Gazette letters June 28th

ACCOMMODATING VESSELS AT PORT

It appears that your correspondent Terry Leslie’s letter in the June 14th edition of the Gazette under the heading “anchored overnight” has given rise to some confusion.

At a recent meeting the blame for fuel tankers lying outside Stornoway harbour was laid at the door of the Port Authority. I wish therefore to clarify the position and prevent any further misinformation being circulated regarding this issue.

Ships coming in to Stornoway harbour may be asked by port operations staff to wait outside the harbour for only two reasons, namely tidal/weather conditions, or to allow ship movements such as ferry or cruise liners to clear the approach channel.

On the rare occasions this happens any such request is for a relatively short time only. No such request was made of the vessel referred to in Mr Leslie’s letter.

The reason that fuel vessels choose to anchor outside the harbour is that the receiving companies are not prepared to receive them. This is an issue particularly at weekends when they will not receive cargo on Sunday.

Port Authority staff work hard to accommodate any vessel that wishes in to Stornoway Harbour on any day of the year and at any time of day or night.

A. JANE MACIVER, Chief Executive Stornoway Port Authority

WEBSITES LIKE THIS DETER TOURISTS

The Western Isles web site states “The islands are often cut off in winter.” See wwwthewesternisles.co.uk

Giving headlines world wide to this erroneous information will obviously deter tourists.

Who is responsible for this web site; the Council or a private agency? Even Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic does not publicise being cut off.

DONALD J MACLEOD, Aberdeen

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR SHINTY TEAM

I was reading the ‘Gazette’ on Saturday morning when I noticed the article about the shinty, so I decided to go and watch them over at Shawbost. The weather stayed fine and it was a really enjoyable afternoon.

The Lèodhasachs did well in the first half. They put Lochbroom under a lot of pressure but alas they did not score.

In the second half, Lochbroom came away with a 2-nil lead, scored by a young lad, Neil Frazer, whose grandmother comes from Balallan.

I was amazed at the little support the Lèodhasachs had; there was no-one shouting them on. Come on Lèodhasachs, get out there and support your team!

JOHN MACDONALD, As an Rubha

CHRISTIANS AND AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND

Should Christians vote for independence for Scotland? Given the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland’s recent statement on constitutional issues, it is a question very much of the moment.

But what is this independence from? We are told that it is ostensibly a secession from England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

But it is much, much more than that. The Union with England Act 1707 enshrines that “the True Protestant Religion as presently professed within this Kingdom with the Worship Discipline and Government of this Church should be effectually and unalterably secured.”

It enacted the biblical principle that the state is duty bound to promote, protect and preserve the one true faith, namely Reformed, Presbyterian Protestantism.

The Act recognises that the duty of the civil magistrate, itself established by God and deriving its power, legitimacy and authority from divine decree, to promote and defend true religion.

Are Christians now to resile from this most Biblical of obligations and commit themselves to a secular Scotland with a secular constitution?

A constitution affording no privileged protection for true Biblical Christianity. Can we earnestly and honestly pray God’s blessing for our nation if we write Him out of our constitution? Is God to be the inconvenient Truth?

What now are our priorities? Are they primarily economic and cultural or are they to be properly spiritual? Will it be bawbees and baubles or the Bible?

Independence towards a secular Scotland may signify more than a moving apart from England. It may signify a moving away from God Himself. Are we to exchange our birthright for a mere mess of pottage? Yes, Esau did become a nation. But far from a great one.

DONALD MACKAY, Glasgow

THE IMPACT OF REMAINING IN THE UK

There can be no greater example of the impact of remaining part of the UK than the benefit cuts proposed in Scotland by the Tories at Westminster. Coming on the day that the Tories, in alliance with the Labour Party, launched the No to independence campaign in Edinburgh, this was clearly a major PR disaster.

David Cameron’s proposals include introducing regional rates of benefits, scrapping housing benefit for the under 25s and removing or restricting some benefits to out-of-work families with large numbers of children.

The Prime Minister’s intervention comes as an IPSOS Mori poll shows 67% of people want the Scottish Government to take control of welfare and benefits, and yet the Labour Party are happy to let the Tories run the welfare state into the ground.

At the anti-independence launch Mr Darling comments on the “deep uncertainty” caused by independence and that we get the “best of both worlds” as part of the Union.

There are few certainties in life, but one of those is that we will see Scottish benefits cut by the Tories at Westminster, the price to be paid for the supposed Union dividend.

LEX ORR, Edinburgh

SWIM TEAM CLINCH THE MINCH

The Big Minch Swim team - the first ever group of people to swim The Big Minch - departed Ullapool at 12noon on Monday (June 25th) and swam across open water stretch to arrive at Stornoway at 10pm Tuesday (June 26th) where we were totally overwhelmed and gobsmacked by the huge reception which greeted us all the way into Stornoway Harbour.

The Team would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who turned up to cheer them in - it was an amazing arrival.

We would also like to say a massive thank you to Murdani MacDonald of the MV Cuma who donated the support vessel, time and fuel to the challenge; and to support boat crew Michaela MacDonald and Finlay MacIver who took tremendous care of the swimmers and kayakers.

Thanks must go to both Stornoway and Ullapool Port Authorities for thier support; Caledonian MacBraynes for support and allowing fundraisers to travel on ferry vessel Isle of Lewis free if charge during the swim; and also the support and generousity of Stornoway stores WeeW, who kept the team’s energy up by supplying juice and sweets as well as doing a sterling job fundraising and spreading the word though staff and in-store promotion; and WJ Macdonald Butchers for supplying team meals.

And a gigantic thank you goes out to everyone who has donated and supported The Big Minch Swim through Facebook (The Big Minch Swim) and our Just Giving website - www.justgiving.com/thebigminchteam - where we’ve smashed our target of £5,000 and are heading upwards of £8,000!

Thank you!

THE BIG MINCH SWIM TEAM

EMERGENCY SERVICES CHARITY CYCLE

Having completed a gruelling cycle challenge from Barra to the Butt of Lewis from 12 to 14 June I would like to thank the following people and organisations for their kind assistance.

The challenge was made more difficult this year by a strong headwind which was against us for the entire trip. Nevertheless 45 cyclists finished the trip and it is estimated that a considerable sum will be raised for Macmillan Nurses in the islands.

A huge thank you to all the individuals and businesses who helped out in so many ways and to the good folk of the Western Isles and beyond who donated so readily with money and food to our venture.

Finally a huge thank you goes to the cyclists who gave so much effort for this most excellent cause

Thank you all very much

GEORGE MURRAY, Western Isles Emergency Services