03 May 2006

Historic move to drive bigots out of parades

Evening Times

THE Orange Order, Irish Republicans, politicians and police today signed a historic declaration to boot out sectarian bigots who disrupt parades in Scotland.

By Gerry Braiden

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Click photo to view - THERE are more than 250 Orange walks in Glasgow every year, mostly during the summer

The statement, signed in Glasgow, is being seen as a symbolic effort aimed at ending the scourge of foul-mouthed parade "hangers-on" who often terrorise neighbourhoods on march routes.

By the summer, when the marching season is in full swing, all the signatories will hope to see the law clamp down on sectarian louts intent on using marches as a platform for bigotry.

The initiative aims to put an end to singing abusive and bigoted songs and shouting offensive slogans.

It will focus on those behaving in a violent way and ensure illegal symbols, uniforms or paraphernalia associated with banned groups or terror organisations are not permitted on marches.

Joining Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson at the signing were Ian Wilson, Grand Master of the Orange Order in Scotland; Jim Slaven, of Irish Republican group Cairde na hEireann; Kevin Smith, Assistant Chief Constable; Jim Coleman, Glasgow City Council deputy leader; and Councillor David Saunders, of North Lanarkshire Council. The STUC was also represented.

Today Ms Jamieson said the move was "not a token or hollow gesture" but was about ridding parades of "the bullies, the thugs and the sectarian bigots."

She said: "The time has come to get the hangers-on off our backs.

"By signing this pledge we are sending a clear collective signal … we will not accept the streets of Scotland to be taken over by drunken and abusive louts.

"The Orange Order and Cairde na hEireann, the police and local authorities have taken a historic step today."

The Orange Order, which stages more than 250 marches in Glasgow every year, said it had been calling for a crackdown on abusive hangers-on for years.

At last year's main Orange parade of 85 people arrested none was an Order member.

Mr Wilson said: "A few parades have been blighted by the unwelcome attentions of a few mindless youths, usually fuelled by alcohol, who turn up with the sole intention of causing trouble.

"We've asked the police to deal with these people appropriately."

Jim Slaven, of Cairde na hEireann, said he hoped all parties would use their influence to demand good behaviour at demonstrations and to call a halt to counter-demonstrations.

Jack McConnell made tackling religious bigotry one of his main policies since 2004.

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?