Islay and Jura Summit, 4TH April 2018

MP summit has Islay and Jura top of the agenda How to build a strategic, long-term plan for sustainable economic growth on Islay and Jura was the only item on the agenda at a high-level Summit meeting organised by Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O’Hara (Wednesday, 4th April).


Feature Photo Source

Feorlean, Michael Russell MSP,Humza Yousaf, Brendan O Hara, Islay Jura, Calmac
My friend and colleague Humza Yousaf is the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and for Islands.
This is him on an island – Jura – with another one – Islay – in the background.
And for good measure a ferry is coming in.
I was with him and my constituency MP colleague Brendan O’Hara today at a variety of events on both islands. .

Among those attending the Summit at the Gaelic Centre in Bowmore were three Scottish government ministers, Humza Yousaf (Transport and Islands) Fiona Hyslop (Tourism) and Michael Russell MSP (Brexit), as well as the Chief Executives of both Argyll & Bute Council and Highland & Islands Enterprise.

The views of the whisky industry were articulated by The Scotch Whisky Association and Diageo, as well as representatives of numerous distilleries on Islay and Jura.

Also present to give the all-important view of the local population were both the Islay and Jura Community Councils, the local Ferry Users Group and the islands’ Tourism and Marketing Group.

They were joined by senior management from CalMac, Transport Scotland, Visit Scotland and Mundell’s Hauliers.

In opening the Summit Mr. O’Hara explained his reason for bringing together so many representatives of national government, local government, the community, public bodies and industry together on Islay.

He said

“Both as MP for Argyll & Bute and as the Chair of the All Party Group on Scotch Whisky at Westminster, everyone I speak to talks about their plans to increase spirit production on these islands and the rise in tourist numbers that will inevitably follow.

Yet at the same time, I know the people of Islay and Jura are at the end of their tether over the crumbling road infrastructure and the huge challenges posed by a ferry service that is very often unreliable and occasionally bursting at the seams.

So I just couldn’t see how increased spirit production, coupled to the inevitable rise in visitor numbers would be possible given the already huge demands being put on both the roads and the ferries.

It seemed that everyone was happily ploughing their own furrow, without any strategic overview or a long-term plan for sustainable economic growth.

That couldn’t go on and I felt it essential that all the stakeholders, from community to national government got together to arrive at a shared vision for the future wellbeing of Islay and Jura.”

Following the meeting, he went on to say,

“And I am absolutely delighted at the announcement by Transport Scotland today that Islay will be the first in line in the next vessel procurement exercise to replace the MV Hebridean Isles. I am also delighted to hear that everyone present at this summit is in agreement about one thing and that is a need for better and more collaborative working and I welcome Humza Yousaf commitment to do everything as practicably possible to ensure the challenges are met and the islands’ potential is realised.”

Immediately after the Summit finished, Mr. O’Hara travelled to Craighouse on Jura to host a public meeting with Humza Yousaf MSP before returning to Bowmore to meet with several local groups including TSI, the Seniors Forum, local councillors, the National Farmers Union of Scotland, South Islay Development, The islands’ Health and Social Care partnership and the small business forum to share how the Summit meeting went and to discuss what steps the local community want to take next in advancing the interest of Islay and Jura .

The day ended with an open meeting at which O’Hara fielded questions from the public about the Summit.

Brendan O’Hara Presents Petition On Behalf Of The People Of Bute

As I promised to do, I presented a petition on behalf of the people of Bute.

Ten years ago the people of this community along with other UK taxpayers bailed out RBS to the tune of £50 billon and now without any consultation, they have decided that the Bute branch will close.

I am genuinely amazed at the number of people who have signed this petition and only serves to show the strength of feeling that the community has that the Bute branch must remain open for business.

My thanks to the local community for taking the time to sign the petition and all the businesses and shops that displayed it on their counters.

They can be assured that I will continue to work with the community to make case for this bank to remain open for business. We are not giving up.

