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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 17:06 GMT
War rally truants criticised
Young people protest in Edinburgh
Pupils left school to stage a die-in
Teenagers who skip school to protest against the war with Iraq have faced criticism in the Scottish Parliament.

First Minister Jack McConnell said there was a right to protest but an obligation to attend school.

He said no MSP should encourage pupils to play truant.

Scottish Tory Leader David McLetchie had asked the first minister if he thought it was "totally irresponsible for elected politicians to encourage young people to play truant from our schools".

He said: "Whilst young people should be encouraged to express opinions on the political issues of the day, they should not be encouraged to skive off."

The first minister told Mr McLetchie that he wanted to make a distinction between older students who were close to voting age and younger pupils.

He said: "First of all we have a right to protest and free speech, and that should be encouraged among teenagers.

"But I do not believe it is right for elected politicians to encourage young people to leave school.

"I would strongly discourage any member of this parliament from encouraging any form of truancy."

Children march against war
19 Mar 03 |  Scotland
Students speak out against war
20 Mar 03 |  Scotland

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