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The Deputy First Minister has insisted Shetland’s fishing sector will be in safer hands post-referendum if Scotland gains its independence.
Nicola Sturgeon criticised consecutive Westminster governments for branding the industry as “expendable” following her arrival in the isles today, just over three weeks ahead of the vote.
Ms Sturgeon told of the “frustrations” experienced by Scottish fishing minister Richard Lochhead in his attempts to secure an adequate deal for fishermen at Brussels.
The Glasgow MSP also outlined what she described as “very real risks” of remaining in the union, and the possibility of being taken out of the EU in a future UK vote.
Her comments follow recent fears that Scotland may be left out of the EU in the event of a yes vote on 18th September.
Pro-Union fishing leaders have recently outlined concerns a derogation protecting the UK share of the EU total allowable catch in commonly-caught species such as haddock, whiting, cod and herring, will no longer apply to Scotland if a yes vote is returned.
They have also been irked by a failure from Mr Lochhead to visit the isles and hear directly from local fishermen – something Westminster has achieved with separate visits from UK fisheries minister George Eustice and, even, Prime Minister David Cameron.
“Richard [Lochhead] spends all of his time engaging with fishing, farming interests and that includes the fishing industry in Shetland,” Ms Sturgeon told The Shetland Times.
“We’re determined … that engagement gets stronger, and I’m sure it won’t be long before you see Richard here again, engaging the way he does with the industry.
“The fishing industry is of fundamental importance to the Scottish economy, much more so than it is to the UK economy as a whole – which is one of the reasons we believe so strongly that, when it comes to representation in Europe for example, we’re going to get a better deal for the industries.”
Ms Sturgeon insisted there was a lot of support in the fishing industry for independence.
“Where the interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK coincide – if we become an independent country within Europe – then it strikes me that is only to our benefit, because instead of having one member state arguing for a particular point of view, you’ll have two member states.
“But where the added benefit for Scotland comes is where our interests don’t co-incide, and we then have the ability to make sure our voice is heard in a way that it’s not heard just now.
“Westminster governments down the decades have been known to describe our fishing industry as ‘expendable’ in terms of the bigger picture within Europe. I don’t think any Scottish government, of any colour, would ever see the fishing industry in that way.”
Ms Sturgeon pledged to listen to concerns felt locally that the recent ban on discards was too stringent given the rich diversity of fish in waters around the isles.
She added: “Part of the reason I’m here today … is to hear people’s views on the things that we, as a government, need to be responding to.”
AN INDEPENDENT Scotland should follow Shetland’s example and create an oil fund to benefit future generations, Nicola Sturgeon has said during a visit to the islands.
The deputy first minister arrived in Shetland off the north boat on Wednesday morning to carry out a series of speaking engagements. Her visit comes just over three weeks before the 18 September referendum.
Sturgeon described the Labour and Tory governments’ failure to create an oil fund in the 1970s and 1980s – something Shetland’s politicians had the foresight to do – as a “mistake of monumental proportions”.
Coinciding with her visit, isles MSP Tavish Scott has announced that this autumn he will seek to enshrine many of the powers the SNP is offering to Scotland's islands in law should there be a No vote.
High jumper Lucy Holden, 13, broke the Shetland senior record at the weekend while winning a gold medal at the Scottish National Age Group Championships.
She was among 15 athletes representing Shetland Amateur Athletics Club who travelled to Aberdeen Sports Village for the event.
Apart with Lucy’s gold, Sophie Moar won silver in the long jump and gold in the triple jump while Dan Swanson picked up a bronze in the shot putt.
Lucy came into the competition with a PB of 1.45 and was ranked about middle of the pack in the start lists. She cleared her first two heights of 1.36 and 1.41 first time and then with another first-time clearance set a new PB of 1.46. She also cleared the next height of 1.51 with her first attempt.
The Shetland senior women’s record of 1.55 metres, jointly held by Anna Carruthers, Julie Ramsay, Gayle Henry and Sophie Moar, was now under threat from this 13-year-old. She was totally unaware of what she was about to achieve and sailed over 1.56 to break the record.
In the competition Lucy was now assured of at least the silver medal. She failed 1.58 with her first attempt and Kate Mackay from Aberdeen went into the lead with a first time clearance.
Lucy composed herself and cleared 1.58 on the second attempt. She also cleared 1.60 with her first jump and this was good enough to win the gold medal as Kate failed all three attempts at 1.60.
This remarkable achievement means Lucy is number one for her age group in Scotland and she also has one more year in this age group in 2015.
Unfortunately Lucy she will be too young to compete in Jersey at next year’s island games.
• For full report see The Shetland Times on Friday.
Regarding the consultation on junior high school closures, we noticed the decision made at the education and families committee last week.
The preliminary requirements for JHS proposals had been amended to read:
“The retention of Secondary 1 to Secondary 4 junior high schools in Shetland should be explored as to whether this secures the best possible outcome for pupils in Curriculum for Excellence.
“The likely educational benefits are: The same teacher would deliver the content and support pupils through the whole of their National 1 to National 5 course.
“Pupils would learn in their geographical communities up to age 16.
“Teachers in junior highs would feel job satisfaction by being able to deliver from National 1 to National 5 qualifications.”
We feel this is a sensible amendment and sums up some of our main arguments about the retention of S1-S4. We are pleased to see that the SIC is taking this on board.
(Members of CURE).
Since the introduction of the original 24-month waiting time limit in the 1990s to the current 12-week waiting time guarantee the NHS has used a combination of private sector providers, charities and the expansion of directly provided NHS.
However, the philosophy behind the use of the private sector is now different across all four parts of the UK.
Over the seven-year period highlighted in last week’s letters page may have been £0.485 billion it only represents 0.6 per cent of the total NHS budget in Scotland in that period of just under £78 billion.
Locally NHS Grampian spent £6.3 million in 2012-13 and is now reacting to this by spending £16 million in expanding theatre capacity in Aberdeen.
In England shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, who among his last acts as health secretary privatised the Hinchingbrooke Hospital, recently highlighted that private sector spending has gone through the £10 billion barrier.
The Department of Health confirmed that when Labour left office spending in England on the private sector annually was 1.6 per cent of the annual budget but now under the Liberal Democrat/Conservative coalition government this now stands at six per cent.
In contrast in Scotland the previous privatisation under the stewardship of Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition government of regional treatment centre at Stracathro Hospital run by Netcare UK was brought back in to full NHS control.
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