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Glasgow marches to go ahead in fear of flute band reprisal

The council stated it has been put in an 'impossible position' after advice from the police.

By STV News

Published 19 Sep 2019.

Glasgow City Council has given the go ahead for four public parades this weekend in fear that flute band marchers will react violently if they are not allowed.

The council stated it has been put in an "impossible position" after Police Scotland warned there could be "serious disorder" if the Pride of Govan Flute Band procession - which will have 800 marchers - is prevented to go ahead on Saturday.

The police stated they would be able to police it either way.

The flute band has invited supporters to join its parade, warning the marchers to conduct themselves in a "dignified manner".

Last week a number of parades were scrapped.

The Public Processions Committee's u-turn came in the wake of sectarian violence and disorder across the city during marches on August 30 and September 7.

On Thursday afternoon, the council confirmed it would not hold a committee hearing on the upcoming marches following advice from the force.

The council has asked the flute band to withdraw its notification, which so far it has refused to do.

The local authority is also asking other groups not to counter-protest.

A council spokesman said: "The council has been placed in an impossible position in relation to the parade in Govan.

"Police Scotland has said that should the procession not go ahead, many of the 800 people due to take part will react angrily - which could lead to violence and a significant impact on the local community.

"We deeply regret that the wider community in Govan will be subject to this disruption. However, police have made it absolutely clear that this could be made worse if these people are not allowed to march.

"The council has asked the organisers to voluntarily withdraw this notification, which they have refused to do.

"Today, we are directly appealing to them to reconsider that decision and think about the impact of their actions on the community in Govan and on tensions across the city.

"We also call on other groups not to mount protests against the march."

On Facebook, a spokesperson for Pride of Govan Flute Band invited supporters to go along and enjoy the parade, warning: "We also ask that you respect our culture and conduct yourselves in a dignified manner.

"After the events of recent weeks, all eyes will be on us, all of us. Do not give our opponents or the authorities reason to question the PUL community."

As well as the Pride of Govan Flute Band, Drumchapel Orange & Purple District 57, Independent Loyal Orange Order and Springburn Campsie Apprentice Boys of Derry will also march on Saturday.

The West of Scotland Band Alliance withdrew its application.

Police Scotland said a range of policing resources would be put in place to counteract any potential disruption.

Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said: "Our view is that if the processions were banned, some form of protest and disorder could still take place and the policing profile for Saturday would therefore be similar.

"If the processions go ahead it would allow us to continue to engage with known organisers to ensure balanced rights were upheld and to police the events under the conditions agreed by the council.

"I need to appeal to people who plan on taking part in processions or counter protests to do so peacefully.

"We will have a range of policing resources, including a range of specialist assets, in attendance and will take any necessary action against anyone causing disruption.

"The decision to amend the route or the timing, or to prohibit any procession is a matter for the relevant local authority.

"Police Scotland is required to assist councils to make informed decisions by making appropriate representations on notifications which could potentially significantly risk public safety, disorder, damage to property or disruption to the life of the community."

Last month, a full-scale riot broke out in the Elder Park area of Govan after an Irish unity march - led by the James Connolly Republican Flute Band - was met by hundreds of "disruptive" counter-demonstrators.

Riot police, mounted officers, a force helicopter and dog units were used to quell "significant disorder".

Two men - aged 37 and 21 - were arrested and charged with public disorder following the incident.

On September 7, more than 1000 people took part in two Irish republican marches as well as loyalist protests.

Officers charged 11 people, including a 14-year-old boy, with various offences ranging from sectarian singing to carrying an offensive weapon.

A police officer was also taken to hospital after being hit by a flare which was hurled by protesters.

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