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    Opinion: Grief, relief and feet to the fire

    21 Sep 2014, 9:58 pm

    The Shetland flag above the Union Jack flying on referendum day in Northmavine reflecting the view of two thirds of island voters. There is a strange mixture of disappointment and relief in the wake of Scotland’s decision to vote No to independence.

    Those who worked hard to persuade the undecided to vote Yes with hope in their hearts for a brighter and fairer future are grieving the outcome.

    Those who warned of the dangers and feared the consequences of independence are not so much celebrating as breathing a huge sigh of relief.

    Exercise in Bressay Sound

    21 Sep 2014, 1:53 pm

    Shetland Coastguard led a two-yearly “live” exercise this morning (Sunday), together with SIC ferries, Lerwick lifeboat and Lerwick Harbour boats.
    The exercise saw the ferry Leirna break down in Bressay Sound and two people fall into the water. Lerwick lifeboat was tasked to go to the scene, together with both the harbour boats, Knab and Kebister. Coastguard teams from Bressay and West Burra Isle were also involved.
    The Leirna put its fast rescue craft into the water to retrieve the two people, while the Lerwick lifeboat evacuated two injured passengers.
    The lifeboat then took the ferry under tow.
    Similar “live” exercises take place every two years to ensure rescues can be carried out without the need for a helicopter.
    However Shetland Coastguard’s helicopter was in action on Saturday night when a call was received around 7pm to evacuate a sick crewman from the Heather Alpha platform 100 miles north-east of Sumburgh. The casualty was taken to the emergency landing site at Clickimin and from there to the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

    Exercise in Bressay Sound

    21 Sep 2014, 1:39 pm

    Shetland Coastguard led a two-yearly “live” exercise this morning (Sunday) together with SIC ferries, Lerwick lifeboat and Lerwick Harbour boats.
    The exercise saw the ferry Leirna break down in Bressay Sound and two peopls fall into the water. Lerwick lifeboat was tasked to go to the scene, together with both the harbour boats, Knab and Kebister. Coastguard teams from Bressay and West Burra Isle were also involved.
    The Leirna put its fast rescue craft into the water to retrieve the two people, while the Lerwick lifeboat evacuated two injured passengers.
    The lifeboat then took the ferry under tow.
    Similar “live” exercises take place every two years to ensure rescues can be carried out without the need for a helicopter.
    However Shetland Coastguard’s helicopter was in action on Saturday night when a call was received around 7pm to evacuate a sick crewman from the Heather Alpha platform 100 miles north-east of Sumburgh. The casualty was taken to the emergency landing site at Clickimin and from there to the Gilbert Bain Hospital.

    Give us votes at 16, say young people

    20 Sep 2014, 6:27 pm

    The long run-up to the Scottish Independence Referendum energised people as no other political topic has done in decades.
    This has been particularly true for young people, many of whom made history on Thursday by being able to vote at 16 and 17. And their teachers hope the experience will leave the “legacy” of a lifetime of political engagement.
    Virtually all the Anderson High School pupils eligible to vote for the first time did so, according to head teacher Valerie Nicolson.
    She said that 301 pupils, almost exactly one third of the school roll, which on Thursday had been exactly 900, intended to vote.
    Ms Nicolson said: “There was an air of excitement around the school. It was difficult to find anyone who wasn’t voting.”
    Brae High School head teacher Colin Kirkness said: “There was definitely a real buzz around the school. A lot of pupils had got up early and voted before they got the bus to school. [The issue] has had a real impact and they have taken their responsibility very seriously.” He added that it would leave a legacy of interest in politics.
    As first-time voters, four pupils from AHS and four from Brae were invited to witness the referendum count at Clickimin.
    Ms Nicolson said so many had wanted to go that names had to be drawn from a hat.
    Split between yes and no voters, the young people had prepared for the event by doing research, and were exercised by different topics, from oil to the currency to fish quotas. All agreed they felt “excited and nervous” before the result was announced.
    Jodie Sandison, 17, AHS, spoke for all the pupils when she said it was a “privilege” to vote, and Jack Murphy, 17, from Brae, said they hoped the fact that they were taking it so seriously would lead to 16 and 17-year-olds being able to vote in other UK elections.
    This is also the aspiration of 18-year-old Kaylee Mouat, member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.
    Kaylee, who was present at the count, said: “I’ve voted before but this is the first time I’ve cared about voting. The SYP is politically neutral, but for the past few months we’ve been publicising voter engagement.
    “I’m thrilled to see such a high turnout [of young people]. The only way we can push for votes for 16 and 17-year-olds is through evidence. We want votes at 16 in all elections.”
    List MSP Jean Urquhart of the yes campaign said she too had been encouraged by the enthusiasm, and knowledge, of young first-time voters. Mrs Urquhart said: “People are looking at politics differently now. I’ve been talking to teenagers in [Glasgow's] Easterhouse about the Schengen agreement. If you’re not engaged you won’t vote.”

    Carmichael: a federal UK is inevitable

    19 Sep 2014, 9:14 pm

    Alistair Carmichael MPALISTAIR Carmichael, the secretary of state for Scotland and northern isles MP, has said Thursday’s independence referendum has put the UK on the road to becoming a federal state within the next few years.

    Less than 24 hours after the Scottish electorate voted 55-45 against independence, Carmichael told Shetland News that new powers to raise taxes and distribute welfare would be devolved to the Scottish Parliament after the general election next May.

    This, he said, would unlock the key to a federal UK as it would create a constitutional imbalance between Scotland and the rest of Britain that would have to be addressed.

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