Brendan O’Hara MP Presents RBS Petition To The House of Commons

Mr O’Hara said,

“As I promised to do, I presented a petition on behalf of the people of Campbeltown and the Kintyre peninsula. Ten years ago the people of this community along with other UK taxpayers bailed out RBS to the tune of £50 billon and now without any consultation, they have decided that the Campbeltown branch will close.

Brendan O’Hara MP Presents RBS Petition To The House of Commons

This petition is yet another clear message to RBS that this decision is vehemently opposed by the community. Thank you to everyone who took the time to sign the petition and they can be assured that I will continue to work with the community to make case for this bank to remain open for business. We are not giving up.”

The fight to save the Campbeltown branch of RBS from closure moved on to the floor of the House of Commons this week when local MP Brendan O’Hara presented a petition to parliament. (Thursday 22 Ma…

Source: Brendan O’Hara MP Presents RBS Petition To The House of Commons

‘Facebook should be regulated like the BBC’, says SNP’s top MP

In the wake of the scandal surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, centred on the mass harvesting of personal data and the manipulation of voting, Brendan O’Hara, the SNP MP at the heart of the Westminster probe into fake news, said a radical shake-up of the internet was needed to protect the public from the “lawless Wild West” of social media.

Read the full article here

He added: “We have a situation where Facebook can no longer pretend to be this benign fun place where people stick up a photo of their dog and then get followed with a pet food advert as a sort of quid pro quo. There’s now a malicious situation. Facebook can no longer argue it is just a host site. They are publishers and there has to be legislation. We cannot have a Wild West approach…They have to be held responsible.”

FACEBOOK should be subjected to a strict regulation regime similar to that which covers broadcast media such as the BBC, according to one of the…

Source: ‘Facebook should be regulated like the BBC’, says SNP’s top MP

Brendan’s Newsletter February 2018

Last Month I invited thirteen local producers to the House of Commons to showcase some of the finest food and drink in Scotland.

Co-hosted with the Duchess of Argyll, we welcomed Loch Fyne Oysters, the Scottish Salmon Company, Bute Brewery, Mull of Kintyre Cheese, the Puffer Restaurant, Lussa Gin, Gigha Halibut, Inverawe Smokehouse, Ritchie’s of Rothesay, and Argyll Hill Lamb.

I didn’t want just another tasting event at the House of Commons so I was delighted that we persuaded a number of UK based food buyers to come along to meet the producers.
Their feedback was fantastic and they all felt that it was worth making the near 1000 mile round trip. Many contacts were made and I hope some orders get on their books. My thanks to Food from Argyll and Highland and Islands Enterprise for their support .

The good folk of the Oban Mountain Rescue team are £5000 better off this month thanks to the Craggy Island Triathlon. The now legendary triathlon, which is held every October was so successful that having covered all their costs, they were still able to make such a significant donation to this hugely worthwhile cause. Back in October I blew the starting horn to begin the event and I can confirm that thus far, I have resisted all attempts to become a competitor in 2018!


On Saturday I was joined by local SNP activists in Inveraray as part of the party’s National Day of Action against the Royal Bank of Scotland’s decision to close
62 local branches, including those in Campbeltown,
Rothesay and Inveraray.

Earlier in the month, I cautiously welcomed the news that the RBS has
given a short-term reprieve to the branch at Inveraray, but promised to continue with the campaign to halt ALL the proposed branch closures
across Argyll & Bute.

Saturday’s Day of Action gathered more signatures for our parliamentary petition; a petition that will be presented on the floor of the House of Commons in the next couple of weeks, alongside dozens more from across Scotland.
The importance of the issue locally was emphasised with
both a BBC Alba news crew and the editor of the Argyllshire Advertiser coming along on to cover the event.

The SNP have opposed this RBS closure issue since day one and I think our fight is being recognised in the communities who will be affected, so I am
extremely grateful to all of the local SNP members who turned out on Saturday to help with this campaign.

It is very rare that a House of Commons Select Committee
refuses to “rubber stamp” a candidate for a government appointed job. But that’s exactly what the DCMS Select Committee did last month when it refused
to sanction the appointment of Baroness Stowell as the new Chair of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Baroness Stowell, until recently was the Conservative Leader of the Lords and while she may be the government’s preferred candidate the committee told the government, without experience and vision, that was not enough to secure a top job like this.

