Marches (Disorder)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 10th September 2019.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I first want to commend Police Scotland for the robust operation that it delivered on Saturday in extremely difficult and challenging circumstances. I am sure that I speak for everyone in the chamber in wishing the officer who was injured by a pyrotechnic device a speedy recovery. The police have my full backing in identifying and prosecuting the irresponsible individual who threw the dangerous device.

The events of the past two weekends have clearly demonstrated that sectarian violence is not a thing of the past. We have seen the right to parade peacefully and to counter-demonstrate, which are both perfectly legal and important elements of a democracy that values free speech, being abused by those who are intent on denying others a voice so that they can indulge in violent, disorderly and offensive behaviour. The right to free expression does not give people the right to intimidate communities.

I can safely say that the vast majority of the citizens of Glasgow view the sectarian violence stemming from those marches as a stain on the city’s reputation. That is why I have been working with Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland to find a way forward that will prevent the recent scenes from happening again. There is no simple solution, and all the options, including legislative ones, are firmly on the table. The council is determined to reduce the number of marches, and I support it in that aim.

I also remain committed to tackling sectarianism and bigotry. We will continue to invest in education work, building on our unprecedented investment of £14 million in that respect since 2012. We must work together to eradicate sectarian violence once and for all. Of course, we are open to considering all proposals from across the chamber.