Orkney at the heart and centre of Arctic connections, says McArthur

2 Mar 2023

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has championed the role of the islands during a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Scotland's connections with the Arctic region.

Speaking in parliament earlier this afternoon, Mr McArthur spoke of Orkney's "long-standing and proud" connections to the Arctic region and the "immediate and lasting benefits" to be gained from deeper and broader co-operation 'at all levels'.

Orkney's MSP specifically called on the Cabinet Secretary, Angus Robertson, to support efforts to establish the Orkney Research Innovation Centre in Stromness as a "centre for excellence for Artic research and partnership". He also proposed a follow-up conference to the one that saw the Scottish Government launch its first Arctic Policy Framework at ORIC in Stromness in 2019.

In response to an intervention during the closing remarks, Mr Robertson agreed to look at these proposals very closely and believed they presented hugely positive benefits. Last October, Mr McArthur led a cross-party delegation to the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavík, Iceland in his role as Deputy Presiding Officer.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur

"Orkney's historic and ongoing connections with the Arctic region are ones of which we are enormously proud. Stretching from Norse rule to Scapa Flow's strategic role in the Artic Convoys, our islands are very much intertwined with the history and culture of this region.

"Looking to the future, there are many immediate and lasting benefits to be seized from developing closer, deeper and broader ties at all levels of government as well as through business, academia and civic society. On climate change, fisheries, marine energy and hydrogen and the development of low-emission transport links, the shared interests and need for collaboration are obvious.  

"I firmly believe Orkney can be in the vanguard of developing the UK and Scotland’s relationships with the countries and communities of the Arctic. We offer a ‘stepping-stone’ into the Arctic and for our Arctic friends to pursue economic, political and research relationships back here.

"In that context, I welcome the work that Orkney Islands Council has been undertaking to forge these closer ties and pleased the Cabinet Secretary appears willing to support such efforts. There is no doubt at all that ORIC in Stromness has the potential to be a centre of excellence for Arctic and Nordic research and cooperation, helping Orkney to continue to lead the way in a range of policy areas."