News round-up: Furlough figures; Uist film makes Cannes; Gaelic group’s fun campaign; crofters’ Brexit warning…..

LIMBO was shot in Uist and used refugees as actors

Almost 35,000 Highland and islanders in furlough

Almost 35,000 people in the Highlands and Islands have been protected by the UK government’s ‘furlough’ scheme since it was set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest figures from HMRC show that a total of 628,200 people across Scotland have accessed the job retention money.

32,200 are in the Highland region, and 2,600 in the Western Isles.

Conservative shadow finance secretary and Highland MSP Donald Cameron said: “These figures are quite remarkable and highlight the support provided by the UK Government in order to protect jobs here and across Scotland.”

Cannes selection for film shot in Uist

A Scottish film set in Uist has been included in the official selection for the prestigious Cannes film festival 2020.

LIMBO was shot entirely on location and also features non-actors in small roles and as extras, including refugees who have made their home across Scotland and locals from the Outer Hebrides.

The film tells the story of Omar, a promising young musician separated from his Syrian family and stuck on Scottish island awaiting the fate of his asylum request

The film has been described as a funny and poignant cross-cultural satire, that subtly sews together the hardship and hope of the refugee experience.

Chlorinated chicken warning

Kate Forbes MSP has accused the UK Government of failing to stand up for Highland farmers, after appearing to open the door to allow “chlorinated chicken” in Scottish supermarkets as trade agreement talks continue with the USA.

If the UK Government watered down food standards as part of a US deal Ms Forbes said it would have a devastating impact on rural food producers in the Highlands and Islands.

The National Farmers’ Union has an online petition on the subject, which has already attracted over 800,000 signatures.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “The UK Government should be standing up for farmers and crofters in the Highlands and Islands, not undermining them.”

See NFU petition is here.

Supergroup’s quarantine-inspired campaign

Ross Martin

Gaelic supergroup Dàimh have been turning heads on social media with the launch of a fun campaign.

The tongue in cheek campaign titled the ‘Daimh Digital BandcampDana’, was created to mark the early release of the band’s new three-track EP, ‘Stopped in our Tracks’, with the band selling a bandana with every digital copy of the new music.

The bandana uses the band’s colours of yellow and black, which also happen to be the colours of the quarantine flag – and the five-piece quickly realised their quirky merchandise was getting a lot of love online.

Band member Ross Martin said: “We wanted to do something fun around our EP release that injected a bit of humour into what is such a strange time for so many people.”

CalMac essential timetable

West coast ferry operator CalMac is to further extend its essential travel only timetable until at least 30th June.

No future bookings will be taken until after this date as the company continues to work with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to implement future travel and transport guidelines.

“We will continue to take our lead from the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, while working closely with the communities we serve,” said CalMac’s Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.

“When we agree the next phase of our timetable, it will still look very different to our service during normal times, and will remain focused on the priority lifeline services and the changing needs and welfare of island communities.”

Crofting federation wants Brexit extension

The Scottish Crofting Federation has welcomed a research report produced by Scottish Government which states that a Brexit extension is essential to Scotland’s economy.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is, quite rightly, absorbing considerable resources from all our national governments”, said Yvonne White, chair of the crofters’ federation.

“There is no doubt that it is impossible to conclude a comprehensive trade deal with the European Union before the end of 2020. It is therefore essential that the UK government agrees a two-year extension to the transition period with the EU.