Scottish independence marchers hope for last-minute U turn on Holyrod Park rally ban

ORGANISERS of tomorrow's pro-independence march through the Capital are hoping the ban on them holding a rally in Holyrood Park will be lifted when they meet the park managers today.
Scottish Independence marchers are hoping for a U-turnScottish Independence marchers are hoping for a U-turn
Scottish Independence marchers are hoping for a U-turn

Around 50,000 people are expected to take part in the march down the Royal Mile, staged by All Under One Banner, starting at Johnston Terrace at 1pm and finishing at the Scottish Parliament.

But Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who manage next-door Holyrood Park, have refused permission for a rally, saying they cannot allow events of a “political nature” in the park. Gary Kelly, from All Under One Banner, said he was meeting HES, the police and council officials today to discuss final arrangements for tomorrow.

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And he said he hoped HES would agree a rally could take place after all.

“I sent them an email suggesting alternatives, like not putting the stage on the grass but putting it on the sidewalk, that way we’re not going to damage the ground in any way.

“We have two plans in place – preferably Holyrood Park, that’s Plan A, but we do have a back-up plan just in case they don’t let us do that.”

He said Plan B was to erect the stage on the road in Horse Wynd, outside the Scottish Parliament.

Meanwhile, Mr Kelly said a plan for up to 2,000 people to hold a sit-down protest in Princes Street had been called off. He said: “It was another organisation within the movement doing that but they have removed that event – it’s the sort of bad publicity we don’t really want.”

But he revealed another plan to hold a mass photoshoot at the Castle after the pro-independence 500 Miles group, who are walking 500 miles around Scotland, were asked to leave Stirling Castle last weekend by HES, who said they were holding an unauthorised demonstration.

Mr Kelly said: “We’re encouraging people to go Edinburgh Castle esplanade and get their photo taken at 12 o’clock before the actual procession starts. Or are they going to try and remove us from there as well?”

People attending the march have already announced plans for a “picnic” in Holyrood Park afterwards – and Mr Kelly says they now plan to turn it into a world record bid. “The record is somewhere in Portugal and it was 22,000 people, so we’re well in to try to beat that. We’ve contacted Guinness Book of World Records.”

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HES confirmed they would attend an emergency planning and operations group meeting today for tomorrow’s march.

A spokeswoman added: “We have not been approached about a photo-call at Edinburgh Castle. If a photo-call is requested we will, in the interest of public safety, act on advice from Police Scotland colleagues who are managing the associated march.”