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UHA Equality group defends using #metoo name

Campaigners Karrol Scott, Zara Pennington and Debra Nicolson at the Lerwick Up helly Aa galley shed on Saturday.

A GROUP of women using the #metoo hashtag when trying to register for next year’s Lerwick Up Helly Aa have said that no offence was intended after being criticised by some for allegedly belittling the global campaign against sexual harassment.

However, an attempt by four members of the Shetland For Up Helly Aa Equality group to have either a mixed squad accepted or allow women to join existing squads for the famous fire festival has received a largely positive response – at least on social media.

When attending the galley shed on the town’s St Sunniva Street on Saturday, they were told that they could not sign up for next January’s festival as only already registered squads could do so.

The Lerwick Up Helly Aa is the only of 12 isles-wide community festivals that does not have women participating in the torch lit procession and burning of the galley.

A spokeswoman for the group said that they were sorry if they had anyone offended by using the #metoo name.

“#metoo was the name of the squad, not the campaign, to get in and an act was devised to go with it,” she said.

“Other alternative squad names were the Valkyeries and Nae Pasaran, so we are willing to change the squad name if the committee so decides.

“It is unreasonable to assume that the women in the squad have not also been affected by the issues in the #metoo campaign and would not have treated the subject with great sensitivity and a little humour.”

Joint honorary secretary of the Lerwick Up Helly Aa committee, Richard Moar, said the committee would “be making no comments on this matter”.