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The Scottish Parliament’s new Cross Party Group on Islands was formally recognised by the Parliament this week.

It is expected that the group will meet for the first time next month (February).

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has given a warm welcome to the development. 

Mr Cameron, who will be joining the group, said: “This is an important development because it has been clear for some time that we need a forum in Holyrood which focuses on the distinctive issues which really matter to our island communities.

“There’s no shortage of challenges and they include the extremely problematic state of the ferries, how we retain our younger working age population, and what the future holds for the delivery of key services such as health and education.

“A strength of the Group is that it will be able to call on witnesses, including Scottish Government ministers, and ensure that we can really examine in detail these matters on behalf of our constituents.

Mr Cameron also said: “This latest development in the sorry saga of Ferguson Marine will do little to reassure our island communities that the SNP Government is anywhere near to getting a grip on the CalMac ferry procurement crisis.

“Ministers come and go, assurances by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes that she is ‘monitoring’ the yard’s leadership are followed by announcements of further delays, and all the time island residents are kept waiting for their ferries.

“Islanders have proven time and again that they are resourceful and resilient, but even they cannot do without a reliable ferry service as there is simply no alternative form of transport.

“It is very difficult to escape the conclusion that the SNP Government has neglected its duty of care to our island communities.”

“I am very much looking forward to participating in the Group’s work.”