Statement by Jim McHarg, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland,

“I, like so many others, was appalled to hear the reports of the incident that happened outside St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow on Saturday.  Verbal abuse is in itself unacceptable, but allegations of spitting is vile and disgusting, and we hope those involved are brought to justice.  Whilst I am assured that no members of the parade were involved in any of the incidents, we understand that it was carried out by a small group of young men who turned up to watch the parade go past.

“The Orange Order is founded on the principal of religious liberty for all.  This includes the right of other faiths to celebrate their own heritage and history, just as we celebrate ours.  Unfortunately, there are a small number of people in society who seem unwilling to accept this tolerant approach.  Indeed, many of them allude to beliefs and sing songs about a time in the past which they probably know very little about or fail to understand completely.  I have only one message for them, you are not welcome at any of our parades!

“I have today asked our Executive Officer to call Canon White to express our sadness at what he had to endure.  We have also written to the Archdiocese.  We have contacted the Police to offer our full support in their investigations.  A number of members of the parade witnessed the incident on Saturday, and senior members intervened at the time to stand up for Canon White.  Those members will be key witnesses for the Police and stand ready to assist.

“Whilst it may be said that the Orange Order has different opinions to the Roman Catholic Church, I have no hesitation in stating that today we stand with Canon White in saying that this sort of behaviour has no place in society.”