Further to correspondence (24 July) about the Orange Order parade planned for 13 September in Edinburgh, I sometimes wonder if publicly expressed hostility to the Orange Order is one of the few remaining prejudices which are tolerated in contemporary Scotland.
Certainly at the public hearing of the City of Edinburgh Council licensing sub-committee on Tuesday several of the elected councillors on the committee made known their resentment and antagonism towards the Orange Order as it sought to gain approval for its right to march in the city five days before the independence referendum.
It was arrogant of the SNP convener of the committee, Gavin Barrie, to state that the order had nothing to contribute to the referendum debate.
It is not for our elected representatives to decide who has valid contributions to make to the debate.
It is up to the people to decide what they want to say and how to express their views within the law. The councillors’ role was to see that the law was applied and following police and legal advice they accepted the right of the order to stage the parade, although a Labour and a Conservative councillor opposed the motion.
I was puzzled as to how the Conservative Councillor, Dominic Heslop, stated that he found the comments by the Orange Order representative, who was seeking the right of the organisation to parade and express its views, to be “inflammatory”.
Whether Scotland votes for independence or not it will always be a challenge to ensure that religious organisations like the Orange Order, and other minority groups, have their rights protected when much public opinion is opposed to them.