The Shetland Times » The Shetland Times http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk Shetland News, Sport, Jobs, Properties, Shop Mon, 25 May 2015 18:38:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Tub-thumping piety (John Tulloch) http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/tub-thumping-piety-john-tulloch http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/tub-thumping-piety-john-tulloch#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 18:38:21 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076214 It’s a time for piety from the SNP and Robbie McGregor, “lawn sleeves billowing”, gives us the text.

“Thou shalt not lie!” he thunders. Thumping the “Good Book”, he demands atonement and warns of judgment to come:

“The most important consideration must be that an apology is due by the MP to the people of Shetland many of whom voted for Mr Carmichael under a false impression of his integrity.”

Finally, he offers to take “confession” from the local Lib Dems:

“I await comment from the Liberal Democrat MSPs and the local party and their condemnation of Mr Carmichael’s behaviour. If nothing is forthcoming I will assume that they condone his actions.”

One suspects penance will involve more than “a few Hail Marys”.

However, Mr McGregor would do well to take on board our Lord’s famous admonition: “Physician, heal thyself.”

For his own candidate Danus Skene and his guide and mentor Mike MacKenzie spent the election campaign indulging in furtive and duplicitous behaviour over the under-funding of Shetland’s education system.

This under-funding is nothing whatsoever to do with Westminster cuts. It is systematic, stemming from the way funding is allocated and it amounts to £10 million a year, every year.

But Skene won’t touch local issues with a bargepole and Mackenzie has been going around, purporting to support rural parents against closures while knowing fine well that the closures crisis was precipitated by the under-funding.

May I suggest that in future Mr McGregor put his own house in order before jumping into the pulpit with such sanctimonious alacrity.

John Tulloch
Lyndon
Arrochar

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Carmichael staying put as Northern Isles MP, he says http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/carmichael-staying-put-as-northern-isles-mp-he-says http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/carmichael-staying-put-as-northern-isles-mp-he-says#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 15:04:30 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076212 Alistair Carmichael has vowed to remain as MP for the isles despite widespread calls for him to step down after he admitted leaking a private memo in a bid to smear First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Just three weeks after narrowly retaining his seat by a massively reduced majority of just 817, Mr Carmichael has insisted he will not bow to pressure to give up his Orkney and Shetland seat, and will stand on his record within Westminster over the last 14 years.

However, local SNP convener Robbie McGregor has called on the Liberal Democrats to condemn the former Scottish Secretary’s behaviour.

Mr Carmichael’s political career has been hanging in the balance since news broke that he authorised the leak of a private memo from Ms Sturgeon to the French ambassador. The First Minister was said to have claimed she preferred David Cameron as Prime Minister over David Miliband.

Both she and the French ambassador have since insisted the conversation did not take place, despite claims in the national media that the memo leaked was an accurate reflection of the conversation which took place.

“I’ve said already I very much regret the position I am in but I have been member of parliament for Orkney and Shetland for the last 14 years,” Mr Carmichael said.

“I’ve worked hard for local people and believe that’s the record on which I am entitled to rely, and that’s the job I am now going to be getting on with. None of that has changed.”

Around 40 people marched through Lerwick on Saturday calling on Mr Carmichael to stand down. A similar demonstration was also staged in Kirkwall. Thousands have already signed petitions calling for him to leave office.

Many are angry that Mr Carmichael claimed he had no knowledge of the leak when questioned by reporters, responding with the now oft-quoted phrase “these things happen”.

In a letter to The Shetland Times, Mr McGregor stated that SNP members felt “very aggrieved” by the MP.

He wrote: “We spent a considerable amount of time and effort on the campaign and now feel that not only was a dirty trick  deployed but a lie was concocted to cover up responsibility for it. We feel cheated by methods that are totally non-Shetland or typical of the people who live here.”

Mr McGregor said an apology was due by the MP to the people of Shetland.

“I await comment from the Lib Dem MSPs and the local party and their condemnation of Mr Carmichael’s behaviour,” he added. “If nothing is forthcoming I will assume that they condone his actions.”

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Waiting for Lib Dems’ comment (Robbie McGregor) http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/waiting-for-lib-dems-comment-robbie-mcgregor http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/waiting-for-lib-dems-comment-robbie-mcgregor#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 13:20:12 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076210 I write on behalf of the many SNP members and activists who feel very aggrieved at the way Alistair Carmichael has behaved.

We spent a considerable amount of time and effort on the campaign and now feel that not only was a dirty trick deployed but a lie was concocted to cover up responsibility for it. We feel cheated by methods that are totally non-Shetland or typical of the people who live here.

