Marchers plan ‘picnic’ at Holyrood Park after Scottish independence rally is banned

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PRO-INDEPENDENCE marchers may have been refused permission to hold a rally in Holyrood Park on Saturday - but no-one said they couldn’t have a picnic.

Thousands of indy supporters are expected to take part in a march through the Capital, from 1pm, organised by All Under One Banner, which has staged similar events in Glasgow, Dumfries, Stirling, Inverness and Dundee.

There is now no rally, but rather the meeting is being planned as a picnic

There is now no rally, but rather the meeting is being planned as a picnic

A route from Johnston Terrace, past the Castle and down the Royal Mile has been approved by the city council. But plans for a rally in Holyrood Park were vetoed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which manages the park. It said it could not approve events of a “political nature”.

Undeterred, activists now seem to be planning a mass “picnic” to round off their march and have made their intentions clear on social media. One post said: “I‘m going on a picnic to Holyrood Park on Saturday the 6th with a few friends of mine. I wonder if I’ll meet anyone else? I don’t have an endless supply of food & vittles, But what I do have is an endless desire to talk about our Independence. Feel free if you care to join me.”

Another said: “I know it might be October 6 but wouldn’t it be nice if 100,000 people decided to have a picnic on Holyrood Park on a Saturday afternoon. Just saying. Oh and btw while you are in Edinburgh there’s an #AUOBEdinburgh march, so might as well go. Bring some friends.”

Gary Kelly, one of the march organisers, said the picnic plans showed people were not happy about the HES ban on a rally in the park.

“People are not taking well to being told what to do in their own country,” he said. “They are making the point HES cannot stop people going into the grounds on the day.”

Mr Kelly said he hoped to meet HES to discuss arrangements for the end of the march at the Scottish Parliament.

He said there were multiple events being suggested on social media for the park.

“People will do their own thing – that’s the problem I have got now.

“If everything was done the way we asked it would have gone brilliantly, but they have put obstacles in the way.”

But he said there was no chance the march would be called off.

“There are people flying in from around the world to take part, as well as the thousands planning to be here. We cannot let these people down.”

One option which has been floated is that a smaller-scale rally could be held at council-owned Meadowfield Park to the east of Arthur’s Seat.

But the council said no application had been received for an event there.

Asked about marchers holding a picnic in Holyrood Park, HES said access to the park on Saturday would be as normal.

Meanwhile, police said they would respond to any disorder, but otherwise it was not a matter for them.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com