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Referendum Cafe helps Forres voters decide

By Garry McCartney

A FRACTION of the Forres electorate left the Mosset Tavern, better informed ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.

Cafe organiser Ariane Burgess opened the evening's event with a rousing speech on prospective Scottish independence.
Cafe organiser Ariane Burgess opened the evening's event with a rousing speech on prospective Scottish independence.

Around 100 people attended the ‘Referendum Conversation Cafe’, organised by Ariane Burgess from Findhorn, to discuss what the poll’s result could mean for the future of Scotland.

"It was an excellent meeting," said Neil MacKenzie. "There was brilliant organisation with an engaged crowd and positive vibe. I personally know of two "don’t knows" that are now "Yes"."

Ms Burgess was supported by a team of local Yes voters including campaigners Colin and Rosalind Watson, and guest speakers Brian McMullen, Fabio Villani, Daphne Francis, Gelda MacGregor and Roz Watson.

"In 219 days we will have a say in who holds power in Scotland for the first time ever," said Mr McMullen during his opening words. "We hold the key to that future."

"Yes and no are votes for different futures," added Mr Villani. "A vote for ‘Yes’ will give us the opportunity to shape the country and our own lives. A ‘No’ vote will mean we will continue to be passengers hoping that the other 95% of the electorate agree with us."

"A lot of blood is usually spilled over matters such as independence," said Ms Francis. "There doesn’t have to be this time - everyone can just go to a ballot box."

Ms McGregor called for a high turnout at the referendum to ensure the electorate’s voice is heard by Westminster.

"The will and sovereignty of all people in Scotland must be recognised," she said. "We will need a turnout of 70% for this to happen."

The overall atmosphere was relaxed and informal. Ten drop-in tables were set-up in the function sweet with resident moderators (including local councillor Aaron McLean) available to discuss aspects of the SNP guide to independence: ‘Scotland’s Future’.

Following short introductory speeches, visitors were encouraged to spend 15 minutes at each table soaking up the available information or asking for clarification on any referendum-related issues.

The event lasted for around two hours and the majority of attendees had their questions about Scotland’s future answered, helping them to form a decision ahead of September’s historic judgement.

"Thanks to everyone for coming and bringing friends and family who are undecided," said cafe organiser, Ariane Burgess. "We are now organising the Drop-In at Forres Tolbooth on March 15."

Read the full story in next week’s ‘Gazette’.

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