The most important consideration must be that an apology is due by the MP to the people of Shetland many of whom voted for Mr Carmichael under a false impression of his integrity.

I await comment from the Liberal Democrat MSPs and the local party and their condemnation of Mr Carmichael’s behaviour. If nothing is forthcoming I will assume that they condone his actions.

Robbie McGregor
Convener,
SNP Shetland branch
“Dumyat”,
3 North Heights,
Quarff.

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Samaritans branch celebrates its 30th anniversary http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/samaritans-branch-celebrates-its-30th-anniversary http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/25/samaritans-branch-celebrates-its-30th-anniversary#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 09:54:25 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076205 Samaritans and invited guests outside the branch headquarters in Charlotte Street, Lerwick.

Samaritans and invited guests outside the branch headquarters in Charlotte Street, Lerwick.

The Shetland branch of the Samaritans celebrated its 30th anniversary on Saturday with an event in the Lerwick headquarters.

The organisation was founded by Anglican vicar Chad Varah in 1953, its aim being to provide support to anyone in emotional distress or at risk of suicide.

Mr Varah’s inspiration came from an experience he had as a young curate when taking the funeral of a 14-year-old girl. She had killed herself because she feared she had contracted a sexually transmitted infection, when in reality she was menstruating.

There are now over 200 branches across the UK and Ireland, run by over 21,200 trained volunteers, with the Samaritans being entirely dependent on voluntary support.

The highlight of the Lerwick event was an inspiring speech by former local volunteer Roy Paterson, including both serious and amusing elements.

Mr Paterson told how he got involved through two separate but similar experiences. First, a former Navy pal took his own life through carbon monoxide poisoning in his car and to this day no-one could understand why.

Then a few years later a favourite uncle did the same thing. He had been “just on the cusp of retirement when he went out with his dog one night and never came back”. He had thrown himself over a cliff.

“I tried to fathom out how this could have happened,” Mr Paterson said. “But there were were no answers. When I was in a position to do something, if I could just turn one person away from suicide, I wanted to do that.

“There’s no magic formula. It’s just listening to people and trying to solve their problems. Listening does work … and a sense of humour definitely helps.”

New branch chairwoman Edith Leask appealed for more volunteers to come forward to help the potentially life-saving service.

“There are people out there who feel they need to talk about their problems,” she said. “If they can can talk about it, it becomes manageable. We are not very showy or anything but we are really sincere.

“You may not know the people you speak to but you often get a sense that you are making a difference.”

Mrs Leask thanked all her fellow volunteers and all the people who had supported the branch, including Shetland Charitable Trust, without whose funding they would really struggle.

She also mentioned architect Alan McKay, designer of the new Charlotte Street building which replaced four previous bases in the town.

The Linda Rose House building was made possible by a substantial legacy left by Lerwick woman Linda Robertson to the Samaritans in the hope that some day, they would be able to own their own premises. She was chairwoman of the branch when she died of cancer in 1994.

If anyone would like to volunteer they can call (01595) 694449, or alterntatively go to the Samaritans website at www.samaritans.org.

SIC convener Malcolm Bell was invited to cut the anniversary cake. “It’s a real honour to be asked to do this,” he said.

Mr Bell explained that he had been double booked on Saturday, also being invited to the Royal Navy display at Fort Charlotte.

“I decided that I might need the Samaritans before I need the Royal Navy,” he joked, “so I decided to come here.”

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Isles left with MP of questionable integrity, says Skene http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/24/isles-left-with-mp-of-questionable-integrity-says-skene http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/24/isles-left-with-mp-of-questionable-integrity-says-skene#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 19:10:11 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076201 SNP candidate Danus Skene, who ran Alistair Carmichael close in the General Election, speaks after the election count last month.

SNP candidate Danus Skene, who ran Alistair Carmichael close in the General Election, speaks after the election count last month.

The SNP General Election candidate for the Northern Isles says the people of Shetland and Orkney have been left with “an MP of questionable integrity”.

Danus Skene’s comments came after the revelations that Alistair Carmichael lied about his involvement in the release of a memo attempting to smear Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Mr Skene, who slashed Mr Carmichael’s majority to 817, said: “It is now established that Alistair Carmichael at the beginning of April authorised the release of an unverified memo allegedly reporting that Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, was privately keen that David Cameron should be the next Prime Minister.

“Mr Carmichael’s authorisation has been revealed after he had claimed at the time that the first he had heard of the memo’s release was from a journalist. The purpose of the release was clearly to discredit the First Minister during the election campaign.

