Iolaire designated as Official War Grave – Designation welcomed by Isles MP

Angus MacNeil MP joined with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Iolaire Working Group and others in welcoming the announcement of the signing of a Statutory Instrument which will designate the Iolaire as a war grave from 2nd September.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said

‘ It is indeed good to hear that HMY Iolaire has finally been designated as a War Grave. It is more than a year since I raised this matter in Parliament and it was disappointing to receive a response from the MoD in November saying that while they were sympathetic to the idea no decisions would be made in time for the commemorative events in January 2019.

‘The commemorations were truly magnificent from the work done in schools to the refurbished memorial at Holm and the installation in the Harbour and provided a wonderful memorial to all those who died in this tragic event so close to home. Designation as an Official War Grave within this year is very fitting.’

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TUMBLING WITH SAFETY

Isles MP encourages constituents to check appliances

“With 47 fires caused by tumble dryers in Scottish homes last year and a major, ongoing tumble dryer recall, all of us need to check and use them safely”, explains Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil. 

White goods manufacturer, Whirlpool, is recalling a number of its tumble dryers – but the company estimates that there are still around 500,000 affected machines in UK homes.

Mr MacNeil supports the Electrical Safety First’s campaign to ensure constituents stay safe in their homes and that all recalled tumble dryers are removed from use. 

Currently, recalls have just a 20% effectiveness rate, so checking you don’t have an effected model is a priority. However, Wayne Mackay, Deputy Public Affairs Manager at Electrical Safety First, explains that the campaign also has a wider aim.

“We also want to provide a timely reminder on using tumble dryers safely”, reveals Wayne. “And we have devised a range of tools and top tips to help, including our dedicated site –  www.whitegoodsafety.com 

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Over the last couple of years, I have highlighted concerns about tumble dryers.  It is important that we all check our machines. 

“Constituents can check if you have an affected tumble dryer, or other ‘white goods’ by visiting the dedicated site www.whitegoodsafety.com  – it would be good if people also made their friends and relatives aware of this website – even if you are not one of those affected by the recall, it is really important to follow some simple safety tips when using your machine.”

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For more information, take a look at Electrical Safety First’s top tips, below.

To check if you have a recalled tumble dryer

  • Visit: www.whitegoodsafety.com.
  • Check if you have a Whirlpool owned brand machine, such as Hotpoint, Creda, Indesit or Swan. You can do this by looking at  Whirlpool’s online model checker to see if your product is affected – if it is, call Whirlpool on 0800 151 0905 to have it replaced or consult https://safety.hotpoint.eu to check your model.
  • If you’re in any doubt, stop using- and unplug – your machine immediately.

Top tips for tumble dryer safety

  • Never overload the dryer – take large or bulky items like duvets to the dry cleaners.
  • Always allow each drying programme, including the “cool-down cycle”, to completely finish.
  • If you have to stop the dryer before the end of the cycle, remove all items and leave the door open to dissipate heat.
  • Don’t use your tumble dryer to dry clothes that are contaminated with combustible substances like solvents, grease, oils or fats.
  • Don’t leave your tumble dryer running overnight, or when you are out.

Isles MP reiterates call to have children vaccinated against serious diseases

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil is reiterating his call to island parents to ensure their children receive lifesaving vaccinations.

This comes following recent media reports that the UK has lost its World Health Organization ‘measles-free’ status.

Vaccinations such as the MMR are the biggest health successes of the last century and are the only way to protect your child against some serious diseases.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“In the spring, I was pleased to hear from NHS Western Isles that uptake of the MMR first dose in the Western Isles is back above the target of 95% despite a drop in uptake in 2017.

“Recent media reports that the UK has lost its World Health Organization ’measles-free’ status is concerning.

“Vaccination is one of the most effective preventative measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our children and again I would urge parents to help maintain high levels of uptake by ensuring children receive the vaccine.”

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Single Track Roads – “Use passing places to let cars overtake”

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has written to Transport Minister Michael Matheson MSP to suggest that more signage is needed to raise awareness about the use of passing places on single track roads.

Mr MacNeil is suggesting that the correct use of passing places should be promoted more so motorists unfamiliar with single track roads understand that passing places are not just for oncoming traffic but also to allow overtaking and that use of the rear-view mirror is vitally important.

