Isles MP – Ferry fares hike not a solution to capacity issues

Commenting on reports that Transport Secretary Michael Matheson MSP is looking at a range of options to help alleviate ferry capacity issues during peak times, Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“RET introduced by the SNP Government has been hugely beneficial, particularly to the economy in our islands with ever increasing tourist numbers. I do not believe that increasing ferry fares during peak times should be considered as a solution to capacity issues. 

“A possible solution to capacity issues could be found by only selling 70% of bookings by a certain date prior to travel, thereafter staggering bookings but leaving 10% of bookings until the last week of travel.  This would help locals who need to travel at short notice.

“Increasing ferry fares will not help and will just make it more expensive to live in the islands.  I will be writing to Transport Secretary Michael Matheson about this and to ask that he considers other solutions.”

ENDS

Isles MP will vote against PM’s Brexit deal

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil will vote against the Prime Minister’s damaging Brexit deal in the House of Commons next week.

The delayed ‘Meaningful Vote’ is scheduled to take place next Tuesday (January 15th) following several days of debate starting today (Wednesday).

Mr MacNeil says the Prime Minister has made the UK an ‘international laughing stock’ due to the ongoing Brexit chaos and that the time has come for Scotland to take its own path.

He said: “Even the most deluded can see that Brexit is not going terribly well and that the UK is now an international laughing stock. The delusions of the Prime Minister, the Tory Party and the Labour Party leadership must come to an end after next week’s vote.

“Theresa May’s Brexit deal will be economically damaging for all of us, no deal will be even worse.

Angus MacNeil MP

“She has crashed the Rolls Royce and the only choice now is to go down to the second hand car shop and choose a second hand car or a moped.

“What this whole fiasco has shown more than ever is that Scotland needs its independence and the time is now to start this process.”

The SNP Group of MPs will vote against the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal and would support any move to hold a second referendum, a People’s Vote on EU membership.

Delivery charges feedback

oblong brown metal mailbox

Photo by sl wong on Pexels.com

I have been inundated with the names of companies which charge excessive delivery charges to the islands.

Working with cross party colleagues in the House of Commons, I am compiling a list of firms which will be presented to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

If you would like to add your feedback on delivery charges, please email me angus.macneil.mp@parliament.uk by January 10th.

TA Veteran finally receives Service Medal

South Uist resident Captain Eoghann Maclachlainn was presented with the General Service Medal 62 with Clasp South Arabia at a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle last weekend – more than 50 years after he was seriously injured in a battle which took place overseas while on a Territorial Army mission.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil attended the special occasion to see Captain Maclachlainn finally receive recognition from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Medals will also be issued to the families of Sergeant Major John Lonergan who was killed in the battle in 1965, and Sergeant George Gibson Earl.

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They were all members of the 300 Parachute Field Squadron Royal Engineers, 131 Parachute Engineer Regiment TA who were the first Squadron to see action after WW2. They were attacked by enemy fire during a training exercise and the ensuing battle led to the loss of two lives and five others including Captain Maclachlainn and Sergeant Earl, were wounded.

Mr MacNeil received confirmation from Earl Howe, Minister of State in the House of Lords, last month that Medals would now be issued. This follows more than two years of Mr MacNeil writing to the MoD pressing for action to remedy the injustice.

The MoD have previously stated that members of the squadron were not eligible for General Service Medals because they were in South Arabia on training and not operational duties.

Mr MacNeil, who has known Captain Maclachlainn for many years said: “It was a great occasion to see Eoghann finally receive recognition of his service.
“I have been writing to the MoD about this injustice for more than 2 years and am delighted that they have finally taken action.

“However all the brave men who served in 300 Parachute Field Squadron deserve recognition for their service. The battle which took place at 0015 hours on 12 April 1965, was not part of a training exercise but was active service.
“The award for Captain Maclachlainn and others is a very welcome step forward in what has been a long running campaign for the veterans.”

The Medal was presented to Captain Maclachlainn by Governor of the Castle Major General Mike Riddell-Webster CBE DSO.