“Mr Carmichael has now admitted responsibility for the authorisation. This amounts to an admission that he lied. He could and should have come clean at the time. This would have been before the election, and before the expenditure of time and money pursuing an enquiry to establish the truth.

“As it is, the people of Orkney and Shetland were kept in the dark by a cover-up, and find themselves to have elected an MP of questionable integrity whose standing in the Commons is fatally undermined. We in the isles cannot consider ourselves to be effectively or honourably represented.”

Mr Skene said it was “appropriate” that Mr Carmichael should be pressed by so many of his constituents to consider whether his career as MP was over.

He added: “Orkney and Shetland need and deserve effective representation. We have an extensive and distinctive agenda concerning fisheries issues, the future of renewables, transport links and the future of the oil and gas industry.

“We must also address the challenges faced across the country concerning the need to end the UK government’s failed austerity programme.

“The SNP in the isles stands ready to contest any new election to select an appropriately focussed MP of integrity.

“We will present a prospectus that seeks to promote prosperity, fairness, and good government. The isles would be most effectively represented by an MP who is part of the SNP’s dynamic new bloc of representatives at Westminster.”

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Sheepish climbdown (Allan Sutherland) http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/24/sheepish-climbdown-allan-sutherland http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/24/sheepish-climbdown-allan-sutherland#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 18:51:20 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076199 I have just read about the demonstrations by the SNP against your MP, Alistair Carmichael.

It should be the 9,407 people who voted for Mr Carmichael three weeks ago, assisted by the other 7,731 people who did not vote SNP (only 8,590 did vote SNP), who should be protesting against Mr Carmichael’s wimpy performance last week and the SNP’s hypocritical intimidation and distortion of democracy.

Sir Jeremy Heywood’s report on the enquiry into the “French Consulate” leak said: “Senior officials who have worked with him say that he (the civil servant who wrote the memo) is reliable and has no history of inaccurate reporting, impropriety or security lapses.

“The Cabinet Secretary has concluded that there is no reason to doubt that he recorded accurately what he thought he had heard. There is no evidence of any political motivation or ‘dirty tricks’.”

So Nicola Sturgeon did say she would prefer a Tory government, confirming rumours that had been circulating for several months.

Mr Carmichael’s “crime” was to leak this very important fact which was contrary to her public comments. The SNP hoped for a weak Tory-led coalition that would enable them to disrupt and force through independence.

It spectacularly backfired, convincing English people to vote Tory to avoid a weak, SNP infested, Labour coalition.

So now we have a bunch of powerless SNP lobby fodder zealots fighting over seats, taking selfies and no doubt outraged (sorry, squealing with delight) when their Scottish pounds are held up to the light in the pubs to check for authenticity. And for the first time in history, Scotland has no real, responsible, voice in parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon should be the one apologising for misleading the public, just as she did when claiming the SNP had assurances that an independent Scotland would easily gain EU entry, or that there was a huge oil bonanza just around the corner.

Any punishment for Mr Carmichael should be related for his sheepish climbdown without making the point that the information he leaked was true.

Allan Sutherland
1 Willow Row,
Stonehaven.

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Outboard motor stolen from boat at Lerwick Marina http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/24/outboard-motor-stolen-from-boat-at-lerwick-marina http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/24/outboard-motor-stolen-from-boat-at-lerwick-marina#comments Sun, 24 May 2015 10:09:30 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076196 An outboard motor was stolen from a boat at the Lerwick Marina at Gremista last month.

The theft of the 4hp Matsui engine occurred some time between 3.30pm on Saturday 18th April and 10.30am on Monday 20th April.

Police are requesting that any witnesses who may have information regarding the theft should contact Police Scotland on 101 or alternatively Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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Royal Navy minehunter proves a star attraction http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/23/royal-navy-minehunter-proves-a-star-attraction http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/23/royal-navy-minehunter-proves-a-star-attraction#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 18:40:46 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076187 HMS Middleton at Victoria Pier in Lerwick. Photo: Dave Donaldson

HMS Middleton at Victoria Pier in Lerwick. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The Royal Navy minehunter HMS Middleton is paying a five-day visit over the weekend, to coincide with today’s centenary of the Voe Bakery.

Crewmembers from the vessel, as well as visiting Voe, staged a reception and “capability demonstration” at the TA Hall in Lerwick, while a corps of drummers from HM Royal Marines Scotland put on a nifty routine in Fort Charlotte.

