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Roddy Murray, pictured back, left, after a meeting (Sleat Community Council)

A former vice-convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has sadly passed away in Inverness. 

The present Convener, Councillor Kenneth Macleod, has paid tribute to former Councillor and Vice Convener, Mr Roddy Murray, of Tarskavaig, in Sleat on the Isle of Skye, who passed away in Raigmore Hospital aged 85 today (4 March 2024). It's understood he was taken unexpectedly ill at home yesterday afternoon.

Roddy Murray was a senior official of the Comhairle for many years, rising to the position of Depute Director of Development. 

Following his retirement, he was elected as Member for the Laxdale ward in a by-election in 1994, representing the Labour Party as part of a four-strong group at that time.

He became Vice Convener of the Comhairle in 1999 and served in that capacity until 2003.  He was also a Member of Stornoway Trust. 

Councillor Kenneth Macleod said: "He was a committed and strong-minded councillor and Vice Convener, and always led from the front. 

"He had a particularly strong commitment to the Gaelic language and to Highlands and Islands-wide, as well as to Western Isles, issues.

"He later moved to Inverness and then to Tarskavaig, Skye, where he remained active in the community, serving on Sleat Community Council and other local organisations."

Former Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, Donald Martin remembers how he and Roddy both worked with the Comhairle from its early days. "In his role as Depute Director of Planning, Roddy worked tirelessly in securing external funding from Central Government and Europe for innovative projects such as the Job Creation Scheme and the Integrated Development Programme in the late 70s and 80s.  These projects created much needed employment and community facilities throughout the Western Isles.  The success of the development of the local Historical Societies is but one example of Roddy’s legacy as a product of the Job Creation Scheme.

"Never one to hide his strongly held views, Roddy was not afraid of challenging the established bodies - be they CalMac, the local and central Governments or the Health Board - if he felt his community was being neglected or ignored by them.

"Engaging and humorous, Roddy was from a generation of passionate islanders proud of their upbringing, language and culture.  Sàr Ghaidheal dha-rireabh air am bidh ionndrainn mhòr."

Roddy Murray's commitment to community life and development was well-evidenced by his role on Sleat Community Council in eastern Skye 

For instance, In September 2017, Roddy Murray and fellow Sleat community councillor Rob Ware met with the Leader of Highland Council, Councillor Margaret Davidson for an informal session at the Hotel Eilean Iarmain.

Mrs Davidson, accompanied by Councillors John Gordon and Hamish Fraser, discussed a number of key issues many involving Sleat and further afield across Skye.

These included public bus services and opportunities for community transport, the redesign of health care across the island, Lochalsh and South West  Ross, roads and other infrastructure, reintroduction of air services to and from Broadford, home and nursing care provision, tourism and marine issues. 

And in January this year, Roddy was part of a BBC report on the possibilities of a National Park for Skye, saying that he: "was not opposed to national parks but believed funding should be prioritised to fix problems facing islanders. "If there was plenty of money for roads, transport, care, education and social work then a national park would be a good thing. But I think in the current situation it's simply the wrong priority."

Rob Ware said: “'Roddy Murray was a fine, kind, caring man, loved and respected by all. Throughout life he gave service to his community, his neighbours, his many colleagues and  was simply an exemplar of his generation. Our deepest sympathy goes to all his family and friends.”

The thoughts of the community are with all those who knew Roddy and particularly to his family – his wife, Effie, and daughters Mairi Anne and Sine, the extended family, colleagues and friends.

The Comhairle flag at the Council Offices, Stornoway, is being flown at half-mast.

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