26th May 2018
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Island leaders challenge political parties over greater autonomy

A challenge has been laid down for Scottish and UK political leaders to recognise the different needs of islanders in the run-up to the independence referendum.

Shetland Islands Council has joined up with its Orkney and Western Isles counterparts to drive forward the Our Islands Our Future campaign for greater control.

Alex Salmond, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have all been asked to respond to questions posed jointly by the three councils.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has also been asked to join the debate on a stronger future for the islands following next year’s historic poll, as have opposition leaders at Holyrood.

The responses will help shape the debate at a September conference due to take place in Orkney.

Although politically the three councils are neutral on Scottish independence, they are working closely in the campaign to secure the best outcome for island communities, whatever the result of the referendum.

They want to see the special position and needs of what are the UK’s three largest island groups fully taken into account in whatever new constitutional arrangements are implemented after the vote.

The move follows a meeting in Orkney this week by political leaders to discuss the next steps of Our Islands Our Future.

SIC political leader Gary Robinson said: “We made good progress, exploring the key themes of the project [and] identifying speakers for the forthcoming conference.

Gary Robinson taking part in the Our Islands – Our Future conference last month. A new report suggests the future will be financially difficult. Photo: Rosalind Griffiths

Gary Robinson taking part in the Our Islands – Our Future conference last month. A new report suggests the future will be financially difficult. Photo: Rosalind Griffiths

“The timing of this get-together was critical as it allowed us to refine our message ahead of the cabinet meetings in Lerwick next week when we’ll have the opportunity to discuss our aspirations face-to-face with Scottish ministers.”

Orkney Islands Council convener Steven Heddle and

leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Angus Campbell, also welcomed the move.

“We’ve made plain from the start our determination to engage with politicians on both sides of the independence debate,” said Mr Heddle.

Mr Campbell added: “The campaign to win increased powers is crucial for the future of island communities and we will continue to lobby government at a Scottish and UK level.”

The campaign has also secured the unanimous backing of the Islands Commission of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR), which represents 15 million people living in Europe’s island communities.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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10 comments

  1. Johann Siebert

    what about the Falkland islands being attached to an independent Scotland? ….. could solve a problem…..

    Reply
  2. Joe Johnson

    The Falkland Islands recently had a referendum and voted overwhelming to remain British. If Scotland becomes independent then it’s very unlikely Falkland Islanders would want to break away from the U.K be attached to Scotland.

    Reply
  3. Gordon Harmer

    Johann are you thinking of a bridge or a tunnel ???????????

    Reply
  4. Roberto A. Bonaldi

    It’s funny how the people in #Malvinas think anyone cares about their referendums. The whole world recognises Argentina’s sovereignty over the islands.

    Reply
  5. Sandy McDonald

    Eh, no Roberto, they don’t.

    Reply
  6. george williamson

    behave yourself robbie

    Reply
  7. John Tulloch

    United Nations Charter, Chapter 1, Article 1, Paragraph 2.

    “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”

    If the Falkland Islanders had voted to go with Argentina the British would be unable to stop them from doing so.

    Think about it.

    Reply
  8. ian tinkler

    United Nations Charter, Chapter 1, Article 1, Paragraph 2.
    “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”
    If the Shetland Islanders had voted to go with Scots, to become subjugated by Salmond, then the UN and the UK, would be unable to stop them from doing just that, however?

    Reply
  9. ian tinkler

    Think about it

    Reply
  10. David Spence

    Surely one issue which could have a great impact is for Scotland to give documented proof that it indeed has sovereign rights over the islands of Shetland and Orkney and not just a gentleman’s agreement with a nod and a wink after the marriage of Princess Margaret of Denmark to James III of Scotland. Where is the proof????

    Reply

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