Figures from Glasgow City Council and the Parades Commission of Northern Ireland show that during a period when there were 217 marches by the Orange Order, the Apprentice Boys and Royal Black Chapter on the streets of Belfast and Londonderry, in Glasgow there were 247.

Various Republican organisations, including Sinn Fein, National Graves and other commemoration groups, held 19 parades in Glasgow compared to eight in the two Northern Ireland cities.

The figures, which cover the year from April 2008 to March this year, emerged as it was revealed that a recent contentious parade by the Royal Black Chapter, an elite wing of the Orange Order, in Dumbarton a fortnight ago cost more than £100,000 to police.

The demonstration, which West Dunbartonshire Council banned following police concerns of disorder before the decision was overturned by the Sheriff Court, later sparked a riot on Glasgow’s Gallowgate as a return “feeder” parade to nearby Bridgeton attempted to march through the area.

Police reports, which put their total costs at £108,000, include statistics which show a large rise in incidents of disorder in Dumbarton on the day of the march.

They included marchers banging on the shutters of a pub, theft from the local Co-op store, youths stockpiling bricks and, bizarrely, a male stabbing himself in the face.

It also emerged yesterday that Glasgow City Council have instructed the Republican group Cairde Na hEireann to change the route of a planned parade, described as an anti-racism demonstration, away from George Square following police concerns about counter-demonstrations by Loyalists. The decision may be challenged in the courts.

The comparisons between Northern Ireland and Glasgow have been pulled together by the city council to strengthen its case for a wholesale reduction in parades in the city. The authority claimed that, if anything, its figures are conservative.

One senior council source said: “We now have a situation where we have more parades in Glasgow than in the two largest cities in Northern

Ireland put together.

“Given that the history and ideology that underpin this entire tradition are so closely linked to that part of the world that is simply absurd.

“This demonstrates exactly why there needs to be a serious reduction in parades -- and also why the organisations that march in Glasgow need to show a bit of perspective and be proactive in that process.

“When the Apprentice Boys of Derry march five times as often in Glasgow as they do in Derry, there can be absolutely no argument that things are out of hand.

“If Londonderry has fewer than 20 parades, why would Glasgow need hundreds?”

Sandra White, a Glasgow SNP MSP, added: “Questions have to be asked as to why we have this level of parade and nature of parade in Glasgow.The Orange Order for one should ask themselves why this is the case. It’s pretty disproportionate with some real cost implications.”

Glasgow MSP and Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: “We have a major issue here with the costs of policing marches and I really do think that some self-denying ordinance may be necessary. I’m pleased that the Orange Order, for example, are prepared to sit down and talk about this.”





Faith has been a strong part of Scottish culture for centuries. Records show that Orange Parades in the City of Glasgow were first held in 1821 when three lodges paraded through the Trongate before returning back to their lodge rooms.

Today, 188 years later, the main Glasgow procession is made up of 164 lodges that are active within the various communities that form the City of Glasgow. The lodges have paraded through the city each year since.

Whilst we accept that some may believe that upholding traditional values may be out of date, that shouldn’t preclude us from being free to carry on supporting our own traditions and values.

In 2009 there have been 183 Orange Order parades, down from 251 in 2004. Whilst 183 might seem a large figure, the parades are spread across the wider Glasgow area -- a large area indeed.

What is never fully explained in the headline figure is that a number of the parades mentioned are very small localised affairs. If Orange Order members wish to walk to the cemetery after a funeral, that is classed as a parade. Others include Sunday mornings when some Lodge members parade to their Church before service.

The trouble seems to come from a small band of drunk “hangers-on” that turn up and walk along the streets alongside the parade.

Ridding us of the yobbish element that we don’t want at our parades would be welcomed by us.

We have engaged with the Scottish Government and local authorities when we have been invited to give our views. We have launched our own initiatives to leaflet and inform whilst parading, and we have sent out a clear message to bigots that they are not welcome.

We are not anti Catholic as some like to suggest but clearly a pro Protestant organisation that has strong religious beliefs and a tradition that we are proud to promote with our open bibles and hand painted lodge banners.

But we accept that a lot more work needs to be done to educate people on our history and culture.

We have been part of Scottish life since 1798 and are older than most political parties in Scotland. If these same parties think that we are ready to curl up and go away then it is time for them to think again.

In a modern multi-cultural society, no-one should be bullied into giving up their right to celebrate their own traditions and beliefs.


Ian Wilson is Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland