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What we learned this week: Orkney debate, King Charles in Scotland and more woes for the SNP

This week saw a flying visit by the Flying Scotsman, anti-monarchy protests and the arrest of Just Stop Oil protestors at Wimbledon

Hoy, Orkney
This week has seen debate over the future of Orkney's governance.

This week saw strife for the SNP in Westminster, a debate over Orkney’s future and anti-monarchy protests during a thanksgiving service for King Charles.

SNP deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black announced she will step down at the next general election. She cited the “toxic” environment at Westminster as the reason.

Speaking to The News Agents podcast, the Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP said Westminster is “one of the most unhealthy workplaces that you could ever be in”.

When she was first elected in 2015 at the age of 20 years and 237 days old, amid a massive surge for the SNP, she was the youngest MP to be elected since 1832.

Mhairi Black
Mhairi Black was the youngest MP since 1832 when she was elected in 2015. Picture: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor.

MP has whip suspended

There were further woes for the party when Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil had the whip suspended for a week over a row with the party’s chief whip Brendan O’Hara.

He was suspended by Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, and will sit as an independent until the end of the sanction.

The suspension came after he accused SNP Westminster chief whip Brendan O’Hara of bullying.

The Times reported Mr MacNeil and Mr O’Hara were involved in a public bust-up in the House of Commons on Monday night.

Following his weeklong suspension, the Western Isles MP told the Press and Journal: “Stephen has his views and I have mine.”

Angus MacNeil Western Isles MP
Angus MacNeil Western Isles MP has had the party whip removed for a week.

Orkney debate

Councillors in Orkney voted to back a motion to explore the future governance of the islands.

Orkney Islands Council leader Councillor James Stockan proposed a motion that instructs the local authority’s officers to publish a report on different options available to the islands, including exploring previous “Nordic connections”.

In the motion it stated that due to  “due to historical and contemporary challenges” over funding alternative models of governance should be explored.

It was mooted that this could be along the lines of crown dependencies such as Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

However, Downing Street has shut down the proposals.

View arriving by ship to coastal port town of Kirkwall on Orkney Islands, Scotland; Shutterstock ID 1296736237; purchase_order: ; job:

NHS turns 75

The NHS celebrated its 75th birthday on Wednesday, and while countless people across the country owe their lives to the service – it is now facing “intense” pressure.

Health chiefs have said there has been a record rise in demand for care.

While health think tanks have said that public support for the NHS is “rock solid”, but the service will not be around to celebrate its 100th anniversary without more investment.

Flying Scotsman

The iconic locomotive The Flying Scotsman paid a visit to Aberdeen.

it’s currently on a tour of heritage museums and railways across the country as part of its 100th birthday celebrations.

After arriving at the city station the engine took a visit to the turntable at the Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust, just next to Duthie Park, where it was serviced and turned.

The Flying Scotsman being turned at Ferryhill Railway Trust. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Royal ceremony

The King was presented with the Honours of Scotland – the country’s crown jewels – during a service of thanksgiving and dedication.

Charles and Camilla were commemorated at St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh during the event attended by leading figures from Scottish life and members of a people’s procession who walked through the Scottish capital.

Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger had a role to play in the ceremony  carrying the 5ft Elizabeth Sword which was presented to the King along with  the sceptre and crown from the Honours of Scotland.

However, anti-monarchy protesters gathered on the Royal Mile chanting “not my king” ahead of the service.

The Prince of Wales, known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland, and King Charles III during the National Service of Thanksgiving. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Westray genetic testing

Testing has started on the island of Westray, Orkney for a gene variant connected with a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Earlier this year a study published found one in 100 people with grandparents from Orkney has a gene mutation that increases the risk of the cancers.

A pilot trial organised by NHS Grampian and funded by the Westray Development Trust is now offering testing for the variant to anyone living in Westray with a Westray-born grandparent.


Three Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested after play on Court 18 was disrupted twice during incidents where orange-coloured confetti and jigsaw pieces were thrown onto the court.

Three people were held on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass and criminal damage.

The incidents disrupted the matches between  Grigor Dimitrov and Sho Shimabukuro and  Katie Boulter and Daria Saville.

Hannah Miley gets MBE

North-east Olympic swimmer Hannah Miley was made an MBE during an investiture ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh for her contribution to swimming and women in sport.

The Scottish swimmer represented Team GB at three Olympic Games and claimed two gold medals for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014.

Miley, a former pupil of Inverurie Academy, said she hopes to encourage more girls into sport after receiving a royal accolade from the King.

Hannah Miley after being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire at an investiture ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh. Photo Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Moment’s silence to mark tragedy 35 years on

No r t h  S e a  oil platforms fell silent to mark the 35th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster.
The tragedy on July 6 1988 claimed the lives of 167 men on board. Harbour Energy, said a minute of silence was to be observed across each of its UK sites, including its offshore installations.

A service was also held at the memorial gardens in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park, led by oil and gas chaplain Reverend Gordon Craig.

Piper Alpha memorial garden at Hazleahead. Picture by COLIN RENNIE.