Protests (Roads)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 7th June 2007.

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Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour 11:40 am, 7th June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive how it will ensure that peaceful protest does not hinder access to roadways. (S3O-113)

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

Police forces and local authorities, working with other agencies, as appropriate, are responsible for ensuring that protest events result in the minimum level of disruption to the local community. Issues such as maintaining public safety and managing access to the road network are key elements of police and local authority activity during such events.

Photo of Jackie Baillie Jackie Baillie Labour

The cabinet secretary will be aware of the significant disruption that is caused to people living on the Rosneath peninsula by the illegal blockades that are being carried out by Faslane 365 protestors. Students are missing examinations, carers are unable to get to older people, and other people are unable to get to work. He will also be aware that the SNP supports Faslane 365, the organisation that is responsible for the blockades. Imagine my surprise when I was told in a letter from Alex Salmond's office that the SNP's support does not extend to blockades of adjacent roads. There is only one road into and out of the peninsula, and supporters of Faslane 365 are blockading it quite deliberately. Will the cabinet secretary therefore encourage the First Minister to withdraw his support for that illegal action?

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party

The member will be aware from yesterday's debate that this Government believes in rights and responsibilities. There is a right to protest and to march, but, equally, there is a responsibility to take account of the rights of individual citizens and communities. It might be de rigueur or appropriate elsewhere to seek to abandon or abrogate rights that are viewed as sacrosanct, but that is not something that this Government will support. People have rights, but we ask people to acknowledge that they have a responsibility to other citizens and to communities.