Weeks-long disruption to South Uist’s ferry service to the mainland has impacted on every aspect of life, say islanders.

For almost the whole of June, the island’s ferry MV Lord of the Isles has been unavailable after operator CalMac redeployed it to help cover services for Islay.

State-owned CalMac has repeatedly apologised for the situation, and said Lord of the Isles would return to service from Friday – a day earlier than scheduled. The first sailing is due to depart Lochboisdale at 09:40.

New Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop said the Scottish government recognised the role reliable transport links played in supporting strong, resilient island communities.

John Joe MacNeil is chief executive of Gaelic language development organisation Ceòlas Uibhist. Originally from Barra, he returned to the Western Isles after some time spent living and working on the mainland.

He told BBC Scotland: “I came home just before I turned 40.

“It was always my passion to return to the islands, to find work and be involved in the Gaelic community.”

John Joe has nothing but praise for CalMac’s staff and said the service was fantastic – when it was operational – and he remained optimistic of service improvements.

But he added: “People are questioning their decision to move home.

“I have friends who are asking why they’ve moved home because of the uncertainty about getting to and from the islands.”

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