Saltire sisters held “for their own safety” during Loyalist riot

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Supporters of the Royal Family pose for a happy Better Together snap in George Square last year

By a Newsnet.scot Reporter

Two young Yes-supporting sisters who were victimised by a loyalist mob in Glasgow’s George Square have finally been told that they are not going to face any charges in connection with the post-referendum incident.

Sarah and Sophie Johnson, who waved a Saltire flag in front of angry loyalists who had attacked a peaceful Yes rally last September 19, were detained for several hours by police after their flag was grabbed from them by the rival group.

It is believed that the two sisters – aged 20 and 16 respectively – were spat on and had lit cigarettes thrown at them during the incident.

The sisters’ plight was highlighted by Yes activists, and more than 10,000 people signed a petition demanding that the police apologise for taking them into custody at Aitkenhead Road police station for several hours following the incident.

The young women were fingerprinted and held in custody until 6am on the Saturday.

Police Scotland has indicated now that they were detained for their own safety.

Police have arrested numerous people following a Loyalist invasion of George Square last September 19
Police have arrested numerous people following a Loyalist invasion of George Square last September 19

George Square had been the focus of Yes supporter rallies during the latter stages of the referendum campaign, and thousands had gathered there during the Friday following the poll to commiserate.

However, the mood changed later that day when gangs of Loyalists invaded the space and began a rowdy counter-demonstration as well as attacking small groups throughout the square and in its immediate area.

The loyalists, carrying Union flags and many of them wearing Rangers football club and Ulster political insignia, are believed to have been organised via the Internet.

Police, who contained the group at one side of the square, have since made dozens of arrests following examination of photographs, CCTV and social media.

Police Scotland were praised for their prompt action and their speed in containing the aggressors by several commentators at the time.

The girls were told only recently that the Crown Office would be taking no proceedings in their case, after four months of waiting. They were photographed defiantly waving a Saltire before the Loyalists while police looked on. However soon afterwards they were surrounded by a large group, and the flag was wrenched from them.

Groups of pro Union activists had stalked the streets around George Square looking for Yes supporters during the incident. One SNP councillor filmed two thugs allegedly abusing him verbally near the City Chambers.