Police Scotland and Rangers Football Club (Engagement)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th May 2021.

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Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I absolutely agree with how Pauline McNeill has articulated the problem. On her first question about what we have learned from the disorder in March, I say to her—this extends to all members—that I know from having spoken to Police Scotland that it is willing to speak to any member of the Scottish Parliament to explain the operational decisions that were taken.

There is no easy answer. If people think that we can just throw 10,000 people in the back of police vans or custody suites overnight—I am not saying that Pauline McNeill is suggesting that—they should know that it cannot be done. How to ensure that such disorder did not take place in the very heart of our communities was one of the very difficult decisions that Police Scotland had to try to take. It is legitimate for Pauline McNeill and other members to ask those operational questions. I have spoken to Police Scotland, and it has said to me that it is absolutely willing to answer them.

On the substance of Pauline McNeill’s question about anti-Catholic and anti-Irish hatred, I am disgusted by that hatred. She is absolutely correct to say that the Irish community and members of the Catholic community have faced that hatred for far too long. Perhaps we, collectively as a Parliament, have not done enough to call it out. I accept that from the Government’s perspective, too.

I woke up this morning to two rabid anti-Catholic messages, which I have already reported to the police. I am neither Catholic nor Irish, but the hatred was directed towards me, so I intend to call it out.

I suspect that we will have support and collaboration on the issue. I am happy to work with any members on calling out hatred and bigotry of any kind.