McArthur gives Holyrood chance to mark 50th anniversary of Longhope Lifeboat disaster

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has lodged a motion that he hopes will allow the Scottish Parliament to debate the 50th Anniversary of the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster.

The motion has already received strong support from MSPs representing every party at Holyrood.  The intention is for the motion to be debated, albeit without a vote, during Members’ Business on Thursday 14th March, ahead of events due to take place in Orkney to mark the anniversary.

Commenting on the motion being debated next week, Mr McArthur said:

“It is right that Parliament has an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives in the Longhope lifeboat disaster 50 years ago and it is fitting that it be debated in the week leading up to the 50th anniversary commemorations in Orkney.

“The shock felt by the whole Orkney community at such a tragic loss of life was enormous, but the impact on the small community of Brims in Longhope was absolutely devastating.  

“While there will be a general awareness of what happened on that night in March back in 1969, I suspect the details of the tragedy will not be well understood by MSP colleagues and the wider public.  Hopefully this debate will help raise awareness but also act as a timely reminder of the selfless bravery of those who volunteer in lifeboat crews across the country.  We owe them a debt we can never repay”.


Notes to Editors: The motion as lodged is copied below.

50th Anniversary of the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster 

That the Parliament commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Longhope lifeboat tragedy, which took place on 17 March 1969; recalls with great sadness that all eight crew members on board the lifeboat, TGB, perished as it capsized in heavy seas after responding to a call from the Wick Coastguard to assist the Liberian-registered vessel, Irene, which was in difficulty and drifting 21 miles east of Duncansby Head; understands that, while the Irene was finally driven onto rocks at Grimness in South Ronaldsay, and the crew brought safely ashore, TGB and her crew were not so fortunate, with the vessel being discovered capsized four miles south west of Tor Ness on 18 March; recognises the shock felt by the whole Orkney community at such a tragic loss of life, but in particular acknowledges the devastating impact on the small community of Brims in Longhope on the island of Hoy, which suffered the loss of a quarter of its population that night; believes that the tragedy was compounded by the fact that fathers and their sons were among those who perished; pays tribute to the ultimate sacrifice made by Coxswain Dan Kirkpatrick, Second Coxswain Jimmy Johnston, Bowman Ray Kirkpatrick, Mechanic Robert B Johnston, Assistant Mechanic Jimmy Swanson, and lifeboat men Jack Kirkpatrick, Robert Johnston and Eric McFadyen; agrees wholeheartedly with the sentiment on the memorial to all eight crew members "that greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his fellow men"; notes that the current crew includes relatives of the crew from 1969, and that they, along with others, help run the Longhope Lifeboat Museum, which provides a fitting reminder of the disaster, as well as the life-saving work carried out by the crew of the TGB; wishes those from the local community involved in organising events to mark this difficult anniversary all the best, and extends its heartfelt thanks to lifeboat crews across the country for the selfless work that they do on behalf of the island and coastal communities they serve with such bravery and distinction.


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