The Orange Order has agreed to reroute its annual Battle of the Boyne march away from a Glasgow Catholic church where a priest was assaulted at last year’s event.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland said next month’s commemorative march would avoid St Alphonsus Catholic Church in Glasgow’s East End, where Canon Tom White was spat on and assaulted as he spoke to parishioners as an Orange Walk passed by during last year’s march.
Jim McHarg, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said: “Our position remains the same, in that we are always willing to engage in open and honest dialogue on the issues at hand. We fully recognise the recent positive comments from the Roman Catholic Church, and in the spirit of positive co-operation, we have proactively offered to parade on a different route for our main Boyne Celebrations this July.
“We have made this gesture in the hope that we can continue to progress discussions around a shared long term solution that accepts and respects each other’s religious differences, without the need for religious divides.”
The announcement follows statements from both the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, and the Archdiocese of Glasgow, signalling approval for the Protestant groups’ right to take part in the parades, while urging marchers to be “respectful”. Archbishop Cushley pointed out that he had no objection to Orange Order parades going past Catholic churches, so long as they were respectful.
“Objectively, that shouldn’t be a problem,” he told STV News. “If it is done respectfully, I don’t see where the problem is. If it is done to taunt your neighbour that is another question.”
A spokesperson for the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland welcomed the archbishop’s “positive comments”, saying: “Catholics, Protestants, and people from many other faiths and none, all live harmoniously in communities right across Scotland.
“This should mean that we can all share the same roads and streets as we each celebrate our own heritage and culture. We will certainly play our part in ensuring that our parades are respectful when passing any place of worship.”
The spokesperson said the Lodge was looking forward to further dialogue with Archbishop Cushley.
Picture: Marchers during the annual Orange Walk in Glasgow. (Danny Lawson/PA).