You can view the proceedings here:

At a time when we see the rise of bigotry and prejudice against minority communities and religious groups, both in the UK and across the world, the
Holocaust Memorial Day is a poignant reminder to us all that we
have an obligation to challenge this whenever and wherever we see it.
On behalf of the people of Argyll and Bute I again signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment to honour those who were murdered
during the Holocaust and pledged to do all I can to stop it ever happening again.


Far too often in the last couple of years I have had to meet up with Yvonne MacHugh in London, either to join her in delivering a petition to Downing Street or to attend a meeting with the Foreign Office or accompany her to one of the
many public meetings campaigning for the release of her fiancé Billy Irving from
jail in India. So I was absolutely delighted a few weeks ago when she called to say that both she and Billy would be in London for a Human Rights meeting about
protecting British nationals being held abroad.

After so long it was great to finally meet Billy in person and to share a drink with them. Billy and Yvonne are finally getting married later this month and I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing them all the very best for the future.

A Tidal Energy platform, with “game-changing” technology built by Scottish company Sustainable Marine Energy, has been going through its final test
underneath the Connel Bridge for the last few months before being taken to the Philippines to be put to work commercially. Before it left Argyll & Bute on its long journey to Asia, I visited the platform with Christoph Harwood of Sustainable Marine Energy, not just to see how the platform works but also to better understand why, despite the abundance of fast flowing water in Argyll &
Bute, this sort of technology wasn’t being utilised and better supported by the UK government to help get its cost down to a commercially viable level.

The importance of the Aquaculture sector to our local economy is undeniable with fishing, fish farming, marine engineering and marine science all making an enormous contribution to Argyll & Bute, bringing jobs, investment and very often, world-wide kudos for the quality of what we produce.

In the wake of my China Business Summit and my Taste of Argyll & Bute event, I have taken the opportunity to visit as many of these important local businesses as I can.

Last month I visited the world-wide fish farm equipment manufacturer Fusion Marine at their Dunstaffnage HQ as well as the Scottish Salmon Company at Cairndow, who invited me to see their new filleting and processing plant in
action. Both companies have ambitious future growth plans and both are equally committed to achieving that growth here in Argyll & Bute. I have often said that we desperately need this type of investment in order to create the long-term employment that will encourage more families to stay and put down roots in this

The so-called Beast From The East that battered most of the UK, apart from western Argyll it seems, prevented me from appearing in person at the launch event of Oban As A University Town. I was due to speak at the event in The Corran Halls to add my voice to the many others who wish to see Oban develop as a centre of educational excellence. The massive snow dump over
London prevented me from flying up but thanks to modern technology and the help of the SNP’s firstclass digital media team here at Westminster, I managed to record my speech and have it relayed to the packed Corran Hall
who by all accounts were enjoying a balmy spring afternoon!

We are extremely fortunate given that we already have the University of Highlands and Islands, SAMS, Ballet West all currently offering degree-level education and with almost 800 students, Oban is already regarded by many as being a university town. It is hoped that this project will attract even more students and investment into the educational infrastructure
already there.
It is a hugely important piece of the jigsaw to encourage as many of our young people to stay in the town and I have pledged to support this campaign in any way I can. You can view my speech here:

Just a few years ago, the idea of me driving from Helensburgh to Oban, to fly to Coll, to spend a day on the island, to then fly back to Oban, to then drive to Glasgow airport in order to catch the last flight to London would have been a bit
far-fetched. Now, being the MP for Argyll & Bute however, it’s just what you do. And so it was a couple of weeks ago I went on a 17-hour planes, trains and automobiles adventure that took me to one of the most beautiful places on the planet, to the bustling streets of London’s East End. And I loved every
minute of it. I hadn’t been to Coll for a wee while and I really wanted to go so with a light-business Monday, I took the opportunity to hold a constituency surgery as well as visit some of my favourite places on this beautiful island, including the wonderful RecyColl Charity Shop…where I found and purchased a brand new SNP Golf umbrella.

