Orange march plan past priest attack church is ‘extraordinarily insensitive’

Orangemen on the march in Dumbarton. Picture by Bill Heaney

The Orange Order said the application for the parade was an annual procession. Picture by Bill Heaney

The Catholic Church has called for a planned Orange Order parade to be re-routed as it would pass the spot where a priest was spat on last year.

Parish priest Canon Tom White was assaulted outside St Alphonsus’ Church in Glasgow’s London Road during the annual Boyne march in July 2018.

The fact that Bradley Wallace, 24, from Uddingston, was convicted of the attack in January was reported in The Democrat at that time..

The decision on whether to allow the march on 6 July rests with Glasgow City Council.

The Orange Order has applied for marchers to take part in 6 July parades across the city – with members from the Orange And Purple District 37, Orange And Purple District 40 and Rutherglen Orange And Purple District 20 groups due to pass St Alphonsus’ Church as part of the route.

However, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow said the application was inappropriate.

Archbishop Tartaglia and Father Tom WhiteCanon Tom White, right, with Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, was spat on by Bradley Wallace during the annual Boyne march in July 2018. Picture by Bill Heaney

He told the BBC Scotland news website: “It seems extraordinarily insensitive to plan such controversial marches past churches which will be full of people, knowing the anxiety and fear which will be caused to worshippers and the wider community.

“After the distressing scenes of last year in this precise location, sensitivities are high.

“Many regard the planned marches as unduly provocative. We would trust that the police will take these issues into consideration when offering advice to the city council on how to proceed.”

In a statement, the council said the application was still being considered and that a final decision on the route’s path was still to be taken.

A spokeswoman added: “As with any other procession, the council will consult with Police Scotland on whether it has any concerns regarding public order, public safety, damage to property or disruption to the life of the community as a consequence of this notification.

“Local authorities do not have the power to ban or prevent parades on the basis that some citizens may dislike or be offended by them; or that they pass a place of worship.”

Orange marchers were forced to re-route last year’s Remembrance Day parade away from a church in Glasgow’s east end amid fears of violent clashes.

Glasgow City Council’s public processions committee told organisers they must avoid St Mary’s Church in Calton.

The move followed the attack on Canon White four months previously.

A spokesman for the Grand Lodge of Scotland said the latest application was an annual process.

He added: “The Grand Lodge looks forward to a meaningful dialogue with the police on this issue.”

STOP PRESS: The march has been re-routed after police warned of potential for significant disorder.  Glasgow City Council re-routed the procession, which will go from Tullis Street to Cathedral Square and back, away from the church.  A council spokesman said: “Members chose to re-route the procession after hearing serious concerns, raised by Police Scotland, about the potential for disorder due to protests and counter-protests from people opposing or supporting the event.”

The Archdiocese of Glasgow tweeted: “We welcome the decision of @GlasgowCC to re-route the march planned for Easter Sunday morning past St Alphonsus and St Mary’s.  The right of ordinary people to go to Mass on Easter morning, free from intimidation and fear is one that must be respected and defended.”

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