Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) criticised the Scottish Government for once again failing to commit to an urgent resolution to internal ferry funding for Northern Isles routes.
On Tuesday, the First Minister outlined her transport priorities during her programme for government for the year ahead, but failed to mention any improvements to funding and delivery of internal ferry services in Orkney or Shetland.
Speaking during the debate following the statement, Mr McArthur reminded the First Minister that ‘people in Orkney and Shetland were listening with great interest’ to the promises made by the SNP during the recent Shetland by-election campaign, but that they now ‘appeared to have slipped the First Minister’s mind’ during her programme for the forthcoming year.
Following his speech, Mr McArthur said:
“During the recent by-election, the SNP showered Shetlanders with promises about how they would improve transport provision in the Northern Isles. Promises were made about cutting fares on Northern Isles ferry routes, resolving the long-running dispute over internal ferry funding and increasing freight capacity.
“At the time, the Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson called the promises ‘very reasonable’, while Nicola Sturgeon insisted she wanted to “sit down in pretty short order and see how we can implement [these] pledges”.
“A week later and it is telling that not one of the promises was mentioned in the programme for government. This shows an astonishing level of cynicism on the part of the First Minister. Nicola Sturgeon may wish to forget that these commitments were ever made, but people in the Northern Isles will rightly expect her and her Ministers to deliver on their ‘very reasonable’ pledges”.
“Both Beatrice Wishart and I will be using this parliamentary session to hold the government to account on commitments to islanders that must be honoured, not ignored”.