This is a particular problem with vehicles coming off ferries when there can be a convoy of vehicles behind someone who may be driving on a single track road for the first time and does not realise that passing places should be used to allow for overtaking as well as giving way to oncoming vehicles.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“This can be very frustrating for locals, particularly when people are driving very slowly, admiring the scenery but do not use passing places to allow for overtaking.

“Locals going about their day-to-day business can often find themselves not progressing very far and this causes stress when they might have other transport links to catch, appointments or work commitments.

“This problem is becoming more acute each summer as visitor numbers increase and while we warmly welcome visitors, it must be understood that passing places are not just for oncoming traffic but also to allow for overtaking.

“I have written to the Transport Minister to suggest that this issue is addressed with a view to increasing the promotion on the correct use of passing places. Signs at various points along single track roads with short sharp message “Let cars behind past” may help.  Local authorities may also want to apply their thinking to the problem as well.”

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Frustration for islanders as ferry capacity issues continue – MacNeil reiterates call for changes to booking system

Capacity issues on the ferries network continue to cause difficulties for islanders and once again, Isles MP Angus MacNeil is calling on The Scottish Government to take action to alleviate the problem. 

Mr MacNeil has been calling on the Scottish Government to implement changes to the booking system and release bookings of deck space in stages, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP has previously told Mr MacNeil that he is keen to address this issue.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Our ferries are a lifeline service and all travellers must be able to access these ferries.  This is why I have been calling on the Scottish Government to make changes to the booking system that will allow a percentage of car deck bookings to be released prior to departure.

“When CalMac open bookings they could open it to 70% of bookings, then a month prior to travel they could release another 20% of bookings and sell the remaining 10% during the week of travel.  This is a solution that would help individuals and businesses who need to travel at short notice.  I am aware of people unable to make a booking in August as ferries seem to have been booked far in advance.”

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Bethesda Hospice – funding solution must be found

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is adding his voice in support of calls made by his colleagues Alasdair Allan MSP and SNP Councillors Rae Mackenzie and Gordon Murray for a fair funding settlement for Bethesda Hospice.

Bethesda Hospice has four beds to care for terminally-ill patients and there are concerns that the hospice is not receiving the correct funding settlement.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

““Bethesda Hospice is a very important community facility, with many families having benefited from the excellent service provided.

“It is concerning that this funding shortfall has been ongoing for a number of years.

“It is vital that a speedy resolution can be found and that the Western Isles Integration Joint Board and Bethesda reach an amicable and lasting agreement.”

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MP digs up detail on Isles tunnel potential

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has had discussions with Norwegian consultants on the potential for subsea tunnels for the islands.

Norconsult have led projects to construct tunnels in Norway and the Faroes and have confirmed they are willing to conduct further studies on potential in the Hebrides.

Following discussions with Mr MacNeil, the consultants prepared a brief suggesting a tunnel between Harris and Skye as the best option with a possible additional inter-island link between Harris and North Uist.

Mr MacNeil said tunnels were a serious option for the islands as a means of reducing reliance on the ferry network and making savings in the long term.

He said: “A transport network which includes tunnels is a system we should aspire to follow in the Scottish islands. We need solutions to the long term challenges.

“My discussions with Norconsult were very positive on the potential they see in the islands. They are currently working on three subsea projects including a 27km tunnels in Norway which, when completed, will become the world’s longest road tunnel.

“They say the rocks in Scotland and the islands are similar to rocks found in parts of Western Norway so that similar construction methods could be used.

“They estimate that with investment costs and discounted operating costs, the sum of time savings and saved ferry costs could amount to more than £300 million over 60 years.

“I have shared the information from Norconsult with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Scottish Government and I hope this is something they will seriously consider.”

The consultants estimate socio-economic benefits from reductions in travel times and reductions in costs. In addition, increased connectivity to the islands to the rest of the UK would be likely to stimulate the local economy. It would reduce lead times and improve punctuality for export of goods to the UK and abroad.

MP welcomes plan to improve ferry booking system

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed reports that CalMac are developing a new ferry booking system – which could include retaining deck space for bookings closer to date of travel.

Mr MacNeil has already suggested to Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP that introducing different time windows to the booking system would ensure space was available for island residents and businesses who need to travel at short notice. Mr Wheelhouse reacted positively to the idea.

