Local News for Thursday 20th July 2017

HebCelt main arena shows begin
The main arena on Lews Castle Green opens its gates this evening on HebCelt 2017, with Lewis Pipe Band leading the crowds to the door, and island singer songwriter Eleanor Nicolson the first performer to take the stage. Eleanor will perform at 7pm on the Lewis Wind Power Islands Stage, just a day after her 4th EP was released. She’s followed by quality performances from Tide Lines, national icon Dougie Maclean and high octane Celtic dance band the Peatbog Faeries ending the night. Meanwhile at An Lanntair, the first island performance of Willie Campbell’s Gaelic album Dalma provides a treat for festival-goers. In Harris, the community performance by Canadian fiddlers The Lumber Jills has been moved to the Bays Community Centre following a bereavement at Seallam, where the band were scheduled to appear.

All the visiting artists from New Brunswick, Canada arrived on the ferry on Tuesday at the start of a visit enhancing traditional ties between Scotland and the Canadian province, during the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. The confederation brought the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. Many of the early Canadian settlers emigrated from Scotland, including from the Hebrides, and that heritage is still celebrated in songs on both sides of the Atlantic. Singer-songwriter Tristan Horncastle, fiddlers and dancers the Lumber Jills and children’s music act Shelley Bean & The Duckety Muds will perform at HebCelt. Arriving in Stornoway, Shelley Bean said: “Canadians always want to know more about where our ancestors come from, especially as so many folk songs talk about leaving Scotland. The longing for Scotland and the homesickness that first wave carried to our province stayed in the music and so the natural curiosity amongst us is to see what they left and where we come from.”

Police name Barra man
Police Scotland have released the name of a 32-year-old man who was found dead in the Traigh a' Ghoirtein area of Barra on the morning of Thursday, July 13th. He has been formally identified as Iain Johnstone of Castlebay. Mr Johnstone’s body was found by Coastguard SAR teams after a search when he was reported missing at 10pm the previous night. There are no suspicious circumstances and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. Chief Inspector Gordon Macleod said: "Our thoughts remain with Mr Johnstone's family following this tragic incident. We ask that their privacy is respected during this difficult time."

‘Productive’ energy meeting - MP
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has described a meeting this week with Richard Harrington, under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as ‘productive’. The meeting was pursued by Mr MacNeil to discuss the issue of island Contracts for Difference (CfD), a pricing policy which would improve the position for island energy producers. Mr Harrington said, according to Mr MacNeil, that he was “committed to doing this,” although the negotiation still has to go through the European Commission and through the House of Commons, Mr MacNeil said: “After a green light from the EU the next stage would be getting legislation through the House of Commons, but given the volume of Brexit work this might have timetabling issues. However, we should see an auction about 18 months away, which should give many room for optimism. We have money committed and a timetable in place, and I would like to thank Richard Harrington for his openness and frankness in answering my direct questions and for his seeming intention of getting on with the job”.