During  recess, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee visited New York and Washington to grill the big Tech companies as part of our ‘fake news’ investigation. Senior executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter faced 5 hours of questioning on everything from Russian interference in the US elections and the Brexit referendum, their use of algorithms and their social responsibility towards protecting children online


While I was hosting the Chinese business conference in Oban last year, I on the off chance and carrying a plate of sandwiches, popped into say hello to the
local council members at their monthly Members’ Day who were meeting in an adjacent room. We had a brief but very interesting discussion on what was happening in and around the Oban, Lorn and Isles and what issues were likely to emerge in
he coming months. We all agreed that it was a useful exercise and that a longer discussion would be extremely helpful. As a result, last month I was delighted to accept an invitation to attend a meeting of the Area Committee where we had a
long discussion about a whole range of local issues. So useful was it that I’ll be writing to all the other Area Committees offering to have the same kind of
meeting with them too.

The only upside of being stuck in London because of the snow storm was that I was able to take up a long-standing offer to speak to the Fellows and PhD students at Cambridge University. I had been invited to speak at Robinson College by Baroness Smith of Newnham and I took as my topic, Scotland, Brexit and The Westminster Power-Grab.
It was a fascinating evening of a lecture, a lengthy question and
answer session, followed by dinner and a discussion in the college. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and although it’s often difficult to gauge how these thing are received, I suppose when a politics professor at Cambridge asks for your notes and a copy of your speech, it’s not a bad sign.

Source: Brendan’s Newsletter February 2018

Brendan O’Hara At Inveraray Against The Closure of RBS Branch

The SNP National Day Of Action

Sign Petition by clicking here.

If you are in, or can get to Inveraray today please join Brendan O’Hara and sign the petition against the closure of the Royal Bank Of Scotland.

The Local Aye Fyne! Group will have members there offering support too.

I spent most of today in Inveraray talking to people and business owners about the proposed closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland, the last remaining bank in the town.

Source: Closure of RBS Branch In Inveraray

Brendan O’Hara MP Surgery on Coll 26th February

I’ll be holding a constituency advice surgery on Coll on Monday 26th February 2018. If you would like an appointment please don’t hesitate to get in touch

Source: Brendan O’Hara MP Surgery on Coll 26th February


SNP members “inspired and energised” by Mhairi Black MP Almost 200 SNP members from all across Argyll and Bute descended on Inveraray on Sunday to discuss how the party builds on the success the SN…



                Local MP, Brendan O’Hara has welcomed grants made over 2017 in the constituency. During the past year Corra Foundation has funded £41,522 in …


Cowal Elderly Befrienders SCIO has been awarded a grant of £5,000 towards the salary of the Dementia Worker.

Hope 2 Oban Ltd has been awarded a grant of £4,000 towards the salaries of the youth workers to support young people with mental health challenges.

Hope Kitchen SCIO has been awarded a grant of £5,000 towards the salary of the full-time Service Manager.

Islay & Jura Community Enterprises Ltd has been awarded a grant of £5,000 towards the salary of the Project Co-ordinator for the aquacare and the Hub project for people with support needs.

Kintyre Link Club has been awarded a grant of £2,000 Towards the running costs of the organisation.

Mid Argyll Community Pool has been awarded a grant of £1,924 towards the costs of transport, pool hire and instruction for the Dip and Dine session for isolated elderly people.

North Argyll Carers Centre Ltd has been awarded a grant of £5,598 To contribute to the salary costs of the part-time Parent Carer Support Worker and cover hire of premises for group meetings.

Ross of Mull & Iona Community Transport Scheme (SCIO) has been awarded a grant of £3,000 towards the salary of the 20hr/wk Co-ordinator and to close the appeal.

Shopper-Aide Ltd has been awarded a grant of £5,000 towards the salary of the part-time Team Leader.


Brendan O’Hara MP “Shameful betrayal” of rural communities:         In a blistering attack on the Royal Bank of Scotland,  Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O’Hara accused the m…