Local News for Thursday 1st December 2016

New Lord Lieutenant for Western Isles
Donald Martin has been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen as the new Lord-Lieutenant for the Western Isles, succeeding the long-serving Sandy Matheson CVO OBE JP, who retired last month after nearly 16 years in the role. Mr Martin has been cojgratulated on his appointment by Comhairle Convener Cllr Norman MacDonald, who said: "Donald is a well-known and respected figure in our community and has contributed significantly towards the work of Gaelic Development and Harris Tweed in the islands. He has also been a valued public servant in many different roles, principally on behalf of the Islands. We wish him the very best and hope that he enjoys his new position."

Read more: Local News for Thursday 1st December 2016

Local News for Wednesday 30th November 2016

Charlie Barleys in Whitehall
Black puddings from Charlie Barleys of Stornoway will be on the menu for parliamentarians and diplomats today, as the Scottish Office celebrates St Andrew’s Day. Representatives from Charles M Macleod butchers have once again been invited to take their wares down to London for a reception at the Scottish Office on Whitehall. Mini marags as well as full sized examples and other treats will be offered by Shona Macleod and colleagues at the St Andrew’s Day Taste of Scotland event hosted by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Charlie Barleys are part of a group of Scottish businesses showcasing some of the best of Scotland's national produce to 200 Parliamentarians and Diplomats.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 30th November 2016

Local News for Monday 28th November 2016

Hall of fame award for choir master
The man who founded three Gaelic choirs in Lewis is to be honoured with induction into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame. Rod Mackenzie, who prefers to be called Ruaraidh, came to Lewis with his wife Alison in 1972 to teach at the Nicolson Institute, and came to live in Gress. During 30 years in Lewis he started Coisir Òg a Bhac, Coisir Loch a Tuath and later Coisir Sgire a Bhac. Ruaraidh described his time in Lewis as the best years of his life. He said: “To see these folk from our local community develop into such a musically satisfying and socially cohesive ‘family’ was so personally fulfilling and satisfying.” One of those he inspired, piper and singer Anna Murray, said: “His selfless dedication and encouragement to our community and singers is an inspiration and something for which we will be forever grateful.” Three of his four daughters are Gaelic singers, and he also has 13 grandchildren.

Read more: Local News for Monday 28th November 2016

Local News for Friday 25th November 2016

Funeral of Gravir couple
The funeral was held this afternoon of popular Gravir couple Donald ‘Boy’ and Morag Macmillan, who died outside the Post Office which was their home one week ago. The bodies of Donald and Morag were found, close together outside the house early in Friday morning, after a night of freezing temperatures. A police investigation this week concluded there were no suspicious circumstances. Donald and Morag were buried today at Gravir cemetery, after a service at Gravir Free Church. Many tributes have been paid to a couple who were at the very heart of their community, and who gave a lifetime of service to the area.

Call for tug from new fund
After a House of Commons committee this week knocked back the idea of an Emergency Towing Vessel, or ETV, for the West Coast, concluding it would not have helped when the oil rig Transocean Winner drifted ashore in high seas in August, the Comhairle is trying a new tack to get the ETV funded. They are calling on the UK Government to use part of a new cash fund announced in yesterday's Autumn Statement for Civil Resilience and Community Safety, saying a West Coast ETV falls within the scope of that fund. In his autumn statement, the Chancellor announced £102 million collected from banks who break banking rules, saying it would be used to fund emergency services, hospitals, air ambulances and emergency responders over the next 4 years. Comhairle Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, said: "This is the perfect opportunity for UK Government to utilise less than 2% of this fund to protect the lives of mariners and to protect the environment. The Transocean Winner coming ashore at Dalmore could have seriously impacted the coastal environment. We also have nuclear waste being transported through the Minches and other dangerous cargoes which could lead to a disaster for the west of Scotland. Surely the UK Government could spend a small amount of money on decreasing the risks”.

Big Lottery win for island befrienders
Volunteering Hebrides will be able to recruit and train up to 140 volunteer befrienders thanks to an award of nearly £150,000 announced today by the Big Lottery. The money will help isolated people in island communities, and is part of a £250 million fund helping communities to overcome challenging circumstances

Strong feelings aired in Islands debate
An islands debate at Holyrood this week saw strong ideas proposed from all political parties. David Stewart, Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, called for more powers to be devolved to Island Authorities, saying that the time is right for a new Islands Bill. He also said: “It would also be a strong step if public bodies could be devolved out to the Islands. For example, OfCom to the Western Isles, Crown Estates to Orkney or Marine Scotland to Shetland. Not only would this show the Scottish Government’s commitment to strengthening the powers of the islands, but would also lead to job creation in some of our most peripheral communities". His colleague Rhoda Grant, Scottish Labour's Spokesperson for Rural Economy and Connectivity, has tabled a motion calling for debate on the decision to disband the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). It was confirmed this week that HIE will become part of a centralised economic development organisation. Mrs Grant said: "With the best will in the world, a board sitting in Glasgow or Edinburgh, cannot possibly understand the unique needs, culture and traditions of the Highlands and Islands. It is appalling that on the day the Scottish Government has a debate 'Supporting and Strengthening Scotland's Island Communities' they have just axed the very board which was set up to do this. This is a badly thought through, wrong-headed decision which must be reversed."

Big conversation comes to Stornoway
A meeting at the Bridge Centre on Monday evening forms part of the SNP’s National Survey, described by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as the chance to listen to everyone’s views on Europe, Brexit and Independence. The Stornoway meeting will be hosted by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, and part of the SNP plan to engage with at least 2 million people by St Andrew's Day. Dr Allan said: “The UK that Scotland voted to stay a part of in 2014 is very different to the one people are faced with today, as are the arguments around independence. With this in mind, I am very keen to hear about people’s feelings and thoughts on Europe, Brexit and Independence.”

There’s an after-school rugby club session for P5-P7 pupils this afternoon, and tomorrow morning the club holds a session for all S1-S2 players down at Bayhead from 11pm-12pm. This session is to help prepare the players for the U14 game next Saturday at home to Caithness.

Local News for Thursday 24th November 2016

Gravir deaths ‘tragic accident’
Police have issued a new statement after concluding investigations into the deaths of a couple in Gravir, South Lochs last Friday. They say that their full investigation into the circumstances confirms that Morag MacMillan, aged 67 and Donald MacMillan, aged 73, were tragic, but not suspicious. Detective Inspector Richard Baird said: "The tragic and untimely deaths of Mr and Mrs MacMillan have understandably shaken the local and wider communities of the Western Isles and our sympathies extend to everyone who knew the popular and highly respected couple. Officers would like to thank members of the local community for their support and co-operation during the investigation."  Reports have been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 24th November 2016