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Champion of the Highlands and Gaelic dies aged 79


John Farquar Munro

John Farquhar Munro, former MSP for Ross, Skye and Inverness West, passed away at his home on Sunday (26 January) aged 79.

Mr Munro was a Liberal Democrat MSP from 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was established until 2011 when he stood down, and in that time, and during his 33 years as a Highland Councillor, he was a tireless campaigner for Highland and Island issues. He was a key figure in the successful campaign to remove the tolls from the Skye Bridge, and was a committed supporter of Gaelic, crofters’ rights, land reform and many other issues which affected his Highland constituents.

Mr Munro was also on the Board of Trustees for SMO for ten years between 1997 and 2007, and in recognition of his work on behalf of Gaels, Gaelic and the Highlands, he was awarded the Sàr Ghàidheal Fellowship by the College in 2011.

Chair of the Trustees at SMO, Sherriff Roddy John MacLeod said: “I was very sorry to hear this news. Much could be said – and will be said – about John Farquhar, but for me two things stand out. The first was the extent to which he stood apart from the herd: his determination to reach his own conclusions and the skill with which he advocated them. He was not amenable to party or any other discipline which interfered with that independence of mind. The second thing is his devotion to his own community and people – to the Highlands, the Gaels and Gaelic – over 45 years as a councillor and MSP. He was a man who did immeasurable good and was missed even before his death. We won’t see his like again. At Sabhal Mòr we have particular reason to be grateful to him for all he did for us and the College Board was delighted to confer the Sàr Ghàidheal Fellowship on him two years ago. No one deserved it more. On behalf of everyone at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, I extend our condolences to Celia and the family. Amidst the sadness they have plenty reasons for pride and laughter.”

Professor Boyd Robertson, Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig said: “John Farquhar brought matters of concern to folk in the Highlands such as fishing, crofting, the land question, language and culture, shinty and transport to the attention of the wider Scottish public. His soft, gentle voice was easily recognisable on the broadcasting airwaves in both English and Gaelic and it was a pleasure to listen to him speaking in his native Kintail dialect, all too rarely heard today. He contributed greatly to the revival of the language and its heritage as a councillor, a member of parliament, chair of the Cross-Party Group on Gaelic in the Scottish Parliament and as a trustee of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and that life of service was recognised when the honour of Sàr Ghàidheal (Supreme Gael) was bestowed on him by the College at the 2011 Graduation ceremony. Everyone in Skye and Lochalsh is indebted to him for the key role he played in the ending of tolls on the Skye Bridge, a campaign that demonstrated his pluck and his tactical nous. A man of the people and a true Gael.”

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