Tributes from around the world after Duke of Edinburgh’s death

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle.

Hulton Archive via Getty Images

The Duke of Edinburgh has died at the age of 99.

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, passed away on Friday morning at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace announced.

The Duke and the Queen were married for more than 70 years and Philip dedicated decades of his life to royal duty, serving the nation at the monarch’s side.

Following the announcement of his death, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am saddened by news that the Duke of Edinburgh has died.

“I send my personal and deepest condolences – and those of the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland – to Her Majesty The Queen and her family.”

Speaking from a podium in Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “He was an environmentalist, and a champion of the natural world long before it was fashionable.

“With his Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme he shaped and inspired the lives of countless young people and at literally tens of thousands of events he fostered their hopes and encouraged their ambitions.

“We remember the duke for all of this and above all for his steadfast support for Her Majesty the Queen.

“Not just as her consort, by her side every day of her reign, but as her husband, her ‘strength and stay’, of more than 70 years.

“And it is to Her Majesty, and her family, that our nation’s thoughts must turn today.

“Because they have lost not just a much-loved and highly respected public figure, but a devoted husband and a proud and loving father, grandfather and, in recent years, great-grandfather.”

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Honeymoon: The couple were married for more than 70 years.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said: “On behalf of all the people of the United States, we send our deepest condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the entire royal family, and all the people of the United Kingdom on the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

“Over the course of his 99-year life, he saw our world change dramatically and repeatedly.

“From his service during World War II, to his 73 years alongside the Queen, and his entire life in the public eye — Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK, the Commonwealth, and to his family.

“The impact of his decades of devoted public service is evident in the worthy causes he lifted up as patron, in the environmental efforts he championed, in the members of the armed forces that he supported, in the young people he inspired, and so much more.

“His legacy will live on not only through his family, but in all the charitable endeavours he shaped.

“Jill and I are keeping the Queen and to Prince Philip’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in our hearts during this time.”

Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, praised the Duke for his service to “his country and the Commonwealth”.

He added: “Prince Philip was no stranger to Australia, having visited our country on more than 20 occasions.

“Through his service to the Commonwealth he presided as patron or president of nearly 50 organisations in Australia. Given his own service, Prince Philip also had a strong connection with the Australian Defence Force.

“For 65 years, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme has encouraged over 775,000 young Australians to explore their leadership potential. Forty thousand young Australians are currently participating in the program.

“Australians send our love and deepest condolences to her Majesty and all the Royal family. The Commonwealth family joins together in sorrow and thanksgiving for the loss and life of Prince Philip. God bless from all here in Australia.”

Former US president Barack Obama tweeted: “Through his extraordinary example, His Royal Highness Prince Philip proved that true partnership has room for both ambition and selflessness — all in service of something greater.

“Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Family, and the British people.”

Russian leader Vladimir Putin also conveyed his condolences.

“Many important events in the contemporary history of your country are connected with the name of His Royal Highness,” Putin said in a statement.

“He has rightfully enjoyed the respect of the British nation as well as international recognition.”

A Kremlin statement said Putin “wished Queen Elizabeth II fortitude and resilience in the face of this severe and irreparable loss and requested that his sincere condolences be passed to all the members of the royal family”.

French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “I wish to express my sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Family and the British people upon the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip who lived an exemplary life defined by bravery, a sense of duty and commitment to the youth and the environment.”

Nicholas Soames, a former Conservative MP and the grandson of wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, tweeted: “The death of Prince Philip marks the passing of a truly remarkable man who lived a life of impeccable and dedicated service to his Queen and Country.”

The British Army also tweeted its condolences.

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, paid tribute to the Duke’s “extraordinary life of dedicated service”.

He added: “On the occasions when I met him, I was always struck by his obvious joy at life, his enquiring mind and his ability to communicate to people from every background and walk of life. He was a master at putting people at their ease and making them feel special.

“The legacy he leaves is enormous.”

Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin posted on Twitter: “Saddened to hear of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Queen Elizabeth and the people of the United Kingdom at this time.”

Jane Barlow via Getty Images
Queensferry Crossing: Prince Philip with The Queen and Nicola Sturgeon at the bridge’s opening in 2017.

