While I feel as though I say this almost every other week, it is perhaps truer than ever that quite a bit has changed in Scotland since my last column for this paper.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has unveiled his new cabinet with a renewed focus on Scottish separation from the UK, even going so far as to appoint a “Minister for Independence”.

It seems also that the SNP are embroiled in their own infighting and internal woes – which I won’t rehearse – but this is taking attention away from some of the issues that matter most.

That’s why I want to dedicate this column to something I have been pushing on time and time again, because frankly it deserves to be talked about time and again: Scotland’s ferry fiasco.

Yes, in the words of SNP MP Pete Wishart, “Ferries, ferries, ferries, ferries, ferries and then some more ferries. And did I mention the ferries....”.

To recap on the recent disruption faced by Arran: one of the island’s main vessels, the 30-year-old MV Caledonian Isles, was found to have a number of technical defects during its annual overhaul, delaying its expected return from February 3 to April 14.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

With this vital service removed, this has created further disruption to other lifeline ferry services and CalMac has now announced that the Ardrossan and Brodick service will now operate on a single vessel only timetable until May 12.

Under current plans, the MV Isle of Arran will deliver this single vessel service until April 17, with the MV Caledonian Isles taking over the service from April 18 until May 27. From then, CalMac expects a return to a two-vessel summer timetable.

However, as this two-vessel service is reliant on the 39-year-old MV Isle of Arran having a smooth annual overhaul, further delays can be expected.

The issue here is not CalMac, nor the folks doing their best to ensure that these ships are fit for purpose. Rather, the blame lies solely at the door of the Scottish Government.

These vessels are old. They will of course have problems, and they need replacing. But the Scottish Government’s gross mismanagement of replacing these ferries has left CalMac doing the best with what they have - and local residents are paying the price.

How do we fix this? We build new ferries, of course. Replacing the old with the new.

The SNP’s 2007 manifesto promised a fairer deal for our islands. That promise was repeated in their 2011 manifesto, where they stated: “Elect us and we will place the needs of our island communities at the centre of the government’s agenda.”

What a shallow promise that turned out to be…

In 2012 the SNP promised us six new ferries between 2013 and 2022. It’s 2023 and they haven’t even delivered one.

It’s time for the government to stop treating our island communities as second-class citizens and begin supporting them. Across North Ayrshire, we should be proud of the tourism our islands attract, we should be encouraging people to visit, but instead the government treats them as an afterthought.

A change of approach by the new First Minister would be very welcome indeed.