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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 May, 2004, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Sabbath ferry service sets sail
Raasay ferry
The ferry is operating on the island's Sabbath
A controversial Sunday ferry service to the Hebridean island of Raasay has begun operating for the first time.

Twenty five passengers travelled on the first ferry to make the 15-minute Sabbath trip to Sconser on Skye.

The move by ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne to begin Sunday sailings has divided the island's 193 residents.

The Free Presbyterian Church said that Sunday should be the Lord's Day, but it refused to stage a protest as it would have to be held on the Sabbath.

Worship and rest

Rev James Tallach said: "It is a terrible violation of the Lord's Day. I, like the majority of the islanders, am against this service operating on a Sunday.

"There are 10 Commandments, one of which is to remember the Sabbath. This is not how to remember the Sabbath.

"The Sabbath is for worship and rest. The ferry operating on a Sunday will destroy that on Raasay."

The first ferry made the 15 minute crossing over the Sound of Raasay at 1000 BST.

There were five cars packed with locals and tourists, with a number of foot passengers.

One Raasay resident on board, who did not wish to be named for fear of repercussions, said: "Why am I using it? Because I can. It seems stupid not to have a service running on a Sunday. Look at the number of people on board just the first service on a poor day of weather."

We can't continue living in the dark ages.
Hotelier John Nicolson

The return journey at 1030 BST included a number of tourists.

John Robson from Inverness said: "We decided to take a day trip over to the island when we heard of the Sunday sailing.

"While I respect people's religious views, they don't have to use the ferry if they don't want to. It is a matter of choice. It is also good for the tourist industry."

John Nicolson, who runs the only hotel on Raasay, said: "We can't continue living in the dark ages.

"There was a petition carried out which said the majority of islanders did not want it. But not everyone was asked, so it isn't a valid petition."

Mr Nicolson, who moved to Raasay from Devon three years ago, but whose family hail from the island, added: "We really should be looking forward, not backwards. As a result of this new service I have had four guests staying over the weekend."

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12 Jun 03  |  Scotland
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28 Oct 02  |  Scotland

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