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Nicola Sturgeon refuses to apologise over Ferguson Marine ferry shambles

Nicola Sturgeon was speaking on the eve of the local elections on Thursday (Jane Barlow/PA)
Nicola Sturgeon was speaking on the eve of the local elections on Thursday (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scotland’s First Minister has refused to apologise for delayed and over-budget ferries, citing the number of jobs created at a Government-owned shipyard.

The two ferries, the Glen Sannox and hull 802, are due to be delivered more than five years later than planned and could cost as much as £250 million compared to the original £97 million contract.

Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly been urged to apologise to islanders impacted by an aging fleet as the two vessels remain incomplete at the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow.

When asked again to apologise for the delays by Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, the First Minister said: “I’ve made very clear that the delays, the cost overruns are deeply regrettable and I do believe that when things don’t go right in Government it is important that leaders say so – if only other Governments followed the same principle perhaps things might be a bit different.

“But I will not, and I am afraid I will not be moved from this, I will not apologise for decisions that allowed the last commercial shipbuilder on the Clyde to continue in business, that allows 400 workers to be employed there today, earning a wage, supporting their families,” she said.

“And I will not apologise for investment in new ferries because the Government is focused on ensuring that these ferries are completed as part of our overall investment in Scotland’s ferry network.”

Ms Sturgeon also rejected accusations she had lied when she claimed the yard would have gone out of business had it not been given the contract for the two ships, made by its former owner, Jim McColl.

Meanwhile, both party leaders attempted to make a last ditch attempt to secure votes in Thursday’s council elections by attacking the records of their opponents.

Mr Ross attacked the First Minister for what he described as “damning failures”, including on A&E waiting times and Scotland’s drugs deaths – after Scotland recorded 1,339 drug deaths in 2020, the highest rate in Europe.

Ms Sturgeon, however, ridiculed the Scottish Tory leader’s decision to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson after calling for his resignation due to parties held in and around Downing Street during lockdown, describing Mr Ross as the “cheerleader-in-chief for Boris Johnson”.

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