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by Kirsteen Paterson
20 April 2023
Scottish Parliament officials defend six-month bans for climate protesters

First Minister Humza Yousaf was interrupted during FMQs

Scottish Parliament officials defend six-month bans for climate protesters

Scottish Parliament bosses have handed down fresh bans to climate activists after further protests. 

First Minister's Questions was once again brought to a halt thanks to a protest from the public gallery, with further disruption in the main hall. 

Officials announced strict new rules on entry to crack down on repeated interruptions to the weekly session - including six-month bans for those who force a halt to parliamentary proceedings. 

The move followed weeks of action by climate protesters and has seen mobile phones barred from the gallery, with attendees required to submit their personal details for identification purposes. 

However, it failed to prevent fresh action today as Humza Yousaf took on questions from Douglas Ross. 

Deputy presiding officer Annabelle Ewing announced a suspension as the individual was removed. 

That came after six others were denied access to the Chamber "on the basis we had reasonable grounds to believe they would disrupt proceedings," a Scottish Parliament spokesperson said. 

Protesters staged action in the main hall of the building before being removed. 

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: "All of the individuals who protested in the Main Hall will be issued with six-month bans as we do not allow protests anywhere inside the building. 

"One further individual, who briefly disrupted FMQs, will also recieve a six-month ban from all of our public galleries." 

Six bans of the same length were previously issued over protests on 30 March. 

The spokesperson continued: "The Parliament will continue to implement these new measures to protect the integrity of chamber business, and will keep under review where further steps are necessary.  

"While we very much regret the inconvenience these measures have on the many people who come to watch FMQs peacefully, we cannot allow the democratic process to be disrupted by a small number of individuals. 

"These protests have served only to disrupt MSPs from holding the first minister and government to account."

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