Ministerial Working Group to be commissioned to look into joint islands campaign

Ministerial Working Group to be commissioned to look into the ‘Our Islands – Our Future’ Campaign

The leaders of Shetland Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are delighted with today’s news that a Ministerial Working Group will be commissioned to look into the ‘Our Islands – Our Future’ campaign and the proposals in the joint mission statement.

This latest development is testament to the fact that the Scottish Government is taking the campaign seriously and comes on the back of a recent questionnaire sent to the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as the other key political parties, looking for answers to a number of key questions of critical importance to the three island groups.

Political Leader of Shetland Islands Council, Gary Robinson, says: “While our campaign is politically neutral, we certainly welcome the opportunity to engage with the Scottish Government and are very pleased that a working group will be set up and that our campaign is being taken seriously. We need to ensure that, whatever the outcome of the referendum, we have secured the very best future for the three islands and their communities.”

Councillor Steven Heddle, Convener of Orkney Islands Council, said: “The announcement of a Ministerial Working Group so soon after the launch of our campaign is a welcome response from the Scottish Government.

“From the start we’ve sought early engagement with the Government on the important issues that underpin ‘Our Islands - Our Future’.

“These issues are of fundamental importance for our communities, so having the opportunity to raise and discuss them at Ministerial level is a very positive step forward for the campaign.

“We will respond proactively to this move by the Government and put forward a clear and compelling case for the empowerment of the islands - for the good of our communities and for the country itself.”

Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell said: “The Scottish Government announcement of a Ministerial Working Party to examine the issues within the ‘Our Islands – Our Future’ initiative is very welcome and reflects the strength of the case the Islands’ Councils are making.

“I and my colleagues in Shetland and Orkney now look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government and we would hope that similar engagement will be forthcoming from the UK Government.

“Our aim is to ensure that the three island groups have the means to improve the well being of the communities of their areas and contribute more to national prosperity. In our view the best way of doing that is by devolving further powers to island areas. We believe the constitutional debate currently taking place in Scotland offers a unique opportunity to engage in serious debate on these opportunities to improve, we believe, the lives of those living in the islands but also for the Scottish and UK Governments to derive the maximum possible benefit from the islands’ economic, cultural and social resources. We want to fully realise the potential of our islands.”