THIS was supposed to be the rally that marked the first anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum. And as Scotland’s only newspaper to support Scottish independence last year, we intended to cover yesterday’s Hope Over Fear (HOF) rally – and cover it well despite the event being refused permission from Glasgow City Council.

The irony was that, as a pro-independence newspaper, we were prevented from covering this pro-independence rally freely when I, as a reporter, and the Sunday Herald photographer Stewart Attwood, were both turned away from the event’s “official” enclosure. Apparently, our presence was not welcome.

The rally in George Square, organised by Tommy Sheridan, featured 28 grassroots speakers and 19 live acts, but many key people from the Yes campaign were absent. Though HOF describes itself as an “apolitical” grassroots movement designed to keep the independence cause alive, senior SNP and Yes figures have distanced themselves, put off by Sheridan and his past history. Some consider the event to be a platform for Sheridan, a convicted perjurer, who is standing as a candidate in Glasgow for the Scottish elections in 2016.

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By lunchtime yesterday, George Square, which some HOF campaigners have dubbed Freedom Square, was full of Saltires; people crowed in to hear the speakers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. At least 1500 were there.

A free bouncy castle, fairground rides and face-painting were laid on for children, signalling that this was meant to be an inclusive event.

“Bring your flags, banners, painted faces, weans in prams, bring yourself, bring your friends and family, bring your friendly Yes dug, bring your energy and enthusiasm, and enjoy every minute of our peaceful, inspirational, entertaining for all, One Year On, Still Yes, Road to Freedom rally. Please take as many pics and videos of the day. Be the media,” said the HOF page.

But those working for the media were less welcome. Among an atmosphere of suspicion and fear of media bias, outlets including the BBC, the Sunday Herald, international agency Agence France Presse (AFP), Scottish picture agency Deadline and several freelance photographers were prevented from entering or asked to leave a barricaded enclosure set up around the stage by organisers.

It is understood the photographers were asked to leave after an argument broke out with organisers, who were described as “very aggressive” by one photographer. I approached organiser-designated security guards who stood by the steel barricades with clipboards, allowing those whose names were on a “guest list” to enter, a surprising thing to see in a public square. I was told by organisers that I needed a pass to come in and speak to people; and then that speakers would be too “busy” to come out.

Those standing at the gates were helpful enough; they called over someone in-charge of “security”, who told me my name wasn’t on the list. I should, I was told, have requested permission weeks or even months ago to enter the area. Apparently reporting by Sunday Herald reporter Paul Hutcheon about Tommy Sheridan had “not done us any favours”.

Our photographer, Stewart Atwood, was also turned away. He said: “It’s a public square. You can put a barricade round it but you can’t refuse entry. The shot I wanted to get was of the Saltires against the City Chamber but you couldn’t really get that unless you were in the front of the stage, which they had barricaded so unfortunately I couldn’t do that.”

A couple of people spoke to us over the barrier as they arrived. Lindsay Jarret, independence campaigner and Highlands and Islands Solidarity candidate, said: “A year on, I’m still alive and suppose I’m feeling hopeful.

“I feel proud of Scotland and of everyone who has moved from no to yes in this last year. Personally I’d like to see another referendum in 2018 but for now we have to go with those who are leading. What we need is education. But that’s difficult when we’re constantly fighting the mainstream media. People still read media that is biased, it’s institutional so that’s a problem. But we have to keep on fighting.”