Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed the support of the First Minister for designating the site of the wreck of HMY Iolaire as a War Grave.
The MSP for the Western Isles, Dr Alasdair Allan raised the issue today at First Minister’s Question Time. First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed that she was supportive of the move.
The First Minister attended the Iolaire 100th Commemorative service on 1st January.
Convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Chairman of the Iolaire Working Group, Cllr Norman A MacDonald, said: “I very much welcome the support of the First Minister and the Scottish Government for the designation of the Iolaire site as an official war grave.
"We raised this issue with the Scottish Commemorations Panel and it would be fitting for the memory of the men lost on that terrible night and their families that recognition is given in this way.
“We are also all very grateful that the First Minister, together with HRH The Prince Charles, Lord of the Isles, attended the commemoration service on the 1st January and paid a very fitting tribute.' (Pictured above)
Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar also welcomed the First Minister’s confirmation that the Scottish Government is supportive of the calls to have the site of the Iolaire wreck to be designated by the Minidstry of Defence as a military maritime grave. The Isles MSP posed the question to Nicola Sturgeon in the first FMQs since the Parliament returned from the winter recess. The First Minister also confirmed that members of the Scottish Commemorations Panel have already raised the issue with the Ministry of Defence.
Alasdair Allan said: “I’m pleased that the First Minister today confirmed that the calls to designate the site of Iolaire as a military maritime grave have the Scottish Government’s full backing.
“The Iolaire tragedy is one of the saddest tales ever told in the Islands. So many were never recovered from the wreck – around one third of those who lost their lives. A fitting way to recognise their sacrifice would be to designate the Iolaire as a military maritime grave – protecting the site in their memory, in perpetuity.
“It was very welcome to have the First Minister, alongside Prince Charles present at the commemoratory ceremony on New Year’s Day in Stornoway. The commemorations for the Iolaire have been incredibly moving, and it is clear that the tragedy of New Year’s Day 1919, will never be forgotten.
“The First Minister’s backing for the Iolaire site becoming a military grave is a very positive step, and I hope that the MOD will make the decision, which would be welcomed across the Western Isles, and across Scotland.”
A total of 201 servicemen lost their lives when the Iolaire sank just yards off the shore of the Western Isles in the early hours of 1st January 1919. Around a third of the bodies were never recovered.