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Politics in the Islands: Rathlin Island

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Chris Mason Chris Mason | 16:15 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Rathlin Island Ferry pulling into port

I am spending the week island hopping. With elections just weeks away in the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies, what does devolution mean to people who feel detached from Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff?

On Monday I was in the Shetland Islands, today I am on Rathlin Island off the coast of Northern Ireland.

The Crossing


A view from the ferry as it crosses the water to Rathlin Island


It is the only inhabited island off Northern Ireland, around six miles off the coast of County Antrim. There is a small ferry across from the mainland, which takes around 30-40 minutes.

By the time I arrived here, I was in no mood to eat anything. I felt decidedly peeky.

Local Politics


Richard Green, who was part of the team of islanders who negotiated the Rathlin Island Executive Policy.


Politically, Rathlin Island is fascinating. This is Richard Green. Along with other islanders he became frustrated that politicians on the mainland didn't really see Rathlin Island as any different from anywhere else in Northern Ireland, even if any map could tell them different.

So he helped negotiate the Rathlin Island Development Policy. It's a form of devolution within devolution - where islanders have a significant say over how they are governed, and a minister in Belfast is assigned to come to visit them regularly.

Election Day


A sign in a shop window giving details of the people standing in the committee which negotiates policies with the Northern Ireland Executive


It is election day in Rathlin Island. The committee which negotiates policies with the Northern Ireland Executive is being elected by fellow islanders.

A Small Island


A road sign measuring the distance of travel in yards rather than miles


Rathlin Island is sufficiently small you can spot road signs that don't need to measure distances in miles. It is an L shaped island, that is six miles across, four miles long and no more than two miles in width.

You can tune into 5 live Drive and Up All Night to find out. I'll also be posting some photos of my travels on the 5 live blog. Plus, you can also follow my trip on Twitter: @chrismasonbbc

Chris Mason is 5 live's political reporter.

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