AN SNP MSP has apologised after being photographed holding the flag of an ultranationalist group at a pro-independence event.

Evelyn Tweed issued a statement after posting a picture with the banner for Siol nan Gaidheal during an event at Bannockburn on Saturday.

The organisation, founded in the late 1970s, was kicked out of the SNP in 1982 for extremist views. Then-leader Gordon Wilson described the group, which translates as Seed of the Gael in English, as “proto-fascist”.

Having posted the photo from the rally, Tweed posted: “Delighted to attend the Battle of Bannockburn commemoration … a moving commemoration for those who fought and lost their lives on both sides.”

The Stirling MSP tagged SNP councillor for Bannockburn Brian Hambly and members of her branch, but later removed the tweet and issued an apology.

“Apologies for my last post now deleted when the flag was pointed out,” she wrote. “Just to be clear, I do not support any form of ultra-nationalism.”

A source close to the MSP told The Times that as she posed for the photo, a man waving the flag jumped in front of her. Unaware of the symbolism of the banner, she held it down to stop it flying in front of her face, the source said.

Scottish Tory chief whip Stephen Kerr said he was “fairly shocked” to see the photograph of Twee and insisted the SNP have “serious questions to answer”.

Former Better Together chief Blair McDougall raised doubts about the SNP MSP’s apology as he posted a wider group shot of Tweed and other attendees posing for the photo. 

He posted: “Her denial of support for Siol nan Gaidheal or ultranationalism ring a hollow when you see the full photo. Half a dozen people with the proto-facsist group’s emblem. People l in medieval garb around her. Someone brandishing an axe. Easy to see how she missed it.”

READ MORE: English independence voters hit back at ethno-nationalists Siol Nan Gaidheal

Academic Peter Lynch, in his history of the SNP, describes Siol nan Gaidheal as “a collection of radical militants who favoured direct action tactics and tended to make vague threats of violence”.

Following the group’s expulsion from the party in 1982, a new group called Arm nan Gaidheal was formed. That year, it claimed responsibility for fire-raising attacks on Labour and Conservative offices in Glasgow and Dundee.

Eight of the organisation’s members were arrested following an arson attack on the home of the chief executive of Glasgow chamber of commerce in 1983.

The modern Siol nan Gaidheal has sought to distance itself from the group’s violent past, branding itself a “third manifestation” of the organisation.

In 2018, members of the Yes movement raised concerns about the group’s presence at independence events.

Math Campbell, the convener of English Scots for Yes, said Siol Nan Gaidheal were not representative of the Yes movement, describing them as a “very small group of malcontents, who are using the same tactics as Britain First”.