[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 18:21 GMT
Sheridan arrested at asylum demo
Tommy Sheridan
Tommy Sheridan was arrested while protesting outside the office
Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan has been arrested along with two other people during a protest outside an immigration office in Glasgow.

Mr Sheridan was among a group of 25 protesters who blockaded the office in Brand Street, Govan, on Monday.

He said they were protesting against "disgraceful" dawn raids on failed asylum seekers prior to deportation.

The Home Office said the protest would not prevent the government from enforcing its "fair" asylum policy.

Police confirmed that Mr Sheridan had been arrested along with two other people.

Prior to his detention, Mr Sheridan said protesters were hoping to stop raids taking place.

We are hopefully going to stop any dawn raids today - that's what our target is
Tommy Sheridan
Socialist MSP

The demonstrators blocked the gates through which they said the vans which carry out the dawn raids have been leaving and entering.

Mr Sheridan said people were being removed from their homes in "disgraceful" dawn raids with children being dragged out of bed in their night clothes and deported.

The MSP said: "I as an ordinary human being think that is unacceptable in the 21st century and we're calling for a more humane immigration service at the very least.

"We are hopefully going to stop any dawn raids today - that's what our target is."

Population concerns

Mr Sheridan said Scotland was a depopulated and ageing country which needed "new blood" and the authorities should be inviting people to stay instead of deporting them.

The MSP said recent high-profile dawn raids involved families who had stayed in Scotland for five years and who considered themselves Scottish.

"These youngsters want to stay in this country and help Scotland develop as a nation of multi-culturalism and I think that's something that should be welcomed and supported," he added.

Behaviour such as this will not prevent the government from continuing to enforce its firm but fair asylum policy in Scotland
Home Office spokesperson

A spokesperson for the Home Office said the blockade had forced the temporary closure of the immigration office.

"When protest is no longer peaceful and prevents individuals from doing their jobs, it becomes unacceptable," the spokesperson said.

"Behaviour such as this will not prevent the government from continuing to enforce its firm but fair asylum policy in Scotland and across the UK."

Early morning visits were aimed at catching whole families together and were carried out as sensitively as possible, the spokesperson added.

'Political posturing'

Commenting on Mr Sheridan's arrest, Tory MSP Bill Aitken said: "It is pathetic. People in Scotland are becoming tired of the political posturing of the Scottish Socialists and Tommy Sheridan in particular.

"There are two options here - either he is not prosecuted and therefore denied the oxygen of the further publicity he craves, or he is prosecuted and punished in a suitable way.

"Obviously this cannot be by means of a fine, because we know the SSP don't pay fines."

He added: "I think the parliament needs to start looking at their behaviour as a matter of urgency."




SEE ALSO:
Protesters in 'asylum raid' demo
02 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Dawn asylum raids 'will continue'
16 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Asylum seeker treatment protest
01 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Protest over refugee dawn raids
17 Sep 05 |  Scotland


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific