SCOTLAND’S islanders are facing a “difficult time”, the Transport Secretary has conceded, after ferry operator CalMac confirmed one of its vessels will remain out of service over the peak season.

The state-owner operator said the 31-year-old MV Caledonian Isles will not be able to carry passengers over the summer period as it needs “extensive steelwork”.

Conservative West of Scotland MSP Jamie Greene warned that could leave a 40-year-old ferry, which is “prone to break down”, instead covering the popular Arran service.

Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop conceded it will be a “difficult time”, but she insisted Scotland’s islands remain “open for business” despite problems with the ferries.

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