ORANGE WALK: FEARS EXPRESSED OVER SAFETY OF CATHOLIC MASSGOERS

By Bill Heaney

West Dunbartonshire Council looks set to grant permission for an Orange Walk to take place in Dumbarton and Alexandria later this month on Saturday, September 18 .

This is despite an objection, which will be discussed at a special remote meeting of the Licensing Board, from a local woman who has expressed fears about the safety of parishioners of St Patrick’s Church, whose grounds extend from Strathleven Place to Glasgow Road and St James’s retail park.

Ms Russell fears disruption to traffic and has flagged up the fact that the dispersal point for the marchers is so close to St Patrick’s RC Church.

Debbie Russell, who has written to the Council, said: “I have checked the Church’s Mass time on a Saturday which is at 6:30pm.

“I would ask West Dunbartonshire Council to ensure it conducts a risk assessment to ensure the safe dispersal of crowds and the safety of parishioners who may be entering or exiting the church at this time.”

Councillors will be asked to give the green light to the Orange Walk, which is being organised by the Dumbarton Orange & Purple District No. 27, represented by Simon Wade.

The procession, which is said to mark the annual celebration of the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690 when Prince William of Orange defeated King James “and all his rebel band” stormed the walls of Derry city, and has been a focal point for sectarian conflict ever since – including the notorious Blood Sunday shooting of inncocent civilians – will be joined by the the Pride of the Rock Flute Band. It is widely perceived as being anti Catholic.

The councillors who will make the decision are Councillor Jim Finn (Chair); Councillor Karen Conaghan; Councillor Ian Dickson;  Councillor Jonathan McColl (Vice Chair), all SNP; Councillor Caroline McAllister, ALBA Party; Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, Labour, and Councillor Brian Walker, Conservative, pictured left with the former Rangers and Scotland footballer Ally McCoist.

 It is recommended that these membersof the Licensing Committee  consider the objection and determine whether
the procession should take place as detailed in the notice of proposal, submitted by Simon Wade.

 The reason for the procession, stated on the notice of proposal, is for the Annual Boyne Celebration which had been postponed from the traditional date in July due to Covid-19.

A risk assessment form was also submitted. The notice of proposal was subsequently advertised on the Council’s website on 30 July 2021.

There will be two processions.  The outward procession is due to commence at 9.00 am starting in Park Street, Alexandria, before turning right onto Main Street past the Fountain then dispersing at St. Mungo’s
Scottish Episcopal Church.

The inward procession is due to commence at 5.30 pm at the Dumbarton Castle end of Castle Road before turning right onto Castlegreen Street and up past the Fire Station to the traffic lights at the A814 junction.

It will turn left into Glasgow Road under the Dumbarton East railway bridge until the traffic lights adjacent to McDonald’s and the St James’s retail park.

The procession will then join Castle Street moving onto High Street past the Celtic-orientated Dumbarton Harp Club following the one way system before turning left onto Bridge Street.

The procession will travel through Westbridgend until reaching the A814 junction where it will turn right. and across the Artizan Bridge to the Townend/Church Street roundabout where it will turn left onto Townend Road, passing beneath the Dumbarton Central railway bridge before turning left onto Bankend Road and finally reaching Lime Road where the procession will disperse.

Both the outward procession and the inward procession will be accompanied by the Pride of the Rock Flute Band.

Councillors have been told that on 4 August 2021 a letter of objection was received from a member of the public primarily objecting to the inward procession in Dumbarton.

A precursory meeting was held on 19 August 2021 with three representatives from the Dumbarton Orange & Purple No. 27 and Police Scotland.

No adverse issues – nothing is mentioned about the recent arrests of Rangers’ supporters singing anti-Catholic and anti Irish songs or a priest, Father Thomas White, being spat upon outside his church in Glasgow –  other than the objection which has been submitted by Ms Russell.

At this point, the procession organisers were advised that in light of the objection, the matter would need to be determined by the Licensing Committee..

It has ben pointed out in the papers for the meeting that “there are no aspects of the proposed processions which breach the Council’s  code of conduct for public processions.

And that no adverse comments have been received from either Silverton Community Council or Dumbarton East & Central Community Council in relation to the evening procession.

Notification of the proposed procession was sent to those elected Members whose ward the processions pass through within Ward 2 – Leven and Ward 3 – Dumbarton. Members of the Licensing Committee were also advised of the proposed procession.

However, a letter of objection from a member of the public, Debbie Russell, states: “I wish to object against the proposed procession as described below, specifically against the evening
procession.

“I note the start time of 5:30pm and the route which is proposed to take place in both residential areas and along one of the main roads in and out of Dumbarton.

“I object on the following points:

• The proposed route would go along Glasgow Road. This is one of the main roads into Dumbarton and when there is additional congestion or an accident on the A82 this road has considerably more traffic.

“Given the time of the procession where travellers may be returning east from Loch Lomond, there may be risk of both roads in and out of Dumbarton being heavily congested. I would ask West Dunbartonshire Council to consider how it intends to manage the safe route of emergency services which are expected to navigate this route if both roads are heavily congested.

“The proposed route is beside the main shopping and food outlets in Dumbarton. I do not consider it appropriate for those who wish to go shopping or eat with family or friends to be delayed due to this procession.

An Orange Walk taking place in Dumbarton. Pictures by Bill Heaney

“I note the vicinity of the dispersal point to St Patrick’s RC Church. I have checked the Church’s Mass time on a Saturday which is at 6:30pm.

“I would ask West Dunbartonshire Council to ensure it conducts a risk assessment to ensure the safe dispersal of crowds and the safety of parishioners who may be entering or exiting the church at this time.

“On a wider note, I would like West Dunbartonshire Council to review the overall risks associated with having a procession of this nature pass through one of the main arteries in and out of Dumbarton on a Saturday evening, where shoppers, travellers and parishioners will be moving around this area.”

Wes Dunbartonshire Council have banned and boycotted The Dumbarton Democrat and refuse to answer any questions we have about these and any other matters of press and public interest.

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