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Loyalist marches re-routed to avoid Catholic churches

The parades have been moved away from a church where a Catholic priest was spat on last July.

By STV News

Published 24 May 2019.

Four Loyalist parades set to be held in Glasgow next weekend have been re-routed away from Catholic churches after police raised "significant" concerns over disruption and rising tensions.

The marches were due to pass St Mary's Church in the Calton area of the city and St Alphonsus Church, where Canon Tom White was spat on during an Orange Order walk last July.

A man was later jailed for ten months for the attack.

Last month, a planned Easter Sunday parade was moved for similar reasons before it was cancelled altogether.

Police Scotland advised Glasgow City Council that without changing the route, the force would have to call in extra officers to safely oversee the marches and any counter-protests.

Last Saturday, the force had to deploy more than 100 officers - including specialist riot police - to manage a parade and counter-protest outside St Alphonsus.

Although there was no reported disorder, those supporting the parade were heard to shout abuse at the counter-protesters.

On behalf of Police Scotland's chief constable, superintendent John McBride told the council: "The forthcoming planned processions are also going to attract counter-protests if they go along the same routes.

"It seems sensible, then, to assume that there is the very real prospect of a repetition of the same abuse and possibly even something altogether worse."

Superintendent McBride stated that the proposed processions are expected to "substantially raise local experienced and evidenced tension".

In addition, he noted a "distinct and frankly troubling change in the terms and tone of commentary and rhetoric" surrounding the parades passing the city's Catholic churches.

He added: "A difference of view about such things is, of course, nothing new but the recent language has been more strident, on both sides of the argument, and positions are becoming more polarised.

"Whilst it is to be hoped that, through engagement and discussion in the relevant communities, some of that can be addressed in positive ways in the short term, I am bound to recognise that further processions along the same route may only make things worse."

The changes were made using the delegated powers of council officers instead of the usual route of through the local authority's public processions committee.

The processions affected involve the Apprentice Boys of Derry (Bridgeton), Dalmarnock No Surrender Branch Club, Dalmarnock Orange and Purple District 50, and the Orange and Purple District 37.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Police have raised significant concern about the impact of these marches and counter protests - both on the local community and their own resources.

"The council's decision to reroute the processions is proportionate and maintains the participants' right to assembly while addressing those concerns."

The parade organisers have been given time to appeal the decision.

A spokesperson for the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said: "The Orange Order has made its position quite clear; we are an organisation that proudly supports and promotes our own heritage, religion and culture.

"Being pro-Protestant does not make us anti-Catholic. We have the right to peacefully and quietly celebrate our own beliefs, without this anti-Protestant persecution.

"We support Scotland having religious differences, without these religious divides.

"Police Scotland claim that they can't resource the parade and protests, but they manage to police pro-independence parades when there is a unionist protest.

"They manage to police political campaigning when there are angry counter-protests."

The spokesperson stated that the organisation will "reflect on this discrimination", but see it as a "time to act".

They added: "We will be speaking to lodges, here and abroad, about what we do to ensure that our culture, our religion, our heritage and beliefs can be celebrated, as others are allowed to celebrate theirs."