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Glasgow City Council funds Orange events

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A cynical ploy by the SNP to try and win votes and harm Scottish Labour. Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has just received £1million from the EU. The government of the Irish Republic routinely funds the Apprentice Boys Maiden City Festival in Londonderry / Derry in Northern Ireland as well as the Twelfth in Rossnowlagh, County Donegal. Sinn Fein controlled council likes Cookstown, Dungannon, Magherafelt, Derry routinely fund events in Orange Halls. The Ulster-Scots Agency funds the likes of music tuition classes and other events. The Arts Council funds instruments for bands. Awards for All, part of the National Lottery funds various events in Orange Halls. The International Fund for Ireland, administered by the Rural Development council, funded by the USA, Canada, Australia, UK etc funds many projects including the renovation of community Halls including Orange Halls. Indeed have just had a conversation via Twitter with several people insisting the Orange Order discriminates against black people, Asian people, Catholics, Jews and a raft of others.... Ahem Ghana, togo lodges, ahem Mohawk lodges in Canada.

Glasgow City Council funds Orange events
Gerry Braiden
Local Government Correspondent

SCOTLAND'S largest council is funding Orange Order street parties to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, sparking demands the authority ensures the events are "inclusive" and claims that local communities have not been consulted.

A party centred on an Orange Hall in Pollokshields in Glasgow's south side and organised by the local lodge has received £1500 in public cash. Another based at an Orange Hall in Springburn has been given £890 of city council cash.

A total of £1500 was requested for a party on Monday organised by the Govan District 42 Orange Lodge. A decision will be taken next week by the council, after the party.

Thousands of pounds of road-closure costs have also been written off by the council's Labour leadership as a Jubilee gesture of goodwill.

However, one resident close to the Pollokshields Lodge said no-one in the community was consulted about the event. The resident, who asked not be named, said: "We've only found out because some businesses have heard the Orange Order members discussing it. Then we had flyers stuck to our doors.

"There is no-one I know in this street wanting this. Who is going to attend if it's not residents? It will be the friends of the people who run the Orange Hall. When I spoke with the council they told me they'd investigate after the event. That's not much use."

The news comes as it emerges changes to Glasgow's parades policy, promised by council leader Gordon Matheson, could see restrictions on music outside places of worship altered.

Last month, The Herald revealed Mr Matheson told a hustings of more than 100 Orange Order members the council's parades policy was "wrong", with an imminent review expected to allow more marches through the city centre and music to be played earlier and later in the day.

Humza Yousaf, SNP MSP for Glasgow, has called on the city council to spell out its engagement with the Orange Order.

Last night he said: "Money from the public purse has been given to various Jubilee parties, which are largely being organised by Orange lodges across the city, on the proviso they will be open and inclusive to other communities. I would be keen to hear what attempts have been made to reach out to Glasgow's diverse communities and other faith groups in particular."

Dave Scott from Scotland's leading anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth said: "I think the big question organisers need to ask themselves is 'would the Queen actually be comfortable being at our party?' I certainly can't recall her ever attending an Orange Order event in my lifetime."

A council spokesman said: "These small sums of money were provided by area committees on the basis that the events are in public places and anyone can attend."

The Herald attempted to contact the Orange lodges concerned but was unable to.

Mohawk LOL 99 in Canada


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Council leader accused of betrayal over parades
Gerry Braiden
Local Government Correspondent

THE leader of Glasgow City Council has beeen accused of performing a U-turn on his views on marches and betraying constituents amid mounting pressure to go public with his views on parades.

U-TURN: Council leader Gordon Matheson is under pressure to clarify his position on marches.
The Herald revealed last week that Gordon Matheson told a meeting of more than 100 members of the Orange Order that the authority's policy on limiting the number and routes of parades was wrong and would be reviewed.

Two key areas where the landmark policy is being examined for change are allowing more processions and demonstrations through the city centre and altering times to allow religious and political parades to play music earlier and later.

