ACTIVISTS have demanded the Scottish Parliament repeal a decision to make it easier for police to remove protesters at Holyrood citing fears the measure could be used against peaceful demonstrations.

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) approved the change in status, which will bring Holyrood into line with the Westminster parliament and the Welsh Senedd.

The change will come into force on October 1 meaning police will have extra powers to remove protesters considered too extreme.

The National:

Officials at Holyrood have argued that the measure will help with protests which prevent parliament from sitting or endanger others.

READ MORE: Anne's Law: Care home families urge MSPs to pass bill at Holyrood protest

The SPCB takes care of the running of parliament and its estate. A representative from the main four parties - the SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Labour and the Tories – sits on the committee.

Protesters gathered on Thursday with signs reading “right to protest”, “free speech is our right” and “SPCB shame on you”.

Demonstrators banged pots and pans and blew air horns in order to make as loud a noise as possible. Protesters chanted “shame on you” and booed as officials walked into the entrance of the Scottish Parliament.

The National:

The crowd included Alba supporters as well as those against the Scottish Government’s GRA reforms and some speaking about blogger Craig Murray, who is currently in prison under a charge of contempt of court.

The protest coincided with another demonstration on care homes, which encouraged MSPs to back Anne’s Law to allow one designed family member to be able to visit their relative in a care home regardless of lockdown levels.

At one point a member of the care homes protest asked the protest curb rally to “have some respect” and quiet down.

Members of the care home protest who spoke to The National said they were unaware the protest curb rally was taking place.

Alba MP Neale Hanvey, who spoke at the event, told The National: “How can we argue against the curtailment of democratic protesting in Westminster when our own parliament is prepared to clamp down on the ability for the Scottish people to stand outside their own parliament and demonstrate their cause.

The National: Alba MP Neale Hanvey spoke at the protestAlba MP Neale Hanvey spoke at the protest

“There has been no, as far as I am aware, risk of any real difficulties or problems with police in managing crowds whether it’s the care home group that are here today, or in fact any other matter so I don’t understand the purpose of the statutory instrument that has been approved.”

Alba’s depute leader Kenny MacAskill has written to the SPCB to ask for the measure to be repealed, but Hanvey said they have not yet had a response.

The Scottish Greens have also hit out against the proposals, labelling them “draconian”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “This decision is for the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and is not a matter for the Scottish Government.

The National:

“The deployment of police officers is an operational matter for Police Scotland.

READ MORE: SNP conference: Members tell Holyrood not to restrict protests

“We fully respect the right to protest and are committed to upholding this basic human right.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “The Parliament welcomes and facilitates thousands of protestors all year round as an essential part of the expression of democracy in Scotland. That key engagement will continue.

“Designated status will give the Parliament the means to address disruptive protest by individuals where they try to prevent Parliament from meeting to carry out its essential function, or where they seek to interfere with the rights of others to engage at Holyrood, or where their actions make it unsafe for others.

The National:

“Unfortunately Parliament has already experienced this kind of disruption impacting its democratic role. In taking the decision to apply for designated status the SPCB listened closely to Police advice, and considered the experiences of other Parliaments such as Westminster and Wales where the same measure is available.

“After careful consideration the SPCB was assured this measure offers additional support which will only be used in a small number of the most exceptional circumstances, that cannot otherwise be resolved through our usual liaison between our onsite security staff and Police Scotland.”