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Spokesman John Scoular
"Relatives appreciated his visit very much"
 real 28k

Willie Johnstone reports
"The visit to the Isle of Whithorn was additional to his official programme"
 real 28k

Friday, 19 May, 2000, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Royal visit for Solway families
Prince meeting local people
Prince Charles expressed his sympathies
The Prince of Wales has said he is "very glad" to have met the families bereaved in the Solway Harvester fishing disaster, in which seven men died.

The prince talked to relatives and community representatives in private during a visit to the Isle of Whithorn, in south-west Scotland.

It is just over four months since the Solway Harvester sank off the Isle of Man with the loss of all hands.

He spent about 25 minutes with relatives in a meeting which was arranged at the prince's own request and took place in the village pub.

Prince leaving pub
The prince leaves the meeting
As he left, the prince said the visit had been "very nice". "I am very glad to have had the chance to meet them and express my deepest sympathies."

A spokesman for the families, John Scoular, said: "Above all, they would like to say how much they appreciate his visit.

"He has taken time out from an official programme to come and see them and the rest of his schedule may be suffering a bit."

The families are still waiting for confirmation from authorities on Isle of Man about when efforts to raise the wreck of the Solway Harvester will resume.

It is lying off the Isle of Man, after being lifted from the seabed where it sank in mountainous seas on 11 January, and towed underwater closer to land.

The men who died - all from the villages of the Isle of Whithorn, Whithorn and Garlieston - were skipper Andrew Craig Mills, 29, his brother Robin, 33, their cousin David, 17, Martin Milligan, 26, John Murphy, 22, David Lyons, 18, and Wesley Jolly, 17.

John Scoular
John Scoular: "Families appreciate the visit"
The Manx Parliament, the Tynwald, agreed to take responsibility for the salvage operation and successfully recovered the bodies of the crew.

The island's chief minister Donald Gelling has stressed they are determined to bring the boat to the surface whatever the cost

A report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch says a hatch on the main deck of the Kirkcudbright-registered scallop dredger was open and there was no sign of a cover for it.

Neither of the vessel's two liferafts appear to have been attached to the boat and neither had been serviced for four years. They should have been inspected annually.

Meanwhile, officials of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will be in Kirkcudbright on Friday to talk to fishermen about how to improve the safety and stability of beam trawlers and scallop dredgers.

It is part of a review ordered last year - before the Solway Harvester was lost.

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See also:

11 Apr 00 | Scotland
Fresh bid to lift Harvester wreck
22 Feb 00 | Scotland
Trawler probe finds safety flaws
11 Feb 00 | Scotland
Harvester lift costs help plea
09 Feb 00 | Scotland
Harvester crewmen laid to rest
04 Feb 00 | Scotland
Divers begin to recover bodies
13 Jan 00 | Scotland
Solway Harvester: The crew
20 May 00 | Scotland
Church welcomes Charles
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