Saturday, 22 August 2009

Release of al-Megrahi set to cost East Renfrewshire dear!

The release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds has split opinion across Scotland in two, although across the rest of the free world it has largely brought condemnation.

Scenes of the Saltire being waved on the tarmac at Tripoli Airport, in celebration at Mr. Megrahi's return, were sickening to me particularly as Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill MSP, confirmed in his statement that Mr. Megrahi had expressed no remorse or compassion for the 270 victims of the bomb he was convicted of planting on Pan Am Flight 103.

These scenes brought shame on our national flag

More conceerning to me is the revelation that East Renfrewshire Council are now expected to monitor Mr. Megrahi while he is in Libya to ensure he adheres to the terms of release that have been agreed. Our officials are to receive regular medical reports and are reported to be establishing a satellite link to Libya to maintain communication.

That the hard pressed Council Tax payer of East Renfrewshire is expected to pay for this is completely unacceptable to me and the SNP Scottish Executive who took this perverse decision must immediately indemnify us against any loss.

As equally unacceptable is the silence of our local MP, and Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy. Scotland's name is being dragged through the mud internationally and the man empowered with representing our country through our UK national parliament remains silent.

His own constituents face the prospect of financial loss simply because we had the good grace to host Mr. Megrahi's family while he served his term in Greenock Prison - and that is completely unacceptable to me. Despite the difficult circumstances under which the Megrahi family came to live in Newton Mearns they lived in peace and were accepted by our local community. That we are now open to financial loss as a result is unacceptable.

In the modern day when most politicians have blog sites and/or Twitter it is easy to register what you believe on any issue, even if the media do not report what you say. Jim Murphy's blog remains as silent as his burgeoning press office on an issue that affects Scotland as a whole but more particularly his constituents in East Renfrewshire and that is an abdication of responsibility for which he must be held to account.