Glasgow archdiocese welcomes city's decision to reroute 'Orange walk'

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The Archdiocese of Glasgow has welcomed the city council's decision Monday to reroute a Protestant march which was to have passed by a Catholic parish where a priest was allegedly assaulted when a similar march passed by in July.

“We are grateful that common sense has prevailed,” a spokesman for the archdiocese said Sept. 3.

“The re-routing of the march will bring relief to the people of St Alphonsus parish and the surrounding area, who viewed with anxiety and fear the prospect of another march past the church so soon after the disgraceful scenes earlier this summer.”

The Glaswegian public processions committee imposed an alternate route on a proposed march by the Rising Star of Bridgeton Royal Black Preceptory No. 672.

The preceptory is a Protestant, loyalist fraternal order separate from, but closely linked to, the Orange Order.

Orange marches are organized by the Orange Order, largely in Northern Ireland and Scotland, to commemorate the defeat of James II by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. James had been deposed as king of England, Ireland, and Scotland in a 1688 revolution by the Parliament of England after he had expanded toleration of Catholics and Protestant nonconformists in the officially Protestant kingdoms.

A spokeswoman of the Glasgow City Council said the public processions committee “heard evidence from Police Scotland that disorder was likely should the march take place on the original route – requiring around 20 times the number of officers that would otherwise attend.”

John McBride, a Police Scotland Superintendent, told the city council that “this parade causes a serious concern for the police in terms of public order and disruption to the life of the community … because it can be reasonably expected that there will be a significant protest to the parade should it occur.”

“It is my view that the resources which would be required to police the parade would be disproportionate to the numbers involved in the parade,” McBride added.

The Orange walk is expected to include about 60 marchers.

The Royal Black Preceptory is considering appealing the council's decision.

Opposition to Orange walks have increased since a July 7 incident.

Canon Tom White, 43, was greeting parishioners after Mass that day when an Orange march approached St. Alphonsus parish.

According to the Archdiocese of Glasgow, Canon White was spat at, verbally abused, and lunged at.

A 24-year-old man was later arrested and charged in connection with the alleged assault.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland has denied any involvement in the assault on the priest.

Some subsequent Glaswegian Orange walks were cancelled after outcry over the attack on Canon White.

Police Scotland Superindendent Stephen Hazlett told the city council that “this is an area that needs to heal itself. It might take several years to de escalate back to where we were before July 7. We need to give the community time to reconcile themselves and return to normality. The feeling I get is that the time at this present moment is not right. I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

A petition at change.org posted after the July 7 attack calling on Glasgow City Council to end the Orange walks has gained more than 83,000 signatures.

James McLean, spokesman for the  Rising Star of Bridgeton Royal Black Preceptory said, “We feel we are being marginalised and demonised and that Glasgow City Council are acting clearly at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Scotland has experienced significant sectarian division since the Scottish Reformation of the 16th century, which led to the formation of the Church of Scotland, an ecclesial community in the Calvinist and Presbyterian tradition which is the country's largest religious community.

Sectarianism and crimes motivated by anti-Catholicism have been on the rise in Scotland in recent years.

An April poll of Catholics in Scotland found that 20 percent reported personally experiencing abuse of prejudice toward their faith; and a government report on religiously-motivated crime in 2016 and 2017 found a concentration of incidents in Glasgow.

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