Northern Ireland

Orange Order march in Scotland banned following accusation event is ‘deeply rooted in sectarianism’

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland plans to appeal Aberdeenshire Council decision

Participants at an Orange Order march in Cowdenbeath, Fife. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 30, 2018. The politician accepted an invite to the event, organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland. See PA story POLITICS Foster. Photo credit should read: David Cheskin/PA Wire
Participants at a Scottish Orange Order march in Cowdenbeath, Fife. PICTURE: DAVID CHESKIN/PA

An Orange Order march has been banned in a Scottish town after almost 10,000 people signed a petition condemning the organisation for its “history of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish hostility”.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland had planned the march on March 16 to mark the opening of a new lodge in the seaside town of Stonehaven, south of Aberdeen.

However, an online petition was started, urging people to oppose the event, which would see participants march through the town to a local church.

The pressure has led to Aberdeenshire Council banning the march, with the loyal order saying they will now appeal the decision.

An Orange Order parade in Stonehaven had been planned for March 16.
An Orange Order parade in Stonehaven had been planned for March 16.

In the petition on the website, the organiser stated of the Orange Order, which is estimated to have around 15,000 members in Scotland: “This group’s traditions, music, marches and practices are deeply rooted in sectarianism.

“Not only would this event - with 200 marchers ‘bussed in’ - severely disrupt daily activities and cause significant traffic congestion, but it also risks poisoning our peaceful environment.

“We have seen too often elsewhere how Orange Order parades foment a threatening atmosphere, and can spill over into violence and abuse. This intimidatory practice cannot be justified on the grounds of freedom of expression. We urge all within the local authority, and local political parties, to use their power and influence to prevent this event. Put the peace, unity and welfare of our community first.”

It also emerged on Tuesday that the march applicant, an employee of Aberdeenshire Council, had posted alleged anti-Muslim comments on a social media account. The Times newspaper reported that the organiser also posted a tribute to Oliver Cromwell and another comparing Celtic manager Tony Mowbray to an ape.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland has said it is investigating the posts.

Members of an area committee of Aberdeenshire Council discussed the proposed march on Tuesday, with councillors told by a local inspector that police would require a “significant” presence if it went ahead, and would need to pull officers from across Police Scotland’s North-East region.

One councillor told the meeting that pubs and independent shops planned to close during the march, with one outlet considering “boarding up their windows”.

The Orange Order is estmated to have around 15,000 members in Scotland. PICTURE: JUSTIN KERNOGHAN (Justin Kernoghan/Photopress Belfast)

Following a vote by councillors to block the march, the Orange Order said those opposed to the event were “stirring up anti-Orange and Protestant hatred”.

Representative David Walters said the loyal order was “disappointed but not surprised” at the outcome.

“I believe we won the legal argument, but it was apparent that the councillors had already made their mind up against their own solicitors advice and guidance,” he said.

“We will now seek legal advice and appeal to Aberdeen Sheriff Court.”