The Pride of the Rock band taking part in an Orange Walk through Dumbarton.
By Bill Heaney
Will there ever be another Orange or Apprentice Boys of Derry march in West Dunbartonshire?
Or will any one that is allowed to take place have to take themselves off the High Street to a quieter place where the risk of sectarian confrontation is reduced or wiped out?
These are the questions our local politicians will have to face up to following the sensible re-routing of these parades by SNP-run Glasgow City Council.
This comes in the wake of a priest being spat upon outside his church near the Barras Market by an Orange marcher, who was later jailed.
However, West Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP group might be in some difficulty stopping or re-routing these marches here.
Or even making life difficult for the Orangemen and women organising them when it comes to winning a majority for taking the march off its present circuit of the town.
This takes these marches from Dumbarton Central Station up Church Street to the High Street and Artizan, along the town centre by-pass to the Church Street roundabout and up Church Street once more.
Winning a majority for ending or re-routing this could be difficult for the Council since the SNP here relies on Conservative support to get most of their policies voted through.
And 50 per cent of Conservative councillors in Church Street, Brian Walker, pictured right, to name him, are Tories.
It might therefore be impossible to obtain approval to switch the route of an Orange march never mind ban them altogether.
Unless, of course, there are some other members of the Council here – Labour and SNP – hiding their affiliations under a Lambeg drum.
It was John Mason of the SNP in the Glasgow Shettleston constituency who raised this delicate matter in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
He said: “I think that the First Minister is aware of the issue of marches in my constituency and, in particular, the recent proposed one by the Apprentice Boys of Derry past a couple of Roman Catholic churches on Easter Sunday.
“Does she think that the current legal arrangements are satisfactory, or does Glasgow City Council [and other councils where these marches take place] need more powers to reduce or restrict such marches?”
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, left, replied: “We are always happy to talk to councils about the range of powers that are at their disposal.
“We have faith in Police Scotland to ensure the safety of members of the public and people who participate in marches.
“Police Scotland works closely with councils to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place, and will take appropriate and proportionate action in the event that problems arise.
“I was absolutely appalled—as, I am sure, was everybody in the chamber—by the incident that took place outside St Alphonsus church last year.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to reiterate that nobody should ever be a target for hatred simply because of their faith.
“The Scottish Government will always be very clear on that point.”
An Orange Walk parading through the streets of Dumbarton. Pictures by Bill Heaney
- Should Orange Parades be banned or walks re-routed in West Dunbartonshire? Readers are invited to comment below.