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Retiring deputy first minister John Swinney looked back with appreciation at the links he'd developed with the Western Isles over the past two decades. 

Mr Swinney was undertaking his final Ministerial engagement by chairing the Convention of Highlands and Islands (CoHI), which he has chaired on every occasion it has met since the current Government was elected in 2007.

The Convention was taking place place at Cnoc Soilleir, Daliburgh, which the Deputy First Minister formally opened in September 2022. The modern facility hosts a range of events, including Gaelic education and music, and provides a base for activities run by the University of the Highlands and Islands – Outer Hebrides.

Now the community hub in South Uist is set to be extended, providing more education and social opportunities.

It has been granted a further £2 million by the Scottish Government for Phase 2 of the project comprising an auditorium accommodating up to 200 people, as well as rehearsal and teaching rooms.

The additional funding takes the Scottish Government’s total support for Cnoc Soilleir to £5.75 million.

Mr Swinney made the funding announcement ahead of the Convention of Highlands and Islands.

He said: “I am delighted to announce this additional funding for such an important project that is already hugely popular amongst local residents.

"The new facilities will provide further employment, educational and social opportunities for the island, attract high calibre touring events and, crucially, help increase the number of people learning Gaelic.

“It is fitting that the centre will be hosting CoHI, a vibrant forum that enables the Scottish Government, member organisations and businesses to discuss local issues and find ways of ensuring the region continues to flourish.

“It has been an enormous privilege for me to chair every Convention of the Highlands and Islands for the last 16 years.

"I have greatly valued the opportunity to engage with communities and public authorities across the Highlands and Islands and to ensure important issues raised at the Convention are addressed at the very heart of Government in Scotland.

"I am indebted to everyone who has contributed to this effective partnership over these years.”

Photos from Cnoc Soilleir on Twitter