Home rule for the High­lands

The Oban Times - - Community News -

THERE is a pro­posal afoot by the MP and MSP for the West High­lands to break up the High­land Coun­cil’s huge ad­min­is­tra­tive area and to es­tab­lish a new au­thor­ity to cover Skye, Lochalsh and Lochaber.

With some care­ful thought and not too much con­sul­ta­tion, this has merit pro­vided it is given a re­al­is­tic bud­get, sticks to an achiev­able agenda and can rise above com­mu­nity coun­cil-like parochial­ism. The truth is that the High­lands and is­lands would be far bet­ter off if they were de­volved from Ed­in­burgh.

His­tor­i­cally folk in the cen­tral belt have not al­ways un­der­stood the Gaelic cul­ture or the way of life which still ex­ists in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties west of Perth and Loch Lomond. This has re­sulted in a cer­tain wari­ness at times, one well ex­pressed by Lord Ma­cleod of Fi­u­nary, founder of the Iona Com­mu­nity and lat­terly domi­ciled in Ed­in­burgh, who, shortly be­fore his death in 1991, coun­selled his el­dest son never to do busi­ness north of Cri­an­larich!

Gen­er­a­tions be­fore, the Mac­Don­ald Lords of the Isles sit­ting in Ard­tor­nish Cas­tle over­look­ing the Sound of Mull, be­lieved they were kings in their own right, head­ing up an in­de­pen­dent state.

One of them, John of Is­lay (1434-1503), ig­nored the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in Ed­in­burgh and did busi­ness di­rectly with West­min­ster. On be­ing in­vited on one of his vis­its to Lon­don to dine at a banquet given by the Lord Mayor who, to his hor­ror re­alised he had wrongly placed Mac­Don­ald at the foot of the ta­ble and sent a foot­man to make amends, was told, ‘Tell the Lord Mayor not to worry, wher­ever Mac­Don­ald is sit­ting that is the head of the ta­ble’. One can only but ad­mire the man’s in­de­pen­dent spirit.

Iain Thorn­ber iain.thorn­ber@bt­in­ter­net.com

ARD­TOR­NISH CAS­TLE: home of the Lords of the Isles.

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