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Politics / Autonomy conference pencilled in for April

The Shetland flag.

A CONFERENCE exploring ways of how Shetland could gain more autonomy from central government is set to take place on the weekend of 20/21 April.

Organised by the Shetland Autonomy Action Team (SAAT), the group is in discussion with a number of potential speakers for the weekend, including former Shetland Movement parliamentary candidate John Goodlad.

Driving force behind the conference, James Paton, who was an SIC councillor back in the late 1980s, said 2024 could prove to be an important year for Shetland and for self-governance.

Little has happened since a vast majority of councillors voted to explore options for achieving financial and political self determination more than three years ago.

After a flurry of interest from the national media in Shetland’s assumed ‘quest for independence’ the issue has once again largely disappeared from the council agenda.

Meanwhile, social media is full of comments that look enviously at neighbouring Faroe, particularly on issues like fisheries management and the financial and technical ability to build tunnels.

“Given this is a major political year with a general election, we need to get an agreed practical and detailed position on Shetland autonomy,” Paton said.

“The conference would inform the SIC to act, and push the MP to seek to get amendments to the Zetland County Council Act of Parliament (1974).

“This will beg questions of all the political parties, and their manifestos, as to what practically they intend to do to give Shetland greater freedoms and flexibilities to ensure a sustainable future for the islands.”

North Isles councillor Duncan Anderson, one of the driving forces behind the motion that was approved in the council chamber back in September 2020, said he is going abroad at the weekend of the conference, otherwise he would have attended.

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“I wish them the best of luck and a good turnout,” he said.

“It remains my conviction, as it has for many years now, that meaningful autonomy is the only path to a sustainable future for Shetland.”

The two-day event will take place at the Brae Hall from 10am on Saturday 20 April.

More information and contact details can be found at SAAT’s Facebook page here.

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