Scots revolt after Europe says that the kilt is for women

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The Independent Online

European bureaucrats have been forced to rethink the idea that Scotland's national dress is "womenswear".

Officials have backed down over a decision to classify the kilt as a skirt on forms sent to manufacturing firms.

The statistical agency Eurostat, which is collating information from 15 states to examine business trends, sent questionnaires to garment producers that did not allow kiltmakers to register the national dress as menswear. Manufacturers were told to fill in how many kilts they had sold in the space provided for women's skirts, sparking condemnation from kiltmakers and politicians alike.

Despite being threatened with a hefty fine of up to £1,000 if they failed to return the completed form, the leading kiltmaker Patrick McGroarty, director of Caledonian Highland Dress Manufacturers in Perth-shire, refused to co-operate unless the paperwork was amended.

As the dispute flared yesterday, with the affair making the front page of the Daily Record and bringing condemnation from the likes of Sir Sean Connery and the First Minister, Jack McConnell, the Commission backed down.

"If Vin Diesel can wear a kilt and not feel any less of a man, that is good enough from me and should be for the rest of Europe," said Frank McAveety, Scotland's Minister for Culture and Tourism, referring to the fact that the Hollywood action star had turned up at last week's MTV Europe music awards in Leith wearing a trendy black leather version of Scotland's national dress.

Yesterday, after talks between the EU, the Scottish Executive and the UK Office of National Statistics, which sent out the forms on Eurostat's behalf, a decision was taken that the form should be amended to allow the kilt to be classified as menswear.

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