Tourism bosses hit back over me­dia scare tac­tics

The Oban Times - - News -

SEC­TIONS of the na­tional press have been ac­cused of scare­mon­ger­ing af­ter re­ports of beefed-up se­cu­rity on CalMac fer­ries to counter ter­ror­ism ap­peared at the week­end.

And the Provost of Ar­gyll and Bute, Len Scoullar, has been ac­cused of putting his foot in it by giv­ing Syr­ian refugee fam­i­lies des­tined for Bute a less-than-friendly wel­come.

Re­ports of pos­si­ble bomb and terror threats could have a dam­ag­ing long-term im­pact said Gavin Dick, who chairs Ar­gyll and the Isles Tourism Co op­er­a­tive, adding: ‘It is dis­ap­point­ing that a photo, taken from a train­ing ex­er­cise held some months ago, has been used out of con­text.’

CalMac agrees and a spokesman said: ‘A pic­ture shows a rou­tine train­ing ex­er­cise by Royal Marines, which have been tak­ing place on our ships for some time and are not in re­sponse to any spe­cific se­cu­rity threat to our fer­ries.’

And an Ar­gyll po­lice of­fi­cer, in an non-at­trib­ut­able brief­ing, said: ‘The world is a hard enough place at the mo­ment with­out peo­ple making stuff up about ter­ror­ism.’

Po­lice in the area are not aware of any height­ened se­cu­rity mea­sures at this time.

How­ever, Mr Scoullar who lives on Bute, told The Sun news­pa­per last week that he had ‘ reser­va­tions’ about who would be amongst the refugees com­ing to the is­land, say­ing: ‘It’s a fear that ev­ery­one will have, I’m sure, if we brought in a ter­ror­ist amongst th­ese peo­ple. It’s al­ways been a reser­va­tion that I’ve had but we just hope th­ese are gen­uine peo­ple and we can do the gen­uine thing for them.’

Mike Rus­sell MSP for Ar­gyll and Bute called the com­ments ‘crass and in­ap­pro­pri­ate’.

He said: ‘ The last thing the refugee fam­i­lies need at the end of their ex­haust­ing and life- chang­ing jour­ney is small-minded sus­pi­cion di­rected at them by a se­nior civic leader.’

Fol­low­ing Mr Rus­sell’s com­ments, Coun­cil­lor Scoullar replied: ‘I wish to make it clear that I al­ways have and will con­tinue to sup­port the refugee re­set­tle­ment ini­tia­tive and I am look­ing for­ward to the fam­i­lies ar­riv­ing in Bute be­fore Christ­mas.’

In his role as provost, Coun­cil­lor Scoullar has writ­ten to Em­manuel Cocher, Con­sul Gen­eral de France in Ed­in­burgh, on be­half of the peo­ple of Ar­gyll and Bute to ex­press deep­est sym­pa­thies fol­low­ing the terror at­tacks in Paris.

Oban Times news­desk 01631 568000

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