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Politics / Suggestion of island migrant processing centre ‘disrespectful’, MP says

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael MP.
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael says suggestions that the UK Government has not ruled out the idea of developing offshore migrant processing facilities in the Scottish islands are “disrespectful”.

One report in the national media today (Thursday) suggested that feasibility studies have looked at using Scottish islands like Shetland, or the Isle of Wight or Isle of Man, as sites for hostel-type centres for processing migrants coming into the UK.

Carmichael said “that we are discussing these ideas at all suggests a way of operating by this government that is entirely backwards-looking”.

“Scotland’s islands are welcoming places but to consider moves like this without making any effort to engage with the communities concerned would be as disrespectful to islanders as it is insulting to those seeking sanctuary themselves,” he said.

“I wonder if any consideration at all has been given to the needs for housing, healthcare, education and other public services.

“Instead of coming up with hare-brained schemes like this, the home secretary would do better to concentrate her efforts on getting immigration and asylum systems that work efficiently and treat all people with respect.”

He said the suggestions point to an “attitude straight out of the 19th century to think that inconvenient people can be shipped off to islands to keep them out of sight and mind. This is no way for a democratic government to work.”

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon also showed her disapproval this morning, tweeting: “They can rest assured that any proposal to treat human beings like cattle in a holding pen will be met with the strongest possible opposition from me.”

Green Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie added: “Scotland must rid itself of this despicable UK Govt and bigoted Home Secretary.

“Our islands have provided welcome sanctuary to those fleeing persecution. Tories can think again about turning our islands into a prison camp for the vulnerable. We want a just and welcoming Scotland.”