Shetland Times Column 11 June 2021

This is Carers Week. For many carers, the pandemic has been ​a more intense and challenging time than usual. They have pressed on in extremely difficult circumstances.

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Shetland Times Column - 14 May 2021

As the dust settles on an election campaign like no other, I want to begin with a thank you to the voters in Shetland who put their faith in me to serve as their MSP for the next five years. I am humbled by the support I received from you, my campaign team, volunteers and supporters. Thank you.

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International Women’s Day, learning at home and HIAL - 19th March

HIAL, testing and apprenticeships - Column 3rd March

The days are getting longer, and we are now in meteorological spring, and it has to be said there’s a sense that better months lie ahead of us.  Last week was another without any new COVID-19 cases in Shetland and the longer this continues the more confidence there is that restrictions can be eased. Children and young people are slowly getting back to school, and the vaccination delivery programme is going well.

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Shetland Times Column - 22 January 2021

A picture paints a thousand words. The sight of seafood lorries circling Westminster was a stark demonstration of the anger and frustration companies face in exporting fish products to the EU. New border controls and the enormous increase in the volume of paperwork required ultimately takes its toll on fresh and perishable produce.

Meanwhile, fishing boats land their catch in Denmark to avoid red tape and ensure their product reaches market in time, and some seafood companies say they are close to being “finished”.  

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Shetland Times Column - 24 December 2020

It didn’t take much working out that something serious was afoot when both the Prime Minister and the First Minister were holding press conferences late on a Saturday afternoon. The new Covid-19 variant with up to a 70% higher transmission rate required immediate action.

It’s a fast-changing situation and messages in my inbox are mainly about the impact on Christmas travel plans.  With reduced options and limited flights people have struggled to return home or to carry out the planned caring responsibilities for family members on the Mainland. People seek a safe travel route, trying to make sure they don’t break the law travelling to Mainland airports or Aberdeen Northlink terminal.

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Shetland Times Column - 11th December 2020

After cancelling the National 5 exam diet for 2021, it really was only a matter of time before the Higher and Advanced Higher exams were cancelled. While no-one doubts that students can be put into rooms in socially-distant exam conditions, it is simply not possible is for there to be a level-playing field for all.

The pandemic has meant that many young people have missed school to self-isolate for days, sometimes multiple times, as have some teachers. And it’s this inequity that means that not all learners would be able to have the same shot at exams as their classmates.

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27th November 2020

History was made at Holyrood on Tuesday when The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously by MSPs. It was the culmination of a campaign led by Monica Lennon MSP, who had support across the parties and she is to be congratulated for her tireless campaign for period dignity for all.

It is estimated that period products cost around £8 a month but when girls and young women, or their families, can’t afford this monthly hit they don’t go to school. Missing out on education because sanitary products aren’t affordable is an inequity that will no longer exist, thanks to Monica’s bill. It should also mean that no-one will be left in the upsetting situation of not having the period products they need.

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13 November 2020

That was quite a week but when the result came it was worth the wait. I think there was a collective sigh of relief around the world when CNN forecast that Joe Biden had won the US election. 

As President Trump continues to claim electoral fraud, the contrast with speeches from President-elect Biden and his Vice-president Kamala Harris couldn’t have been greater. They offered hope for the future but have a mountain to climb to heal a divided country where 70 million people voted for four more years of President Trump.

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30 October 2020

The publication last week of the Scottish Government of Scotland’s Strategic Framework containing five levels of restrictions meant that the question everyone was asking at the weekend was, “what tier are we in?”

We didn’t need to wait long for the answer. In a leaked letter sent to COSLA from the government at the beginning of this week, hopes of returning to some kind of normality were dashed when we discovered that Shetland, along with Orkney, Moray, Highland and the Western Isles, would be in Level 1. At the time of writing that tier has not been formally confirmed by government.

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