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Newsweek Scotland: Up Helly Aa

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 16:40 UK time, Friday, 23 March 2012

Independence for Shetland! Up Helly Aa, you Central Belt nationalists! And while we're at it: Independence for Orkney! Two separate independent archipelagos forming their own trading bloc perhaps affiliating with Norway or was it Denmark the Vikings came from? Or...two island groups remaining in the UK while mainland Scotland goes independent. Isn't it amazing. Just when you thought Scotland couldn't get any smaller, the two Northern Isles MSPs are floating (that's not my pun) the idea of a breakaway.

I always like the idea of communities shoving out their chest and standing up for themselves and in the late eighties and nineties I reported the activities of the Shetland Movement. They had some fine people like John Goodlad. The SNP were keen to support them and changed their party constitution to permit them not to stand against the local candidate.

Now, on the cusp of what the Nats believe will be Freedom Day, it has re-emerged...out of mischief, do you think? I mean you have to ask: Why now? Is there another oil deal in it for the islanders or in fact wouldn't they also lay claim to the Pentland Firth and the renewables industry? They're not daft, you know.

I remember taking a summer ferry to Bressay on a Sunday for a pint and asking when the bar closed, to be told: In October. On the subject of pints - greetings from Newsweek to all at the Thule Bar on the Lerwick Esplanade. All this to say that we will discuss what might happen to our friends in the Far North.

Coming just a wee bit further south to the Caithness coast, Dounreay was the feature of a newspaper investigation this week pointing out that it is now to be the receptacle for nuclear waste from other countries from as far afield as Australia. Welcome to Scotland, you nuclear dumpers! Bring your rotting radioactive isotopes and drop them in our hole in the ground. Don't risk contaminating your own country. Why are we doing this? Because it seems we have a contract and can't get out of it, or something like that. We'll hear from an expert in nuclear waste and from our veteran correspondent Iain Macdonald who's had to cover many a tale about Dounreay's strange history.

We look at aspirin as a panacea and we have a history of kidnapping and a reporter's notebook from Afghanistan which is a good news story. See, we're not all doom and gloom, although we have a political discussion with Angus Macleod and James Cusick which will touch on the dark side. (Tory bogeyman steals pennies from granny's purse).

Meanwhile, hold things together in Orkney and Shetland, Islanders, and don't decide to go until you've heard the programme.

Join me at 8.



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