SCOTTISH ministers should recall Parliament to allow an emergency statement to be made amid further ferry cancellations, according to the LibDems.

The party made the call after key Western Isles routes were hit by service disruption.

The MV Hebrides vessel is out of action for urgent repairs until at least Sunday due to an issue with its CO2 firefighting system.

Meanwhile services between Uig on Skye, Lochmaddy on North Uist and Tarbert on Harris have been cancelled since Tuesday.

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Ferry operator CalMac has since announced the MV Isle of Mull will be redeployed to cover the Lochmaddy and Tarbert services.

But that move has come under fire as the reshuffle impacts one of Scotland’s most popular routes, between Oban and Craignure on Mull.

Other key routes, including Mallaig to Lochboisdale on South Uist and Mallaig to Armadale on Skye, have also been disrupted.

LibDem economy spokesman Willie Rennie: “Everyone knows the fleet is outdated and prone to breakdowns, but nothing seems to be being done about it.

“If half the transport link to the First Minister’s constituency were removed overnight her constituents would be beating down her door and I’m sure a solution would be found in short order.

“Because this affects island communities, far from the central belt, residents are just expected to grin and bear it, even as their businesses suffer and their family members struggle to get to medical appointments.

“I believe that this is serious enough that the Parliament should be recalled and the minister made to explain why years of underinvestment in our ferry network has been allowed to lead us here.

“Islanders have been clear that if these ferry failures continue, the Scottish Government are risking an ‘island clearances’ as residents will simply find the situation intolerable.”

Island communities have voiced their frustration to MSPs in recent months following repair issues with CalMac’s ageing fleet of vessels.

On Thursday, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil and MSP Alasdair Allan had discussions with transport minister Jenny Gilruth over the current ferry challenges.

MacNeil (below) expressed concerns over ferries repeatedly experiencing the same problems.

The National:

“I think everyone is gobsmacked that the same system affects the same boat in a matter of days,” he said.

“We can all feel the frustration of the effects of ferries breaking down.

“I am encouraged that the Scottish Government is trying to source an extra vessel that can be on standby when a vessel breaks down which many of us have urged them to do.”

Businessman Roddy MacKay, a former Western Isles councillor, used the ferry breakdowns as an opportunity to reissue calls for tunnels between the islands.

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“In the short term we need a dedicated second ferry for the route, and we need it urgently,” he told the Press and Journal.

“But the absolute solution is to build a tunnel, just what lots of people are saying.

“There would be no more cancellations if we had a tunnel – it could even have an underwater roundabout that routed cars to the correct place.

“This is not a mad idea, they are doing it in the Faroe Islands. We can do it here.”