Mark Drakeford, First minister of Wales, also offered his condolences.

He said: “It is with sadness that we mourn the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

“Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.

“We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, his children and their families on this sad occasion.

“He will be missed by the many organisations that he supported as patron or president over many decades of service.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “My thoughts are with the British people and the Royal Family on the passing away of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

“He had a distinguished career in the military and was at the forefront of many community service initiatives. May his soul rest in peace.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also paid her respects, tweeting: “I am saddened to hear of the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip.

“I would like to extend my sincere sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen, the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom on this very sad day.”

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Scottish Parliament: Flags at half-mast in tribute to the Duke.

The Union Jack flag at Buckingham Palace was at half-mast on Friday, while a framed plaque announcing Philip’s death was placed on the front gates by royal household staff.

The notice remained on the gates for around an hour before being taken down, and some people laid flowers.

Flags will fly at half-mast on UK Government buildings in tribute to the Duke from now until the morning after his funeral.

Guidance was issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the flying of official flags.

All such flags, which include Union flags and any national flag, are to be “half-masted on all UK Government buildings as soon as possible on Friday until 8am on the day following the funeral”, the department said.

It advises that any non-official flags, which include for example the rainbow flag or Armed Forces flag, should be taken down and replaced with a Union flag flying at half-mast.

The department said devolved administrations would issue instructions “for the flying of the Union flag and other official flags on buildings in their estate and others as necessary”.

Scottish Parliament presiding officer Ken Macintosh expressed his condolences on Twitter, as he ordered the flags outside Holyrood to fly at half-mast.

He later confirmed that the Scottish Parliament will be recalled on Monday so that members can pay their respects to the Duke, who “extended his friendship and support to the parliament from the outset”.

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Aberdeenshire: Tributes to the Duke of Edinburgh.

In tribute, Police Scotland’s chief constable Iain Livingstone said: “It is with great sadness that we have today learned of the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

“His Royal Highness spent many days in Scotland, particularly at Balmoral, and met many people at functions in Aberdeenshire and across Scotland.

“Whether at the side of Her Majesty The Queen or making his own visits to organisations, his interest in and support of those who serve Scotland and our communities was clear to everyone.

“We will be taking time to pay our respects over the coming days.”

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Balmoral: People paying their respects.

The minister of the church used by the Royal Family when at Balmoral Castle expressed the community’s sadness at the Duke’s death.

Reverend Kenneth MacKenzie, minister of the Parish of Braemar and Crathie and domestic chaplain to the Queen, said: “Everybody has favourite memories of the Duke, he was just a very interesting man and took a real interest in this area.

“He knew a lot of people and a lot of families who have multi-generational interest in this area, so some folk he knew not just their parents but grandparents.

“Everyone will remember him with respect but also a degree of affection, he was really highly thought of around here.”

The reverend admitted the Covid-19 pandemic had caused “difficult times for everybody” including the Royal Family.

However, he added: “Until very recently the Duke was going out and about when he would come up.

“Through the late summer and the autumn he would be getting around the estate and take an interest on what was going on.

“He’s known to be someone who was sharp-witted and very funny but he was a thinking man and had a lot of ideas about how best to look after this part of the world, it’s a beautiful area.

“He was part of that family for all those years and it was such a dutiful role that he played that he was as involved in this community in some ways as almost anybody else and that family’s been involved for many generations in this place.

“A lot of what goes on around here is testimony to some of his thinking.”

Rangers said the football club was “saddened by the passing of Prince Philip”.

Posting on Twitter, the club added: “Our deepest sympathies go to Her Majesty and the rest of the Royal Family.”

Hibs also paid tribute, highlighting the Duke’s “wonderful affinity” with Edinburgh.

The club added: “Our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and all the Royal Family.”

A spokesperson for Hearts FC said: “Everyone at Heart of Midlothian Football Club is saddened by the passing of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

“We extend our sympathies to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family at this difficult time.”

The makers of royal drama The Crown said they were “deeply saddened” over the Duke’s death.

Philip was played by Doctor Who star Matt Smith in the first two series of the lavish Netflix series, opposite Claire Foy as the Queen.

