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Comment posted Dunoon ferry services: facts and fancies by Michael Russell MSP.

Newsroom is entitled to her view of any issue or individual in Argyll or elsewhere. However , unusually, I want to add three comments to this story which are mostly facts that I would have been delighted to give to Newsroom at any time h and which might cast a different light on some aspects of this the matter.

1) The regular breach of the Ali Cat’s exemption certificate was first noticed by Captain Sandy Ferguson, the former Marine Superintendent of Cal Mac. His view – as a senior and very experienced mariner of many years standing – was that this was a serious and indeed grave issue which potentially affected passenger safety. He remains of that view, I understand, and this opinion backed up by many years of actual seagoing is given veracity by the fact that the issuing of an “Improvement Notice” by the MCGA to a vessel within the Cal Mac fleet (albeit operated by a subsidiary) is an exceptionally unusual occurrence and may be unique.

2) When Captain Ferguson brought the issue to my attention in late May I was honour bound to raise it with the company and the relevant Minister. I did so immediately – in fact within an hour of meeting Captain Ferguson. However from that date until early July I have tried to resolve the issue without publicity. It was the failure of Cal Mac to take the matter seriously – when raised by Captain Ferguson (from February onwards) myself or the Ferry Action Group – which eventually meant that I had to raise it publicly. I also believed that the offensive threat of legal action made to Captain Ferguson when he raised the issue in a constructive letter to the Chief Executive of Cal Mac was wrong and that Capt Ferguson deserved an apology. I still do, and am still pursuing that with the Chief Executive and the Chairman.

3) This whole matter was and is an issue for the company to resolve, as the company has contracted to provide the service. My purpose in raising it with Government was to ensure that all facts were known by Government and that information was being built to judge whether the contractor was providing the service according to the conditions agreed. I had previously indicated I had doubts about that, as my constituents also have. That does not mean I sign on to any campaign or manifesto from any other individual or organisation nor does it mean that I am in irresolvable conflict with either the company or my colleagues in government. I am simply doing what I was elected to do last May, when local people chose me as their constituency Member of the Scottish Parliament.

I will be meeting the Board of Argyll Ferries in mid August, at their request, and I will continue to pursue the issue of safe transport on all routes in my constituency. That is my job and I make no apology for doing so.

Recent comments by Michael Russell MSP

  • Russell back in the bathtub, now trying to sink Keith Brown’s boat
    Let me repeat this incontrovertible fact. No meeting took place at which I screamed and shouted for anybody’s resignation.

    There can be no doubt of that as witnesses to all the meetings mentioned by Lynda Henderson in her piece will attest. None of which , of course, she attended – not even the imaginary one she described but which never took place.

    Accordingly not only Para 10 in the main item above was wrong in “context” , to quote the word used by Lynda Henderson. The whole item was wrong in fact and conclusion as well.

    I am sorry that Ms Henderson cannot find it in her heart to apologise for misleading her audience in such a way. But that being the case her readers can from now on draw the inference that anything on “For Argyll” written by Ms Henderson about me is likely to be false because there is precedent.

    Moreover I think all reasonable people will accept that a series of postings from a self styled impartial commentator that use the personal insults “coward” “contempt” and “feral” ( amongst others) in political reporting about anyone, let alone the local MSP , are so beyond normal journalistic practice as to be not only totally unacceptable but also utterly inexplicable.

    I bear Lynda Henderson no ill will – I am simply bemused at her hatred ( there is no other adequate word for what is well displayed throughout the original piece and her obsessive interpolations to comments) disfiguring as it does the hater much more than the hated. With that in mind she might want to reflect on a fine bit of writing by an actual journalist about that subject, to be found at

  • Council Leader off piste in bizarre press statement
    I am moved to comment (unusually) as I have never before seen such a baffling, stream of consciousness rant full of slurs and smears from such a senior local government figure.

    It speaks volumes of Cllr Marshall’s poor judgement that he should think this statement is worthy of promotion. To me, alas and rather sadly, it can only signify that the previously formidable figure of Cllr Dick Walsh is now well past his political sell by date and overdue for electoral retirement. The scary thing is that he is currently in charge of the local authority and the budget process.

    However – as he raises it – on the ferries issue perhaps Cllr Walsh should also recall his intervention as Council Leader in December 2010 during his disastrous school closures process when he ensured that the Government was formally reminded by his senior official that I was not only the candidate for the constituency, but also the Education Cabinet Secretary, in an attempt by him to muzzle any signficant opposition to his very destructive plans.

    It is now time to remind him that he is not only desperately seeking re-election as the Councillor for Dunoon, he is also (presently) Council Leader. In the latter post he has an obligation to consider the whole Council area, so he should stop trying to damage the positive and largely well received plans for RET (the roll out of which is promised for the entire constituency in this Parliament) and the serious and open proposals in the ferry review, for the sake of what he (wrongly) sees as his own narrow electoral advantage in his current ward.

    The old Dick Walsh would never have done that.

  • Nancie Smith
    Nancie’s sudden and untimely death is a very bitter blow to her family, her many friends, the communities she served and to the SNP throughout Argyll. I was greatly looking forward to her joining an enlarged and determined SNP Council Group after May where she would have shown that principled and positive spirit which informed all her activities in Campbeltown. She was a huge help to me in the 9 months I was campaigning before the May election, introducing me to a vast number of people in the area and since then she and John Semple have made sure I was fully aware of key issues and developments. Her passion for the place she came from, her knowledge of its past and present and her appetite for building a better future marked her out. Everyone is the poorer for her loss but the richer for having her as a friend.
  • David Petrie
    I too kept in touch with David, and had seen him at an education event recently. A positive ,outgoing and inclusive politician -I will miss him and so will many others.
  • Scotland to suffer from Fortress UK ending vital concession to top Filipino fishermen?
    I rarely rise to the poisoned bait from Kintyre 1 ( very poisoned indeed yesterday on another topic alas) but as a matter of record Angus Breandan MacNeil and I kept trying when Alan Reid gave up . And we were backed by our energetic First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs , Fiona Hyslop. Perhaps that is the thing that made the difference today ( with a year’s extension being granted at the last meeting) though I think it was more to do with the unanswerable logic of the case and the persistence of the skippers. What is needed at the very least is shared responsibility for immigration which would reflect the different circumstances prevailing in various parts of these islands. indepennce – the normal state for a normal nation – would be best of all.

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