Scottish Daily Mail
We can unite to conquer terror, insists Sturgeon
NICOLA Sturgeon yesterday took part in the UK’s Cobra emergency committee meeting as she called on Scots to ‘unite as a community’.
The First Minister also chaired a meeting of the Scottish equivalent of Cobra, the Scottish Government Resilience Room (SGORR), attended by her top ministers, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, QC, and senior police chiefs.
SGORR meets regularly but it is unusual for the First Minister to be invited to Cobra, chaired by Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday. It is believed Miss Sturgeon took part via a video link from Edinburgh.
She has also met French Consul General Emmanuel Cocher and signed a book of condolence.
Miss Sturgeon said: ‘The terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night have shocked and horrified the nation.
‘I convened a second Scottish Government resilience meeting to ensure that we are doing everything we can in Scotland to provide support for those who may be affected by this senseless attack.
‘Deputy First Minister John Swinney joined the Consul General of France at a service at St Giles’ to pay tribute to the victims of this terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the people of France and all of those affected.
‘We are continuing to work closely with the Foreign Office, Police Scotland and other partners to ensure those who have been caught up in this attack or who may be concerned about relatives have all of the advice, help and information they need. Scotland is a diverse,
‘Shocked and horrified nation’
multi-cultural society and this diversity is our strength.
‘Terrorist attacks are intended to divide us and destroy the freedoms and way of life we value so highly. We must unite as a community here at home – and in solidarity with France – to make clear they will not succeed.’
There is growing talk at Westminster of UK air strikes in Syria, but the SNP still insists the case ‘has not yet been made’. The party’s 55 MPs will argue that further military action would require a UN Security Council resolution and a strategy that included ‘a long-term solution to the conflict and a substantial reconstruction programme’.
Nationalist MP Natalie McGarry wrote on Twitter yesterday: ‘Have to hope UK govt doesn’t respond to type and put air strikes in Syria on agenda as a result of Paris atrocity. I’ll oppose vehemently.’
Meanwhile, hundreds of people, including many from the French community, attended a service in Edinburgh to remember the victims of the Paris attacks. The congregation at St Giles’ Cathedral, including Mr Swinney and Mr Cocher, held a minute’s silence.
Mr Swinney said: ‘This is a solemn moment for us to reflect and remember the tragedy that took place on Friday.
‘What I want to say to people from France who are with us in Scotland is that our hearts are breaking for them. They have endured tremendous suffering and we want to express, as we have done very clearly since Friday evening, our strongest solidarity with the people of France at their time of need, and particularly for the people from the French community here in Scotland – part of our country, part of our society and very much part of our lives.’
St Giles’ minister, the Rev Calum MacLeod, who led the service, said: ‘Friends, let us stand in solidarity this day with the people of France and all those who reject violent extremism and seek constructive peace.
‘Our prayers this day are for all who suffer, especially this day for the people of Paris in their pain and grief in the midst of evil.
‘We pray for parents grieving the loss of their children, children mourning the loss of their parents, neighbours stricken by the loss of friends, lovers torn apart by shocking violence.
‘We pray for those who are deeply injured and fighting for their lives, those who have witnessed unspeakable horrors, those who heroically sought to save lives and those already working to rekindle the embers of hope.’
The service followed a vigil in Glasgow on Saturday where 500 people lit candles, laid flowers and left messages of solidarity with France.
Scots Landmarks, including Edinburgh Castle, the Hydro in Glasgow and The Kelpies, were lit up in the colours of the French flag.
Speaking after the service, Mr Cocher said the French community had been moved by the expressions of support from Scotland.
He added: ‘Here in Scotland we are really supported by the way people see life. The sense of community is strong here and this uplifts the feelings of the French.’