Sunday, November 20th, 2016
One of the key messages of the two Green candidates in next May’s elections to Orkney Islands Council will be to improve the openness and transparency of our local authority. One current example of where transparency needs to be improved is OIC’s investment of part of the £200 million Strategic Reserve Fund in British companies involved in the arms trade.
This issue needs to be addressed urgently. One of the companies currently benefiting from OIC investment is BAe Systems as detailed in the 14 July 2016 edition of The Orcadian. BAe are currently involved in the production of many weapons products, including several fighter jets and bombers, drones and nuclear submarines. BAe and other British arms companies exported £3 billion worth of weapons last year to regimes in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where human rights violations are a matter of routine. At present, Saudi Arabia is mounting regular attacks on Yemeni targets such as hospitals, schools, weddings and funerals, and the death toll to date is some 10,000 innocent civilians. UK total arms sales last year were £7.7 billion.
Chris Giles, Co-Convenor of the Orkney Greens said “Nobody should dispute the need of nations to be able to defend themselves, but equally, no local authority should be complicit in the production and sale of weapons, the sole purpose of which is to profit by death and destruction.”
Steve Sankey, prospective Scottish Green Party candidate for the Ward of East Mainland, Burray and South Ronaldsay added: “Many Orcadians will join with us in demanding that OIC should, without delay, revise its investments policy, institute a socially responsible approach, and end its investment in British and global arms companies immediately. This isn’t rocket science and it’s an easy fix. We are determined to make openness and transparency an election issue next May”.
Helen Woodsford-Dean, prospective Scottish Green Party candidate for the Ward of West Mainland emphasised that this issue was an important part of the Green’s for ‘Planet, Peace and People’ portfolio, an issue which would be attractive to many local residents.