Comment in response to news today (11th September 2019), that Glasgow City Council is banning loyalist parades.
Jim McHarg, Grand Master of the Orange Lodge said,
“It is a sad day for democracy when a narrow minded band of anti-unionist nationalist councillors, aided and abetted by Police Scotland, abuse the law and introduce illegal measures that curtail a citizen’s right of peaceful assembly.”
“For over 200 years, Orange Lodges in Scotland have existed in many parts of Scotland, standing up for the rights of the working classes. Our parades are the way we exercise our right of assembly, and our membership takes part in our parades with great respect and decorum.
“Recently, we have seen a concerted campaign by Irish republican supporting groups to turn up at our parades under the banner of a ‘protest’, but cleverly designed to raise tension and cause fear and alarm to our members and the protestant communities of Glasgow.
“Nationalist councillors in Glasgow, supported by Police Scotland, effectively weaponised these protests by sending out a message that they would use the threat of protests to ban protestant parades. This action led to the chaotic scenes in the streets of Glasgow as a hard-core element from both sides of the argument used this weaponised protest action against each other.
“Whilst the Orange Order has played no part in any of the incidents in Glasgow in recent weeks, we have watched the situation deteriorate and we have witnessed tensions grow within our own community, a community that feels under attack from religious persecution. However, this new move by Glasgow City Council to ban parades outright is something we cannot ignore. We will not stand idly by whilst our democratic right of free assembly is curtailed by politically motivated anti-unionist nationalists.
“We were only informed this afternoon that Glasgow City Council was intending to call an emergency meeting to take this action. This was a deliberate move to prevent us having any time to prepare a response or argue our case.
“Is this the open and free Scotland of many cultures that the nationalists tell us they support?
“The Orange Order calls on our membership to resist attempts by nationalists to suppress our community, our culture, our religion and our voice.
“This Saturday, as Grand Master, I will be standing side by side with a recently established group – Scottish Protestants Against Discrimination (SPAD) and I call on our members to get behind this event and join us at 9:45am as we meet to protest outside the City Chambers in Glasgow. This is not a parade that requires notice, instead, this will be a peaceful assembly under the Human Rights Act. Come along, be seen, wear your colours and let it be known that we will not be bullied off our City streets.
“We live in a country of religious freedoms, we support the right of any citizen of Scotland to practice any religion of their choice or none. All we ask is that this same tolerance is shown to the Protestant communities of Scotland.
“We ask all loyal orders to support us on Saturday as we stand up for the rights of our communities”.