A senior SNP minister has insisted mass independence rallies harness “positive momentum” that can push forward the Yes campaign.

Neil Gray has refuted a claim that independence marches are simply appealing to the converted and do nothing to boost support for the cause.

It comes after a march in Edinburgh on Saturday saw thousands of Yes supporters rally outside Holyrood at an event organised by Believe in Scotland and Yes for EU, who claimed a crowd of 25,000 people.

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Asked about the purpose of the pro-indy marches on the BBC’s Sunday Show, the SNP Wellbeing Economy and Energy Secretary said: “It’s about making sure that we rally the support of those that support independence, that we also demonstrate that the independence movement has not gone away.

“We want to use the movement that we have to ensure we continue to campaign and see the support for independence continue to rise.

“Obviously we want to see people campaigning and making sure that they go to doors – that was the message from (Independence Minister) Jamie Hepburn, that was the message from the First Minister.”

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Asked what good those who already support dissolving Scotland’s role in the United Kingdom taking part in the events is, Mr Gray stressed it will “make sure that we use the momentum that came from yesterday’s march” and pushing forward the message.

He insisted that “people raise independence with us” on the doorsteps.

Mr Gray said the focus was “using the positive momentum that there was by rallying and campaigning yesterday” and taking it “to all corners of Scotland and take the case to the people”.

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He stressed that “it is the people that will deliver independence, not just political parties” and pointed to “endlessly debating the process of arriving at independence” after the SNP has been criticised for having no route forward after any hopes of holding a second referendum were ended by the Supreme Court ruling against Holyrood holding its own vote.

During his speech at Saturday’s rally, the First Minister was heckled by a man in the crowd shouting: “How do we get there?”

Mr Gray said that “Westminster has denied us the opportunity to have a referendum”.