Gazette Letters 10.12.15

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Minority concerns

In his Viewpoint column, of last week’s Stornoway Gazette (December 3rd), Rev. Campbell, asserted that liberal churches have put down the mantle, by including all of God’s children in their worship, as if this was an easy way out, and as if the actual non-judgement of others was invalid.

At the same time, while showing some grasp of the climate issues, he judged that the views related to his church about homosexuality, were more important, more worthy of his and church time, than working with the wider international (representing 7 billion) community, on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The statistics that are relevant include the confirmed data that, 70% of the carbon in the atmosphere was produced by developed countries like us; these are the molecules of carbon in the atmosphere that change the temperature and wind and precipitation causing flood and drought and rising sea levels.

In my view, to continue to shout at homosexuals (only 3.5% of the population) instead of taking up the burden of dealing with the issues our generation produced in terms of increased carbon (affecting 100% of the population) misses the point of religion altogether.

The juxtaposition this places the church into is elitism, with claims of representing God, but only for a few who value their own assumed interpretation or opinion of what the Bible says, higher than everybody else.

Regional cultural differences in interpretation aside, this looks more like an excuse to continue extreme behaviours.

It is a claim to special status, putting ‘minority’ concerns before ‘majority’ concerns, that assumes specialism over and above common ground.

These claims of living by different sets of rules, work to the advantage of the short term, they use up the pasture while assuming there is another pasture to move to.

In many ways, if this church does not want to work for everyone, there is nothing the rest of us can do, except stand witness, to what looks more like a fallen branch that is no longer connected to the tree, and it is not certain that they have anything to teach except refusal to eat together.

H Mansfield

Tong, Stornoway

Flying fiasco

On Saturday, December 5th, our scheduled 9,10am flight from Inverness to Stornoway was delayed for well over four hours, the weather was fair, and other flights were seen operating, the reason given for the delay was ‘aircraft change’ only Loganair knows exactly what this means and the reason behind it.

After four different estimated departure times, we eventually departed around 2.45pm and duly missed all our onward connections.

This ongoing Loganair debacle has descended into a farce, with ruined holidays, missed hospital appointments, meetings, concerts etc.

The frontline desk clerks and pilots are constantly having to apologise for those who are ultimately responsible for this fiasco.

The problem seems to be getting worse, and no amount of apologies and compensation can sort out the stress, anxiety, and all the onward problems that passengers face when flights are cancelled or delayed when not weather related.

This shambles is a catalouge of mismanagement, and misinformation, causing massive headaches for travellers who have to reschedule all their arrangements.

The travelling public depend on Loganair to get them to their destination within reasonable time of their scheduled flights, but are let down time and time again.

‘We thank you for choosing to fly with us’ is the announcement on board the plane, well, we have no choice on the matter, if the competition of another operator on this route was available, under the the current circumstances, I for one, would not choose Loganair.

Something has to drastically change.

Donald Morrison


Harris Guides

We would like to say a big thank you to the Stornoway Save the Children and Blythswood Charity shop assistants for their wonderful service to all the girls that visited them on Saturday 5th December.

Girlguiding Harris had a day trip for 48 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers with various challenges including each of us donating an item to a charity shop.

The Guides and Rangers also had a Christmas shopping challenge. We had to buy a list of certain things for £5 or under.

Thanks also to the library and shops who helped hide the pictures of reindeer we all had to find.

Sorry to the Fisherman’s Coop who our leader said was very enthusiastic about helping us but none of the teams made it there for the search.

The Alice in Wonderland Pantomime was extremely funny and we all enjoyed it.

Thank you to Stevie for giving up his own time to be our coach driver, the Guide Hall for letting us eat our lunch there and to An Lanntair for the colourful embroidery exhibition.

We found Stornoway folk are very happy to lend a hand.

Ellen Olley, Rachael Campbell and Rowan Chaffer, Guides from

Girlguiding Harris

Sacred and Secular

Any mention these days of the real meaning of Christmas is welcome, and I appreciated your columnist Rev. Iain D.’s recent piece on the Incarnation.

Christmas has become a mishmash of the sacred and secular, a hotchpotch of jingle bells, self indulgence, and commercialism on a mega scale, and somewhere out there on the absolute periphery (if he’s lucky enough to find a corner) is Jesus.

That same mishmash was evident in Inverness with the switching-on of this year’s Christmas lights, when a parade accompanied by Santa wound its way through the streets to the city’s Old High church for a carol singing event described as “Ding Dong Merrily Old High”.

Many today don’t know who Jesus is far less why he came, and brass bands now on the streets and in the shopping malls do Him no favours either, for their mix of the sacred and secular, Jesus and Rudolph, only serves to cloud and degrade the message.

What a tragedy. Let the message be proclaimed and let it stand alone, and let Christmas be Christmas.

A Saviour was born, God became man for our sakes, and no message more crucial than that.

Keith Fernie


Charity thanks

On behalf of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, may I take this opportunity to send sincere thanks to all of the many volunteers and supporters in the Western Isles who have contributed to the work of our charity in 2015.

Chest, heart and stroke illness can affect anyone. Thanks to advances in treatment, and changes in lifestyle, many more people survive heart attacks and strokes than ever before - a real success story for Scotland’s health.

However, this means that many more people, and their families, are living with the long-term impact of these conditions. Right now one in every ten people in Scotland is living with chest, heart or stroke illness.

CHSS is the only charity providing services throughout Scotland for people affected by chest, heart and stroke illness.

During 2015 we were able to help more than 18,000 people through our advice line and patient information, support groups, financial grants, and our wide range of local services, which we provide in communities throughout the Western Isles.

None of this would be possible without the contribution of our volunteers.

Their work is absolutely vital in our local support services, charity shops and other activities.

We very much appreciate the commitment, enthusiasm and care they bring to the charity and to their local community.

With continuing grateful thanks, and best wishes for 2016.

Mark O’Donnell

Chief Executive

Chest Heart & Stroke


EDITORIAL - The future is in their hands now

It has been a long time in the making but finally we can celebrate the news this week that the Pairc Estate is now in the hands of the community.

Many hurdles had to be overcome in a 13-year epic bid for ownership but now the Pairc Trust, who represents residents in the area, can begin to plan for the future.

An AGM of the Pairc Trust is planned for early in the New Year, where it is hoped that new Directors will be elected to take the Trust forward.

The benefits of community land buyouts have been clear to see over the last decade or so in the Western Isles.

Estate buyouts in Ness, Harris and the Uists have brought new vigour to these areas and the Gazette receives a continuous stream of news of new development, facilities, projects and jobs which are being brought to these areas.

What is clear is that when the community is in charge of their own destiny then the prospect of these areas being abandoned is minimalised.

The history of the Western Isles shows that in the past many communities did not manage to thrive which is seen today in abandoned villages, let’s hope these days are coming to an end.

It will be interesting to see the plans and projects that the Paric Trust come up with for their area to thrive in the future.

If you would like to comment on this topic, or write a letter than please contact me at:

Out Picture of the week is by reader Ronnie MacAlpine from a recent visit to Gallows hill, he said: “ I was fortunate to find the harbour calm and the early morning light lovely.”

The image was taken with a Nikon D3200, Lens 50mm, A priority, 1sec. @ f16. ISO 100.

If you would like to submit an image to our Picture of the Week feature please email us at: