A prominent MSP has called for increased political involvement in securing a clear future for the fire-ravaged Mackintosh Building.

Labour's Paul Sweeney has said an independent body should be formed to take over the restoration or refurbishment of the Glasgow School of Art building.

He criticised a lack of government oversight for the resultant languishing of plans to bring the internationally-renowned Charles Rennie Mackintosh school back into use.

This week The Herald has taken a forensic look at the circumstances of and fallout from two fires - one in 2014 and a second in 2018 - that gutted the building.

As a result of The Herald's insight series, Mr Sweeney will on Thursday use First Minister's Questions to directly quiz Humza Yousaf on exactly what the Scottish Government is "doing to expedite the restoration of the Glasgow School of Art, in light of it being nearly a decade since the first fire".

Mr Sweeney said: "There has been very little assistance from other agencies or other government departments.

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"There is a strong argument here to say, 'Look, let's treat this as a national project with due importance and create a special company or restoration agency that supercharges restoration with other agencies and organisations with the council and Historic Environment Scotland'.

"We could have people who have handled these projects from around the world who come in to support it, and it's run by an independent board.

"I think there could be a bigger effort here which isn't in the art school's gift to deliver themselves, but the state should rise to the challenge."

In 2014, the Mackintosh Library was gutted by a fire that began in a studio where a student was preparing a display using expanding foam and a projector.

The projector caused gases from the foam canister to combust and the blaze spread rapidly through the building.

A painstaking three-year restoration project was then nearly completed when a second fire - the cause of which has never been determined - completed gutted the building in 2018.

Since then, the Mack has lain encased by scaffolding as a procurement process to rebuild failed and efforts to secure a future for the structure stalled.

Mr Sweeney added: "They seem really constrained by the scale of the school; it's quite a small organisation.

"I don't suggest that it's necessarily taken out of their hands but more that we create a special purpose vehicle, which could involve people from the art school but also have the expertise from across public procurement."

The politician pointed to the model that the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust has adopted over the last 40 years whereby they act as almost a surrogacy agent for a client.

He said: "They'll take the derelict building they fundraise, appoint the contractors, they'll project manage it, sign everything off and hand it back to the end user.

"It's a kind of Changing Rooms-style Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen agency that comes in and does these buildings for people.

"Can we do the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust model on steroids?

"Handling one of the most complex heritage projects in the world right now seems like a big job for that single estates department."

Mr Sweeney described the new management as "good people" who are "doing their best" but who are operating under constraints.

It is, he said, not intended to be an antagonistic idea but a proactive suggestion to prompt movement towards a clear future for the school.

He added: "The current director and her team have adopted a much more transparent and open approach and I am at pains to stress that on the record."

Refurbishing the Mack - in whatever form that might take - would give work to artisans in declining trades, he added, and offer training for young people in skills such as masonry and carpentry.

"We have all of these tenements across Scotland that need retrofitted," Mr Sweeney added, "We have historic buildings in the city centre of Glasgow that need a lot of maintenance so we're going to have to have a much higher level of knowledge and capability around these sort of things.

"I just think that they're not really thinking of it at that level.

"It just feels to me ridiculously parochial, a parochial attitude to take to what is one of the world's greatest buildings, and Scotland should take itself much more seriously about dealing with it.

"It's a real snub to Glasgow as a whole.

"If it had been Edinburgh Castle, it would be a very different story."

Mr Sweeney pointed to France, where a concerted and swift effort was made to rebuild Notre Dame following a 2019 fire.

He added: "When [French president] Macron said, 'This is France's soul, we're going to rebuild this symbol of our nation'.

"I don't understand why we haven't adopted a similarly ambitious posture."

A spokesperson for Glasgow School of Art told The Herald: "We appreciate and understand the sense of concern from many people.

"The rebuilding of the Mackintosh Building is a complex project - something we made clear in January 2023 - in what is widely recognised as an incredibly challenging economic and political period."

Read the full Herald series on the Glasgow School of Art fires here.