He was replaced by Outlander actor Tobias Menzies for series three and four, opposite Olivia Colman as the Queen.

The first series followed the earlier days of the relationship between the Queen and Philip, while the second series dramatised tensions in the marriage.

Later episodes showed his interest in and passion for space travel.

A statement from the show, written by Peter Morgan, said: “Netflix, Left Bank Pictures, Sony Pictures Television and the production team on The Crown are deeply saddened to hear of the death of The Duke of Edinburgh.

“Our thoughts are with the Royal Family at this sad time.”

Oscar nominee Jonathan Pryce will take over the role of the Duke of Edinburgh for the fifth and six series of the show, which will be the last.

He will star opposite Imelda Staunton as the Queen.

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Glasgow City Chambers: The Union Jack has been lowered to half-mast.

European royal families have also paid tribute.

The Dutch royal family offered its “heartfelt sympathy” to the Queen.

The official Twitter account of the Royal House of the Netherlands posted a message from King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Princess Beatrix.

They said: “It is with great respect that we remember His Royal Highness Prince Philip.

“Throughout his long life, he committed himself with dedication to the British people and to his many duties and responsibilities.

“His lively personality never ceased to leave an unforgettable impression.

“Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy goes out to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and all the members of the Royal Family.”

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden said in a statement that Philip remained “an inspiration to us all”.

He said: “The Queen and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

“Prince Philip has been a great friend of our family for many years, a relation which we have deeply valued.

“His service to his country will remain an inspiration to us all.

“We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen, the royal family and the people of the United Kingdom.”

The Belgian Royal Palace said it was “deeply saddened” by Philip’s death, tweeting a tribute along with photos of the family with Philip.

“Deeply saddened by the passing away of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” the palace said.

“We wish to express our deepest condolences to Her Majesty The Queen, the British Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom.

“Philippe and Mathilde.”

The Duke of Edinburgh was Braemar Mountain Rescue Team’s long-standing patron since 1966.

In a statement, the team said: “He always took a keen interest in our work and was generous with his time and support.

“We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family.”

Chief officer Martin Blunden from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “It is with profound sadness that we have today learned of the death of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, the  Duke of Edinburgh, and our thoughts are with Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family at this time.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s website has since been transformed into a memorial page to the Duke of Edinburgh.

A short message on archewell.com says: “In loving memory of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021, thank you for your service… you will be greatly missed.”

FM slams Rangers fans as Glasgow could face longer lockdown

Professor Jason Leitch said the city may be under Level 3 restrictions for more than another week.

Pool/Pool via Getty Images / Euan Cherry via SNS Group

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “utterly disgusted” by Rangers fans who “rampaged through the city” as Glasgow’s Level 3 restrictions could continue for more than an extra week.

The First Minister said that the violence, vandalism and anti-Catholic prejudice on display was “selfish beyond belief” amid rising coronavirus cases in the city.

Her statement came as Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said that restrictions may continue in Glasgow beyond May 24.

An estimated 15,000 Rangers fans amassed outside Ibrox and then in George Square on Saturday. Five police officers were injured after supporters began throwing missiles at them. Police Scotland said that 28 people had been arrested so far for a variety of offences and that more arrests will follow.

Sturgeon said she had been inundated with messages about the “disgraceful scenes” in Glasgow.

Euan Cherry via SNS Group
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – MAY 15: Rangers fans celebrate lifting the Scottish Premiership title at George Square, on May 15, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Euan Cherry / SNS Group)

She said: “Police still have a job to do, which restrains my comments to some extent – but to say I’m utterly disgusted by the Rangers fans who rampaged through the city would be an understatement.

“I’m also angry on behalf of every law abiding citizen. In normal times, the violence and vandalism, and the vile anti-Catholic prejudice that was on display, would have been utterly unacceptable. But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it was also selfish beyond belief.

“People across the country still living under the most difficult restrictions – not able to see family or attend weddings and funerals – are rightly furious at the irresponsible actions of a thuggish minority who seem to care little for the risks they pose to other people.”

She said that there is a need for the government and police to reflect on what more can be done to prevent and tackle such scenes but said that Police Scotland officers had her admiration for the job they did in “difficult and dangerous circumstances”.

