BY Peter Diamond | July 20 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


St John Ogilvie statue campaign gets boost from council support

Proposed statue could be incorporated into plan to redevelop Trongate area

Plans to erect a permanent memorial statue to St John Ogilvie in Glasgow City Centre have gained momentum this week, as councillors and supporters backed a call for its inclusion in ­a multimillion pound plan to redevelop the city.

The official launch of the campaign to erect a memorial to St John Ogilvie took place on July 21 last year.

One year on, campaigners’ efforts have been galvanised as Glasgow City councillors called for the local ­authority to include the plans in a £115 million city deal ­earmarked to upgrade and regenerate areas of the city centre. The regeneration will include ­Trongate, where St John Ogilvie, Scotland’s only Catholic ­martyr, was hanged in 1615.

Prior to the local government ­elections last year, the SCO secured backing from every mainstream ­political party for the campaign to erect a ­permanent memorial to the saint. Those parties have now reiterated their support for the plans, and the council, who are set to hold talks with ­Glasgow Archdiocese over how to proceed, said a memorial could form part of the city redevelopment plans.

Small gesture

Fr Michael Briody, vice president of the Scottish Catholic Heritage ­Commission, said: “If Glasgow City Council intend to regenerate the area around Glasgow Cross, it would be a good time to include a memorial to St John Ogilvie, who was put to death there in a time of intolerance.
“We say we are now a tolerant ­society, respecting all shades of ­opinion. It would be a small gesture then to allow Catholics to have a ­public memorial to a man who was put to death for his Faith.

“He is part of a larger story of ­turbulent times which is the heritage of all Scots, which still has its echoes in present times, and one that deserves to be better and more widely known in all its aspects.”

The city deal, more commonly known as the ‘Avenues’ programme, is worth £115 million and has already begun on Sauchiehall Street between Charing Cross and Rose Street. The works are scheduled to last ­approximately 18 months before ­moving to another phase, possibly Glasgow’s Trongate.
The council’s deputy leader, SNP councillor David McDonald, said: “As part of our ­discussions around the High Street/Glasgow Cross ­historic zone, a permanent memorial to St John Ogilvie is something which remains under active consideration.

“Colleagues within the city ­administration plan to hold talks with the archdiocese over its views of how he should be commemorated. Others have had discussions with council officers over whether the High Street plans would be the appropriate ­platform to mark the life of such a ­significant historic and religious important figure.”

“Where there is an appetite for a more significant memorial, such as the recent Mary Barbour statue, we would be happy to discuss these proposals with supporters.”

Frank McAveety, leader of the Labour group on the council, said: “The Labour group within the council still very much support the campaigns efforts but any proposals would have to be submitted to the sub-committee that deals with memorials and statues.

“I was involved in the Great Hunger memorial which was erected last month at Glasgow Green and it’s important to remember heritage.
“St John Ogilvie should be ­recognised because he is obviously important to Catholic and Scottish ­history.”

Conservative Party councillor David Meikle, who has previously supported the campaign, said: “The SNP council administration should consider the campaign for a memorial to St John Ogilvie when finalising plans to improve Glasgow Cross ­public realm as it may be possible as part of the proposed works to ­incorporate a memorial.

“The SNP pledged, if it was elected to run the council, to create an ­‘historic zone’ in the city, so it is time they delivered on this and they could start by meeting with those involved in the St John Ogilvie campaign to discuss the idea of a memorial.”

Development plans

The council this week said they ­cannot give precise timescales as to when the Avenues development at Glasgow Trongate would take place as the ­planning and consultation process ­hasn’t been finalised.

However, a spokesman for the council added: “We are aware of the campaign to create a memorial to St John Ogilvie at Glasgow Cross, and would be happy to meet with any group that wishes to discuss ­proposals with us. While we could not fund a statue or other form of memorial, we could potentially incorporate it into the design for the Avenue proposed for the area.”

Louise Grant, a committee member for the St John Ogilvie statue ­campaign, said: “The campaign ­committee are excited to keep moving forward with this historical project which will be a great memorial of ­religious freedom in our country. We have met with local councillors and they have pledged the support of the ­administration for a memorial statue.”

The committee is aiming on raising tens of thousands of pounds to erect a statue, which they hope will be located above ground level, and have spoken to an architect about the plans.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of ­Glasgow and Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen have both become patrons of the campaign since it started last July.
Ms Grant added: “We would ask those who cannot support us ­financially to please remember the campaign in your prayers.”

n To donate to the campaign to erect a statue of St John Ogilvie at Glasgow Trongate, visit:

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