The Scottish Islands Federation
held a 2 day conference on the Island of Mull on 15th and 16th November 2007.
The conference has focused on the
future of Scotland’s islands within the emerging
National political scene as well as looking at
the role of Scottish Islands within the European
Union. The conference theme was “A Voice for
the Islands” and was attended by key
politicians, decision makers, and local
community and voluntary group representatives.
“A Voice For The Islands”
Click on all images to
enlarge, and 'mouse over' for a description
for day 2
This report is purely by myself,
Alan Parker (SIF committee member with responsibility for the
website) and is only as a temporary measure to
give some immediate feedback after the
Conference. A full report will be
constructed soon, both for our membership and
also to comply with our grant application.
It is also to give our very sincere thanks to
all of those who gave up so much of their time
to take part: to our Council (Argyll & Bute) for
help in hosting the event, to the excellent
quality of our key speakers, some of whom
directly from the European Parliament, and took
three days out of their hectic schedule to be
with us. And last, but by no means least, particular thanks
go to the Mull and Iona
Community Trust for their help in organising the
event. It must be noted that some members
of the Trust spent many hours, until quite late
at night, preparing paperwork and details to
make sure the event ran so smoothly. The
go smoothly and professionally. WELL DONE!
Their work has not ended even though the
delegates have gone home. The
Trust and Committee will be still working on follow
up reports, and
collating the feedback
information so that we can prepare our action
plan and publish it to the website.
I think that we have to admit
that it was quite late on in the year when we
found a time the Conference could be organised,
both for accommodation and for speakers.
This resulted in some speedy work being produced
by the organisers and some delegates not being
able to attend. We apologise for this and
we are already making sure that this won't
happen again. We already have a very good
offer by one Council to help with next year's
event. This needs formally confirming, and
then we will make our decision and publish both
provisional dates and the venue.
Day one started with typical Mull
weather, blue skies and fair conditions (we had
a day like
that last year as well).
Delegates were warmly met at the Isle of Mull
Hotel and signed into their chosen
workshops. In order that delegates coming from
further a field would not miss
components of the event, we started with some
visits to Community based projects: the
Mull Swimming Pool £1.8million community /
private / public partnership & the ‘MESS’
Community Recycling Social Enterprise.
After lunch and further
registrations, the Conference began proper with
Ian Gillies, Chairman Scottish Islands Federation.
Ian is from Tiree, and, until the last election
when he stood down, was a very experienced local
Councillor. Ian also brings with him all
of the experience gained from the Scottish
Island Network (SIN).
Ian Gillies PresentationCamille Dressler, SIF Committee – Isle of Eigg,
came forward to give an analysis of a
questionnaire carried out some months
previously to test opinion of islanders about
their wishes for an islanders Federation, and
ways in which they would like it to progress.
full copy can be gained by clicking here)
The results were conclusive. Islanders of
Scotland did indeed want a Federation and felt
strongly how they wished it to proceed.
The Conference was drawn together from this
Islands Federation – An Example of
Successful Island Networking -was introduced by
a very compelling Mairéad O'Reilly, Manager of
Comhdháil Oileáin na Éireann (Ireland).
Mairéad and their group have been very
successful in their efforts to influence island
events and their promotion as an island group.
They have persuaded their Tourism Board to
launch an advertising campaign to market the
islands of Ireland and influence the government
to recognise island issues. With a much
smaller group of islands, with markedly less
population, they have made a huge impact on
island lives. Mairéad will be viewing our
progress with interest.
View the presentation by clicking
2.15pm The assembled
delegates now had a chance to start work on
developing the ideas identified in the
questionnaire and place them into a
structured action plan. (Results to follow
in the final report). One significant development was in the Gaelic workshop.
Here delegates with interest in Gaelic,
formulated a plan of ideas with particular
enthusiasm. Hamish Fraser from Skye, there
to represent the Federation of Small Businesses,
led the group in putting together a plan.
I think this will result in this website being
in dual language. A lot of work, but well
worth it! The Committee are keen to see
Gaelic take its place alongside English.
Other Gaelic issues have been raised, including
the Gaelic Ring run by Caledonian MacBrayne.
Workshop Results and Outcomes of all four groups click here
3.45pm Plenary Feedback –
Chaired by Jane Fowler, Argyll & Bute Council.
Summary of Points from Facilitators on 3 subject
Areas. Jane was also on the original
committee, and is the European officer for the
Council. When Jane leads a group, her
sense of humour and sharp intellect make a
session pass quickly! Jane must now stand
back from the Committee, as the whole idea is,
that the islanders run the group, not the
Councils. I have to say, however, that we
still need the guidance from Council experts in
many areas. We are assured that they will
be there to help us when necessary.
European issues are emerging already, and so it
won't be long before we will be calling on them.
Thanks Jane from us all!
4.45pm SIF Inaugural AGM
Election of Interim Committee.
Well, not everything goes quite
to plan, and our first AGM was one of those
occasions. All went well until we came to
the constitution. We knew that this would
have to be amended a little, as we defined
membership and Committee makeup. After
all, this was up to our delegates to decide.