Five police officers were injured and more than 20 people arrested after massive crowds of Rangers fans had to be dispersed from George Square in Glasgow. Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie said: “Police Scotland, our partners and Rangers Football Club had all asked fans not to gather and to take personal responsibility for their actions.

“But 15,000 people chose to ignore that and took the selfish decision to gather at Ibrox and then George Square.”

General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation Callum Steele hit out at the incident on Twitter with pictures showing the extent of two officers’ injuries.

He said: “No matter how lucky we are to have such courageous officers protecting our communities, none of them deserve this.”

The city remains Scotland’s virus hotspot with the latest seven-day rate of positive cases per 100,000 people at 89.4.

The rest of the country will have coronavirus restrictions eased on Monday, May 17, but Glasgow and Moray will remain under Level 3.

Pollokshield and Battlefield remain the most affected neighbourhoods with residents urged to get tested and take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when offered.

Having taken a test herself, Sturgeon said: “If you live in – or have recently spent time in – the Southside of Glasgow, please help get this outbreak under control by taking a test.”

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show, Prof Leitch said “it may well be” Glasgow remains under Level 3 beyond the initial one week delay to easing restrictions.

He told the programme: “We’ll give the best advice we can on this – we’ve met all weekend, we’ll meet next week.

“Glasgow are doing an enormous amount of work. The leaders of the public health response in Glasgow are testing everywhere.

“If you haven’t had a test and you’re in Glasgow, you should do it.”

Coronavirus: 292 new cases recorded in last 24 hours

Scottish Government figures showed there had been no further deaths of those who had tested positive recently.

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Covid-19: 292 new cases in Scotland.

Scotland has recorded 292 positive coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

That number represents 2% of all the tests that reported results, meaning the positivity rate increased from 1.6% on Saturday.

Latest figures released on Sunday showed that there were no further deaths of people who had recent tested positive for the virus.

However, three people remain in intensive care with recently confirmed Covid-19.

Since the start of the pandemic more than 10,000 deaths have been registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

Over three million people, around two thirds of adults in Scotland, have received their first dose of the vaccination.

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Caution urged as Covid-19 restrictions set to ease

Professor Leitch indicated that Glasgow may have to stay in level 3 restrictions for longer than a week.

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Leitch: Urging caution as restrictions set to ease.

Scots should be “cautious and careful” when Covid restrictions ease across most of the country on Monday, national clinical director Jason Leitch has said.

Professor Leitch said the decision to keep Glasgow in Level 3 restrictions went “down to the wire” and indicated the city may have to stay at the current level for longer than a week.

With the exception of Glasgow and Moray, which are dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, all mainland areas will move from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions.

Changes to the rules include the ability to hug loved ones again and indoor socialising in homes.

Many island communities will move to Level 1.

Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday that Glasgow and Moray would have to stay at Level 3, with the situation being reviewed at the end of next week.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show, Prof Leitch said initial signs suggested the Indian variant was “part of the challenge” in Glasgow.

Discussing the decisions to keep Scotland’s largest city in Level 3, he said: “Certainly the toughest we’ve had to give advice about for months and months.

“It was really down to the wire on what was the right thing to do, but we’ve learned in Scotland and around the world that acting fast and hard always works.

“Delay rarely works and that is why we gave the advice we did.”

Asked if the outbreaks were likely to spread to other areas, he said: “I think we should watch and be cautious and careful.

“We have decided, with advice, that on Monday the rest of the country is safe to move to the next stage.

“But we all said the hugging, the increased hospitality, that should all be done very cautiously.

“So don’t go crazy but we think it can be kept under control.”

Prof Leitch said it “may well be” the case that Glasgow stays in Level 3 for longer than a week, as he urged people in the city to take tests for the virus.

On Monday in the Level 2 areas, up to six people from three households can socialise indoors in a private home or garden without physical distancing.

Physical contact such as hugs with loved ones will be allowed again, though the government says people should use their judgment around how often this takes place.

Pubs can open and sell alcohol indoors until 10.30pm in two-hour booked slots. Local licensing laws will apply outdoors.

