Security in Scotland

The First Minister gave a statement to the Chamber yesterday, following the terrorist attack in Manchester on 22nd June 2017.

You can watch the statement below.

Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour Leader, asked for assurances for people going about their everyday lives, and how might the public support the police in their efforts to keep us all safe.

  • Kezia Dugdale:

In light of the new threat level, extra security is visible in this building and around Westminster, embassies and other civic locations, yet we are all too aware that many of the recent attacks across Europe have been at markets, high streets, music events or sporting occasions. Will the First Minister provide any additional reassurance about what people across Scotland can expect when going about their everyday lives? Separately, are there any practical steps that the public can take to support the police in their work?

  • The First Minister:

I will answer that question in three quick ways. First, not everyone on every street corner in Scotland will see this, but the most obvious visible difference to the general public will be more armed officers on the streets. They will be particularly visible around transport hubs, crowded places and city centres. A lot of people in Scotland who do not normally see armed police will see armed police while the increased threat level is in place.

Secondly, on what the general public can do, they have a key role to play. It is the police’s responsibility to keep the public safe, but we all know that the public’s co-operation is an important part of that. My message, again, to the public is to be vigilant. People should make sure that anything at all that is of concern or which creates suspicion is reported to the police. More generally, they should be co-operative and patient, as I know the vast majority of the public will be.

The public will be inconvenienced over the next few days—or however long the increased threat level lasts. It will take longer for people to get into places that they are visiting and there may be other inconveniences. If people find that it is taking longer for them to get into a sporting or some other event, they should remember that the reason for the delay is their safety.

Thirdly, on events more generally, I said yesterday and I have repeated today that a review of all public events is on-going. I will not go into too much detail but, clearly, a broad spectrum of public events take place, such as football matches that take place in confined spaces over limited time; there are also more open events, such as this weekend’s Edinburgh marathon or the outdoor festivals and markets that people attend. The police have all that under review in their assessment process and, because of the different nature of the events, the responses will vary from one to the other. However, we must have confidence and trust in the police to carry out those assessments and to provide the appropriate level of response. I assure those in the chamber that that work is well under way.

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Thoughts with the people of Manchester

Scottish Parliament flags fly at half mast today

Scottish Parliament flags fly at half mast today

Below is the statement from Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to the Scottish Parliament following the Manchester terror attack:

“They would have been dressed in pink, in sparkles, bunny ears perched on their heads and grins on their faces. The very picture of innocence.

“The children who went to see American pop star and Disney TV actress, Ariana Grande, at the Manchester Arena last night would have been unable to contain their excitement. The atmosphere would have been electric.

“Every one of us has been there – been one of them. Enthralled by the sound and vision of a pop star at their peak. Desperate to see, in the flesh, the person whose image we’ve plastered on our bedroom walls.

“Being at a gig is a moment of sheer joy.

“Last night that joy was destroyed in a despicable act of cowardice.

“All that excitement, that innocent elation, turned to fear, to shock, and to horror.

“Just hours after they arrived, children left the concert crying, screaming, utterly bewildered by what had just happened; their ears ringing, not with the echo of pop music, but with the blast of a bomb.

“Today, those children will know that 22 of those who had shared the joy of the concert alongside them, are dead.

“That 59 people are in hospital with terrible injuries. And that too many parents are still desperately searching for the children who haven’t come home.

“Those children too will know the phrase ‘suicide bomber’ and the appalling reality of what that means.

“A story which they might have watched on Newsround, couched in age-appropriate language to soften the roughest of edges, has brutally intruded into their young lives.

“For us, as adults, hearing the news of terrorist atrocities – be they bombs, or bullets, or cars mowing people down in the street – is all too sadly now commonplace.

“We tend to cover our children’s ears and eyes to protect them from the knowledge.

“And we hold them closer, all too aware of the fragility of their precious lives.

“But for those children and young people who witnessed last night’s abominable act, there is no softening the blow, no making it better, no suggesting that these things don’t happen here, or to us, or to people we know.

“They are now fully aware that when someone determines to kill others, when someone purposefully straps a bomb to their body with a twisted plan to detonate it among innocent children, that there is nothing any one of us can do to prevent the horrific, inevitable, outcome.

“And we cannot explain it to them. How can you tell an eight-year-old that there is a justifiable reason that children died last night? How can you explain the actions, the thought-process, of someone who can look at a concert full of young people and see nothing but a target?

“But what we can do is respond well. We can teach our children that the only way to counter such barbarity is not with hate and with fear, but with compassion, tolerance, kindness and love.

“Like the people of Manchester did last night; flocking to help, taking people home, offering places to stay, and searching for children who had become separated from their parents.

“Like those who work in our emergency services did – as they always do – running, unflinching, towards horror, rather than away from it, to offer comfort and care and rescue.

“No doubt over the coming days we will discover the name of the coward who chose to kill excited children at a concert, and there will be attempts to understand why they did it.

“For those who are grieving there will be no worthy answers. For those left traumatised, there will be no comprehension.

“What there will be though is a toughening of our resolve in the face of terror.

“A renewal of our belief in the enduring British values of tolerance and respect.

