigineous industries of the Islands including Harris Tweed, crofting and fishing.

I had great respect for Donald and I know that all in the Comhairle and throughout the Western Isles and many in the wider community of Scotland will be thinking of Norma and his family at this sad time.”

Mr Mackay’s funeral will be held at Gravir Free Church on Saturday 27th July at 11am.