“DON’T vote on what’s happened in the past, vote for Scotland’s future.” That was the message from Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she returned to Irvine on Monday to put forward her case for Scottish independence.

Irvine residents looking for answers on the big questions surrounding the referendum packed out the Castlepark Community Centre for the meeting which was chaired by local MSP Margaret Burgess.

The Cunninghame South MSP opened the meeting and described the turnout as a “marvellous indication” of the trend across Scotland.

When Mrs Sturgeon took to the podium she received a rousing reception from the audience.

She began by outlining why it is not an usual concept for countries to become independent and revealed her hopes for Scotland to become a ‘normal’ independent country.

She said: “I’d like to start by saying that Scotland will never be the same again.

“The public is changing politics and we need to build momentum to ensure that continues.

“Countries becoming independent is not rare at all, we want Scotland to become a normal independent country.

“What I mean by that is for Scotland to be independent peacefully. Not many countries in history have had the chance for an entirely peaceful independence.

“What isn’t normal is for Scotland not to become independent.” Mrs Sturgeon undoubtedly kept the crowd engaged throughout her speech but certainly wasn’t thrown any easy questions from the audience.

The crowd were left hushed by one woman’s question over the ownership of water in an independent Scotland, a question that Mrs Sturgeon appeared uneasy answering.

Another man grilled the former Greenwood Academy pupil about potential oil and gas jobs off Shetland which drew a round of applause from the crowd.

But Mrs Sturgeon was in her element answering questions on the security of the NHS having formerly been Scotland’s Health Minister.

She also made it clear that Scotland can survive the Westminster government and described suggestions that Scotland is too small to go it alone as “nonsense”.

She added: “I want to break the dreadful news to you all here tonight: there is no money tree grown in London to pay for Scotland.

“We’ve had people telling us for years that we’re too small and too poor, that’s absolute nonsense.

“We might be one of the smaller countries in the world but our contributions to the world certainly aren’t small.

“There’s been a 400 per cent increase in the amount of people using foodbanks as Westminster plan to spend billions on nuclear weapons on the Clyde, that’s a scandal.

“If we don’t vote Yes, there’s every chance that we get another five years of Tory rule.

“Now that would be fine if we voted for them but we don’t.

“Under Westminster, Scots are being pushed deeper and deeper into poverty.

“That’s not just those who are unemployed that includes the people that work.

“If we got rid of nuclear weapons and the House of Lords, we would save £600m every year which would be far better spent elsewhere.” The issue of the currency was once again brought to the fore but Mrs Sturgeon provided a swift and confident response.

“Despite what David Cameron and Westminster tell you, an independent Scotland will be able to keep the pound.

“When Ireland became independent they used the pound for years. When Australia broke away from the United Kingdom, guess what they used? The pound.” Other issues that arose included passports and Scottish embassies, pension provisions, fracking and Alex Salmond’s performance in his debate with Alastair Darling.

It was in her closing speech that Mrs Sturgeon gained her biggest response of the night and was given a standing ovation by the audience in attendance.

She finished by saying: “There’s just five weeks to go now, that’s how close this is.

“Just think to when you wake up and turn on your television on September 19 and imagine what you’ll see.

“Will it be David Cameron’s smug face telling us ‘haha we’ll keep your oil reserves’?

“Or will you be waking up when Scotland becomes an independent country because we had the guts and we had the courage to vote Yes.”