By a Newsnet reporter
A group of pro-Union protestors have held a demonstration outside the constituency office of Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Saturday’s protest, organised by a Facebook group ‘Don’t Break Our Unity’, backed calls for an end to the recent decision to limit the number of days the Union flag can be flown over Belfast City Hall.

However protestors also used the occasion to attack the SNP’s plans for independence for Scotland.

The small demonstration saw protestors, some with scarves hiding their faces, adorn the office of SNP MSP Nicola Sturgeon with flags and posters.  One poster proclaimed “Proud to be British” alongside a map of Great Britain and a message “Vote No To Independence”.

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The low key demonstration follows a series of protests held in Glasgow, Irvine, Airdrie and North Ayrshire by groups angry at the decision to limit the number of days the Union flag can fly over Belfast City Hall.

However the linking of Scottish independence to the NI Flag issue marks an unwelcome change from Scottish based pro-Union groups.

In Belfast the situation has escalated recently with Unionist protestors clashing with members of the security forces as the issue threatens to drag the province back into the dark days of extremist violence.

Petrol bombs and gunshots have been evident as protestors have refused to accept pleas from politicians for an end to the street demos.

Saturday’s demonstration – outside Ms Sturgeon’s office – linking the Union Flag protest with anti-independence sentiments is further evidence a growing emergence of a more Northern Ireland brand of Scottish Unionism.

In 2009, the head of the Orange Order called the rise in support for the Scottish National Party, the “biggest problem” facing the country.

Grand Master Ian Wilson signalled that the organisation would be urging its members in west central Scotland to vote Labour in order to thwart the SNP’s challenge in the central belt.

Mr Wilson also revealed that Lodge members had helped campaign on behalf of the Labour party in the 2008 Glenrothes by-election which Labour eventually won, despite high hopes from SNP supporters that they were on the verge of taking the seat.

Last year, it emerged that leader of the Glasgow Labour group Gordon Matheson, had secretly promised the Orange Order that Labour would review rules that imposed restrictions on Orange parades held in the city, if the party were re-elected the largest group.

According to the Herald, Mr Matheson was greeted with applause when, days before the local council elections, he told a hustings of around 100 members of the Orange Order that he would “hold his hands up” and admit a groundbreaking approach to reducing marches in the city was flawed.

Introduced over two years ago, the policy was aimed at reducing marches through the city centre and restricting start and finish times amid concerns over the cost to the public purse, businesses and communities.

According to council figures, the number of parades by Protestant loyal orders in Glasgow outstripped the total number of marches in Londonderry and Belfast combined.

Commenting at the time, Robert McLean, executive officer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, said: “Mr Matheson admitted the policy was wrong and we’re now hoping he will review the parades policy.

“We do not tell our members who to vote for but as a unionist organisation they should be supporting a unionist candidate.”


2013-01-13 15:37

Yet another positive reason to vote YES.
This sectarian lot should have nowhere to go in a post independence Scotland.
2013-01-13 15:41

This is the Achilles Heel of the unionists. It is part of the baggage of the union. “Better Together” cannot distance themselves from this group as it shares exactly the same principles of better together, as articulated by the DUP.…/

The unionists have decided upon a shared platform of left and right. They may have to get comfortable with that part of the right (loyalists and UKIP) that are considerably to the right.
2013-01-13 16:10

These clowns are doing the Independence campaign’s work for it.

There’s an awful lot of people in West Central Scotland getting put off the NO campaign every time these people indicate what they think the Union Jack actually stands for.
2013-01-13 16:13

At last year’s pro-independence gathering and subsequent march, how many of the demonstrators had their faces covered by scarves? Answer of course is none, as no-one felt the need to hide their IDs from the police or other security forces.

These people who targeted Nicola Sturgeon’s office have no place in any democratic society or nation state, not only in an independent Scotland. So, no doubt the leaders of the three unionist parties in Holyrood will be adding their voices to the First Minister’s to condemn these union flag waving morons.
2013-01-13 16:24

Well, I thought this protest would be a non-event and going by the photo and video clip it looks to have been exactly that.

I also think that if Gordon Matheson and the Labour group of Glasgow Council reverse the policy on restricting marches in Glasgow, then the majority of the public will turn on them and if they dont? a couple of hundred will revert to normal voting patterns. In short I see nothing for Labour to gain with encouraging the Orange marchers; they are in reality short on numbers and in general favour the Conservative party anyway. Labour has all to lose and nothing to gain by such a move. Which gets me back to the opinion of a non-event.
2013-01-13 16:27

Is it me or are there more wombles on wimbledon common than turned up at this rally?
Aye a smart move to turn up when it was closed.
2013-01-13 17:08

It was an amazing crowd total of seven, it would have been eight but Snow White was at the sales.

It was a non-event attented by no-bodies, who were campaigning outside an empty office, says it all really.

Alba Gu Brath, vote yes.
2013-01-13 18:12

It’s tribalism pure and simple. These people aren’t interested in unionism in any political sense, but rather use the name and the flag as a badge, much like (and closely connected to) their choice of football team. It’s unwise of them to stage any sort of demonstration at a time when tensions in Northern Ireland are running so high, but at least in Scotland they will only succeed in damaging their own cause.
2013-01-13 18:44

This may have been the long-awaited No campaigns main rally. The flags look like they had a good airing anyway.

Except for that one wearing it like a second skin.
2013-01-13 19:06

Big demo’ outside Belfast City Hall by ordinary folk against this tribal nonsense.

2013-01-13 20:12

Aye but there were around a hundred at City Chambers at the weekend. It was always an inevitable consequence that these sectarian throwbacks would emerge and show the ugly face of Scottish Unionism (i.e. bigoted anti-catholic)the more and more that this country moves towards self-determination. Let’s hope they don’t frighten ordinary Scots away from future pro-Yes demos.
creag an tuirc
2013-01-13 20:47

They are just a bunch of Norons.
2013-01-13 21:10

I think the problem any kind of union flag waving groups (however small) have in Scotland, is that people think BNP or vague right wing politics of violence, fascism and racism. I don`t think Scots immediately think “Oh okay, unionists expressing themselves!”

A British flag waving pro-union march through any Scottish city would probably contrive to appear very much “them” and not us.
2013-01-13 22:12

Sad sad people.
2013-01-13 23:13

PACE creag an tuirc 2013-01-13 20:47
They are just a bunch of Norons.

Excellent. I do like that.
2013-01-14 00:08

Speaking of NOrons – does anybody know the outcome for the four union flag demonstrators who were taken away by the police at the Edinburgh YES rally?
Dougie Douglas
2013-01-14 03:42

The SNP need to take the gloves off.

If these were our nutters the MSM and no campaign would be making a direct link and association between us and them and asking for us to ‘disown them’.

Most people in Scotland abhor these people, they are clearly unionists and as such are part of their broad church. The Yes Campaign should be asking for the No Campaign to disown them thus reinforcing the link between them.

Alternatively ask the Conservatives and Labour to disown them – they won’t these nutters are are a core part of their constituency. Lets watch them squirm I say.
Chateaulait 57
2013-01-14 10:14

I bet there were more people standing at the bus stop across the road waiting to go into town.
2013-01-14 15:48

I don’t think anyone should go off the deep end condemning these people as long as they are protesting peacefully – we’ll end up either as the pot or the kettle. We just need to respond to their claims with firm constraint and treat their factionalism with the positive vision we are trying to promote. Like it or not, they will still be around post-independence, and the last thing we should make them is an oppressed minority.

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