But representatives from Mr Matheson's own city centre ward said his claims to the Orange Order on the policy's flaws fly in the face of support he has routinely given to them for further restrictions to parades.

Meanwhile, Glasgow SNP MSP Humza Yousaf has written to Mr Matheson demanding to know how many members of the Labour administration and council officials have met with the Orange Order and other marchers during the last council term and what was discussed.

Mr Yousaf has also asked the council leader to spell out what he thinks is wrong with the policy.

Mr Matheson was greeted with applause from Orange Order members at the pre- election hustings when he told them he would "hold his hands up" and admit his authority's groundbreaking approach to reducing marches in the city was flawed.

But the body that represents rank-and-file Scottish police officers said encouraging more parades was "perverse", while Mr Matheson has subsequently been accused of pandering to militant unionism for the sake of re-election.

However, others believe the council leader would have risked being ousted by the electorate had his comments been made public before the election.

Anne Keay, who helped set up the Merchant City Community Council with Mr Matheson more than a decade ago, said: "Gordon Matheson has changed his stance and I feel enormously let down. He has continually given the impression at our meetings that he is in favour of reducing marches through the city centre and re-routing them."

In his letter To Mr Matheson, Mr Yousaf said: "Can you clarify which part of the policy is, in your opinion, flawed and in need of review?"

He added: "Can you confirm how many meetings you or indeed any Glasgow City Council officials have had with Orange Order groups during the last council session and what was discussed?"

The policy was introduced 18 months ago and was aimed at reducing marches through the city centre and the duration of each march amid concerns over the impact on public resources, businesses and communities.

Although the council says it has a mechanism for an annual review, the policy has not yet been reviewed.

The council has also repeatedly hailed its revised approach to parades as a success, with almost all disputes with march organisers resolved before events, while Strathclyde Police have held it up as a template for other authorities.

In a letter to several individuals who have contacted him about parades, Mr Matheson said: "This review is being worked on at the moment by council officers and will incorporate the views of Strathclyde Police and a range of procession organisers.

"While I am, of course, committed to a review of our policy, let me assure you that no decisions have been taken to alter the current position, nor have I ever sought to encourage an increase in the number of processions."


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Music ban on Orange marches in Glasgow could be overturned by council

Glasgow City Council is considering changing how Orange marches are regulated

Published on Tuesday 5 June 2012 23:41

A BAN on Orange walks and other processions playing music outside places of worship in Scotland’s biggest city is expected to be reviewed.

• Glasgow City Council is preparing a review of its processions policy

• Review will also consider use of public spaces such as George Square, Nelson Mandela Place and parks

• Stewarding arrangements, timing, costs and unauthorised processions will also be considered

Glasgow City Council is preparing a review of its processions policy, which regulates the conduct of marches throughout the city.

Currently, processions are expected to ensure music ceases when approaching and passing places of worship, irrespective of whether a service is in progress.

Council leader Gordon Matheson, a Labour councillor, has confirmed that the review will include consideration of the ban, but stressed that no decisions have been taken.

However, Glasgow SNP MSP Humza Yousaf, a Muslim and former spokesman for international aid charity Islamic Relief, said the prospect of change has left him “deeply uneasy”.

He said: “My concerns lie in finding the balance between protecting the rights of those who come to Glasgow in order to march and the rights and safety of the people who live, work, play and worship here.

“The code of conduct states that parades should not play music while passing places of worship – be it a chapel, a synagogue, a mosque or any place of worship. Any relaxation of this would be unwelcome.”

The current processions policy was introduced in 2005 amid concerns about the amount of marches in the city, which numbered more than 300 a year.

As well as addressing the music ban, the review will look at other issues including the use of public spaces such as George Square stewarding arrangements, timing and costs.

In a letter to Mr Yousaf, Mr Matheson wrote: “While I am, of course, committed to a review of our policy, let me assure you that no decisions have been taken to alter the current position, nor have I ever sought to encourage an increase in the number of processions.

