The Scottish Green group in Orkney are to hold a public meeting on Saturday 25th November at the Lifestyle Centre, in the Pickaquoy Centre in their bid to persuade Orkney Islands Council to stop investing in the Arms Trade.
Orkney Greens have continued to campaign on the issue since the elections in May to convince Councillors that they should be divesting in companies which manufacture and supply arms to other countries. Many of these countries are engaged in wars which result in tens of thousands of civilian deaths, notably in Yemen currently, where arms supplied by British companies are being used by the Saudi Arabian military to degrade the infrastructure of one of the poorest countries on earth. This is despite UK Government export licences which prohibit this usage.
Orkney Greens are appealing to Orkney Islands Council’s Pensions Sub-Committee to debate a more ethical approach to investment. The Orkney Greens now have a councillor on OIC, Steve Sankey who was elected in May.
Chris Giles, Co-Convener of the Orkney Greens said:
“The immorality of investment in arms countries was again highlighted last week, when another five employees of Rolls Royce have been accused of bribery and corruption, less than a year after the company was forced to pay out over £671million in compensation for previous corruption and bribery. In addition to this, as the local press has reported, some companies, notably BAe systems, have actually made a loss to Council reserves.”
“Whilst other Councils in Scotland also persist in arms investment, 21 Councils, or two-thirds do not. Orkney is now out of step with the majority on this issue. Many Councils in the UK also invest in renewable energy schemes, housing initiatives and other social enterprises.”
Orkney Greens recently wrote to all Councillors to ask them to consider ethical alternatives to arms investments and to canvass opinion amongst their electorates about this. Whilst the Council has a duty extract the best financial advantage from its investments, it is also obliged to consider the opinions of local people. The issue was raised by a number of electors during the May Council elections and four candidates, three of whom were elected, stated that they were opposed to investing in arms companies.
Local politicians and political parties, NGOs such as Amnesty and Trades Unions have agreed to attend the public meeting, as well as Alistair Carmichael MP.
Chris Giles said:
“Our view is that we would encourage the Council’s Investment and Pensions Committees to continue what they have already started, and explore how local pension and other funds can be invested both ethically and profitably. If 21 other councils in Scotland can fulfil their fiduciary duty without funding weapons manufacturers, then so can Orkney Islands Council.”
Orkney Arms Trade Divestment Meeting 11.30 am Saturday 25th November at the Lifestyle Centre, in the Pickaquoy Centre, Kirkwall.