A GLASGOW MSP's false claims that anti-Catholic discrimination was behind a bus company's decision to cancel St Patrick Day's services cannot be allowed to stand. 

That's the view of an opposition politician, who accused the Glasgow Cathcart man of "defaming" Edinburgh's Lothian Buses when he made the accusation in the Scottish Parliament last week.

Mr Dornan suggested the publicly-owned company believed “Irish Catholics were to blame for the rise in anti-social behaviour”, while he raised concerns about the celebrations by Rangers fans last month.

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However, the firm has been hit by a spate of anti-social behaviour in recent times and services have been suspended on more than one occasion. 

The SNP MSP said: “No-one has questioned Lothian Buses’ decision to cancel the evening buses on March 17. Edinburgh, our second largest city and our capital, was still in level three lockdown on St Patrick’s Day.

Glasgow Times: James Dornan James Dornan

"Lothian Buses restricted travel for what could only be essential workers, commuting on a Tuesday evening.

“They mentioned a rise in anti-social behaviour as their reason, this was the only day that that action took place.

“I can only assume that Lothian Buses concluded that it was one of two things - that I’d be out celebrating my birthday or that Irish Catholics were to blame for this rise in anti-social behaviour.”

Mr Dornan added: “Why else cancel buses only for the night of an ubiquitous Irish Catholic holiday when pubs were not open and there was a stay at home order in place?

“Can you imagine if this has happened around July 12 or if it had happened around a Muslim festival or a Sikh festival? It is just not acceptable.”

Mr Dornan was labelled "a fool" over the comments by Labour MP for Edinburgh South, Ian Murray, and today another of the capital's politicians condemned the remarks. 

Alex Cole-Hamilton, who represents Edinburgh Western, asked in the Scottish Parliament: "In the Scottish Government debate on Thursday, James Dornan stated his belief that the decision by Lothian Buses to suspend its services on the night of March  17 was motivated by sectarian prejudice against Irish Catholics on St Patrick’s day.

Glasgow Times: Alex Cole-HamiltonAlex Cole-Hamilton

"Any Edinburgh member of the Scottish Parliament will tell you that Lothian Buses suspended its services on March 17 after its drivers had suffered many nights of sustained abuse and violent attacks, including repeated stoning. Its decision was motivated by a desire to protect its staff, and nothing more.

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"Had Mr Dornan’s remarks been made anywhere beyond the proceedings of this Parliament, they might have constituted defamation against Lothian Buses. They cannot be allowed to stand."

A Lothian Buses spokesman told The Herald yesterday: “Our drivers were subjected daily attacks.

“Our decision to remove services after 7pm on March 17 was taken following serious concerns for the safety of our colleagues and we would not hesitate to do so again.”

The SNP has been contacted for comment.