“The review is currently being worked on by council officers and will be brought to the council’s executive committee, where elected members will be given the opportunity to discuss the report and any amendments.

“We will also be allowing the opportunity for community councils to provide their views on the current code of conduct.”

He added: “Without pre-empting the content of the annual review, it’s my understanding that we’ll see evidence of a decrease in the overall number of processions in the city.”

Mr Matheson also addressed Mr Yousaf’s call for a ban on marches by far-right group the Scottish Defence League on the grounds of “moral decency”.

He said the council does not have the legal authority to prohibit marches on this basis.


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Dani Garavelli: Orange flare-up

Hundreds of marches are held each season. Picture: Getty

Published on Sunday 10 June 2012 03:26

LABOUR’S offer to review policy on parades has been attacked as a cynical ploy to win votes and has pitched the issue back to the top of political debate

It was the moment the police officer had been dreading. As the Orange Order parade passed by the Catholic church, the band struck up, The Sash My Father Wore. “There was a funeral mass going on inside, and I’d made it clear there was to be no playing of music, so I gave the instruction for people to be arrested,” he recalls. “There were complaints lodged against me later, but I was adamant there was no grey area – that kind of behaviour could not be tolerated.”

Later that day, on the last leg of the parade, the same officer found himself bombarded by missiles as the marchers were ambushed by anti-Orange protesters. “It was like the exit scene from Black Hawk Down,” he says. “They were coming at us from all sides, we were penned up in this narrow street in the east end of Glasgow.”

For many years such scenes were, if not commonplace, then at least unexceptional. In August 2009, scores of police cars converged at Glasgow Cross after an Orange parade clashed with Celtic supporters and rival yobs traded blows. The following month, Strathclyde Police produced a report which catalogued a succession of incidents during two parades in July and suggested breach of the peace offences rose by 75 per cent on those days.

It was to offset such disturbances – and reduce the £1 million plus the marching season costs the police – that Glasgow City Council drew up its Code of Conduct on Public Processions, a pioneering document which aimed to balance the rights of all groups to free assembly with the rights of ordinary people to go about their daily lives.

Though at first criticised as “an affront to human rights” by the Grand Orange Order of Scotland, which believes its members’ freedom to celebrate their Protestant heritage is being systematically destroyed, it was lauded by Strathclyde’s Chief Constable Stephen House as a template for other local authorities.

Some predicted the measures it introduced – such as greater restrictions on when and where music could be played, a reduction in the number of “return” parades and tighter controls over parades passing through the city centre – would lead to a rush of court challenges. But last year – the only year the code has been in force so far – saw a reduction in the overall number of marches and most issues over routes and timings resolved by negotiation with the groups involved.

Yet now, as the marching season begins once more, the code is the focus of fresh controversy. Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson stands accused of currying favour with the Orange Order by pledging to review its provisions, and concerns have been raised that parades might once again be allowed to play their music outside places of worship.

The controversy began in the run-up to the council election – which some predicted would see Labour lose its grip on Glasgow – when Matheson appeared at an Orange Order hustings. To loud applause, he is said to have told members he was prepared to “hold his hands up” and admit that the code – brought in by Labour – was “flawed”. He stressed he could make no promises about specific outcomes. But, if Glasgow voted Labour, the council would look at it the issue afresh.

Later, in a letter sent to SNP MSP Humza Yousaf, he outlined the areas of the code that were likely to be scrutinised; these are said to have included restrictions over the playing of music.

Since the allegations surfaced, Matheson has pointed out a review of the code had always been planned. He insists Glasgow City Council remains committed to reducing the overall number of parades, which include around 20 Republican marches a year and a handful of demonstrations by environmentalists, anti-capitalists and the Scottish Defence League.

However the row is refusing to go away. With several Orange Lodge-organised Jubilee street parties receiving council funding, and the parade season already under way, concerns have been raised that Matheson was trading a climbdown on its policy on marches for much-needed votes.

