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Scottish Independence Debate / ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ public meeting

SHETLAND Islands Council’s campaigners for more autonomy are holding a first public meeting later this month.

Up until now, the Our Islands Our Future campaign run by the three Scottish island councils has attracted very little local debate.

Council leaders from Shetland, Orkney and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are negotiating a better deal for the islands with the governments in Westminster and Holyrood regardless of the outcome of Scottish independence referendum.

The Scottish government is expected to publish a concordat in June outlining the details for greater autonomy on matters devolved to Holyrood, and promising an Islands Act in case of a Yes vote in September.

Westminster meanwhile has also promised to devolve more powers to the islands should Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom.

The public meeting at Mareel on 29 April – starting at 7pm – will be chaired by Ian Kinniburgh.

The panel will include council leader Gary Robinson and convener Malcolm Bell, councillors Peter Campbell, Davie Sandison, George Smith and Michael Stout, as well as western isles council leader Angus Campbell.

The meeting will kick off with a short presentation on what the campaign has achieved so far.

Robinson said the councils’ negotiations with central government were already beginning to show dividends.

“At this stage we’d like the people of Shetland to give us their input and support.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to secure a better future for the islands.

“It’s crucial that we get it right to ensure that we can make a real social and economic difference for our communities,” he said.

The event will also be streamed live online by Promote Shetland at www.60north.tv