A PROTESTANT group is planning to launch a court fight with a council after being forbidden to hold a parade that will pass a church where a priest was allegedly attacked during an Orange Order march.

The city's public processions committee was told of a planned appeal while they decided that the Saturday procession by the Rising Star of Bridgeton Royal Black Preceptory can go ahead, but only on an alternative route that avoids passing St Alphonsus Church.

The Catholic Church had slammed plans for what it called a 'provocative' march while calling for a rerouting of the parade way from the church where Canon Tom White was allegedly lunged at and spat on while speaking to parishioners outside following mass as an Orange walk took place on July 7.

The council had previously asked organisers to change the route which runs from Tullis Street to the East End for a wreath-laying ceremony but the Royal Blacks, which is formed from Orangemen, refused.

It had then to be considered by a council public processions committee on Monday which imposed the re-route condition.

The Herald:

A spokesman for the Provincial Grand Black Chapter of Scotland has said in response to the re-route call that meetings were being arranged for this week to "consider this matter".

But councillors have been told by a representative of the Royal Blacks that they planned to appeal against the re-route to the Sheriff Court.

A city council spokesman said: “Committee heard evidence from Police Scotland that disorder was likely should the march take place on the original route – requiring around twenty times the number of officers that would otherwise attend."

A report to the council committee acknowledged the Rising Star of Bridgeton Royal Black Preceptory has for a number of years marched past St Alphonsus without major incident but still took the view there would be a “high likelihood of public disorder with risk to public safety and extended disruption to the life of the local community".

Around 60 people are expected to take part and the march would take 45 minutes each way.

The report by Carole Forrest, the director of governance and solicitor to the council also advised that local authorities must recognise the "fundamental rights" contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in relation to freedom of assembly and of association.

"Any local authority must act within the current European and domestic legislation and balance the rights of individuals and groups to hold processions, with the rights of others to go about their business without unnecessary disruption," she says in the report.

The Herald:

A recent Royal Black Preceptory Parade in Port Glasgow

The Glasgow Archdiocese said it was "dismaying that yet another attempt is being made" to parade past St Alphonsus in the wake of the "shameful scenes" in July.

"It is concerning that organisers do not have the wisdom and sense themselves to suggest a re-route," they said.

A submission from Supt John McBride in charge of operations and justice at London Road Police Office while appreciating the ECHR rights of the parade organisers took the view that "the resources which would be required to police the parade would be disproportionate to the numbers involved in the parade."

He told the committee: "I also have to balance (ECHR) rights with the need to protect the public, prevent disorder and crime, and protect the rights and freedoms of the wider public. I am also mindful that there is an absence of any persuasive reason for this specific route other than it is the preferred route. Suitable alternatives are known and available which would alleviate public concerns and considerably reduce the risk of disorder and disruption to the life of the community."

The new route for the parade, scheduled to take place from 10am on Saturday, is Tullis St, Main St, Olympia St, London Rd, Fielden St, Millerston St, Duke St, George St, Montrose St, Cochrane St and into George Square for a wreath-laying service. The return route will be George Square, George St, Duke St, Millerston St, Fielden St, London Rd, Olympia St, Main St and Tullis St.

Earlier this month, the Grand Lodge of Scotland changed the route of a march to bypass St Alphonsus Church after "a tidal wave of revulsion" amongst the people of Glasgow and a host of politicians from the city and beyond following the alleged assault.

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It came after in July, Susan Aitken, the Glasgow City Council leader said said Orange Order parades will be re-routed away from the site St Alphonsus’ Church.

Writing in the Herald she said: “I hope they voluntarily agree it is unacceptable for them to continue to pass these places of worship. If they do not, Glasgow City Council will insist.

“We are ready and willing to strength-test existing laws and our own codes of conduct in relation to preventing horrendous incidents like the attack on Canon Tom White.”