Scottish Independence Debate / Referendum: Islands’ voice to be heard

SCOTTISH island council leaders have welcomed the progress made following the fifth Scottish government working group meeting, held in Stornoway, on Monday.

As part of the Our Islands, Our Future campaign, Angus Campbell (Western isles), Steven Heddle (Orkney) and Gary Robinson (Shetland) are pushing for more decision-making powers to be devolved to the islands regardless of the outcome of September’s Scottish independence referendum.

On Monday the group’s discussions included state aid, legal and constitutional matters, integration of public services, revenues and funding settlements, planning and creative industries.

Afterwards, Campbell said the leaders are making “real progress” towards a prospectus for the islands to be published in summer.

“As we move closer to the referendum the time is coming for people to see what is being proposed for island areas.

“We have also made progress with the UK government and we are confident that the islands’ position will be strengthened as a result of the discussions we have been undertaking on behalf of our communities,” he said.


Meanwhile, a campaign group calling for referenda to be held on the status of each of the island groups said they were “almost overwhelmed by the hurricane of support” after publishing a petition last week.

Secretary of the Referenda on the Islands group (ROTI), Catriona Murray, said the launch of their petition had sparked media interest from around the globe.

The group had initially hoped to gather 1,000 signatures, equivalent to two per cent of the islands’ electorate, in order to lobby the Scottish parliament to debate the issue.

However, having collected more than 600 signatures in less than a week, the group is confident they can do much better.

It is unclear how many of the signatories are residents of the three island groups who would be affected by such referendums. More than 80 give an address outwith Scotland altogether.

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“If this momentum continues, we will get 10,000 signatures or more,” Murray said. “The Scottish government will then have no option but to hold the referenda.

“The only thing left to debate will be the details of implementation and which option will be best to vote for.

“Islanders have literally never before had the chance to decide on the status of our islands. These are historic times indeed,” Murray said.

The petition is open until 28 April and can be found at www.scottish.parliament.uk/GettingInvolved/Petitions/islandgroups 


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