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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Sunday ferry service start date
Loch Portain ferry
The ferry Loch Portain will provide the new service
Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has announced that a controversial new Sunday service on the Sound of Harris crossing will begin this weekend.

The first commercial ferry to the island of Lewis and Harris will sail into Leverburgh at 1030 GMT on 9 April.

The ferry's arrival will come as the Free Presbyterian Church's communion service is due to begin.

CalMac said the seven day service was the most appropriate way of fulfilling its responsibilities.

Western Isles Council opposed the move at two meetings last week.

'No surprise'

The move towards a Sunday service across the Sound of Harris has stirred up opposing views in the islands.

South Harris councillor Morag Munro accused CalMac of throwing the communities' wishes "back in their faces".

She said: "Nothing would surprise me about the behaviour of CalMac.

"They have bypassed the community, thrown the communities' wishes back in their faces, they have bypassed the local council and bypassed the shipping services committee.

Earliest date

"Had they consulted with the community they would have known that the next Sabbath is the week of the communion services in Leverburgh."

The Free Presbyterian minister for Leverburgh, the Rev K D Macleod, said he was disappointed with CalMac's decision.

A company spokesman said it was the earliest available date after discussions with workers' unions.

CalMac said it was not aware it was a communion Sunday.

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