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Thousands march in Edinburgh for Scottish independence

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Marchers in EdinburghImage copyright
PA

Tens of thousands of people have marched through Edinburgh in support of Scottish independence.

A mass rally at Holyrood Park at the end of the march went ahead despite a ban from the body responsible for the park.

Historic Environment Scotland said on Saturday its priority was to “facilitate the march safely”.

They had earlier said a rally could not be held as events of a “political nature” are not allowed.

Gary J Kelly, of organiser All Under One Banner, said he believed around 100,000 took part in the march.

It is the latest in a series of events across the country which have been organised by the political pressure group which campaigns for Scottish independence.

Mr Kelly said the turnout proved there was desire for constitutional change.

“The passion is there for definite at the end of the day,” he said.

“The people have spoken. The SNP asked us to speak, well the people have spoken. We’ve done it all year round.”

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Keith Brown, the deputy leader of the SNP, was among those taking part in the march

He criticised a statement from Historic Environment Scotland, which said it did not permit “political events of any nature” within its properties.

Mr Kelly said: “They refused our application on political grounds.

“If you look at every castle around Scotland, it has a Union Jack above it – that’s a political statement on its own.”

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Organiser Gary J Kelly estimated that 100,000 people took part in the march

Independence supporters began gathering in the capital on Saturday morning with the march setting off from Johnston Terrace at 13:00.

Stalls and a stage were erected in Holyrood Park.

The park, which sits next to the Scottish Parliament building, is managed by public body Historic Environment Scotland.

Image copyright
All Under One Banner

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The march set off from Johnston Terrace at 13:00

Image copyright
Reuters

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They headed down the Royal Mile towards the Scottish Parliament

On Friday All Under One Banner claimed that they had been “victorious” in their campaign to have the ban on the rally overturned.

But Historic Environment Scotland told BBC Scotland on Friday that the police had not overturned the ban, and that All Under One Banner still did not have permission “for the set-up of stalls, staging, branding and other static presence within Holyrood Park”.

On Saturday, a Historic Environment Scotland spokeswoman said: “Our priority for today is to work with our partners including Police Scotland to facilitate the march safely through Holyrood Park.

“We will review the situation after the march.”

Image copyright
Ivon Bartholomew

Police said the City of Edinburgh Council estimated that about 20,000 people took part in the march.

Insp Murray Starkey of Police Scotland said: “Disruption to the city centre was as expected and all roads reopened as planned. Queen’s Drive was temporarily closed to ensure public safety.

“One arrest was made in connection with a minor offence.

“Both the participants and the wider public are thanked for their patience and cooperation during today’s event.”

Autumn conference

All Under One Banner said they were legally entitled to use Holyrood Park under the country’s “freedom to roam” laws.

They say the Land Reform Scotland Act allows them to remain in the park for recreational and educational purposes.

However, the rules say that the rights of others must also be respected.

The march was held the day before the SNP’s autumn conference opens in Glasgow.

Image copyright
Ivon Bartholomew

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