Scotland politics

Thousands march in Edinburgh for Scottish independence

Marchers in Edinburgh Image copyright PA

Tens of thousands of people have marched through Edinburgh in support of Scottish independence.

A mass rally at Holyrood Park at the end of the march went ahead despite a ban from the body responsible for the park.

Historic Environment Scotland said on Saturday its priority was to "facilitate the march safely".

They had earlier said a rally could not be held as events of a "political nature" are not allowed.

Gary J Kelly, of organiser All Under One Banner, said he believed around 100,000 took part in the march.

Police said the City of Edinburgh Council estimated that there were about 20,000 participants.

It is the latest in a series of events across the country which have been organised by the political pressure group which campaigns for Scottish independence.

Mr Kelly said the turnout proved there was desire for constitutional change.

"The passion is there for definite at the end of the day," he said.

"The people have spoken. The SNP asked us to speak, well the people have spoken. We've done it all year round."

Image caption Keith Brown, the deputy leader of the SNP, was among those taking part in the march

Insp Murray Starkey, of Police Scotland, said one arrest was made in connection with a minor offence during the march.

"Both the participants and the wider public are thanked for their patience and cooperation during today's event," he added.

Image caption Organiser Gary J Kelly estimated that 100,000 people took part in the march

Independence supporters began gathering in the capital on Saturday morning with the march setting off from Johnston Terrace at 13:00.

Stalls and a stage were erected in Holyrood Park.

The park, which sits next to the Scottish Parliament building, is managed by public body Historic Environment Scotland.

On Friday All Under One Banner claimed that they had been "victorious" in their campaign to have the ban on the rally overturned.

But Historic Environment Scotland told BBC Scotland on Friday that the police had not overturned the ban, and that All Under One Banner still did not have permission "for the set-up of stalls, staging, branding and other static presence within Holyrood Park".

On Saturday, a Historic Environment Scotland spokeswoman said: "Our priority for today is to work with our partners including Police Scotland to facilitate the march safely through Holyrood Park.

"We will review the situation after the march."

Image copyright All Under One Banner
Image caption The march set off from Johnston Terrace at 13:00
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption They headed down the Royal Mile towards the Scottish Parliament
Image copyright Ivon Bartholomew

All Under One Banner said they were legally entitled to use Holyrood Park under the country's "freedom to roam" laws.

They say the Land Reform Scotland Act allows them to remain in the park for recreational and educational purposes.

However, the rules say that the rights of others must also be respected.

Organiser Gary J Kelly criticised a statement from Historic Environment Scotland, which said it did not permit "political events of any nature" within its properties.

Mr Kelly said: "They refused our application on political grounds.

"If you look at every castle around Scotland, it has a Union Jack above it - that's a political statement on its own."

The march was held the day before the SNP's autumn conference opens in Glasgow.

Image copyright Ivon Bartholomew

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