Island rights could be written into constitution

If Scotland votes to become an independent country on September 18th a specific island statement will be included in the written constitution it was decided today.

The decision to include the islands in an ‘interim’ constitution was made at a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet, held in Stornoway today (Wednesday 16th). This would mean when policy is made for the country as a whole the islands will have to be given special consideration.

Speaking to the Gazette, Derek Mackay MSP, Minister for Local Government and Planning, explained: “The Government propose a written constitution for Scotland in the event of independence and that will be composed by a collection of constitutional convention. But on Independence day itself we propose an interim constitution, including standard rights and the structure of the country, and we have committed to today, having had the discussion in cabinet, that there will be a specific islands statement within the interim written constitution.”

He said this will ensure when any government makes decision about the country “they think about islands as having special status and characteristics within the new Independent Scotland.”

Mr Mackay continued: “Now it is absolutely guaranteed in the interim constitution and of course that would them be a wonderful platform for the permanent constitution which would be determined by the constitutional commission, and that was decided today in Stornoway at the Cabinet meeting.”

The Minister added: “Right now there is ongoing negotiations between the Government and the island council leaders which will lead to a prospectus in the summer, so in advance of the referendum we will set out what kind of areas we think will be devolved to local, not just councils, but local communities.

“Just as we believe power should transfer from London to Scotland so to we believe in a further transfer from the local parliament to local communities. These negotiations are live and current at the moment and we will report of them in the summer, well in advance of the referendum date.”

The three Islands Councils, including the Western Isles Council, have called for more powers to be developed to local level following the Independence Referendum of 2014, regardless of the outcome.

As part of the ‘Our Islands Out Future Campaign’ there have been several discussions between the council Leaders and Derick MacKay as well as with UK Ministers.