Holyrood backs calls for Iolaire site to be designated war grave

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News that the Scottish Government is supporting calls to have the site of the Iolaire wreck to be designated by the Ministry of Defence as a military maritime grave have been welcomed by Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

The Isles MSP posed the question to Nicola Sturgeon in the first First Minister’s Questions since the Parliament returned from the winter recess.

The First Minister also confirmed members of the Scottish Commemorations Panel have raised the issue with the Ministry of Defence, which has powers over the decision.

Alasdair Allan said: ‘I’m pleased the First Minister has confirmed 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 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 the MOD will make the decision, which would be welcomed across the Western Isles and Scotland.’