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5-walk

Church speaks out as Orange marching season approaches

The Church has stressed that the routing and timings of Orange marches, and ensuring safety and public order, are ‘paramount’ when local authorities consider applications for parades.

The comments from the Bishops Conference come after Glasgow Archdiocese put out a similar statement as parishes brace for the start of the marching season.

Scores of Orange walks will take place across the country throughout the summer, with this year’s holding added tension after a Glasgow priest was attacked in 2018 as a large march went past his church at the end of Mass.

The attack on Canon Tom White provoked calls for increased powers for local authorities to reroute parades. A campaign group, Call it Out, was formed and successfully forced the rerouting of a number of marches that were set to pass Canon White’s St Alphonsus’ Parish. In March, a parade that was allowed to pass the church was marred by disorder as parishioners were branded ‘fenians’ by those assembled in support of the parade.

Last week, Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh was asked about Orange walks during a ­wide-ranging interview. He said that marches ‘objectively shouldn’t be a problem’ but that ‘if it’s done to taunt your neighbour then that’s another question.’

The comments where followed by a statement from Glasgow Archdiocese clarifying that while it ‘acknowledges the right of any group or organisation to parade in accordance with the law,’ it recognised a recent court decision determining that ‘the right to freedom of expression is not an unrestricted right on particular grounds.’

“The preferred solution of the Archdiocese of Glasgow is that marches be scheduled at times and along routes which do not cause difficulties or create anxiety for parishioners attending their local church,” a statement read.

In a subsequent statement this week, a spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said: “The Church acknowledges the right of anyone to parade in accordance with the law, while expecting that the routing and timing of marches does not cause difficulties or anxiety for parishioners attending their local church.

“It is for the police and local authorities to ensure safety and public order are paramount when considering applications to parade, recognising that the right to freedom of expression is not an unrestricted right.”

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