Edinburgh indyref2 campaigner says Sinn Féin-inspired ‘England get out’ banner was ‘not racist’
A pro-independence campaigner has hit back after claims were made that a Sinn Féin-inspired banner he was holding was anti-English and racist.
Sean Clerkin, 58, a member of pro-independence groups including the Scottish Resistance, provoked outrage after a picture circulated online showing him and a fellow campaigner holding a banner that read ‘England get out of Scotland’.
The independence campaigner had been protesting outside the SNP conference which took place in Edinburgh over the weekend.
The banner was widely condemned by voters on both sides of the independence debate, with some stating they felt it qualified as a hate crime.
It also drew criticism Scottish Resistance founder James Scott, who branded the message ‘not acceptable’ and that “Westminster” should have been used rather than England.
But Mr Clerkin insists the banner was not intended to cause offence to English people and refuted claims that there was any racist element to it.
Instead, he states that it had been designed to mirror a Sinn Féin banner - which itself caused widespread offence - after it was unfurled by party president Mary Lou McDonald during a St Patrick’s Day march in New York last month.
The Sinn Féin banner was criticised by leaders of the SDLP, Alliance, the UUP and Irish Tánaiste (Deputy PM) Simon Coveney who labelled it “offensive, divisive and an embarrassment”.
Mr Clerkin also moved to quash rumours that the banner had been made for the Scottish Resistance and that it was instead given unanimous approval by Action for Scotland, another pro-independence group of which he is a member.
Speaking to The Scotsman, he commented: “Some people say I did the right thing others that it’s racist. It definitely wasn’t.
“We were unanimous about what we were doing and the bottom line for us was very simple. England get out of Scotland was a mirror to the Sinn Féin banner.
“It is English institutions we are against. They impose a neo-liberal economic policy that is against the wishes of the people of Scotland.”
Mr Clerkin criticised the Scottish Resistance response, citing modern-day political correctness as one of the main reasons the banner had caused such outrage.
He added: “James Scott’s view is a very limited view. He is trying to be politically correct.
“In this day political correctness has gone a bit mad; you can’t say anything these days, but it’s not a racist banner.
“It was a provocative banner but the whole thing is to generate a debate about the future of a nation.”