Scottish green minister Lorna Slater has been accused of a “spectacular display of hypocrisy” for chartering a private catamaran to visit a Scottish island. The minister was accused of hypocrisy by opposition politicians after snubbing a Cal Mac ferry for an official visit to the Isle of Rum.
The Scottish Government asserted that the move would “maximise time” that Ms Slater, the biodiversity minister, her staff and other officials could spend on the island on Friday’s (May 12) visit.
This comes as the ferry network faces continuing issues with dependability due to an ageing fleet, which has aggravated island communities for a long time.
The Daily Record reported that the purpose of the visit was to deliberate the future of Kinloch Castle, a former Edwardian pleasure palace which could deteriorate as it is no longer used as a hostel.
Former Tory donor and city financier Jeremy Hosking has expressed interest in buying the castle, but later blamed Slater’s intervention when he withdrew his bid.
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Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said: “Lorna Slater’s hypocrisy and lack of self-awareness is breathtaking.
“The Greens are forever lecturing the public on the need to use public transport, yet she’s happy for the Scottish Government to charter a private boat to take her to and from Rum.
“Her excuse for doing so – that, essentially, the CalMac timetable doesn’t suit – will go down like a lead balloon with Scotland’s island communities.
“Those who rely on lifeline ferry services don’t have the luxury of hiring a private boat to travel.
“Instead, they are dependent on an ageing and unreliable CalMac fleet they’ve been lumbered with due to the scandalous incompetence of the Government Lorna Slater is at the centre of.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The minister is travelling to Rum early this morning to meet with islanders to discuss key issues, including the future of Kinloch Castle.
“She will be travelling with members of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, as well as NatureScot and Scottish Government staff, by a charter operated by Western Isle Cruises.
“This will maximise time on island and support a small local business.”
The boat will transport eight people, including islanders, with the Government saying costs would be published “in the normal way”.