Humza Yousaf calls for temporary ban on all Glasgow republican marches

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf
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Justice secretary Humza Yousaf has backed a possible moratorium on loyalist and republican marches in Scotland’s largest city.

Mr Yousaf said that “Glasgow had had enough” of the violence and disruption that recent marches have caused.

He gave his full support to the “idea of exploring if there can be a moratorium on loyalist and republican marches in Glasgow to allow us to find a longer-term solution”.

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He spoke as Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: “We need to step back for a bit and have a period without these marches.”

Violence has flared at parades in the city over the past two weekends, with police responding to “significant disorder” at a march in Govan on 30 August.

The following weekend, 11 people were arrested as two Republican marches were held through Glasgow city centre, with a police officer injured by a pyrotechnic thrown by loyalist protesters.

The council has now stepped in to halt six marches by loyalist and republican groups which were due to take place this weekend, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon describing this as the “right decision”.

Ms Aitken said that the “whole atmosphere and circumstances” of the parades had changed - and that the council had acted on police advice in prohibiting this weekend’s marches.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, she said: “The responses and the violence and the destruction we have seen on the city streets is simply unacceptable. We can’t have repeats of that.

“And nor can we continue to have repeats of the very, very heavy police presence that was on the city streets last Saturday. Although that was a very robust policing response it is not sustainable or desirable to constantly have 400-plus officers in full public order gear in the city streets every weekend.”

A moratorium on marches is being considered to “find that right balance” between the right to march and the need to protect the city, she added.

“What we need is some breathing space, we need to be able to step back,” she said.

Ms Aitken continued: “We need to understand the situation and the organisers of the traditional parades must engage in this as well.

“They need to step up and give some confidence and some guarantees that we’re not going to see a repeat of the violence of recent weeks, and at the moment I don’t think anyone is convinced they are able to do that.”

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She said advice from Police Scotland had warned of a “risk” if this weekend’s marches went ahead.

The council leader stated: “Our only concern is about marches where there is this risk of unacceptable disruption to the life of the community. Other marches can go ahead.

“No-one wants to interfere with the right of citizens, the city’s streets belong to the citizens and they are entitled to use them either to express an opinion or to celebrate a faith day or for whatever reason.

“But they cannot do that if they are going to cause violence and unacceptable disruption to the lives of the city and to communities.

“At the moment there are some marches where the risk of that is very high, and until we get some kind of confidence and guarantee that we are not going to see a repeat of that then we need to step back for a bit and have a period without these marches.”

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