CYRIL Corcoran has been an independence supporter since long before it was a mainstream opinion. Since the 1950s he’s wanted home rule for Scotland and that indy fire has burned strong ever since.

Now at age 81, The National caught up with the Yes campaigner to find out why his belief has never wavered.

“I started 70 years ago,” he says on the phone, just back from a hospital appointment. “I must have been maybe 15-years-old. It was home rule then and I always wanted it.

“I always wanted freedom for our country. I joined the SNP later on in the late 50s or 60s.”

Despite joining the Scottish National Party some 70 years ago, Corcoran is a fairly new but nevertheless well-loved campaigner for the party.

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Despite being an octogenarian, the Borders veteran got involved in activism for the reason thousands of youngsters across Scotland did – 2014.

“I’ve always voted the SNP and when the referendum came up I decided to get involved,” he explains. “I’ve mainly been active in the background until, you could say, I kind of sprouted when it came to the referendum on independence.”

What he learned through his activism was more than politics though. Friendship, Corcoran, says has been a standout from his campaigning. While travelling up and down the country, meeting friendly faces along the way, Corcoran said he felt accepted by the movement he had been a part of since before most of his peers were even born.

Corcoran has long believed in independence, at times when it was thought of as no more than a mere fringe idea. It’s stuck with him all that time, and it’s only grown stronger too, just as independence moved from the periphery of Scottish politics to its dividing line.

“I think more and more people are beginning to realise what Westminster is doing,” Corcoran said. “The youth nowadays are starting to think ‘what’s going on?’ There’s so much in this country we’ve got. We deserve to be an independent country.”

The National:

Corcoran is happy to see how things have changed with Scotland’s young people overwhelmingly backing Yes.

But it wasn’t always like that, as he remarked. “It was a funny thing. Most people kept it to themselves. If you said you were SNP, you’d be ridiculed and all the rest of it.”

During his time as an indy activist, the borderer has met countless campaigners just like himself, and senior politicians too, including Nicola Sturgeon. He said he remembers the day he met the SNP leader: “I think the first time was quite a laugh. I was at the conference in Glasgow. I came down for breakfast and she was sitting there. I said ‘good morning, First Minister’ and then I had my breakfast. And then I was at a lunchtime event and the doors at the top of the stairs opened and it was Nicola, and she said ‘again?’

“Later on at night I was walking along the dining room and she was there again. She laughed and said ‘are you stalking me?’”


Corcoran would meet Sturgeon shortly after the event once more, when the pair were pictured sitting next to each other for a Cycling Without Age charity event, both seen laughing.

Having lived through various periods of division and turmoil within the SNP, Corcoran said he hoped the entire Yes movement would be more united.

“I wish everyone was more or less joined up. I keep thinking of the whole divide and fall type of thing.”

CORCORAN says he’s 95% confident Scotland will eventually achieve independence but is unsure when that will happen.

He believes Boris Johnson being the Prime Minister and scandals such as partygate will convince many No voters to switch sides. “More and more people are beginning to see through it,” he said, adding that it’s the older generation who are yet to be convinced.

The 81-year-old started off as a grocer, working in mills, hotels, building sites, and travelling with the circus before finally landing his own taxi.


He also spent just under two years in the army, being sent out to Libya. A tad hotter than Galashiels, he remarks.

He married his wife Ray in 1966. “It was a bad year for me,” he jokes, “Because I got married and England won the world cup.”

Reflecting on his support for indy, Corcoran said what he most wants to see is a better life for the next generation.

He says: “The reason I do it now is for the children to have a better life than we had. In the 50s and 60s and we were told of promises about life being better but it’s deteriorating now. I want a better life for the youngsters growing up now, to be free and make their own decisions.”

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Recently, Corcoran has been diagnosed with lung cancer, which has spread through his body. He was receiving chemotherapy but after the interview informed The National he had been taken off it, with the NHS believing it would do more harm than good.

He’s been through health challenges before though, battling alcoholism, depression and anxiety. But was happy to announce that by the end of the month he’ll be 30 years sober.

But his campaigning continues undeterred, and wherever there’s an indy street stall, he says he’ll be there.