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MP asks constituents to tell all on delivery charges

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is asking constituents to name and shame companies who charge excess delivery charges to the islands.

Working with cross party colleagues in the House of Commons, Mr MacNeil is seeking assistance from the people of the islands to compile a list to be presented to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Following a meeting with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BEIS, Kelly Tolhurst MP, MPs are asking for input from Highlands and Islands residents on which firms are charging excessively.

Mr MacNeil said: “Excessive delivery charges have been impacting the Highlands and Islands for too long. Some progress has been made on this recently and much work has been done by colleagues in the Scottish Parliament including Richard Lochhead MSP for Moray who is campaigning for an end to unfair charges.

“A list of companies is now being compiled for presentation to the Minister and I would ask constituents for help with this.

“Please email me at angus.macneil.mp@parliament.uk with details of excessive delivery charges you may have encountered.”

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Iolaire to be remembered in debates at Westminster and Holyrood

The Centenary of the loss of HMY Iolaire will be marked by debates in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has secured a debate on ‘Remembering the Iolaire’ in Westminster Hall on Wednesday December 12th at 4:30pm and Alasdair Allan, MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, will lead a bilingual members’ business debate in the Scottish Parliament on December 19th.

Mr MacNeil will host the Westminster debate which will include attendance by a Minister from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). This follows Mr MacNeil’s laying of an EDM on the Iolaire before Parliament last month which was signed by more than 50 MPs from across the political spectrum.

Mr MacNeil said: “The Centenary of the Iolaire disaster is being marked in many fitting ways in the islands and it is also fitting that MPs have the opportunity to commemorate it during a short debate.”

Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“Even 100 years on this disaster is still raw in the minds of the people of Lewis and Harris. As we approach the centenary of the Iolaire’s loss, I hope we will be able to come together as a Parliament to commemorate the immeasurable sacrifice of those who were lost so tragically close to home.”

Iolaire poppy pin

MP stands up for Isles fishermen and warns Tories ‘all eyes are on them’

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Isles SNP MP Angus B MacNeil is standing up for Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s fishermen in Parliament and warns the Tories all eyes are on them as they negotiate the future of the fishing industry.

 

In a speech during the Fisheries Bill debate yesterday (Wednesday), he outlined the many issues facing west coast fishermen as highlighted to him by the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association.

 

These included fishing quotas; seal management; potential for a blue fin tuna fishery and spurdog by catch. He also stressed that the UK Government could take action to assist the industry with crew shortages right now but were choosing not to do so.

 

He is also calling on the House of Commons’ Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) to consider holding an inquiry into fishing quotas and has written to Chair Neil Parish MP on this matter.

 

He said:  “The Tories are trying to portray themselves as the saviours of fishing but the truth is it is not a priority for them and never has been. There is a real responsibility for this Government who are now treading this path.”

 

He added: “I think it would be worthwhile to have an EFRA committee inquiry into who holds quota, where they got quota from, where quota might be better distributed, ideas of community quotas, and geographical share of quotas.

 

“As recently highlighted in media reports from research by NGO’s, quota ownership is an issue of interest. I have suggested that the Committee could investigate loss of rights that were once historically held for example in the west coast of Scotland and is now in the hands of a few big fishing concerns out with the area.”

 

He said consideration should be given to the full reorganisation of fishing quota particularly in pelagic sectors, perhaps adopting the principle which has been introduced in the Faroes, that all fish in Faroese waters are the property of the people of the Faroes.

HMY Iolaire remembered in House of Commons

An Early Day Motion (EDM) on the Centenary of the Iolaire tragedy has been laid before Parliament by Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus B MacNeil.

More than 50 MPs from across six political parties and one independent have signed the EDM making it one of the most supported motions in this Parliamentary session.

Mr MacNeil called on the House to remember those who had been lost when HMY Iolaire sank on 1st January 1919 and to commend all those in Na h-Eileanan an Iar who have been involved in events and projects to commemorate the tragedy.

