Loyalist groups have slammed campaigners for “stirring up tensions” leading to “the ugliest division witnessed in Glasgow in more than a generation”.

Scottish Protestants Against Discrimination (SPAD), supported by members of the Orange Order, say that an “isolated incident” in which a priest was spat outside his church has been used to fuel a tirade against them.

Bradley Wallace was jailed for ten months for spitting on Canon Thomas White outside St Alphonsus Church on London Road last year as the annual Boyne Parade went past.

Speaking to a 1000-strong crowd in George Square, SPAD chiefs slammed Call it Out - which campaigns against anti-Catholic bigotry in Scotland – for “orchestrating a campaign against the Protestant community”.

READ MORE: Orange Order slam ‘disgraceful’ march ban during George Square protest

They made their statement as Loyalists gathered in the city square in protest of the council’s decision to band six marches – five of them from Loyalist groups – this weekend.

On Wednesday, an emergency public processions committee ruled the parades would be prohibited following advice from Police Scotland.

In a lengthy statement, the protest organisers said: “The members and supporters of Call It Out have continued to use the single incident which took place at St Alphonsus Church more than a year ago as the basis of their whole campaign against the wider Protestant community.

“Why can they not simply let this be? Why do they insist on dwelling upon this single isolated incident as the linchpin for their whole tirade against us, the Protestant community of Glasgow.”

Later they claimed: “It seems to be that members of Call It Out are calling members of the Orange Order ‘anti-Catholic’ on a daily basis. In turn, propagating hatred and stirring up tensions from the supporters of their group.

“I would like to take the opportunity to reiterate that we are NOT bigots, racists or anti-Catholic.

“We also believe that Call It Out has the ultimate goal of stirring up trouble and discord within Glasgow akin to the tactics used by groups previously in Northern Ireland. This has, in turn, lead to the ugliest division witnessed in Glasgow in more than a generation.”

Call It Out have refuted the claims, and say they are a campaign 'against anti-Catholic bigotry and anti-Irish racism - nothing more and nothing less'.

They say claims made by protest organisers were ludicrous.

Around 100 officers monitored events in the square as more protesters joined the rally. 

Mounted units and riot vans were on alert in the streets surrounding the square but were not called into action as the event progressed peacefully.

SPAD also slammed the council’s “11th-hour decision” to ban the parades – after they were given just ninety minutes notice to appear at a hearing to state their case.

“This blatant breach of human rights further evidences – if any were needed – that Protestants are being treated like second class citizens in their own city,” they said.

This was disputed by the Church of Scotland, who previously said they recognise the council’s decision was not taken to “oppress the Protestant faith”.

The council’s HQ was closed to all staff except building management after being put on alert by officers.

It’s believed that an internal staff e-mail warned employees of a “substantial” protest, with staff who were due to work being arranged to go elsewhere.

At around 9am, an hour before the protest was due to begin, our reporter witnessed council staff removing every bin from the square.

Asked what they were doing, one employee said it was to make sure they were not set on fire during the protest. 

READ MORE: Man arrested and charged after police officer hit with flare during Irish Republican march

There were five Loyalists and one Irish Republican parades planned in the city this weekend.

The Republican Network for Unity, Bridgeton Protestant Boys Flute Band, Pride of the North Flute Band and two marches from the Whiteinch Orange and Purple District were due to take place today.

Meanwhile, the Partick Orange and Purple District had arranged to march on Sunday.

In a lengthy statement, a spokeswoman from Call It Out told The Evening Times: "A group that claims that Protestants are discriminated against in Scotland are not really to be taken seriously. The Church of Scotland statement issued yesterday makes that much clear. 

"However, to address some of their claims. We do not have a campaign against Protestants and nobody with any credibility thinks we do. Our campaign includes people of all religions (including Protestants) and none and is backed by the STUC and a number of constituent trades unions.

"We are a campaign against anti-Catholic bigotry and anti-Irish racism - nothing more and nothing less.

"The alleged 'single incident' to which they refer is the assault on Canon White (from whose vestments were extracted 26 separate DNA samples albeit that, to date, only one attacker has been identified, charged and convicted).

"This 'single incident' is only one in a long line of assaults (physical and verbal) on priests, parishioners, church buildings and the wider Catholic/Irish Catholic community which are well known to our community and have been going on for generations.

"What has changed is that, as of last year, we decided to challenge it - peacefully, lawfully and in co-operation with all progressive forces and the police.

"To claim that our campaign is responsible for a reaction which is violent, bigoted and racist is ludicrous and will be seen as such by all reasonable citizens. 

"They say they are not anti-Catholic - so why have they always insisted on routing their marches past Catholic churches playing music that the dogs in the street know have lyrics that are racist and anti-Catholic?

READ MORE: Police to crack down on any troublemakers after bans

"Having said all that, we note that a number of such parades have now been voluntarily re-routed away from Catholic churches and we welcome that.

"We have never asked for anti-Catholic marches to be banned but we simply ask that they are subjected to the same rules as every other march. If that is beginning to happen then that is very positive.  

"Reasonableness, common-sense and an application of the existing law can resolve all of this in our view."