Local News for Monday 31st July 2017

Two die in diving incident
The Isle of Barra was rocked by a new tragedy on Saturday, when two men died while diving for shellfish in the harbour at Castlebay. Stornoway Coastguard were alerted at 11.20am, when the skipper of the small ferry between Castlebay and Kisimul Castle, the Bata-Fada Beag, reported that he had seen two divers enter the water in the harbour, and that they had not resurfaced. Barra RNLI lifeboat and Stornoway SAR Helicopter R948 were launched, and Coastguard volunteers also went to the scene. The lifeboat crew recovered the two men, one of whom is reportedly local to the island, and they were taken to Barra Hospital, where they were sadly confirmed to have died. Police said on Saturday that enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing, and that next of kin have been notified.

Lifebelt concern raised by Louisa investigation
Recommendations from a Marine Accident Investigation into the sinking of the fishing vessel Louisa have raised worries about the life-jackets routinely used on board CalMac ferries. The MAIB said the design of life-jackets worn by the four-man crew of the Louisa, only one of whom survived when the vessel foundered while at anchor off Mingulay last April, contributed to the deaths of three men. In their report, published last week, the MAIB concluded that, after abandoning the sinking vessel, the men were dependent on their life jackets, saying “A lifejacket should turn an unconscious person onto their back and keep their airway clear of the water.” They recommended that ‘as a matter of urgency’ the MCA should conduct research to confirm that lifejacket water performance tests are effective. CalMac has said that they are seeking advice from the MCA on lifejacket design, as the same design is commonly used aboard ferried on the Clyde and Hebrides network. A spokesman for CalMac said: “"We will also ask the MCA for their guidance on the issues around lifejackets and if they advise or instruct a change we will, of course, fully comply."

Pipe Band disappointment
Lewis Pipe Band has returned disappointed from a second competition on the mainland, after they competed at their grade, 3a, in the Scottish Pipe Band Championships in Paisley at the weekend. The band were placed 15th of 18 bands at their grade, after a punishing period of rehearsal and performance through island events this summer.

Island youth top track and field
Young athletes from Lewis, Harris and the Uists had a great day on Saturday at the Youth Development Scottish Track and Field Finals in Grangemouth Stadium, where they were part of an Island Select team with Shetland and Orkney athletes. The U13 /U15 team came fourth of the eight teams, while the U17s topped the lot, coming first out of all the teams competing.

Lewis Camanachd were disappointed that Saturday’s game with Lochcarron was postponed, and has been rescheduled for the 2nd of September. There’s a big compensation for shinty enthusiasts tonight, though, as Lewis are taking on the English Shinty Association on their tour of Scotland. Throw-up is at Bayhead at 7pm tonight.

Carloway opened up their lead at the top of the Lewis and Harris Football league on Friday, when they beat Ness 4-1 and put themselves five points ahead of Westside. They’re in action again tonight in the league, away to Back, and Westside will be playing Stornoway United at Barvas. Aths and Lochs meet at Goathill, and Point are at home to Ness – all kick-offs at 7pm.