been a difficult week. We were all horrified by the awful tragedy in
Glasgow when nine people died as a police helicopter crashed into the
Clutha Vaults bar. It was a busy Friday night there, with perhaps 120
people enjoying a drink and the band that was playing.
helicopter seemed to literally drop out of the sky and into the flat
roof of the building, crashing through into the bar beneath. More than
30 people were injured and three remain in intensive care.
Because of the precarious position of the helicopter, it took a couple
of days to move it and search fully underneath it. That must have added
to the anguish of those who feared a friend or relative could have been
Glaswegians being the kind of people they are immediately rushed towards
the building to try and help people out. They formed a human chain to
bring people to safety and the nearby Mosque opened its doors to provide
refreshments and a comfortable space for people to go.
The iconic Clutha Vaults amid the horror of the helicopter crash
a truism that Scots in general and Glaswegians in particular will always
rush to help others, even if there is a risk to themselves in the
process. They wonít be running in the opposite direction or pretending
not to notice some kind of tragedy.
really is something inherently decent and compassionate in the Scottish
character. It may not be unique to this part of the world but itís
certainly a lot more obvious than it is in many of the places Iíve
young people often get unfairly criticised Ė theyíre irresponsible,
anti-social, violent, into drugs and alcohol, uncaring, abusive and the
like Ė but they too are fundamentally decent, compassionate, caring
people, some of whom have had to cope with more than their fair share of
two teenage sons of my own, I am well aware of just how challenging
adolescent life can be. My kids are lucky; many are not so fortunate and
all of them are subjected to influences from their peers, good and bad.
Lord Advocate and The Street
Regular readers will be aware that Iím a huge supporter of the Regen:fx
charity and its drama group, The Street
http://tinyurl.com/c24g72e. I invited them to perform at the
Scottish Parliament back in March when MSPs were both shocked and
inspired by the event.
Kieran, one of The Street
actors, with me at the new production.
the opening of their fourth production, I brought along the Lord
Advocate to see the action. The raw and real life drama took place in a
Hamilton industrial unit. The strong issues of street violence, revenge
port, cyber bullying and sexual assault all featured because these are
the issues that impact upon the lives of the 35 or so young people who
create the project.
Lord Advocate was as enthralled as he was impressed. These Street
productions are a form of crime prevention that really works because
itís real life and real people in and around familiar places.
are the same young people whoíve experienced the impact of violence in
their own lives and who are now telling others to keep away from it. By
turning a negative into a positive they are getting the message across
to the people they know.
not possible to say that crime has been reduced as a result of The
Streetís work but I do think that the fact that some 1,500 young people
have experienced this kind of take on the consequences of violence must
be making a difference to attitudes.
Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, is acutely aware of youth crime levels,
especially knife crime. He announced, back in June, that knife crime
across Scotland had fallen by 30 per cent following legislation
introduced by Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill MSP.
he was hugely impressed by what he saw. He was tremendously encouraged
to see these young people determined to tell others just how important
it is to end the cycle of pointless violence and its consequences in the
community around Hamilton.
Lighting up for Christmas
with great delight that I turned on the Christmas lights in Larkhall
last week. Thereís something very special about the seasonal atmosphere
the lights produce, particularly the delight in the faces of the
children who are counting the days away.
was lovely to be able to chat to folk from around the area and find so
much support for the Yes campaign among them.
Lighting up in Larkhall
Side by Side
quite a while since I took part in a three-legged event but I was as
pleased as punch to join my colleague, Marco Biagi MSP, for such a trip
last week. And indeed there was more than one trip it has to be said.
Side by Side event was organised by White Ribbon Scotland. This group
works in partnership with Scottish Womenís Aid to tackle gendered
violence. The three legged race symbolically ties a man and a woman
together in recognition of the cooperation that is required to take
violence out of human relationships.