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Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 11:26 GMT
PM's sympathy for fishing community

Kirkcudbright Harbour Kirkcudbright Harbour: Politicians' thoughts are with fishermen

Prime Minister Tony Blair and politicians from all political parties have offered their sympathies to grieving relatives of the men lost in the Solway Harvester sinking.

Speaking at the start of Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, Tony Blair and Conservative leader William Hague said they were saddened by news of the tragedy.

This tragedy brings home to us all the ultimate price that our fishing communities can pay to put fish on our tables
Richard Lochhead, SNP
Mr Blair said he was sure the "thoughts of the whole House" were with the families of the missing Scottish fishermen. Mr Hague said he totally agreed with his remarks.

Scottish Fisheries Minister John Home Robertson told the Scottish Parliament he was "horrified" by the tragedy and promised any lessons "which could be learned would be learned".

He said: "I am very concerned at the news of the Solway Harvester and my thoughts are with the families of the crewmen at what is a very distressing time."

'Heavy blow'

Alasdair Morgan, the Scottish National Party MSP for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, said the loss of the crew would be a heavy blow for the people of south west Scotland and the scallop industry.

He said: "It is a devastating tragedy for both Kirkcudbright and the close-knit community of the Isle of Whithorn.

Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan: "A devastating tragedy"
"I know that the villagers whose men make their living in such dangerous conditions will pull together in these sad circumstances and give those affected the support they need at this very difficult time.

"The scallop fishing and processing industry employees several hundred people in Galloway and I know that today they will all be thinking of their missing colleagues."

Scottish Secretary John Reid said: "Any loss at sea is a tragedy - and when so many have been lost from such small communities this makes the sense of loss even more greatly felt.

"This tragedy has touched the hearts of people across Scotland and the UK."

Councillor for Whithorn, Alasdair Geddes, said: "The local community is numb with grief and shock at this terrible news for men who were not just our neighbours but our friends and colleagues.

"Our hearts, thoughts and prayers remain with the relatives of the missing crew."

'Shadow of potential tragedy'

SNP fisheries spokesman Richard Lochhead said: "Given the weather at this time of year, this is the news we all dread as fishermen head out to sea to make their living.

"This tragedy brings home to us all the ultimate price that our fishing communities can pay to put fish on our tables.

"All fishing communities live in the shadow of potential tragedy but that does not make things easier for the families who face losing their loved ones."

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See also:
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Fishing safety back in the spotlight
11 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Trawler wreckage located
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Solway Harvester tragedy in pictures
12 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Fishing community faces up to loss
30 Sep 99 |  UK
Sapphire families claim compensation
28 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Go-ahead for sea safety system

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