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Saturday, 30 September, 2000, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Dewar dismisses split threat
Mr Dewar was speaking in Dublin
First Minister Donald Dewar has said that devolution will not lead to independence.

Speaking in Dublin on Friday, the Labour politician said the Scottish National Party may occasionally gain strength on the basis of a protest vote, but it did not follow that there was a genuine increase in support for independence.

Mr Dewar said he believed that devolution did not and would not split Scotland from the rest of the UK.

He insisted the countries were stronger together.

Mr Dewar was addressing the Irish Scottish Academic Initiative at Trinity College on the subject of national and regional identity.

The Mound, temporary home of the parliament
Scotland has had a year of devolution
He said Scotland had always been a trading nation and was also a favoured destination for inward investment, adding that Scotland's economy had absorbed the benefits of international expertise.

Commenting on the SNP, he said that in the 1974 General Election it had won 11 seats and received 30% of the popular vote.

He went on to say that in the year 2000, the SNP was still finding 30% a difficult barrier to cross.

Mr Dewar said: "I do not believe that devolution is a stepping stone, a process which leads inevitably to independence.

"I believe it is an end in itself and that Scotland will hold to that.

"Nationalists may on occasion gather strength on the basis of a protest vote. They are the available option for the discontented.

Scotland 'not parochial'

"Clearly my own party has taken a knock in the poll over recent weeks. That does not mean there is a genuine increase in support for independence.

"Indeed, a most recent poll which brought for me a certain cheer had devolution at 55% support and independence at 24% crumbling and falling from previous highs.

"Devolution does not mean a parochial Scotland. It does not mean a return to the kailyard. Inwardness is not the Scottish experience of the past. It is not the Scotland that I know, it will not be the future.

"Devolution does not, will not, split Scotland from the rest of the UK."

Before giving the lecture, Mr Dewar met Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the minister for foreign affairs Brian Cowen.

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See also:

25 Sep 00 | Labour
Devolution delivering: Dewar
22 Sep 00 | SNP
Salmond: 'Breakaway is nigh'
03 Sep 00 | Scotland
Connery 'called up by Mandelson'
10 May 00 | Scotland
Wallace defends state of nation
10 May 00 | Scotland
MSPs clash over Scotland's future
04 Oct 99 | Scotland
Hague demands Scots votes ban
11 Mar 00 | Scotland
Passionate Dewar defence
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