He said: “As we approach the 100 years since the loss of the Iolaire, it is so important that we remember the men who lost their lives just yards from home shores and the impact this had on our islands, especially after the already terrible losses of the war.

“The events and projects organised to mark the centenary have documented this tragedy in our history in the most moving and fitting way and have ensured that this dark day in our history is relayed to a new generation.”

Mr MacNeil has worn the PoppyScotland Iolaire Pin in the House of Commons.

Remembering HMY Iolaire – link to EDM:

https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1825

Iolaire poppy pin

The full text of the EDM is below:

“This house remembers that more than 200 sailors lost their lives when HMY Iolaire sank on 1st January 1919 as it approached Stornoway Harbour bringing sailors home from the war, just yards from shore and within sight of home; and commends all those in Na h- Eileanan an Iar involved in events to commemorate this tragedy. These include the publication of a book ‘The Darkest Dawn’ by local historian Malcolm MacDonald and the late Donald John Macleod , commissioning of music, exhibitions involving local historical societies, improving access to the existing memorial and the erection in Stornoway town centre of a plaque and a cairn containing a stone from the home area of each of those lost; particular note is made of the involvement of Young People in the Dileab project which culminates in an event in the Nicolson Institute involving more than 200 performers from throughout the islands, Comhairle nan Eilean and the Iolaire Working Group are commended for their work in raising awareness of this tragedy which remains one of the worst maritime disasters in UK waters in the 20th century.”

 

MP welcomes Medal award for TA veterans

More than 50 years after he was seriously injured in a battle overseas while on a Territorial Army mission, Captain Eoghann Maclachlainn of South Uist will finally receive a General Service Medal with Clasp South Arabia from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus B MacNeil received confirmation this week that medals for service will be awarded to members of the 300 Parachute Field Squadron Royal Engineers, 131 Parachute Engineer Regiment TA who were injured or killed in a battle in Yemen (formerly South Arabia) in 1965 – despite previous refusals by the MoD.

The TA Squadron were the first to see action after WW2 when they were attacked by enemy fire during a training exercise. The ensuing battle led to the loss of two lives including the Squadron’s Sergeant Major John Lonergan and five others including Captain Maclachlainn, were wounded.

This week Mr MacNeil received a letter from Earl Howe, Minister of State in the House of Lords, which detailed that instruction had been given to the Medal Office to issue the Medal to Captain Maclachlainn, and the families of the Sergeant George Gibson Earl who died on 10 February 2004 and Sergeant Lonergan.

The MoD have previously stated that members of the squadron were not eligible for a General Service Medal because they were in South Arabia on training and not operational duties.

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Mr MacNeil, who has known Captain Maclachlainn for many years said: “I am very pleased that the MoD has finally recognised the service of some members of this squadron and has confirmed that Medals will be given.

“I have been writing to the MoD about this injustice for more than 2 years.

“However all the brave men who served in 300 Parachute Field Squadron deserve recognition for their service.

“The battle which took place at 0015 hours on 12 April 1965, was not part of a training exercise but was active service.

“The award for Captain Maclachlainn and others is a very welcome step forward in what has been a long running campaign for the veterans.”

Staff Sgt John Donaldson, who served with the squadron and has been campaigning for five years for the MoD to award the General Service Medals said:

“I am delighted that the casualties of 300 Parachute Field Squadron Royal Engineers will now receive the medallic recognition they deserve.

“Special Army Orders of 25 July 1966, opened the door for the casualties of 300 Para Fld Sqn RE and others to receive the General Service Medal 1962 with Clasp South Arabia so why has it taken 52 years for them to receive the award.”

He said the Squadron were working in an operational area and followed orders as such in relation to this despite the MoD’s insistence that they were not on operational duties.

He added: “I am sure that had I not had the support from Angus MacNeil MP the casualties of 300 Para Fld Sqn RE would never have received the award. Mr MacNeil has agreed to carry on the fight for the rest of the squadron to receive the medallic recognition they deserve.”