“And a determination to make sure that such horrific acts will never undermine our freedom, nor our democracy.”

 

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Protest at Israeli Ambassador’s visit to the Scottish Parliament

upright speaking shotEarlier today I attended a demonstration outside the parliament to protest the visit of the Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regev. To those of us against the visit, it was at least a relief that the Ambassador was not in the VIP Gallery for First Minister’s Questions.

My colleague Anas Sawar MSP also highlighted to issue to the First Minister at First Minister’s Questions which you can check out on the Scottish Parliament Official Report here. 

2017 marks the 69th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, which is known by the Palestinian people as the “day of catastrophe”. This included the destruction of over 500 towns and villages which left the people of Gaza with nothing.

Along with other elected representatives, I spoke at the very well attended demonstration, stressing the international illegality and injustice which is the shocking truth of the Israeli Government’s position in relation to Palestine. Surely the time has come when the Palestinian people should have a state of their own? Only this solution can bring lasting peace in the Middle East.

Group photo

As a member of the Cross Party Group of Palastine and have had the opportunity to visit Gaza in 2011 with my colleague John Finnie just after “Operation Cast Lead”. I was able to get an insight as to what life is like for the people in Gaza. I witnessed the occupation of Gaza City which prevents people living a normal live due to the blockade and the severe restrictions placed on them, forcing dependence on aid for food and fresh water. You can read my full blog from my trip here.

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Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day

Today there is a debate in Parliament in memory of Beth Beattie who had Neurofibromatosis (NF). She very sadly died last year just aged four and her parents, Eva and Roger, are helping to raise awareness of this condition.

NF is one of the world’s most common neuro-genetic conditions. There are more people with Neurofibromatosis in the UK than with Hereditary Muscular Dystrophy, Huntingdon’s Disease and Cystic Fibrosis combined and therefore, raising awareness is very important.

Half of those affected occur in families with no previous history of NF so they are unlikely to have heard of NF before diagnosis and will not know where to find help. Eva and Roger want this to change.

If you would like to find out more information on NF or you need some advice, I would encourage you to visit The Neuro Foundations website here.

Pictured Beth Beattie, who passed away on 4th November 2016, aged 4 years old, with her parents Eva & Roger.

Pictured Beth Beattie, who passed away on 4th November 2016, aged 4 years old,
with her parents Eva & Roger.

 

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For the many, not the few – Labour publishes manifesto 2017

Today the Labour Party proudly published their manifesto for the UK General Election – For the many, not the few.

Read it here to see what a Labour Government would do differently for you and your community by clicking here. 

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Holyrood Dog of the Year

Holyrood Dog of the Year 2017 Claudia Beamish and Roujan Image Credit Marc Turner / Dogs Trust

Holyrood Dog of the Year 2017
Claudia Beamish and Roujan
Image Credit Marc Turner / Dogs Trust

It was a joy to enter the Holyrood Dog of the Year 2017 competition, organised by The Kennel Club and Dogs Trust.

It was a brilliant afternoon, and great to see MSPs, Parliament staff, and passers-by meet lots of lovely dogs and discuss dog welfare issues. My dog Roujan really enjoyed himself in the sunshine, and made a few friends too!

We were sorry to miss out on a prize, but congratulations to the winners of the day. Mark Ruskell MSP won the public vote with his lovely retired greyhound Bert, 3rd place was Richard Lochead MSP and Cinder, 2nd place was Bill Bowman MSP and Astra, and 1st place was Emma Harper MSP and Maya.

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Supporting Douglas Beattie in DCT!

cof

Delighted to support our Dumfriesshire Clydesdale and Tweeddale Westminster candidate Douglas Beattie at the launch of his campaign.

We need a Labour Government in Westminster!

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

Camera

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, a time to give support those who need it the most.
We should remember that mental health issues affect every one of us, just as our physical health does. It is high time the stigma attached to mental health conditions comes to an end.

Reece Harding, a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Clydesdale, has worked very closely with me in regards to mental health. The Scottish Youth Parliament’s national campaign is raising awareness of the mental health issues young people can face. They have contributed to the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy, and produced a report called Speak Your Mind.

Reece said, “This SYP campaign has been just as successful as others such as votes at 16, same sex marriage etc.
It’s great that we have managed to work with the Scottish Government and input our recommendations from our Speak Your Mind Report into the Mental Health Strategy. There’s still a lot to be done nationally, but I think we have had a great starting point.

If you would like support or more information on mental health please visit the See Me website.

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Heroes of health care

Royal College of NursesA big thank you to all our nurses.

Today is International Nurses’ Day which recognises the contribution nursing staff make to our society and their dedication shown in often difficult circumstances.  On the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, the Royal College of Nurses celebrates nurses across the globe.  This year the focus is on highlighting the work of nurses serving in war zones.

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Next stage for the bill to ban fracking

Today The Scottish Parliament Business Bulletin has 18 MSP signatures from 3 political parties – Scottish Labour, Greens and Liberal Democrats – to support the Final Proposal for my Member’s Bill to ban onshore “fracking” in Scotland.

Many thanks to all signatories so far – We move one step closer to a Bill!

Claudia 18 signatures

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