Tens of thousands of people are expected to flock to Glasgow streets tomorrow for the Orange Order annual Boyne parade.

Parades will leave communities in the north, south, east and west of the city on Saturday morning, merging in the city centre before heading to Glasgow Green.

Ahead of the march, known as the ‘big walk’, the Glasgow Times met with senior officers of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland and put some key questions to them.  

David Walters, Executive Officer and Derek Menzies, junior depute Grandmaster, outlined the objectives of the institution and raised concerns over how its members are perceived and treated.

(Image: Orange Order)

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The Glasgow Times quizzed the officials asking if it was anti-catholic, why it must parade and what it can do to regulate the behaviour of some people who follow the marches.

We asked what is the point of the Orange Order and what are the organisation's aims objectives in the 21st century.

Mr Walters said: “We are a worldwide Protestant fraternity which exists in nine different countries across the world.

“It's a Bible based organisation and the Holy Bible is our most important emblem and guide. The modus operandi of the Orange Order is to promote the reformed faith-based in the infallible word of God and the Holy Bible to give allegiance to the reigning monarch of our Constitution."

He said it is not a right-wing organisation but is a “very working-class organisation”.

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Many people complain about disruption and inconvenience when the Order parades on the street in such numbers.

We asked why does the Orange Order have to parade in the streets?

Derek Menzies, deputy junior Grandmaster, said: “It’s an expression of our culture, particularly in this city, and it has been from 1821 I think it is that we’ve been parading in the city,

“It's just something that's always been done. We like to be visible. We don't see any reason why we shouldn't be visible because people don't like us.

“We shouldn't hide away. We're proud to be out in the street. We're proud to proclaim our faith openly and in public.”

He said that the only disruption is really around the Boyne celebrations in July

Mr Menzies added: “Mostly the other parades are very, very small in number and will take minutes to pass causing next to no disruption.”

While many people feel the Orange Order is sectarian and bigoted, and should not have a presence on the streets they argued there is “hatred” towards their community.

Mr Menzies said: “There's other carnivals in the world, Notting Hill, St Patrick's parade in New York, Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They go out and celebrate and there's not the furore that follows the Orange Order’s right to celebrate our heritage, our culture, our traditions.”

They said it is their “right as Scottish and British citizens” to display in public what they believe in.

Mr Walters said: “Unfortunately, being a Christian now is seen as something that's frowned upon.”

He cited politics and the difference between Kate Forbes, who he said during the SNP leadership contest last year, was “hounded out” for her (Christian) beliefs, and Humza Yousaf, ( a Muslim) who he said was “having prayer meetings and that seemed acceptable” which added was “absolutely fine”.

Mr Walters added: “So in this country, which you always class as a Christian country, it seems to be that your faith now is seen as being a negative, whereby we are quite happy to publicly proclaim our faith in the streets.”

He said the Order has met with the Scottish Government to explain “the hatred towards our community, the Orange and the Protestant community”.

It submitted a 14-page document to the government's Hate Crime consultation outlining several instances of alleged hate and discrimination towards ti Orange institution.

He said statistically it is on a par with Islamophobia but not taken as seriously.

On Saturday the Orange order members will march with bands accompanying them.

The bands will play tunes and songs will be sung that many observers state are openly anti-catholic.

Contentious songs include the 'famine song', 'The Billy Boys' and 'No Pope of Rome'.

Given that these songs are sung, we asked Mr Walters and Mr Menzies "is the Orange Order anti- Catholic?"

Mr Walters said: “We're not anti-anything. If anything we go there and celebrate the constitutional monarchy and the laws that come into place because of that victory which allows everybody the freedom to express their beliefs.

“The tag anti-Catholic probably comes from, unfortunately, things that happen on the sidelines and people making comments, singing songs”

He added: “But they don't come from our members because our members don't sing when they're on parade and the bands play a tune and other people might end up putting words to those tunes, sometimes football songs.”

Mr Walters said they meet regularly with Catholic priests and he said they know the Orange Order is not anti-Catholic.

He added: “Yes, we're very much pro-Protestant, but we're certainly not anti-anything.

He said: “We couldn't march along, with the reasons why we march, saying that we were anti-Catholic.”

Mr Menzies said they have regular meetings with the band associations and “conduct on parade” is discussed “to make sure that they behave responsibly”.

He added: “We try and iron out as much as we can, but again, it's difficult. We don't have any control over them.

“We can only ask them to ask their supporters and followers to behave responsibly on the day.”