[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Sunday ferry makes first sailing
Ferry arriving
The ferry made its first Sunday visit to Leverburgh
A ferry has sailed to the island of Lewis and Harris on a Sunday for the first time - despite strong opposition.

The Loch Portain arrived in Leverburgh shortly after 1000 BST after crossing the Sound of Harris.

North Uist residents requested the move and ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne said it was providing a vital service.

But some South Harris residents argue the Sabbath must be strictly observed as a day of rest. Some left marks of their disapproval at the quayside.

Yellow tape bearing the words "Caution Keep Out" had been tied across the ferry slipway and several posters bearing the words "remember the Sabbath day" were posted on surrounding signs and buildings.

However, there were no protesters waiting for the vessel when it arrived.

Tape at the quayside
Some protesters left their mark at the quayside

Two-thirds of the adult population in the staunchly Presbyterian community of South Harris signed a petition opposing the Sunday crossing.

Harris West councillor Morag Monro, whose ward contains the port of Leverburgh, said legal action was being considered.

"At the moment we are investigating whether there is a legal option open to us to protect us from this imposition," she said.

"It is not just church people who are opposed, but also those who have come to appreciate a day of relaxation and a chance to be together with their families for one day."

She said a petition against the service had been signed by more than 700 people from both islands.

Reverend Andrew Coghill of the Lord's Day Observance Society told BBC Scotland's Sunday Live that the new service had "trampled over the democratic will of the people".

'Caused division'

He said: "Of those who expressed any opinion, 90% are against the sailing and 10% are in favour.

"It has caused division on the islands, which are largely divided into a Presbyterian outlook in the north and a more Roman Catholic outlook in the south.

"The notion that we need to move into the 21st Century is a patronising stance that we're quite familiar with."

Western Isles Council has also taken a stand against the new service.

However, it has been welcomed by many people at the south end of the crossing in Uist.

A Scottish Executive spokesperson said: "Transport Minister Tavish Scott understands the concerns of members of all the communities involved but this ultimately is an operational matter for Caledonian MacBrayne."

A spokesperson for Caledonian MacBrayne said that that the Sunday sailing was the earliest available date after discussions with the union.

Hear why feelings are running high on the islands

Sunday ferry service start date
03 Apr 06 |  Scotland
Sabbath ferry service makes waves
30 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Sunday ferry splits communities
30 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Airport hails Sabbath flights
26 Oct 03 |  Scotland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific