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Sunday, 19 August, 2001, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
McLeish attacked for asylum 'inaction'
John Swinney
John Swinney is calling for more police resources
The Scottish Executive is being urged to take action to defuse "growing tensions surrounding the issue of asylum seekers".

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney said that First Minister Henry McLeish should make a statement to "account" for his "actions or inactions over the last six months" and pledge to allocate more resources for policing.

But a spokesman for the First Minister said the executive was actively involved in attempts to ease racial tensions in Glasgow and accused the SNP of political opportunism.

Mr Swinney's comments came after police said that a man would appear in court on Monday in connection with the death of Kurdish asylum seeker, Firsat Yildiz, also known as Dag, in Glasgow two weeks ago.

Chief Constable William Rae
William Rae has asked for more resources
Mr Swinney said: "I am calling on Henry McLeish to account for the Scottish government's actions or inactions over the last six months relating to the problems surrounding the asylum issue.

"Is Mr McLeish willing to assume responsibility for tackling the escalating problems of racial tension and violence occurring in Scotland, or will he continue to take a back seat by abdicating responsibility to Westminster?

"Mr McLeish needs to answer why calls from Strathclyde police Chief Constable, William Rae, for more resources to be allocated to enable his force to provide protection to asylum seekers located in Strathclyde, and to ensure the type of tensions experienced were tackled before they reached tragic consequences, were ignored.

'Shocking murder'

"Despite William Rae writing to the Scottish government a week before the shocking murder of Firsat Dag, explicitly expressing the strains his force were being put under by the asylum issue, the government has failed to act."

But a spokesman for the Henry McLeish said the Scottish Executive was "working hard" to solve any problems experienced by asylum seekers without "seeking publicity".

Henry McLeish
Mr McLeish has met police and council leaders recently
He said: "The First Minister has met with the chief constable of Strathclyde Police and the leader of Glasgow City Council in the past two weeks to discuss the asylum issue."

He said that Deputy Community Care Minister Malcolm Chisholm was involved on a "daily basis" and was keeping Mr McLeish and cabinet colleagues informed of developments.

In a veiled reference to the impending court case over the death of Mr Yildiz, he added: "It is sad that the SNP is making its case for political independence on the back of a tragedy like this."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said the chief constable's "request" for additional resources was "being considered".

See also:

18 Aug 01 | Scotland
Arrest in asylum murder hunt
10 Aug 01 | Scotland
UN condemns asylum seeker attacks
10 Aug 01 | Scotland
More asylum seekers flee city
09 Aug 01 | Scotland
Councils to ease refugee plight
09 Aug 01 | Scotland
Newspaper faces refugee protest
08 Aug 01 | Scotland
Refugee mediator to be appointed
08 Aug 01 | Scotland
Stabbed asylum seeker's anger
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