Yousaf – himself a young veteran of anti-war marches – is seeking assurances that there will be no watering down of the code, which applies equally to all processions, in the light of Matheson’s comments. But the controversy has raised wider cultural questions. With polls showing around two-thirds of Glaswegians would support a reduction in the number of parades and 50 per cent would support an outright ban, should councillors be contemplating any softening of their current stance? Or in an increasingly multicultural society, where diversity is celebrated, should we be more tolerant of a centuries-old institution which wants to express its own identity in a traditional way? There is no doubting members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland feel they are under siege. At its Glasgow HQ, Most Worthy Grand Master Henry Dunbar, a Church of Scotland elder, is at the heart of attempts to improve the institution’s image. And yet, he insists, the last few weeks has seen an onslaught of misinformation aimed at making it look bad. The stories about the 22 “Jubilee” marches were nonsense for a start, he says. “Those parades, which were inclusive of small feeder parades, involved members of the districts of the County Grand Lodge of Glasgow parading to church for their annual Thanksgiving Divine Service, which takes place every year on the first Sunday of June.”

More generally, Dunbar believes the Orange Order’s “pariah” status gives the lie to former First Minister Jack McConnell’s boast that Scotland is “One country – many cultures”.

“The institution’s members, families and friends, who number tens of thousands in and around Glasgow and hundreds of thousands all over Scotland, think differently. We feel very much as if we’re being treated as second-class citizens and that we’re being discriminated against,” says Dunbar.

“We have over 50 halls around Scotland and most of these halls are used by all people within the communities – all different faiths and cultures,” he says. “We also raise hundreds of thousands of pounds annually in our 600 lodges for various charities but no-one ever prints that.”

When the code of conduct was published, Dunbar says, the Orange Order was annoyed that, though all stakeholders were asked to submit written responses, there was no round-the-table consultation exercise. In truth, the code of conduct was always going to be something of a fudge; the law, after all, is explicit in giving all groups an equal right to march or demonstrate, with policing costs to be met from the public purse. Previous attempts to ban marches – including West Dunbartonshire’s attempt to prevent the Provincial Grand Black Chapter of Scotland parading through Dumbarton in 2009 – have been overturned in court.

The council may have been keen to cut the number of marches, but it didn’t want to end up facing a litany of expensive (and possibly unsuccessful) legal battles, so compromises had to be made. As it stands, the code restricts the hours in which music can be played to between 9am and 6pm and insists that – when the number of marchers exceeds 1,000 or the event is judged high-risk – those involved need to assemble in and disperse from a park or other agreed public space.

After its introduction, the total number of marches dropped from 440 to 362, with many ending earlier than in previous years. The biggest Orange parade in Glasgow, which takes place on the first Saturday in July and last year involved 8,000 marchers from 182 lodges, ended four hours earlier that in previous years, which meant it could be covered in one police shift, yet arrest figures remained more or less static.

Despite the furore which accompanied the code’s publication, only a handful of applications went before the public processions committee (which makes a judgment on cases that cannot be resolved by the parties involved) and none ended up in court.

The Orange Order would argue that – to a large degree – this was down to its willingness to make concessions. In particular, Dunbar says, the institution embarked on a programme to train thousands of its own marshals, many of whom were employed to help keep order at the 2 July event.

Conscious its reputation has been unfairly tarnished by hangers-on, the Orange Order has also done its best to dissociate itself from those non-members, who latch on to the bands specifically to cause trouble.

“Last year, I made a statement with the then Assistant Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan – and this year I’ll making a statement with Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins saying ‘we do not want the blue-bag brigade here’. If people don’t want to follow the parade quietly and with respect then we want them to stay at home.”

What the Orange Order is looking for from the review – according to Dunbar – is merely minor adjustments to the code. It is not, he insists, asking to be allowed to play music outside places of worship while services are ongoing – “We would never tolerate that,” he says – but they’d like a little more flexibility, particularly where places of worship are very obviously not being used. He would also like to see an easing up of restrictions over the hours in which music is allowed to be played to accommodate feeder parades which have to set off before 9am if they are to reach the fixed assembly points before 10am.