On Sunday, a total of 292 cases of coronavirus and no new deaths were recorded in the Scottish Government’s daily figures.

A total of 3,020,335 people have received the first dose of a Covid vaccination and 1,621,031 have received their second dose.

Hundreds join Glasgow rally in solidarity with Palestinians

It comes after similar rallies in other major cities across the UK and Ireland this weekend.

George Square Cam via Glasgow City Council
Pro-Palestine supporters have gathered in Glasgow’s George Square.

Several hundred demonstrators have gathered in Glasgow’s George Square for a rally in solidarity with Palestinians.

Protesters shouted “free Palestine” and waved Palestinian flags and placards in the sunshine early on Sunday afternoon, just hours after the area was cleared of a sea of broken glass and debris left by Rangers fans celebrating the club’s league title.

Ahead of Sunday’s rally, civil liberties lawyer Aamer Anwar tweeted that “1000s will gather peacefully with families & no alcohol, to protest the genocide of #Palestinians”.

He added: “We demand total respect by [Police Scotland] and a facilitation of the democratic right to protest, we will not tolerate any double standards or excuses”.

It comes after similar rallies in other major cities across the UK and Ireland in solidarity with the people of Palestine this weekend.

In London on Saturday, nine police officers were injured and missiles were thrown amid efforts to disperse crowds outside the Israeli Embassy.

Thousands of people had earlier marched through the capital to the gates of the embassy in Kensington.

Nine people were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder in London, the Metropolitan Police said.

Adel Hana via AP
Gaza City was targeted by in a fresh Israeli air strike on Sunday (Adel Hana/AP)

Scotland Yard said small pockets of disorder had followed a largely peaceful demonstration.

Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes after a week of sustained conflict.

Since last Monday night, Palestinian militant group Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, whose military responded by barraging the Gaza Strip with tank fire and air strikes.

At least 145 people in Gaza and eight in Israel have been killed since the fighting erupted.

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Woman severely injured after two assaulted by teen at station

Two women were assaulted by a teenager wearing a Rangers flag around her neck on Saturday.

British Transport Police via BTP
British Transport Police are appealing for witnesses.

A young woman has been left severely injured after being assaulted by a teenager at a busy North Lanarkshire railway station.

The victim’s friend was also assaulted by the same woman at Coatbridge Sunnyside station on Saturday night.

British Transport Police are now looking to trace the suspect who is described as being around 18 or 19-years-old, with a heavy build and dark hair.

At the time of the attack she was wearing a Rangers flag around her neck.

Emergency services attended and the first woman assaulted is currently being treated for severe leg injuries in hospital.

Officers are now appealing for witnesses to the incident that took place at around 7.30pm.

A spokesperson from BTP said: “Several people are believed to have been at the station at the time of the assault and detectives are urging them to come forward with any information.

“Witnesses or anyone with information can contact BTP by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40.”


Five police injured and 28 arrested after Rangers title party

Scenes of celebration became 'ugly' after officers tried to disperse the crowds.

Euan Cherry via SNS Group

Five police officers have been injured and almost 30 people arrested after massive crowds of Rangers fans had to be dispersed from George Square in Glasgow.

The thousands of football supporters were celebrating their team’s Scottish Premiership triumph with many gathering outside Ibrox and then marching through the city on Saturday before scenes turned “ugly”.

The First Minister said she was “utterly disgusted” and hopes that Rangers FC will reflect on what must be done to counteract behaviour of fans as there is concern that Glasgow will have to remain in Level 3 for even longer amid increasing cases of coronavirus.

There was a large police presence throughout the day, with increasing numbers deployed to George Square as the singing, dancing, and lighting of pyrotechnics continued for hours.

George Square was littered with broken glass, alcohol containers, spent flares and other rubbish.

But police said some fans became “increasingly disorderly” with property damaged and people being assaulted in “ugly scenes”. Officers were targeted by the crowd, with missiles and flares thrown at them.

Glasgow’s police chief condemned the “disgraceful behaviour” and thanked the officers who put themselves in harm’s way to bring the “violent and disorderly gathering to an end”.

