Over 50 demonstrators from South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay gathered outside the SECC on Saturday to give their backing to the campaign for the restoration of a direct ferry service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig.
The ‘Missing Link’ campaign being driven by the four community councils on South Uist with support from the community landowner Storas Uibhist. They are demanding that the re-introduction of the Lochboisdale-Mallaig route be included in the Scottish Government’s Draft Ferries Plan, insisting that a daily ferry service is crucial to the islands’ future.
Protest organiser, Josie Burgess said: ‘Far from providing a ‘lifeline’ service to and from South Uist, the Scottish Government, through the frequency, timing and sheer length of the crossing to Lochboisdale, seem to be doing all they can to make it as difficult as possible for people to travel home to South Uist.
“It is currently, for example, impossible for us to travel home for a weekend visit. Over a weekend that would involve a return journey time between Glasgow and Lochboisdale of over twenty hours - that’s almost a whole day spent travelling - just to get home for the weekend!’
She continued: “That’s why we are giving our full support to the Missing Link Ferry Campaign - we certainly made this clear to the SNP delegates in Glasgow. Most of those we spoke to, including education secretary Mike Russell, said that they fully supported our campaign. We now hope that the Government grasps the importance of this to South Uist and now include the re-introduction of a daily service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig in the Ferries Review.”
Missing Link Group member Deirdre MacEachen welcomed the support shown by fellow islanders: “This is a very welcome contribution from our fellow islanders. Often these students and others are prevented visiting Uist because of inadequate and lengthy ferry links. The kind of travel problems that they are highlighting perfectly demonstrate why the Lochboisdale Mallaig service is so urgently required.”