McArthur warns against ferries task force ‘being stuck in dry dock’

1 May 2024
Liam McArthur MSP

Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has today asked the Scottish Government for assurances over the future of the Orkney Ferries Task Force, following Humza Yousaf’s resignation as First Minister.

The task force was initially set up at the start of last year by then–Deputy First Minister John Swinney and OIC to look at the procurement of new ferries for Orkney. After Humza Yousaf replaced Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and Shona Robison took over as his Deputy, the work of the task force stalled and there were no meetings for over six months.

In the chamber, Mr McArthur said:

“When the previous First Minister stood down last year, the work of the ferries task force came to an abrupt halt for six months.

“Given the urgent need to move ahead with procurement of new vessels to operate the lifeline routes in Orkney, can the Minister guarantee that the latest departure from Bute House won’t result in the ferries task force being stuck in dry dock again for the remainder of the year?”

In response, Minister for Connectivity, Jim Fairlie acknowledged the importance of the task force and offered to meet Mr McArthur to discuss its future work. Commenting, Mr McArthur said:

“The replacement of Orkney’s internal ferries is a lifeline project that is now long overdue. In the past, it has been sidelined as ministers are reshuffled and government focuses on other issues. That cannot be allowed to happen again given the urgency of finding a way forward in terms of vessel procurement. 

“I welcome the Minister’s offer to meet to discuss this issue in more detail. I will be taking up that invitation and stressing again the need to reach agreement with Orkney Islands Council on remaining issues as soon as possible.”

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