The core of drums from HM Royal Marines Scotland. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The corps of drums from HM Royal Marines Scotland. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The 52.5-metre ship arrived in Lerwick Harbour on Thursday morning and berthed at Victoria Pier where she was open to the public on Friday from 10am to 5pm.

HMS Middleton, which was built 35 years ago, and has a glass-reinforced plastic hull to conceal her from sea-mines. She underwent a major refit recently including the installation of new engines, which will see her life extended by at least another 15 years.

Normally stationed at Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf, the vessel has been working with Americans doing multi-national exercises in the Straits of Hormuz.

Her primary mine-hunting weapon is the Sea Fox, which is remotely controlled with an HD camera on it. It is launched after a mine is identified by sonar. If the camera shows it to be a mine, another Sea Fox with a charge in its nose is launched to destroy it. Thousands of mines are are in the straits and often dredged up by fishermen

The crew includes a dive team of seven who can dive to depth of 60 metres if a mine cannot be identified by the Sea Fox, and there is a decompression chamber on board.

There is a large cannon at the bow of the ship, guns either side of the bridge and one on the boat deck. The guns are manned every time the vessel comes into port (including Lerwick).

Captain Chris Smith addresses the gathering in the TA Hall. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Captain Chris Smith addresses the gathering in the TA Hall. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The presentation at the TA Hall on Saturday afternoon was introduced by Captain Chris Smith, who described the visit as “one of the great jobs” for him. It had been nine years since a British warship last visited Lerwick, a sight once commonplace in the days of HMS Shetland.

He said the visit had come about following a letter from the Voe Bakery, as 100 years ago the bakery had served the Royal Navy’s 10th cruiser squadron, which operated out of Olna Firth.

“We were given 18 months notice to get a ship here,” Capt Smith said. “We’re really grateful to the Voe Bakery. Since 1915 Shetland has played a big part in the Royal Navy with its involvement including the First World War and the Shetland Bus.

“The relationship is unique and we are hugely proud of it, although we do not see as much of you as we would want.”

HMS Middleton‘s own captain Andy Smith said it was great to be bringing the ship all the way to Shetland, and it gave people a chance to see the “modern Royal Navy”.

 

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Stealth under-funding (John Tulloch) http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/23/stealth-under-funding-john-tulloch http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/23/stealth-under-funding-john-tulloch#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 08:40:36 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076185 How entertaining to witness the SNP jumping up and down, beating their breasts and shaking their fists in the air with rage, following Alistair Carmichael’s admission that he authorised the leak of the now notorious memo from the Scottish Office.

And it’s true, it was a pretty ignominious performance and one for which Tavish Scott, through no fault of his own, may well reap the electoral consequences.

So why do I find the SNP entertaining? Simply because I enjoy their “theatre”, their feigned outrage, as if they would never stoop to such levels – “nay, nay and thrice nay”, perish the thought!

Alas the SNP are the self-same crowd who sent MSP Mike MacKenzie to Shetland to oppose the SIC’s school closures and lambast the council, knowing full well that Shetland’s education system has been systematically under-funded by up to £19.3 Mpa since 2008.

The SNP like to blame the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), who have been tasked with distributing government funding “fairly” since 2008, under an agreement between them and the SNP Scottish government which has seen money siphoned away from remote rural authorities to big city councils.

Indeed, Danus Skene fought his entire election campaign keeping this hidden from the electorate, aided and abetted by the feeble performance of his opponents who could easily have highlighted it to their own advantage.

Having cut education spending by £10Mpa, the SIC has no option but to make up the remaining £10 Mpa from their oil reserves, something the SNP has repeatedly criticised Westminster for doing – using oil money to fund day-to-day spending instead of investing it, wisely.

What the SNP say, however, is no guide to how they behave themselves. And in this case, it rather suits them to siphon money south from Shetland’s oil reserves to their central belt heartland, an ongoing feature since 2008 which is set to continue into the foreseeable future.

What amazes me is how the SIC has allowed this “stealth under-funding” to prevail for so long without blowing the whistle.

The whole, sorry saga emphasises the urgent need for a new, pro-Shetland political party to be formed to hold both the SNP Scottish government and the SIC to account.

John Tulloch
Lyndon,
Arrochar.

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Open-and-shut case (John Jamieson) http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/23/open-and-shut-case-john-jamieson http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2015/05/23/open-and-shut-case-john-jamieson#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 08:27:42 +0000 http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/?p=1076183 Alistair Carmichael has been caught out this time. We will never know how many more times he has evaded exposure.

This episode is an open-and-shut case for the right of voters to be able to recall their MP.

John Jamieson
37 Echline Place,
South Queensferry,
West Lothian.

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