We are a democratic group relying on membership
empowerment. However, several of our
delegates are experts in these areas, and soon
pointed out some structural flaws. The
Constitution has to be 'fit for purpose'.
Are we going to be a Company Limited by
Guarantee, a Charity or other? It very
quickly became clear that more decision making
must be gone through first. The time was
not available to do this during this session, so
an interim constitution had to be adopted.
I have to say that the outgoing steering group
was a little shaken! It felt like getting
married and some one said 'we will be along with
the ring in a couple of weeks' Can you
live together for a bit longer? On
the positive side, we have discovered expertise
amongst the delegates that will see the 'ring'
turn up a lot quicker, and, make sure we get the
'ceremony' right! We have therefore voted
an Interim Committee, which will be ratified
properly later, when the constitution is
One very heartening thing came out of all of
this. Everyone was so keen to help!
Not only that, but a very powerful and
enthusiastic team has been brought together.
The new Interim Committee then
met separately from the delegates.
More discussion took place and the formulation
of the Federation discussed. Objectives
were also discussed to help formulate a
constitution 'fit for purpose'.
The experience and talent of the new committee
is extensive, as will become apparent when we
get our profiles together on this website.
These are people of action, not talk.
We have a serious job to do.
Conference Dinner. Address by Councillor
William Petrie OBE
Before the start of the meal we
had entertainment from Mull Gaelic Choir.
The importance of Gaelic and heritage was a
reoccurring theme within the Conference.
We are not there just to push an 'issues
agenda', we are also there to celebrate the
culture of our islands. The choir did that
with excellence. Thanks to Elizabeth Jack
and the choir!
Argyll and Bute Council, as hosts to this event,
provided the Conference dinner. We wish to
express thanks to the Council. It was a
fantastic dinner, well suited to the event.
A lot of networking takes place on an evening
like this, the value of which cannot be over
exaggerated. The Isle of Mull Hotel
provided a good choice of menu, which was very
Networking? continued into
the late hours with the journalists taking
particular interest in the refreshments.
We must have missed one out, as
we had a particularly unfortunate report the
following morning in one newspaper. In the
editorial it basically states, 'What do we want
with one more so called representative group?
To most of us this seemed like a 'slap in the
face'; however, it did make one valid statement
by doing this. We HAVE to prove our worth,
not just to our island members, but to our local
Councils. Some Councils feel that this
sort of organisation is not necessary, as they
already represent the interests of islanders.
They also network with each other. I had a
long and interesting conversation with one
councillor from an Island Council who had
exactly that viewpoint and defended it logically
and eloquently. At the end of the
Conference he offered his Council to host the
next event. I commend him for his open
mind and pragmatism. I think we are on the
way to proving that we can be a very valuable
asset to all Councils and islanders. We
will be providing a service to all
The next day all of the other
news articles were more than favourable,
including some on the front page of the
'nationals'. More info on press articles
Day 2 click
Travel and Accommodation Form
Conference and Inaugural AGM
- Isle of Mull
“A Voice For The Islands”
Thursday 15th & Friday 16th
speakers Jim Mather, Minister for Enterprise,
Energy & Tourism
Chairman of Highlands & Islands Enterprise
Final Conference Programme
Thursday 15th November –
Isle of Mull Hotel, Craignure
Register – Isle of Mull Hotel
Optional - Mull Field Visit 1
Tour of Mull Swimming Pool
£1.8million community / private /
public partnership &
‘MESS’ Community Recycling Social
Tour will be repeated Friday pm
- Isle of Mull Hotel
(delegates can walk to hotel or be
‘shuttlebused’ from ferry terminal,
arriving off the 1200hrs Oban to
Coffee & Registration -
Ian Gillies, Chair, Scottish Islands
‘Scottish Islanders’ Questionnaire -
- Camille Dressler, SIF Committee –
Isle of Eigg
Irish Islands Federation – An
Example of Successful Island
Mairéad O'Reilly, Manager of
Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann
Workshop 1 “Voice for the Islands”
Political considerations, lobbying
Staffing ? Secretariat?
Workshop 2 “Islands Work!”
Website / Database / Newsletter
What’s needed, what do we want on
it? How should it work? What’s out
“Membership Development & PR”
How do we attract more members? What
can we offer? How do we promote it?
Who can help?
“Gaelic and it’s place within the
Delegates choose TWO and move after
Tea Coffee –
Plenary Feedback –
Chaired by Jane Fowler, Argyll &
Bute Council, Summary of Points from
Facilitators on 3 subject Areas.
‘Developing A Scottish Islands
Federation Action Plan’ – Plenary
In the light of the workshops
delegates amend & sign up to / SIF
Objectives for 2008-11
SIF Inaugural AGM
Election of Interim Committee
Formal adoption of Constitution
Election of Committee
Date of Next Meeting
(New SIF Committee to have short
(More delegates arrive at 1650 from
1600 sailing from Oban)
- with table settings to ensure
Address by Councillor William Petrie
Evening Speaker -
Mairéad O'Reilly, Manager of
Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann
(Ireland) – ‘An Irish Perpective of
an Island Federation’