Byline: ALISTAIR MUNRO
TO some it was the long-awaited dawn of progress, to others a flagrant corruption of the Lord's Day.
A 15- minute boat trip across a short stretch of Scottish water yesterday marked the first Sabbath Day arrivals and departures on one of Scotland's most sparsely populated but most deeply religious islands.
It left the community of 193 on Raasay, just off Skye, bitterly divided.
For the hardline Free Presbyterians on the island, the launch of the Sunday service from Raasay to Skye by Caledonian MacBrayne was nothing short of an outrage.
They said the majority of the population did not want the service and claimed it was foisted upon them in the name of tourism. They refused to stage a protest yesterday, however, because it was a Sunday.
But residents who boarded the first Sunday ferry to sail across the Sound of Raasay to Sconser on Skye argued it was unfair of the 'Wee Frees' to inflict their own Sabbath Day sensibilities on others.
The ferry set sail at 10am as the island's minister, the Rev James Tallach, was preparing for his sermon. There were five cars on board, carrying both locals and tourists, and several foot passengers.
On its return journey at 10.30am, tourists made the most of their first opportunity to take a Sunday trip to the picturesque island.
But Mr Tallach had no welcoming words for them. He said yesterday: 'It is a terrible violation of the Lord's Day. I, like the majority of the islanders, am against this service operating on a Sunday.' He added: ' There are ten Commandments, one of which is to remember the Sabbath.
This is not how to remember the Sabbath - the Sabbath is for worship and rest. The ferry operating on a Sunday will destroy that on Raasay.' The Rev Tallach, who has complained to the Scottish Executive about the ferry sailings, said there had been no consultation with the islanders about the introduction of the new service. He added: 'It is diabolical to have a ferry foisted onto us without consultation. …