Although most of the crowd dispersed, a number remained and confronted the police with “violence and aggression” with officers coming under direct attack.

Nicola Sturgeon said that she had been inundated with messages about the “disgraceful scenes” in Glasgow.

She said: “Police still have a job to do, which restrains my comments to some extent – but to say I’m utterly disgusted by the Rangers fans who rampaged through the city would be an understatement.

“I’m also angry on behalf of every law abiding citizen. In normal times, the violence and vandalism, and the vile anti-Catholic prejudice that was on display, would have been utterly unacceptable. But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it was also selfish beyond belief.

“People across the country still living under the most difficult restrictions – not able to see family or attend weddings and funerals – are rightly furious at the irresponsible actions of a thuggish minority who seem to care little for the risks they pose to other people.”

She said that there is a need for the government and police to reflect on what more can be done to prevent and tackle such scenes but said that Police Scotland officers had her admiration for the job they did in “difficult and dangerous circumstances”.

The mass of fans left George Square littered with smashed glass, alcohol containers, plastic bags, and spent flare and firework casings.

Scaffolding around the Walter Scott Monument in the centre of the square had been scaled during the celebrations.

There was a large police presence throughout the day.

A major clean-up operation took place overnight with the area intended to host an organised demonstration on Sunday.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “My full support to police officers who put in an incredible shift [yesterday] in very difficult circumstances. Absolutely disgraceful that they were subjected to the kind of thuggery we saw last night. Incidents of violence, disorder, anti-Catholic and any other hatred will be followed up.”

Fans had been urged to celebrate in accordance with coronavirus restrictions and avoid gathering in numbers. Glasgow is currently the nation’s coronavirus hotspot, with the highest prevalence of the virus per head of population. The city will remain in Level 3 lockdown, along with Moray, while the rest of the country enjoys the easing of restrictions.

Figures published on Friday showed Glasgow recorded 80.4 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to May 11.

Chief superintendent Mark Sutherland, Police Scotland’s divisional commander for Greater Glasgow, said: “As celebrations continued sections of the crowd became increasingly disorderly, property was damaged and people were assaulted. Our officers became the focus of the crowd’s attention with missiles and flares being thrown at them. Our policing response has been proportionate. We have responded appropriately and consistently to the behaviour of those gathered.

“I strongly condemn the behaviour of these supporters who have not only placed our officers at risk but have sought to damage the image and reputation of this great city, especially during this critical period of the pandemic.

“I would like to place on record my thanks to the police and partners who manged this incident, especially those officers who put themselves in danger to bring this violent and disorderly gathering to an end.

“So far we know that three officers have been injured and more than 20 people have been arrested.

“We will be continuing our enquiries and my message is clear that if you have been involved in these ugly scenes then we you will be identified and arrested.”

Scottish cinemas set to reopen after months of dark screens

Vue boss says there is ‘huge pent-up demand’ for the big-screen experience.

Vue Cinemas via Handout/PA
Vue have revamped their cinemas in readiness for reopening on Monday, putting in new Covid-safe features.

There is a “huge amount of pent-up demand” for cinemas and confidence in the industry is “unshaken”, the general manager of Vue in the UK and Ireland has said, as thousands of multiplexes reopen their doors.

The cinema chain will open its venues in Scotland and the rest of the UK on Monday with new releases including Peter Rabbit 2, featuring the voice of James Corden, and Spiral: From The Book Of Saw, starring Chris Rock, and classic films such as The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, Taxi Driver and Grease.

Odeon cinemas will also reopen as will Curzon chains. Cineworld, which announced the closure of 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites last October, will begin reopening from Wednesday, May 19.

Cinemas will not be able to reopen in Glasgow or Moray which remain in Level 3 lockdown amid higher prevalence of the virus, meaning Scotland’s only Everyman venue will be closed until restrictions are eased.

Toby Bradon, general manager of Vue entertainment in the UK and Ireland, said: “There’s a huge amount of pent-up demand out there, and we want to get that out there and meet that pent-up demand.

“We know that our customers are really keen to get back into the cinemas and we’ve got a great line-up of films.

