Attempts to silence Yes Scotland claim local campaigners


  PRO-INDEPENDENCE campaigners have vowed to get information on the referendum to Dunfermline residents, despite what they say have been attempts to silence them for two consecutive weeks.
After having a gala stall cancelled last week, attempts were made this weekend to prevent Yes Scotland leaflets being distributed outside the town’s Bruce Festival – an event that commemorates Robert the Bruce, with event staff being accused of being aggressive towards one pregnant campaigner.

Event security staff threatened to contact police when the local activists refused to bow to demands they take down a street stall outside Pittencrieff Park on Saturday morning.  The campaigners insisted they were doing nothing wrong by offering leaflets to interested passers-by.

But the situation was defused when Dunfermline Central councillor Neale Hanvey stepped in to speak to event organisers ‘Dunfermline Delivers’, who indicated that if Better Together were also represented it would be a different story.  After negotiations Yes Scotland was eventually allowed to remain at the Glen Gates.

A small group of activists met outside the Glen Gates on Sunday morning to hand out leaflets and balloons while Councillor Hanvey made representation to ‘Dunfermline Delivers’ before setting up the stall, but event staff again reacted angrily.

Local Yes Scotland co-ordinator, Fay Sinclair said: “We were approached by a man waving a walkie talkie, who I’ve since been told was the artistic director of the Bruce Festival, telling us to leave.  We argued that we were entitled to hand out leaflets in a public space and were outside of the park gates but he got very angry and aggressive and was using quite abusive language.

“When it was pointed out that Bruce himself fought for Scottish independence he shouted, ‘no, Bruce just fought for money’. I was gobsmacked someone involved in the Bruce Festival would yell something like that in the face of a heavily pregnant woman while people were passing to go into the event. There was a family from New Zealand looking on open-mouthed. That’s surely not the image such an event would want to promote.”

Despite the hostility encountered from event staff, Mrs Sinclair said they had a warm reception from members of the public.

She added: “Literally thousands of leaflets, balloons, flags and badges were handed out.

“People want access to the facts to make an informed decision about their country’s future and while more of the scare stories peddled by the No campaign crumble by the day the anti-independence crowd are clearly running from the debate, working behind the scenes to deprive people of access to information rather than engage and present their case. It only makes activists like myself more determined to make sure people do have the information they need to vote Yes next year.”

The group also had a stall at South Dunfermline Gala last week cancelled with less than 24-hours’ notice, claiming political pressure had been put on organisers.  Mrs Sinclair said she was told on the phone that they were being kept out because anti-independence campaigners would not have a stall, but has since received a letter from the committee stating that the decision was because the gala is primarily for children.

The episode follows claims that a lack of volunteers is hampering rival campaign group Better Together and that some Yes Scotland stalls are being refused permission because they are not ‘balanced’ by their pro-Union counterparts.


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