Mr MacNeil said:

“Investment by Transport Scotland in a new booking system is very welcome.

“This will modernise the whole system and allow the company to manage deck space more efficiently and improve communications during adverse weather.

“Consultation on this will provide an opportunity for communities to tell Calmac what they want.

“The current situation is unworkable for short term travellers which includes businesses and those who need to travel due to a bereavement or family illness.  Many ferry services are booked up months in advance so in order to relieve this issue, an instant solution would be to alter the system.

“This would also work for flights which are in high demand such as those between Barra and Glasgow which are currently fully booked up to end of August.”

Boris needs to buck up ideas for Scotland, says Isles MP

  •               Pushes new Home Secretary to include fishing visas in reformed immigration rules

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil says Scotland needs ‘better government, not a bribe to stay chained to the union.’

As new Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Scotland today (Monday), Mr MacNeil said the UK Government are running out of time to keep Scotland onboard a sinking ship.

He is reiterating calls for the Tory Government to take urgent action to support the Scottish fishing industry and allow skippers access to non-European Economic Area workers to relieve the crew shortage crisis. He says at no cost, the Tory Government can lift the pen, make a change and solve a crisis.

He said: “Instead of making promises they cannot keep and announcing funding which has already been committed, the Tory Government have a genuine chance to make a real difference to a Scottish industry by allowing skippers to source crew from outside the EEA.

“The new Home Secretary says she wants to reform the immigration system to allow UK entry based on what skills they have to offer. There are skilled seaman waiting to come to the UK and to fill the gaps in labour which are causing boats in my constituency and across the west coast to be tied up.

“I will write to Ms Patel asking her to take on this urgent matter.

“I invited former Home Secretary Sajid Javid to the islands to see for himself the extent of this issue and disappointingly he did not take up this offer.”

He added: “Boris needs to buck up his ideas on Scotland. He has come to Scotland today making desperate promises to try and quash any aspirations for independence.

“The reality is that he is leading us to a No Deal Brexit disaster which we didn’t vote for and that leads us with only one option of escape.”

Angus MacNeil MP

PM Boris pushes independence Plan B to SNP Conference for debate.

SNP MP Angus MacNeil and Leader of Inverclyde SNP Council Group Chris McEleny are to resurrect the idea of using a General Election to progress independence in light of the Boris Johnson premiership and Westminster not respecting the Election mandate of 2016 and the Scottish Parliament Mandate of March 2017 for an independence referendum.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s MP Angus Brendan MacNeil said: “All Scotland is aghast at the latest choice being foisted on our country.

“Clearly Boris and his party are not Scotland’s choice and haven’t been for over six decades, and we can see from our independent Nordic and Irish neighbours that there is a better way.  Scotland has a mandate for a referendum on independence and Westminster must respect this. If it doesn’t then we must ensure that the Scottish Government, on behalf of the people, has another club in its bag to influence negotiations over a Section 30 order. Namely we need the prospect of a direct mandate for independence from a majority of MPs from a  Westminster Election (or MSPs from a Scottish Election) to positively progress Scotland to the prosperity of our Nordic and Irish neighbours and away from the damaging policies of Westminster.”

The proposer of the motion Chris McEleny – who represents ordinary party members on the SNP’s ruling national executive said:

“SNP members and the independence movement were not happy when our motion was rejected without even allowing a debate. Now we will have the opportunity to recognise all we have achieved thanks to the Scottish Parliament but importantly put in place a plan B to give our Parliament all the powers of an ordinary independent country if the UK Government refuse to agree to Section 30 order.”

Both Mr McEleny and Mr MacNeil are encouraging ordinary SNP members who want this debated at conference to email National Secretary Angus MacLeod to have their names added to the amendment to Motion 5 at SNP October conference.

Amendment to Motion 5:

Conference calls on the UK Government to devolve Section 30 powers to the Scottish Parliament so that the people of Scotland can be given a choice about their future in an independence referendum in accordance with the established principles of the Edinburgh Agreement.

Conference instructs, that in the event of the UK Government failing to agree to grant a section 30 order, that the manifesto for the next Scottish or UK Parliamentary election – whichever may come first – shall state that, a pro independence electoral victory shall be a mandate from the people of Scotland to commence independence negotiations with the UK Government.