PLANS to project an image of the Saltire on to historic monuments to celebrate St Andrew’s Day were scrapped when a Scottish Government official ruled the symbol too “political”, it is claimed.

The body that advises ministers on how to boost the celebration of Scotland’s national day had approached Holyrood with a plan to light up key sites like Edinburgh and Stirling castles with the blue and white cross of the official flag.

However, this was rejected by an official as being too “political”, according to Dennis Canavan, chair of the St Andrew’s Day Campaign Committee.

The former MSP lodged the Bill to make St Andrew’s Day a bank holiday, setting up the committee after leaving office at the end of the 2006-7 parliamentary session.

Since then the organisation has advised the Scottish Government on ways to boost the celebration of the day, including inter-faith services and multicultural events, as well as the use of blue lighting at key sites like St Andrew’s Cathedral.

He has now written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asking her to help shine the Saltire around the country this year.

In a letter, Canavan wrote: “Our committee previously suggested that a floodlit image of the Saltire should be projected on to public buildings such as Edinburgh and Stirling castles on St Andrew’s Day.

“When I received a response to the effect that some buildings would be lit up in blue, I asked if there was any technical difficulty in projecting a Saltire rather than an all-blue floodlight.

“I was told that the problem was more ‘political’ than technical. Our committee deplores the failure of any public body to realise that the Saltire is the national flag and not a party political symbol.

“I would be most grateful if you would arrange for consideration to be given to each of the above four points with a view to taking appropriate action and I look forward to hearing from you.”

The revelation comes ahead of a debate in support of St Andrew’s Day in the Scottish Parliament today.

Proposed by International Development Minister Alasdair Allan, it notes that the event provides a “fantastic opportunity” to “showcase Scotland’s unique culture and identity at home and abroad and to boost the country’s international reputation by sending a positive and inclusive message to the country and the world about Scotland and its people”.

It also notes “the growing success of St Andrew’s Day celebrations over recent years” and “signals its support for the activities that are planned to mark St Andrew’s Day 2016”, also inviting people “from near and far to join the celebration”.

Last year the SNP’s Joe Fitzpatrick praised the blue-lit buildings in the chamber, saying the initiative could help bring “St Andrew’s Day and Scotland’s unique buildings and landscapes to a worldwide audience”.

Yesterday, Canavan told The National: “The Saltire is not a political symbol. It is the national flag.

“There seems to be a misconception among some people, possibly even among some Scottish Government officials, that the Saltire is some kind of SNP symbol and therefore divisive.

“I do not agree with that at all. The Saltire is not the flag of the SNP. It is the flag of all the people of Scotland.

“I have asked Nicola Sturgeon to intervene and I am hopeful we will get a reply before Wednesday. If there is a misconception, then that should be cleared up.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson pointed out that they were providing VisitScotland with funding of £390,000 to deliver the national events programme for the Winter Festivals, with 22 funded events planned across 15 local authority areas.

They said: “The Saltire is the national flag of Scotland. To mark our National Day, the Scottish Government’s offices at St Andrew’s House and Victoria Quay will be lit blue on St Andrew’s Day. Decisions on lighting and projections on to Edinburgh Castle are matters for Historic Environment Scotland.

“Our understanding is that Edinburgh Castle will be lit blue to mark St Andrew’s Day 2016.”