“We do know from the customer research we’ve done that people believe you can’t recreate that big-screen experience at home. It’s a point of differentiation.

“People want the big screen, they want the sound, the seats, the whole experience, the popcorn that goes with it, and they recognise you can’t get that from your sofa.

“We’re in some unprecedented times, so it’s quite difficult to judge exactly what it’s going to look like but our confidence in the industry is unshaken.”

Discussing the rise of streaming over the past year, and the move by some film studios to make films available at home on the same day as in theatres, Mr Bradon said he believed audiences still need cinemas for blockbuster experiences.

Warner Bros has announced its entire slate of 2021 films, including anticipated blockbuster Dune, will arrive on the HBO Max streaming service at the same time as in cinemas in the US.

Disney will also launch a number of films on its streaming service Disney+ on the same day as cinema releases, including Marvel film Black Widow, villain origin story Cruella and Dwayne Johnson’s new movie Jungle Cruise.

However, the release of likely box office hits such as Bond film No Time To Die, Top Gun: Maverick and Fast And Furious 9 have all been delayed so they can be shown only in cinemas.

Mr Bradon said: “If you look at what the studios have done with the big films, they’ve delayed them, they pushed them back, they haven’t pushed them to the home and streaming, which tells you that cinema exhibition is an economic powerhouse for them.

“Of course other films have gone to streaming and but generally they’re not the big ones. So No Time To Die, Fast And Furious 9, the big tentpole stuff, has just been delayed and I think that’s a sign of confidence from the studios as well that the customers will return.”

Nurses map road to recovery for those living with addiction

The Parish Nurses have created the Dundee Recovery Roadmap to bring support services together.

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The road to recovery for people affected by drugs in Dundee is being mapped out by a group of nurses.

The Parish Nurses run drop in services to support those experiencing addiction and homelessness.

Now, they have created the Dundee Recovery Roadmap mobile phone app, bringing together a raft of services that have sprung up in the city to help halt record drug deaths.

“Over the last few years the services that have sprung up have been quite encouraging and we see that in the app,” explained Kirsty Nelson, one of the Parish Nurses.

“It’s full of these amazing services that are there to support, encourage and help people get into the recovery stage of their life.”

Demand for addiction support has never been greater. 72 people died from drugs in Dundee in 2019, earning the city the unenviable title of Europe’s drug death capital per head of population.

Stefan Ward knows only too well the importance of support services. He arrived in Dundee eight years ago addicted to drugs and credits his recovery to the grassroots groups that helped him.

“I was really broken, hitting rock bottom, at that stage of giving up,” said Mr Ward.

“Finding out that Dundee had this unfortunate name for itself as the drug death capital, I thought this was my dead end, this was it and it didn’t look good as that’s where I struggled also.

“But it actually turned out to be the place where I found hope, I found recovery.”

Mr Ward now volunteers at the drop-in centre run by the Parish Nurses at the city’s Steeple Church, helping others find the support he says saved his life.

“I discovered these services, the church, they’ve just played a huge part in my recovery and I really am here by the grace of god,” said Mr Ward.

He has helped develop the app – highlighting all the services in the city offering support. One of the services featured is the Safe Zone Bus.

Before coronavirus came along, the bus helped vulnerable people or those leaving pubs and clubs worse for wear.

At the start of the pandemic it was repurposed to help those struggling to access help.

It parks up in the Stobswell and Lochee areas on a Friday and Saturday night, when other services are closed.

Kathryn Baker, Tayside Council on Alcohol chief executive said: “We’ve had people over the winter who have come onto the bus and they’ve had no food, no warm clothing, they’ve had no money for electricity, they’ve had no heating so we’ve been able to provide that crisis help.”

Volunteers on the bus have discovered the power of the pot noodle is a surprising ice breaker.

Neil Sneddon, of Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “It takes four minutes to make so it gives us four minutes to engage with people.” 

“People come here for a pot noodle but they have multiple issues, potentially that we can support them with and if we can’t support them on the bus we know multiple agencies that can and that’s what the cup of tea, the pot noodle allows.”

Denise Fitzsimmons volunteers on the bus and uses her own experience of addiction to help others.

