Humza Yousaf has said the Scottish Government will not interfere in the restoration of the Glasgow School of Art's fire-ravaged Mackintosh building. 

The First Minister was quizzed on the future of the world-renowned Mack - which was destroyed in a 2018 blaze just four years after a destructive first fire in 2014 - by Labour MSP Paul Sweeney.

Mr Sweeney referenced The Herald's week-long investigation into the two art school fires this week as he asked Mr Yousaf if the Scottish Government would look to set up an independent body to oversee the restoration of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's famous building.

The First Minister, speaking at the weekly First Minister's Questions, said: "The Scottish Government does recognise the cultural and historical significance of the Mackintosh building as world renowned in status and the importance of the Mack to the School of Art, to the city of Glasgow and indeed to Scotland as a whole.

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"We have welcomed the Glasgow School of Art's plan for the faithful reinstatement of the Mackintosh building.

"The Mackintosh building is owned by the Glasgow School of Art who have responsibility for their own strategic and operational decision making."

Restoration work reached a milestone in June last year when a protective white wrap and temporary roof structure were installed, with experts suggesting it would take two years for the building to dry while other extensive work was undertaken.

In Holyrood, Mr Sweeney urged the Scottish Government to intervene to speed up the restoration, repeating calls he made earlier this week in The Herald for Scots politicians to protect the Mack in the way the French Government stepped in to help restore the Notre Dame Cathedral following a fire in 2019. 

Repairs on the Paris landmark are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Mr Yousaf said he does not think "commandeering" the project is necessary.

The First Minister welcomed Glasgow School of Art's plan for a "faithful reinstatement" of the "critical" cultural building.

However, Glasgow MSP Mr Sweeney said: "The shell of a building has now been left languishing for 10 years after the devastating second fire of June 2018.

"Like the French president did with Notre Dame, will the First Minister now personally intervene to expedite the restoration of the Glasgow School of Art by following international best practice and establish a new statutory delivery authority with specific responsibility for developing and delivering the restoration project in concert with the Glasgow School of Art by 2030?"

The First Minister replied: "I don't think the Scottish Government commandeering that building is the right approach."

He said the GSA expects funding to come from fire insurance proceeds, donations and capital receipts and reserves.

"They haven't made a request to Government at this stage but of course we will look to ensure that we can support the Glasgow School of Art in the restoration of the Mack because it is of critical importance."

The First Minister added that the Scottish Government would continue to "reach out" to the art school to see what, if any, assistance was required. 

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