Gazette Letters 27/6/13

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Last week’s contributions from Messrs Allan and MacNeil are quite remarkable for their high humbug and hilarity content.

Both men represent a party that is taking away powers from local areas.

A party that plans to abolish the local Sheriff Court. This is a body which for decades has ensured that our justice system is both close at hand and accountable, allowing, to use Dr Allan’s own words, ‘decision making for smaller communities’ when crime and public disorder occurs in their local neighbourhood.

This follows a similar pattern to the centralising control they have previously introduced for the police.

The MSP must find it hard to keep his face straight when he goes on to claim that the Scottish Government’s focus is ‘on community empowerment and greater local control’.

The evidence to back up his statement is not on the Doctor’s side.

Mr MacNeil - as usual – goes even further. He ignores his own Government’s role in the cost-cutting exercise recently imposed on the Comhairle and his own customary lack of involvement in any part of the discussions on savings.

Once again, the Western Isles Constituency Labour Party can only marvel at his lack of any consistency or sense of responsibility in this matter. Again and again, he is ducking and diving, blaming anyone but himself and his party for ‘yet another fine mess’ he is giving his constituents. This is particularly true for those who live in his local neighbourhood on Barra who must look with a little wry amusement.

Whatever they think of the local Council, there is more than sufficient evidence that ‘Islanders need protection’ from the brazen and blatant hypocrisy of their MP and MSP.


Chairman, Western Isles Constituency Labour Party


Your columnist’s accusation of sensationalism levelled at a local church (Gazette 20.06.13) requires to be addressed with facts.

The warning issued by the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in March expressly distinguished between Challenger Bus activities in local schools for younger children and Arminian evangelism directed at teenagers in evening sessions.

Our warning had nothing whatever to do with methods of teaching infants in ‘Sunday Schools’ and we have no issue with using modern forms of communication or with interactive learning.

There are certain elements in the practices of the Challenger Bus even at local schools which many island parents should be rightly concerned about. However this was not the focus of our concern as your columnist well knows.

For those who found our warning “sensational,” some sober facts about PWAMM need to be highlighted. Much more can be gleaned from their website which should give Calvinists in Lewis cause for serious reflection in the light of your columnist’s unguarded endorsements.

PWAMM is an openly Pentecostal/Charismatic organisation whose worship practices are alien to most if not all island Presbyterian Churches, with one or two exceptions. It’s theology of Christ’s atonement is not that of the Westminster Confession.

The DVD presentations of the American evangelist – Louie Giglio – used in last year’s evening sessions are of a decidedly Arminian bent. Giglio leads an emerging Church organisation in America aimed at teenage children and is hugely popular among teenage girls.

It is the very least that should be expected from ministers of the gospel with a concern for the souls of our impressionable young people, to caution them (and their parents).

It is illuminating and disappointing that your columnist considers his Church to have no viable alternative to the Challenger Bus method of evangelism but I suspect his remarks were aimed at those whom he mistakenly supposes to have no alternative.

Reliance on the Spirit of God to convince of sin, righteousness and judgement is an authentic alternative in the solemn and blessed task of doing the work of an evangelist, whether in Lewis, London or Libya.

Far from impugning the motives of professing Christians (as your columnist manages to do in abundance) our encouragement of parental vigilance is more necessary than ever.

Sincerity of motive is no guarantee of reliable theology.

Scottish Presbyterian ministers bind themselves by solemn vows to convey a less sensational and dramatic message.


North Tolsta


Our illustrious council announce they want greater powers for the islands. After what they have just done to the Southern Isles air services I dread to think what they would do to us with even more control! A change of council would be far more beneficial to everyone!


Isle of Barra


Is there anyone out there who can advise as to what is going on with the geese population?

Most years about now, parent birds arrive on the sea loch below our house, mum leading a string of three to six fluffies and dad guarding the rear. They swim up to our juicy reseed and gobble as much as they can as fast as possible, because as everyone knows, goslings crave grass.

This year it’s different; they are moving about in a large flock: two parents with five goslings, two with four, two with two, two with one, and a mother with two and 20 single birds with no brood, as a kind of fringe sentinels.

Has anyone got any ideas please? Is it the rats, eating eggs and baby goslings?


Great Bernera


Whether it is hedgehogs, geese, seals, or as is highlighted in this week’s story on page 5 rabbits, the subject of culling animals is a controversial one.

The issue is often most decried in relation to seals, and instead of culling the Islands hedgehogs they were relocated to the mainland.

But sometimes the only sensible solution for over-population is culling and the thousands of rabbits roaming the Westside of Lewis are deemed to be causing such damage to the natural environment that their numbers have to be reduced.

The controversy over whether animals should be culled or not seems to be dependent on the cute factor, we wouldn’t have any qualms about controlling rats, but there is a wobble when talking about rabbits, yet if the animals are causing damage to the wider area and there are few natural predators to control their numbers what other option is there?

What are your views on culling – do you agree with this method of animal control? Send your letters to: Editor, Stornoway Gazette, 10 Francis Street, Stornoway HS1 2XE or email: