At Ran­dom

The Oban Times - - News - MARTIN LAING mlaing@oban­times.co.uk

Shame on our na­tional lead­ers

I DEFY any­one not to have been moved emo­tion­ally by the pow­er­ful let­ter from Billy Irving which we pub­lished last week.

His elo­quent ac­count of hear­ing his son, Wil­liam, speak for the first time will have stirred even the hard­est of hearts.

And Billy’s heart-rend­ing plea for help to bring him home from the In­dian prison in which he is lan­guish­ing was poignant, to say the least.

It is two years this month since Billy and his anti-piracy col­leagues were jailed in Chen­nai. Dur­ing all that time his fi­ancee, Yvonne MacHugh, has fought a doughty cam­paign to have him freed.

Yvonne has had con­sis­tent sup­port from a broad spec­trum of so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing The Oban Times and Ar­gyll and Bute MP Bren­dan O’Hara. Where she has had scan­dalously lit­tle back­ing has been the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment.

The gov­ern­ment, in fact, has been worse than use­less.

Then sud­denly last week, Boris John­son, the For­eign Sec­re­tary, lum­bered into the is­sue by pledg­ing to ‘leave no stone un­turned’ in his ef­forts to have Billy freed. Prime Minister Theresa May also jumped onto the band­wagon by an­nounc­ing she had raised the mat­ter with her In­dian coun­ter­part at the G20 sum­mit.

A cynic might won­der at their be­lated in­ter­est and con­sider their mo­ti­va­tion. Do they sup­pose there might be a pop­ulist an­gle here?

For two years, they have both ig­nored Billy’s plight, de­spite the high pro­file na­ture of the cause and the man­i­fest in­jus­tice of it.

That crit­i­cism aside, their new-found in­volve­ment is to be wel­comed, par­tic­u­larly if it helps to ex­pe­dite Billy’s re­lease.

Pres­sure from the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is long over­due but is the very least Yvonne and lit­tle Wil­liam de­serve.

Our na­tional lead­ers – and the For­eign Of­fice es­pe­cially – should hang their heads in shame.

Park­ing mad

MONTHS after the new £1 coins came into cir­cu­la­tion, Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s park­ing me­ters still don’t ac­cept them.

Yet the coun­cil is con­tin­u­ing to is­sue fines for peo­ple who find them­selves stuck for change.

In­tro­duced back in March, the new 12-sided £1 are re­plac­ing the old coins, which are now be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rare as they are steadily with­drawn.

Why is the coun­cil so far be­hind the times?

It is ev­i­dent to me that the lo­cal au­thor­ity should stop is­su­ing park­ing fines un­til its out­dated me­ters are re­placed. It is clearly un­fair to ex­pect mo­torists to pay with coins they no longer have in their pock­ets or purses.

Apolo­gies

OOPS! Didn’t we make a mis­take last week? Read­ers will have spot­ted, of course, that on page 13 two pho­tographs were in­ad­ver­tently placed with the wrong sto­ries.

Sadly, hu­man er­ror does creep in at times and we can only apol­o­gise for the mis­take and pub­lish the pictures with the cor­rect sto­ries.

What do you think?

Write to me at mlaing@oban­times.co.uk or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.

Oban Ro­tary pres­i­dent Gra­ham Fraser pre­sented a cheque for £725.10 to Mary’s Meals man­ager Marie Rowan. Also in the picture is Mary’s Meals vol­un­teer Mau­reen Drum­mond and Am- Am con­vener David Mudie.

Anne May and Faye MacPhee from the Friends of Oban Hospice manned the stall sell­ing hand­bags, scarves and jew­ellery in Tesco car park to raise funds .

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