PROPOSALS for a Northern Ireland Styles Parades Commission in Scotland have been criticized by both the Orange Order and campaigners against anti-Catholic bigotry.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, Jim McHarg, described the proposal as “another attack on civil liberties by the SNP administration”.
While Call It Out’s Jeanette Findlay said the idea of a parade commission in Scotland was ‘ridiculous’.
Details of a new task force “to examine ways to promote peaceful assembly” were announced by Justice Secretary Keith Brown on Thursday afternoon.
READ MORE: Task Force to Explore Scottish Parades Commission
This follows a series of arrests during Orange Order marches last September.
At the time, the Prime Minister was urged by one of her own MSPs to “consider setting up a Parade Commission, similar to what is already happening in Northern Ireland, to take a non-partisan and independent on the number and route of such parades”
The government said the new group will “examine whether other models used to regulate marches and parades – including the Parades Commission in Northern Ireland – can be adapted and applied to Scotland”.
Mr McHarg said the commission was unnecessary.
“This is yet another attack on civil liberties by the SNP administration,” the Orange Order boss said.
“Local authorities have sufficient powers to regulate marches and parades. This was recently reiterated by Dr Michael Rosie in his recently updated report to the Scottish Government on marches and parades.
“We will be meeting with this group to underline our opposition to any suggestion of a parades commission in Scotland, as we believe such an organization is likely to cause more problems than it solves.”
Ms Finlay agreed, saying Call It Out and the Orange Order were one on the issue.
The chairman of the anti-Catholic fanaticism group said: “The idea of a parade commission in Scotland in 2022 is ridiculous.
“Scotland is not a post-conflict society and therefore does not need to borrow ideas from the Irish position.
“Jim McHarg is absolutely right that there is already adequate legislation to ensure that the needs of all parts of the community are met.
“The problem is that the legislation is not applied correctly and the needs of the Catholic/Irish Catholic community are rarely taken into account.
“Local authorities have the power to protect our places of worship, they simply choose not to.”
Announcing the task force, Mr Brown said it was about trying to balance the ‘right to march and march peacefully’ with the right for ‘communities to go about their business undisturbed “.
“We are committed to achieving this balance and are open to considering all options that will help ensure that such a balance is achieved. The findings of the expert working group will help us move forward on this important issue,” did he declare.
Last September, thousands of Orangemen and supporters took to the streets in more than 50 processions to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.
The police arrested 14 people, mainly for disturbing public order and acts of anti-social behavior, but also for “sectarian attacks on public order”.
An Orange March was called off in 2018 after Canon Tom White was spat at and verbally abused as parishioners left mass at St Alphonsus Church in Calton.
The following year, violence took place at an event organized by the James Connolly Republic Flute Band, which attempted to take part in what they called an “Irish Unity March” in Govan.
They were met by a loyalist counter-demonstration.
Riot cops were forced to boil both sides.
At the time, a spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: ‘The scenes in Govan tonight – and those we have seen elsewhere in the city on too many occasions over the past year – are unacceptable.
“The council is clear that the law expects him to facilitate public processions; including those that some people object to or find offensive.
“However, this cannot continue to come at the expense of the overwhelming majority of Glasgow residents, who want nothing to do with these marches or counter-protests.
“The city needs and wants fewer steps. We are ready to consider any action that will protect our communities from goons out to wreak havoc on the streets of our city.
The Northern Ireland Parades Commission was set up in 1998 following violence and unrest associated with parades in the town of Portadown, known as the Drumcree dispute.
It is an independent public body composed of seven members and responsible for imposing restrictions on any parade.
Last September James Dornan of the SNP, who represents Glasgow Cathcart, told the Prime Minister that there were “disgraceful reports that Glasgow councilors had received death threats when possible restrictions on Orange parades were been discussed”.
He said he had “no doubt that, just as in Northern Ireland, a parades commission would go a long way to defusing some of the discussion about parades”.