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Glasgow parishioners call on council to protect parish from ‘intimidating’ Orange walk during Easter celebrations

Parishioners at two Glasgow parishes are urging councillors to ­protect them from fear and ­intimidation after police failed to object to an Orange walk that is set to pass their churches as family Easter ­celebrations take place.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry (Bridgeton) have notified Glasgow City Council of their plans to parade through the streets past St Alphonsus and St Mary’s churches on Easter Sunday—at the same time as a planned Rosary of Peace for the ­victims of a terrorist attack takes place inside.

Parish priest Canon Tom White was attacked outside of St Alphonsus in July last year as an Orange walk passed the church.

Parishioners, supported by campaign group Call it Out, had asked the council to reroute the Easter march which they argued is ‘inflammatory and provocative,’ however it is understood police have lodged no objections and the march is set to go ahead.

In a letter to councillors and local ­politicians, the St Mary’s & St Alphonsus parish pastoral councils cite their rights under international and European Human Rights Law to be ­protected from discrimination, hostility and violence and call on the council to re-route the march.

The April 21 march is set to leave Tullis street in Bridgeton at 9.45am and walk to Cathedral Square. It will return from Cathedral Square at 12:15pm and make its way back to Tullis street via Abercromby Street.

Rosaries for Peace in remembrance of a terrorist attack that killed 50 Muslim worshippers in New Zealand in March will take place at 10am in St Alphonsus and at 12pm in St Mary’s.

Baptisms are also scheduled after both Masses in the parishes and the parish council said those celebrating will likely be in and around the church until midday.

“The celebration of Baptisms will bring many visitors from near and far to both churches (who are extended family and friends); they will gather and mingle in the church grounds both before and after the celebration of the Baptisms as well as gathering for photographs and videos; the expectation is that they are able to do so without intimidation, fear or disruption to these celebrations,” the letter reads.

“An anti-Catholic organisation (with the ‘followers’ they attract) marching past the churches will absolutely result in ­intimidation, fear and disruption to these celebrations.”

The letter calls on the council to use powers in the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 to re-route the march, stating: “To facilitate anti-Catholic marches past Catholic Churches on Easter Sunday could pose significant (i) public safety and (ii) public order issues while also seriously impacting on and creating (iii) disruption of the life of the ­community and in particular, the­ ­parishioners of St Alphonsus and St Mary’s and others ­visiting the Churches for celebration of Mass and Baptisms.

“It is simply unconscionable, given the background of the recent violent hate crime attack at St Alphonsus parish, that this march is granted permission to pass and intimidate the parishioners of St Mary’s and St Alphonsus, Catholic and non-Catholic visitors to the parishes, Catholic citizens of Glasgow and others in the community on this special day.”

The parish councils said they support the plans by Call it Out to protest the marches.

Call it Out has urged ‘the Catholic/Irish Catholic community as well as all ­anti-discrimination organisations/individuals to stand with us on Easter Sunday outside the churches of St Alphonsus and St Mary’s to defend our churches and fellow Catholics from anti-Catholic hatred.’

“We do not ask lightly for people to come out on this holy day but we cannot leave the parishioners of St Alphonsus and St Mary’s unprotected as they go about their religious observance,” the group said in a statement.

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