A DECISION to re-route a loyalist march to avoid a Catholic church after police raised fears over escalating tensions is to be appealed.

More than 200 officers could have been required to deal with the march, and counter-protesters, if it passed St Alphonsus’ Church, Police Scotland said.

Almost 1,000 people are set to take part in the County Grand Orange Lodge of Glasgow parade on Saturday, June 8.

Chief Inspector Patrick Murphy, area commander for Glasgow East, told city councillors, who made the decision to alter the route, there had been a “troubling change” in rhetoric since Canon Tom White was spat on outside the church last year.

However, James G MacLean, grand treasurer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, argued it had condemned that “ugly incident”. He said the group would be appealing the Council’s decision at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Read more: Orange marchers take Glasgow City Council to court

Councillor Annette Christie, chairwoman of the public processions committee, said it had reached a unanimous decision.

“The committee has concluded that, on balance, if the procession was allowed to precede as originally proposed, there will be a clear risk to public order and disruption to the life of the community,” she said.

“The committee considered it necessary to place proportionate conditions on the procession.”
Mr Murphy said Police Scotland had requested the route was changed as there has been a “troubling change in the terms of the tone and commentary and rhetoric” around marches passing the church.

He said recent language had become more “strident” on both sides and positions have polarised.

Police noted during a protest last month, as a parade passed the church, there were shouts of “Fenian b******” and “Paedos” from supporters of the parade to the protesters. 

The Chief Inspector said social media posts about pipe bombs and burning vehicles close to the proposed route, while not suggested as a serious threat, showed the hardening of attitudes.

Mr MacLean told the committee the Council had been notified about this march in June 2018, a month before the incident with Canon White so it had not been planned as a response.

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He said loyalist marchers felt they were being held responsible for that “unfortunate” incident if the route was changed.

The lodge’s representative also said the right to counter-protest cannot override the right to march. It is the latest of a number of parades to be recommended to be re-routed from the church since the incident.

Four loyalist organisations - Bridgeton Orange and Purple District 37, Dalmarnock Orange and Purple District 50, Dalmarnock No Surrender Branch Club and the Apprentice Boys of Derry (Bridgeton) - lost a court bid, against a council decision to stop them marching past the church, last week.