Orange Order in scathing attack over Glasgow marches ban
The organisation said it was a 'sad day for democracy' and claimed the move was an abuse of the law.
By Jenness Mitchell and Kevin Scott
The Orange Order has launched a scathing attack on Glasgow City Council and the police force following the ban of six marches.
The organisation said it was a "sad day for democracy" and claimed the move was an "abuse of the law".
It intends to join other protesters at a rally outside the City Chambers in George Square on Saturday morning.
Jim McHarg, the grand master of the Orange Lodge of Scotland, told STV News: "We are very disappointed in the stance that the council has made.
"Angry, upset, bewildered is probably the best terminology.
"We can't understand why a law-abiding organisation such as the Orange Order is being targeted in such a way by the Nationalist council.
"We are assuming that it is on the back of the previous two weekends and the problematic scenes by republicans on parade in the city of Glasgow."
Mr McHarg said the council had to take its "share of the blame" for allowing the parades to go ahead.
He added that it was supplemented by Police Scotland, who "obviously had intelligence".
Mr McHarg stated: "Whether they used it or chose to ignore it, I don't know."
He added: "I understand that the council has a duty to look after all the citizens in this city.
"They also have a duty to look after law-abiding organisation such as the Orange Order, which they have chosen not to on this occasion."
'This is your city. You should look after your streets, look after your property, be proud of what you are as a Glaswegian.'Jim McHarg, the grand master of the Orange Lodge of Scotland
The grand master stressed the Orange Order had nothing to do with the recent troubles.
Mr McHarg stated: "We were not there. We were not part of any planned protest.
"We certainly did not ask any of our members to be there - which would be wrong.
"I would discourage anyone from causing any violence whatsoever in this city.
"For most of the people who were there, I would assume they were all Glaswegians.
"This is your city. You should look after your streets, look after your property, be proud of what you are as a Glaswegian.
"Do not cause trouble wherever you happen to be at any protest.
"Everybody's got the right to parade, everybody's got the right to protest. You should just respect the right of others."
On Wednesday, the council's Public Processions Committee unanimously voted to revoke the permits for six parades that were due to be held this weekend.
The committee's u-turn follows sectarian violence and disorder across the city during marches on August 30 and September 7.
It cited Police Scotland's concerns over the "high likelihood of public disorder with risk to public safety".
A council spokesperson stated: "The city has already witnessed an unacceptable level of disruption and disorder associated with parades and counter-protests in recent weeks.
"It is clear, both from the intelligence gathered by police and the tone of comments made by supporters and protesters, that tensions are high and the situation threatens to deteriorate further.
"The council directly appeals to those who would have taken part in these marches, or who planned to mount protests against them, to comply with the orders made and not bring further disruption to city streets."
Bridgeton Protestant Boys Flute Band, Pride of the North Flute Band and Republican Network for Unity were due to march on Saturday along with two parades from Whiteinch Orange & Purple District Number 7.
Members of Partick Orange & Purple District 15 were scheduled to set off on Sunday.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the move.
Speaking at First Minister's Questions on Thursday, she said: "I do think the city council has arrived at the right decision in not giving permission for the marches that were planned for this weekend.
"I believe that the right to march is an important part of our democracy but those who are abusing that right I think are putting it into jeopardy for others.
"It is also vital that the rights of the majority of law-abiding citizens are protected and given priority."
She added: "So I think Glasgow City Council has taken the right decision.
"Obviously it takes those decisions in light of the advice it receives from the police.
"I think there are longer-term questions about whether there are changes required to the law and we will continue to have that dialogue with Glasgow City Council."
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.
Last Saturday, 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 policeman was also taken to hospital after being hit by a flare which was hurled by protesters.
On Thursday, the leader of the council stated a temporary ban on all loyalist and republican marches "would be workable".
Susan Aitken said it would provide "breathing space" to find a long-term solution following the recent disorder.
Speaking at a council meeting, she said: "No councillor or council officer bears any responsibility for the sectarian behaviour that took place in Govan or at the weekend.
"The only people responsible are the ones who took part in the violence.
"We allowed these marches to continue following the advice from Police Scotland.
"We need to find a long-term solution to address these problems and I will be bringing forward a paper for the city administration committee to discuss soon.
"We need to pull together for the benefit of our city."