Holyrood restrictions ‘will not stop the disruption’, campaigners insist

New restrictions are being brought in in a bid to deal with disruption from protesters during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood.

Scottish Parliament restrictions ‘will not stop the disruption’, campaigners insist PA Media

Environmental campaigners have said new restrictions at the Scottish Parliament will not halt the “disruption” to Holyrood business.

The group This is Rigged insisted the measures “will not stop the disruption”, as they urged First Minister Humza Yousaf to “listen to the people” on the issue of climate change.

Speaking after Holyrood resumed after the Easter recess, This is Rigged co-founder Hanna Bright vowed the group would escalate its protests in a bid to “shut down the oil industry in Scotland”.

She insisted: “New restrictive measures will not stop the disruption.

“We are a movement of the people, for the people, and we are growing fast. Disruption will continue and, this summer, we will escalate – we will shut down the oil industry in Scotland.

“The only way to stop the disruption is to meet our demands – vocally oppose all new oil and gas licences and approvals, and create a fair and fully funded transition for oil workers.”

Her comments come after Holyrood Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone last week announced a series of changes for members of the public coming to watch First Minister’s Questions to deal with a “small but persistent number of protesters”.

Anyone who is found to be “wilfully disrupting business” will now face a six-month ban from Holyrood’s public gallery.

That was one of a range of measures introduced after Johnstone was forced to suspend business five times during the most recent session of First Minister’s Questions, with the Presiding Officer eventually clearing members of the public from the viewing gallery to allow the exchanges to continue without disruption.

However, Bright claimed that while protesters “have been accused of threatening democracy”, it was the “voices of the people” that were “not being represented in Parliament”.

She stated: “Polling shows that the majority of Scots want a transition away from oil and gas, yet our government allows the continued licensing of new North Sea oil and gas fields.

“We are fed up with the government’s inaction, so are taking back our democracy. Dissent has always been a cornerstone of democracy.

“When the powers that be will not act in our best interests, we will ensure we cannot be ignored.

She added: “Ordinary people in Scotland are stepping into civil resistance against this grave injustice. We will not stop until our demands are met.

“We are asking the bare minimum from our new first minister. Humza Yousaf – will you listen to the people?”

Other changes being brought in from this week in the Scottish Parliament will mean everyone wishing to attend to watch the weekly First Minister’s Questions clash between the party leaders will have to book a ticket in advance, giving their name and address.

For groups of people attending together, the names and addresses of all members will have to be given, instead of the current system whereby only the details of the lead person making the booking are required.

In addition, everyone collecting a ticket will have to show identification, with mobile phones and other electronic devices having to be stored in a secure locker and not taken into the gallery, to stop protesters from filming their actions.

Johnstone said last week it was “deeply regrettable that the Parliament has had to take this action”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to a just transition, and ensuring we take workers with us on our journey to net zero.

“Decisions on oil and gas exploration and licensing remain reserved to the UK Government. But through our draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, we have set out a clear pathway to deliver on global commitments and capitalise on the enormous opportunities offered by becoming a net zero economy.

“Our focus must be meeting our energy security needs, reducing emissions and ensuring a just transition for our oil and gas workforce as North Sea resources decline.

“We have consistently called for the UK Government’s Climate Compatibility Checkpoint to be strengthened and are consulting on our approach to energy transition.

“We encourage stakeholders to contribute to the consultation rather than disrupting the democratic processes of the Scottish Parliament.”

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