“We do feel we have given a lot up and are getting very little in return,” he says. Put like that, the Orange Order’s demands don’t seem to be so unreasonable. But for those for who have experienced the ugly side of the marching season, any perceived easing up of restrictions is unwelcome.

Retired chief inspector Les Gray, who policed several Orange marches, says, “Orange parades are not a pleasant place for police officers to be. We tend to be piggy-in-the-middle, with abuse hurled at us from all sides. The marchers swear at us for trying to keep them within the white lines – and the protesters swear at us for trying to keep the marchers safe.

“Of course, like everyone else, the Orange Order has the right to march, but people also have the right to go about their daily business –anyone who has ever sat in a taxi, watching the meter go up and up, knows how frustrating being stuck behind a big parade can be.”

As far as Gray is concerned, the council should be doing all it can to reduce the number of parades. “To be honest the fewer parades the better in my view because it’s an obscene waste of public money. There are parades now for the sake of parades.”

Far from supporting any relaxation of the code, Humza Yousaf would like to see it beefed up a bit. “If there’s any problem with it it’s that some of its rules are not as well enforced as they should be,” he says. “For example, I heard recently from a chapel in the east end of Glasgow that bands are still sometimes playing as they pass and nothing is being done about it. I would welcome change if it was going to make the code of conduct more robust – but somehow I don’t think that’s what prompted all the applause for Gordon Matheson at the hustings.”

As for the council leader himself, he was, this weekend, tied up with another, somewhat less controversial parade – that of the Olympic torch as it wended its way along Fenwick/Kilmarnock Road towards the city centre on Friday night.

As the cauldron was lit in George Square to mark the occasion, he would be forgiven for hoping the flame ignited by his alleged hustings pledge would soon be extinguished. «

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Humza Yousaf SNP MSP article in the Evening Herald
Evening Times Column - June 2012

Meeting with different groups and organisations is part of a politician’s job – we all do it. However, it is important for democracy that any promises made are transparent, accountable and ultimately able to be held up to public scrutiny.

The alleged promises that were made to the Orange Order prior to the local elections by the Leader of Glasgow City Council, and the apparent admission that the Council’s approach to regulating Orange Walks in the city was flawed, are of great concern to many constituents I speak to.

I wrote to Councillor Gordon Matheson recently expressing my grave reservations about any increases in the number of parades held in the city and any relaxation of the code of conduct on public processions. Part of his response was welcome in that he states he shares the Scottish Government’s desire to reduce the number of parades in our city.

However, of deep unease are the issues he highlights for possible review. These issues include the timing of when organisations are permitted to play music during their procession, the restriction on playing music when passing places of worship and the use of public spaces in the city centre.

I have to agree with Calum Steele, the general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation that we should be concerned and oppose any actions that takes police resources away from local communities and is spent dealing with parades.

I think most Glaswegians believe the current code of conduct is robust and if anything could do be better enforced – any relaxation of it would be extremely unwelcomed. Indeed, if the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, Stephen House, is encouraging other West of Scotland councils to follow Glasgow’s lead on parades policy, why should any relaxation be made?

Glasgow is a proud of being a multicultural and diverse city. We must ensure that those of all faiths and ethnicities are valued, and are not made to feel intimidated or under threat.

In that vein, Ed Miliband gave a speech last week on English identity and the need to reclaim ‘Englishness’ back from far right groups such as the BNP and the EDL. He also touched upin the issue of how we should value having multiple identities– personally, as Pakistani-Scot, I couldn’t agree more.

All he needs to do is take a look north of the border, and see the model of Scottish civic nationalism that is open and inclusive to all. Yes we have our problems like any normal nation, but by and large people are comfortable being Chinese-Scots, Scots-Irish, Polish-Scots and of course British-Scots!

Scottish civic nationalism stresses that it’s not where we came from that's important, it's where we're going together as a nation. After all, we're a' Jock Tamson's Bairns!


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