The Scottish Government has issued its response to the petition lodged with the Parliament calling for referenda on the status of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles following the Independence vote in September. In its response to the Petitions Committee, who are currently considering the issue, the Government stated: “The Scottish Government is clear that Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles are much valued parts of Scotland.
“The Scottish Government has been engaging in discussions with the three Islands Councils of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles to consider how, with the powers of independence, the needs of our island communities could be recognised.
“The Scottish Government published Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities on 16 June 2014. In the prospectus, the Scottish Government has committed to implement a range of proposals.”
Responding to the Government’s stance Catriona Murray, joint Referenda On The Islands (ROTI) press officer said: “We expect a government to show leadership, but here we get the opposite: evasion, misdirection, and cowardice. Alex Salmond’s government states that islanders will remain ‘valued’ after Scottish independence. It regurgitates some points from last week’s prospectus on Empowering Islands Communities, which went down like a damp squib. And it finishes by referring to how long it took to organise the Scottish referendum.
“The implication is that they won’t be able to hold referenda on the islands the week after the Scottish one, but they don’t have the courage to say so explicitly.”
“If they want to quibble with our proposed date for the referenda, let them do so. Let them suggest an alternative date. In reality, referenda could easily be held on the islands in September.”