Nicola Sturgeon says it is ‘shameful’ that French firefighters have to apply to stay on Fair Isle

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday said it was “shameful” that three part-time Fair Isle firefighters from France have had to apply to stay on the island because of Brexit.

The first minister made the remarks as she said the Scottish Government was ready to do anything it “reasonably can” to help islanders after their world renowned bird observatory was burnt down.

The weekend blaze was raised at First Minister’s Question by Shetland Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott, who asked if the government would help rebuild the observatory.

He also asked for lessons to be learned from the “valiant” firefighting operation that saw emergency services scrambled from Shetland by helicopter. Despite their efforts the home of observatory wardens David and Susannah Parnaby was destroyed.

Mr Scott said that the three of the nine-strong island firefighting team were French.


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“These brave women are having to apply to stay in Fair Isle because of the omnishambles that is Brexit,” Mr Scott added.

Ms Sturgeon said: “It is outrageous in my view that any EU national who has made any part of Scotland their home is having to apply for the right to stay here. But the circumstances he has outlined underlines just how shameful that situation is.”

The first minister said her thoughts were with those on Fair Isle and expressed relief that the observatory’s bird census data had been digitised and saved.

She said she would reflect on the issue of islands without full-time fire cover. Ms Sturgeon added: “Let me give an assurance to Tavish Scott and his constituents that the Scottish Government stands ready to do anything we reasonably can in this very tragic situation.”

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