UK TODAY – NEWS – UK – GLASGOW
Five public parades that were set to be held in Glasgow this weekend have been scrapped.
The Public Processions Committee’s u-turn comes in the wake of sectarian violence and disorder across the city during marches on August 30 and September 7.
The committee announced its unanimous decision to ban the processions following a meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
It cited Police Scotland’s concerns over the “high likelihood of public disorder with risk to public safety”.
Bridgeton Protestant Boys Flute Band, Pride of the North Flute Band, Republican Network for Unity, and Whiteinch Orange & Purple District Number 7 were due to march on Saturday.
Members of Partick Orange & Purple District 15 were scheduled to set off on Sunday.
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.
Within a report on the Bridgeton Protestant Boys Flute Band’s procession, Police Scotland stated there had been “growing community tensions and an escalation in concerns surrounding certain processions” following the attack on Father Thomas White outside his church last year.
Bradley Wallace was jailed for ten months for spitting on the priest as the annual Boyne Parade passed St Alphonsus Church on London Road.
Wallace was caught after his DNA was found on the vestment worn by Father White.
The force stated: “It is also clear from these most recent incidents that there has been a substantial deterioration in relation to these types of public processions and the holding of counter-protests to the extent that there are serious concerns for the safety of members of the public and the maintenance of public order as well as causing an unacceptable and unprecedented level of disruption to the life of the community in the event that this particular procession were to proceed.”
Police warned that the procession would require “the deployment of a significant policing operation”, adding that officers would expect the “use of missiles, the setting of road blocks and the lighting of fires by those involved in the protest”.
The force added: “Police Scotland has further advised that following the events of August 30 and September 7, they expect the public to be at risk, including those directly involved in the proceedings and those who may become trapped between rival fractions.
“This includes emerging intelligence that the actions of loyalist sympathisers at those processions could attract similar protest, possibly violent in nature from republican supporting groups in retaliation.”
Following the prohibition of the marches, Glasgow City Council appealed to all those affected to comply with the orders.
A council spokesman said: “The council has always been clear that the law expects it to facilitate public processions; including those that some people oppose or find offensive.
“However, the right to march has to be balanced against the rights of people and communities across Glasgow.
“Today, the committee has acted to protect the interests of those communities – taking into account the threat to public safety and the likelihood of widespread disruption and disorder.
“Its decisions follow the recommendations made by the chief executive, having also considered expert evidence on behalf of the chief constable of Police Scotland.
“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.”