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Chief political correspondent John Morrison reports
"Fishermen have already taken their protest to Edinburgh, piling the pressure on ministers"
 real 56k

Protest leader John Buchan
"They've torn up the rule book, we have symbolically done something similar"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 01:06 GMT
Fishermen make 'burning' protest
Fish protest
Fishermen burned their log books at Peterhead
Fishermen have been burning their logbooks in protest at the Scottish Executive's refusal to agree to pay short term compensation payments for their tie-up scheme.

Trawlermen have been angered by the executive's stance in the wake of a parliamentary defeat over cash aid.

On Monday crews burned their logbooks - used to officially record details of their catches - with the aim of keeping pressure on the executive.

The fishermen also burned an effigy of Fisheries Minister Rhona Brankin during the protest - a move which the Scottish Labour Party later condemned as a "disgusting personal attack."

Ms Brankin said on Saturday she would not bow to pressure for a compensation scheme with "a short-term view".

Fishermen from the Peterhead fleet said that if the executive burns its rule book then they would do the same.

John Buchan
John Buchan: "Symbolic point"
John Buchan, leader of the Fishermen's Action Committee, said: "Why should we as fishermen abide by fishing rules if they as a government are not prepared to abide by democratic ones.

"The most basic rule in a democracy is that the administration abides by the will of parliament.

"The government have said that they intend to ignore not one, not two, but three votes in favour of fishermen.

"That is unacceptable to fishing communities and should be unacceptable to all of Scotland."

Mr Buchan added: "On the fishing issue we now have the support not just of our own communities, but the Scottish Parliament, the environmental organisations and of fisheries scientists. They all agree that our campaign to save the young haddock is right."

effigy
Fishermen burned an effigy of the minister
The fishermen's protest has been backed by Scottish National Party leader, John Swinney.

He said: "The government must implement the will of parliament - otherwise, they risk bringing Scotland's new democracy into disrepute," he said.

"Pressure will continue to build both inside and outside the parliament to force the government to back down, and bring in the short-term compensated tie-up scheme that is vital to the long-term survival of Scotland's fishing industry."

Meanwhile, the Falkirk West MSP Dennis Canavan has lodged a motion calling on the executive to implement the will of the parliament by paying for a tie-up scheme.

The motion calls on the executive to implement all decisions of the parliament in keeping with Scotland's democratic tradition.

Mr Canavan accused the executive of "intransigence" and said it had treated parliament with contempt.

Fisheries minister Rhona Brankin
Fisheries minister Rhona Brankin is defiant
He said: "My motion is obviously attracting support from all the opposition parties and I would hope that at least some of the Liberal Democrat and Labour MSPs would also consider signing it because it concerns the very important principal that the executive should be accountable to parliament."

Labour MSP Cathy Jamieson cricised the personal attacks on Ms Brankin.

'Demeaning' act

She said: "Rhona Brankin has found 27m to aid the fishing industry in its time of need and some people respond with a disgusting personal attack against her.

"It's an absolute disgrace and demeans us all. I hope that Alex Salmond, John Swinney and David McLetchie will have the sense to condemn these actions."

Liberal Democrat MSP Donald Gorrie told BBC Newsnight Scotland that the Labour Party had to realise his party was "not a crowd of lobby fodder."

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See also:

11 Mar 01 | Scotland
Coalition row rumbles on
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Brankin defiant over fishing deal
10 Mar 01 | Scotland
McLeish backs Brankin on fish row
10 Mar 01 | Scotland
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Fish row strains coalition
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