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Catholic demand for rights over Orange walks as authorities stand accused

Campaigners against anti-Catholicism and anti-Irish racism have accused Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland of ‘ignoring demands for the rights of Catholic citizens to be protected.’ — By Peter Diamond and Ryan McDougall

Call it Out’s statement came shortly after the announcement that an Orange march is to pass St Alphonsus’ Church on Saturday May 18 at approximately 12.30pm—the same church outside which Canon Tom White was assaulted last year.

Campaigners in turn have accused police and the council of ignoring their concerns for failing to re-route the march.

Opposition

Referring to a previous loyalist march held just one week earlier on May 10 at St Mary’s Church, Calton, a spokesperson for Call it Out said: “The continued presence of anti-Catholic marches past Catholic churches will be opposed by Call it Out at every opportunity.

“At St Mary’s we once again provided a dignified and silent presence in opposition to the routing of an anti-Catholic march, with over 100 supporters joining us as we highlighted our simple and clear aim—to bring an end to anti-Catholic marches past Catholic churches.

Silent protests

“The applause from the Orange parade’s followers which heralded its passing St Mary’s betrays the true intentions in routing such marches past Catholic churches.

“Our silent protests are clearly being taken as a sign of weakness both by the authorities and by the Orange Order, and we cannot be expected to suffer in silence much longer.”

Further action

Call it Out has called for further action in bringing an end to anti-Catholic marches past Catholic churches and criticised the council and police for a lack of action.

The spokesperson said: “With many more such parades planned throughout the summer and beyond—many of which will be routed past Catholic churches—we are calling on political parties, trade unions and other organisations to join us in bringing this intolerable situation for Catholic communities to an end.

“Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland must stop ignoring demands for the rights of Catholic citizens to be protected.

“We will be seeking meetings looking for support and our protests will continue.

“If this tactic does not work we will look at others. Why should we have to put up with this?”

Designed to intimidate

Call it Out’s criticism of the authorities came shortly after Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said Orange and similar marches past Catholic churches ‘are seen as designed to intimidate and antagonise.’

She added: “I’m at a loss to understand why local authorities cannot agree marching routes with the Orange Order which do not pass a Catholic Church.

“Political parties need to work together and call this out for what it is and work with all communities to foster good relations and understanding.”

Council response

In response to Call it Out’s claim that they are being ignored, a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “We have a limited legislative framework to work within—but, over the last decade, the council has developed and maintained a local code of conduct that has seen the overall number of public processions decline substantially and also introduced key restrictions, such as a ban on playing music outside places of worship.

Rights of communities

“We will continue to examine how best we can use what powers we do have at our disposal to balance the rights of communities with those of people who wish to march, and we will respond where our partners raise concerns over public order and safety.

“However, in this case, we are being asked to act well beyond our legal powers.”

Police response

A spokesperson for Police Scotland added: “While the approval for any parade route is a matter for Glasgow City Council, Police Scotland has no information which would suggest the parade provides for a risk to safety, disorder, damage to property or disruption to the life of the community in respect of this notification.

“We have engaged with the other stakeholders, including the parish council of St Alphonsus’ Church and Canon Tom White.

“An invitation was also sent to the Archdiocese for any contribution they wish to make to the community impact assessment.

“Our detailed planning has spanned a number of weeks and our officers have been working closely with the Orange Order and the City Council to facilitate the parade.

“Police Scotland will police the parade and any counter protest appropriately and any counter protest will be facilitated.”

 

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