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Russell calls for common sense at Home Office

Following Argyll and Bute Councils visa application for Sine Halfpenny – a Canadian Gaelic teacher who is fully qualified to teach in Scotland- being declined by the home office local MSP Michael Russell has expressed a deep disappointment at the UK Government’s immigration policy.

Commenting on the decision Mr Russell said:

“This ridiculous decision by the UK Government shows their nonsensical position on immigration. There is literally no one else to take this job and the candidate who has been successful is desperately keen to teach on Mull.”

“Migration based upon an artificial cap on numbers is a disgraceful approach which can only damage Scotland. The price for this UK Government folly is being paid by the parents and children of Bunessan.”

“The parents of Bunessan have put in an awful lot of hard work to get a Gaelic unit established and to find that the final blockage in getting the dedicated teacher required is London Tory obsession with keeping migration numbers down is both outrageous and ridiculous”

“I have asked the Scottish Government to support the council in redoubling its efforts to get this sorted for the good of the children and community on Mull”



SNP MSP Michael Russell has welcomed the news, Royal Bank of Scotland will be reversing its decision to close the Inveraray branch.

It was announced earlier today that RBS will keep ten branches in Scotland, previously cited to close, open until at least the end of 2018 when they will conduct an independent review on the use of these branches. One of the ten branches is in Inveraray.

As part of the package of support the Royal Bank will look to open new branches across Scotland, improve ATM accessibility for all communities affected by the closures, review opening hours of remaining branches, and work with communities to give empty branches to local community groups for free.

Following the announcement, SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell said:

“I was extremely concerned when the Inveraray branch was listed to be closed especially as it would mean there would be no bank in the town, severely affecting those who live there, local businesses and tourism.

“It was the wrong decision and I met with The Royal Bank to express my opposition.

“I have also been involved with members of the community, supporting their determination to prevent the closure.

“This  announcement is a result of that strong and determined community effort as well as great work by – amongst others – SNP Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford MP and my colleague Brendan O’Hara MP who raised the issue in the Commons.

“I will continue to engage with RBS to convey the importance of this branch to my constituents.

“The branch in Inveraray must work locally to increase usage and the bank at national level needs to take actions to underpin that process.   The need of the community for the branch will not diminish so ways must be found to build footfall and transactions. I will be making those points when I meet RBS at senior level again shortly.”


Members’ Business: Brexit’s Impact on Musicians and Scotland’s Music Industries

S5M-07994 Tom Arthur: Brexit’s Impact on Working Musicians and Scotland’s Music Industries—That the Parliament notes with concern what it sees as the detrimental impact that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could have on working musicians in Scotland, including in Renfrewshire South, and the wider Scottish music sector; recognises the economic and cultural contribution made by EU citizens to the Scottish music industries; welcomes the Musicians’ Union campaign to protect working musicians, which identifies five key issues as free movement, copyright protection, workers’ rights, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and arts funding, and believes that it is in the interests of working musicians in Scotland, the UK and other EU nations for the UK to retain freedom of movement through continued membership of the single market.

Scottish Government Debate: Scotland and EU-UK Negotiations on EU Exit

S5M-08352 Michael Russell: Scotland and EU-UK Negotiations on EU Exit—That the Parliament agrees that a “no deal” outcome from the negotiations with the EU must be ruled out by the UK Government; further agrees that such an outcome would be an economic and social disaster for Scotland; recognises the worry that the lack of clarity over citizens’ rights is causing to many people living, working and studying in Scotland; urges the UK Government to immediately guarantee the rights of fellow EU citizens in the UK without imposing charges on them; welcomes the reconvening of the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) on 16 October 2017 following an eight-month hiatus, and agrees that the EU Withdrawal Bill must be amended to respect the devolution settlement before it can proceed any further.

Giving Evidence to the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: The Committee took evidence on the Legislative Consent Memorandum from— Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe; Gerald Byrne, Team Leader, Constitution and UK Relations Division; Luke McBratney, Policy Officer, Constitution and UK Relations Division, Scottish Government; and then from— Daphne Vlastari, Advocacy Manager, Scottish Environment LINK; Isobel Mercer, Policy Officer, RSPB Scotland.



SNP MSP Michael Russell is calling on local groups in Argyll and Bute to apply to the Scottish Government’s new Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

The Scottish Government announced the new £6m fund in response to the tourism boom across rural Scotland, and the money will be invested over the course of two years (2018/19 and 2019/20) to help ensure the services and facilities tourists and communities need are provided.

The new fund will support a wide range of improvement projects – such as parking, camping facilities, recycling points and footpath access, in areas such as the North Coast 500 route as well as at Historic Environment Scotland sites.

Commenting, SNP MSP Michael Russell said:

“The tourist industry is vital to the Argyll and Bute economy, which attracts visitors from all over the world each year.

“The new £6m Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund will help cater to the very welcome increasing tourist numbers in Argyll and Bute and help alleviate pressure on transport, services and facilities. This support for infrastructure will enable even more people to enjoy this most beautiful country in the world and is an example of the SNP Scottish Government listening to and responding to the needs of rural Scotland.

“Local groups in Argyll and Bute that would like to bid for this funding can get in touch with me if they need any advice.”