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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Sunday ferry splits communities
Plans for a Sunday service linking North Uist and Harris have divided communities on both sides of the Sound of Harris.

Here two people with strong connections with the Western Isles give their opposing views on the row.

Teacher Murdo MacDonald, 38, was working on Benbecula, when he fell seriously ill.

Doctors diagnosed malaria which he had contracted on an exchange trip to Africa.

He said: "It was November 2001 and I became unwell and was sent to Stornoway Hospital.

"I was in for a week, but my friends and colleagues from North Uist were not able to visit me at the weekend because there was not a ferry on a Sunday.

"There was not even a return on a Saturday.

"Basically it came down to no-one being able to visit me as I lay dying."

Mr MacDonald, who now works in Glasgow but whose parents come from Harris and North Uist, said: "I don't see the ferry being any different than driving.

"I remember being told that the people who work on the ferry are contracted for Sundays anyway so it wouldn't be a problem for the guys."

Julie Woodford, a 61-year-old retired occupational therapist from Shawbost, Lewis, moved to the Western Isles 12 years ago and loves the peace of the Sabbath.

She said: "Being realistic I realise that the islands are in a difficult position but I strongly believe that the islanders themselves should be listened to.

"The Sabbaths there are very special - both Christians and non-committed people agree to that.

"I do not want to go into the religious side of things as that may well alienate some people, but having a day of complete rest is good for the body, as well as the soul, as many on the mainland would now agree.

"I think it would be a shame to cut all the traditions that make these islands so special.

"There is always an outcry on the mainland if traditions are tampered with."

Sabbath ferry service makes waves
30 Mar 06 |  Scotland


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