“In June, that’s me six years sober. When I was a kid I never thought I would be a drop-out alcoholic, but I did. But I got better and everybody can get better but only they can do it,” she said.

“Family members are tortured by this. Everybody is affected. It’s heartbreaking. We need to listen to the people and find out what’s going on because we’re getting polluted by drugs. It’s taking over this town.”

The Reconnection Project is also included on the app. Through a series of gardening, woodwork and art workshops they try to get to the root of people’s problems.

“Over 50 people I knew have died, young, younger than me,” said volunteer John ‘Taffy’ Barrington, who never used drugs but witnessed the devastation they caused when he was homeless ten years ago. 

“I try to encourage a lot of people that there are things for them, there wasn’t so much when I was on the streets. There’s so [many] positives, I try to encourage people that if I can do it anyone can do it.”

The Reconnection Project’s manager Dave Dyson, a former drug user himself, wants to set up a rehab centre on the outskirts of the city.

“We would run it the way we see it would run better without any medication, without methadone. It would be what you would call cold turkey,” he explained.

“We’re lacking in Scotland with people being able to go into rehab, so that’s important. People need to feel they’re not going to be judged. People need to feel loved. There is so much hurt out there and we’re seeing it all the time. Until you find the root cause the problem is always going to be there. There is so much trauma,” said Mr Dyson.

There are plans to roll the roadmap out to other parts of Scotland in the hope more people can find the help they need where they live and less lives will be lost.


City planners set for ‘more relaxed approach’ to festivals

Edinburgh City Council has previously faced heavy criticism for its planning enforcement of the city’s festivals.

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If the proposals are approved, festival organisers will not need permission for the use of a new space for up to 28 days.

Edinburgh City Council is set to take a “more relaxed approach” to planning enforcement of the capital’s festivals.

Councillors are being asked to approve plans which will allow planning officers to be more lenient during the summer festivals.

Edinburgh City Council has previously faced heavy criticism for its planning enforcement of the city’s festivals, particularly the Christmas Markets in 2019, which went ahead despite not having planning permission, and which caused £150,000 of damage to Princes Street Gardens.

If the proposals are approved, festival organisers will not need permission for the use of a new space for up to 28 days, excluding the erection and removal of any structures, and where that use is not similar to an existing, nearby business.

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Edinburgh International Festival is planning two tents.

The same rule will apply to the city’s public green spaces. Similarly, individual structures smaller than 3,500m-squared will not be subject to planning enforcement.

A report, set to go before councillors at the council’s planning committee on May 19, reads: “The Edinburgh Festivals are key to the city’s international reputation, its economy and its recovery.

“Festivals were not held during 2020 as a result of the coronavirus emergency.

“In 2018, festivals contributed £280m to the local economy.

“The Scottish Government’s chief planner has written to planning authorities in Scotland to encourage a relaxation of planning control, through not taking enforcement action, in a range of circumstances to help businesses and services diversify and continue to operate within our communities during the pandemic.

“Operators have been exploring options for how the summer festivals could be held in 2021 on a limited basis and subject to Scottish Government public health guidelines.

“The timescales for preparing and determining applications, coupled with the uncertainties over what public health requirements will be in place when the festivals will be held mean that it is difficult for the festivals to plan.

“If planning applications are required, the timescales are such that it could stop the reintroduction of core elements of the summer festivals this year, for example the Edinburgh International Festival.”

Edinburgh’s festivals have previously brought high numbers and concentrations of people to the city. In 2018 attendance at major festivals was 4,604,520.

According to council officers, the summer festivals create thousands of seasonal jobs during July and August as well as supporting hundreds of full-time roles.

The report further states that the festivals’ attendees have contributed £280m to the local economy and the 11 Edinburgh Festivals have together delivered £313m to the Scottish economy.

There are currently three proposals for the summer festivals, which under the council’s current planning guidelines would need planning permission, but would now be free to go councillors approve the relaxation of planning enforcement.

Edinburgh International Festival is planning two tents, a 100m by 30m structure in Edinburgh Park, and a 55m by 20m structure in the Old College Quadrangle, while the Edinburgh Tattoo is planning on constructing small stands.

Story by local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson

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