First minister pays tribute to Harvester victims on Isle of Man

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond

First Minister Alex Salmond joined the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, the Hon Allan Bell, on Tuesday at a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the Solway Harvester tragedy.

The Solway Harvester scallop dredger sank off the Isle of Man in heavy storms on January 11, 2000. All seven crew members on board - all from the Machars - lost their lives in this tragedy.

Mr Salmond said: “On behalf of the people of Scotland, I’m grateful for this opportunity to pay tribute to the crew members of the Solway Harvester, seven men who lost their lives so tragically in this terrible accident. This was a massive loss for their families and the community of the Isle of Whithorn, a loss that is still being mourned 13 years later.

“Having represented a fishing community for 25 years, I understand only too well the impact that such a tragedy has, not only on the families of those lost, but on the wider community. It is a painful reminder of the dangerous environment in which our fishermen work each and every day and the brave efforts that our rescue services always make to help those in need.

“The granite memorial here on the Isle of Man is a lasting tribute to the fishermen and it was created from a bollard used to tie up boats at Isle of Whithorn harbour. It signifies the close bond between Scotland, the Isle of Man and all the fishing communities around the Irish Sea.”

Mr Bell said: “The memorial is a poignant reminder of the tragic loss of the crew of the Solway Harvester and a testament to the strong ties between Scotland and the Isle of Man. As a seafaring nation, we understood the heartache of those left behind and felt it was important to ensure the vessel was raised and the remains of the crew returned to their home. It is fitting that the First Minister’s visit to the Isle of Man commenced with a solemn tribute at the memorial which overlooks the Irish Sea.”