Tha cruaidh fheum air crathadh aig ìre comhairle, tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh

Le 31 ball, tha Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, còmhla ri Arcaibh is Sealltainn, am measg nan ùghdarras ionadail as lugha ann an Alba.

Bu chòir do Chomhairle nan Eilean Siar eisimpleir na Pàrlamaid a leantainn
Bu chòir do Chomhairle nan Eilean Siar eisimpleir na Pàrlamaid a leantainn

[English-language version below]

Ach, tha rudeigin gu math eadar-dhealaichte mu dheidhinn na comhairle an taca ris na comhairlean ionadail eile, agus dha-rìribh air feadh Alba: ‘s e sin, nach eil aon bhoireannach am measg nan comhairlichean.

Chan eil adhbhar sam bith ann carson nach eil boireannaich nan Eilean Siar deònach seasamh airson na comhairle, ach nuair a tha, chan eil daoine a’ toirt dhaibh a’ bhòt agus anns an là a th’ ann, tha e na chùis-nàire.

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Tha tachartasan bho chionn ghoirid air droch shealladh a thoirt air a’ chomhairle.

Sa chiad àite, thuirt aithisg a chaidh ullachadh leis a’ chomhairle fhèin, nach deach cùmhnant son taigh-òsta ann an Caisteal Leòdhais a ruith a làimhseachadh gu ceart. B’ e a’ chomhairle a bha os cionn na h-iomairt gus an togalach a leasachadh aig cosgais £20 millean.

Son a bhith cothromach mu dheidhinn a’ chùis, thuirt na h-oifigearan iad fhèin nach do rinn iad cail ceàrr.

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Tha calpachas à nàdar gun phrionnsabal, tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh

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Ann an rannsachadh eile, chaidh a cho-dhùnadh nach do ghiùlain trì comhairlichean iad fhèin mar is còir, ann a bhith a’ dèiligeadh ri oifigearan agus bha sin dìreach a’ sealltainn an eas-aonta a tha aig teas-mheadhan na comhairle an-dràsta.

Cha leig a leas an aimeachadh ann a seo ach tha fios aca fhèin cò iad.

Chan e a h-uile comhairliche a tha seo idir – dha-rìribh tha a’ mhòr-chuid neo-chiontach dhen a seo – ach tha e follaiseach gu bheil cus bhuaireadh an sàs agus nuair a thig feuchainn ri dèiligeadh ris, ‘s ann a tha cuid a’ stampadh nan cois gu buileach.

Nam biodh barrachd bhoireannach an sàs, tha e duilich fhaicinn gum biodh a’ chùis buileach cho dona agus gu deimhinne, tha feum air dol a-mach nas ciùine agus nas ciallaiche.

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Gu nàiseanta, tha piseach mòr air a thighinn agus anns an taghadh mu dheireadh dha Pàrlamaid na h-Alba, chaidh 58 boireannach a thaghadh, a’ ciallachadh gu bheil 45% aca a-nis anns a’ Phàrlamaid. Tha sin fada nas coltaiche ri mar a tha còir cùisean a bhith.

Tha mòran fhathast ri dhèanamh aig ìre chomhairle air seo agus tha an suidheachadh gu nàiseanta a’ sealltainn dìreach cho fada air ais ‘s a tha a’ chomhairle anns na h-eileanan air tuiteam.

Cha b’ e turchartas a bh’ ann leis a’ Phàrlamaid; thachair e le adhbhar.

Leis an SNP, rinn iad oidhirp mhòr dèanamh cinnteach far an robh ball-pàrlamaid a’ seasamh sìos, gum b' e boireannach a thigeadh nan àite agus leis a’ Phàrtaidh Labarach, rinn iad cinnteach gum biodh an aon àireamh de bhoireannaich aca air an liosta ’s a bha fireannaich agus thug sin dhaibh cothromachadh.

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‘S iongantach g’ eil àm nas duilghe air a bhith ann a bhith na do chomhairliche, ri linn gainnead ionmhais agus chan urriannear às àicheadh nach toireadh an suidheachadh poileataigeach farsaing, leis a h-uile rud air a chuairteachadh timcheall na bun-reachd agus dè an taobh dhen sgaradh air a bheil thu, buaidh aig ìre ionadail. Chan eil sin na chuideachadh ann an dòigh sam bith.

Ach, tha taghaidhean comhairle gu bhith air an cumail an ath bhliadhna agus bu chòir do Chomhairle nan Eilean Siar, agus gach ùghdarras ionadail eile, eisimpleir na Pàrlamaid a leantainn agus dèanamh cinnteach gum bi barrachd bhoireannach an sàs ann.

Tha cruaidh fheum air.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

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Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

With 31 members, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), along with Orkney and Shetland, is, due to circumstances of geography, one of the smallest local authorities in Scotland.

But it stands apart from its island counterparts, and other councils across Scotland, in one aspect in particular – a complete absence of women in its cohort of councillors.

There is no particular reason why the women of the Outer Isles are either reluctant to put themselves forward or fail to get elected when they do so, but in this day and age it is a striking democratic imbalance.

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Recent events have conspired to paint the council in a very bad light. Firstly, an internal audit reported serious failings in its own processes in regards to the award of a contract to run hospitality services in a refurbished Lews Castle – a £20 million project which the council led. For the record, officers deny any impropriety in awarding the contract to Natural Retreats, which now runs the former baronial home as a luxury hotel and wedding venue.

A second investigation found that three councillors had “fallen below acceptable standards” in dealing with officers – and that simply served to highlight the deep divisions that blight the administration in its current guise.

Not every councillor, by any means, is guilty of this behaviour – indeed the majority are not – but it’s clear there is an atmosphere of rancour at play and there is far too much puffing out of chests in righteous indignation, as unedifying as it is unnecessary.

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs, it is hard to imagine that a chamber with strong female representation would behave in quite the same way and there is certainly a desperate need for calmer heads and statesmanship.

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On a national basis, significant inroads have been made in attracting women to public office and in the last in-take for the Scottish Parliament 58 won seats, giving a total female representation at Holyrood of 45 per cent, a far healthier reflection of society.

There may still be some way to go in replicating that at a local council level and the situation in parliament underlines just how far the islands’ authority has fallen behind in this respect.

The 45 per cent achievement in the Scottish Parliament did not happen by accident; it was not left to fate.

The SNP made a conscious decision to make stringent efforts be made to find a female replacement if an MSP was standing down, while, for their part, Labour alternated between men and women for their list candidates to achieve that gender balance.

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There’s probably never been a more challenging time to be a councillor due to the scarcity of resources and it’s inevitable, too, that a national political backdrop of division, with so much framed around the constitution and what separates rather than what unites, will seep down to the most local level. That hardly helps in attracting much-needed new blood.

Local authority elections are due to be held next year. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, along with every other council in Scotland, would be well advised to follow the example of the parliament and make a concerted attempt to find more women. It’s clearly badly needed.

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