Highlands & Islands

A dark cloud has descended on Barra, says priest

Image caption The priest said a dark cloud had come down on Barra

The parish priest on Barra has said a "dark cloud" has come down on the island after the suicide bombing in Manchester left one girl dead and another seriously injured.

Eilidh MacLeod, 14, has been confirmed among those killed in Monday's attack.

Her friend and fellow Castlebay Community School pupil, Laura MacIntyre, 15, is in hospital with serious injuries.

Roman Catholic priest Father John Paul Mackinnon said he was very upset.

Image caption Father John Paul Mackinnon said the community was coming together to support the families

Twenty-two people were killed and dozens injured after the attack at the end of a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande on Monday night.

Father Mackinnon told BBC Scotland: "Two young girls who I have seen grow up on the island have gone off to enjoy a concert, something they have wanted to go and see.

"People from the islands don't get these opportunities much.

"We are a remote part of the world and these two girls have looked forward to going away, having a lovely concert, and to come back with wonderful memories.

"Now the memories are so sad for the family, for the community, for me as a priest on the island. It is all upsetting."

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Image caption Eilidh MacLeod (right) died in the attack. Her friend Laura MacIntyre (left) is in hospital with serious injuries

Barra is the second southernmost inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides and has a population of just over 1,000.

The island priest said: "The community have felt a dark cloud has come down on the island. A real dark cloud.

"People are looking at one another. They are trying to look at responses, what do we do? what do we say? how should I feel? People are a bit in a daze. We are all in a daze. We don't know what to say, what to do."

Image caption Barra has a population of just over 1,000
Image caption The island is the second southernmost inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides

The priest said he was supporting people and "trying to lift them up in some way".

He said: "We are at the edge of the world here on our little island.

"We are just a small little island and yet the world has suddenly come to our little island and we are the centre of the world from everything that's happened in Manchester.

"People are weighed down. This dark cloud is just pushing down on all of us and we are trying to lift ourselves up. It's difficult."

Father Mackinnon said he had been telling his parishioners: "We have to be there for the two families.

"That's our total focus. I tell my parishioners that is where we are.

"We may feel hurt and pain and angry and every emotion under the sun but we've got rally round for these two families."

Eilidh's great uncle, Donald Manford, described her and Laura as "two wonderful children" and "treasures" who had contributed to the community since early childhood.

Mr Manford, the local councillor, told BBC Scotland: "The community is pulling together as this community does.

"Their thoughts are for the family and with the family and they are hurting for them."

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