SCHOOL bosses have been forced into an embarrassing apology after eagle-eyed TV viewers alerted them to an offensive poster in a city primary featuring a cartoon character associated with The Orange Order.
Viewers of Tuesday night’s Newsnight Scotland programme looked on aghast as Granton Primary teacher Katie Watters was interviewed on the standard of education in Scotland whilst over her shoulder peered superhero Captain Capital – or as he is better known Diamond Dan, the Orange Man.
The image has been widely used by the Orange Order in Northern Ireland in a bid to win over a new generation of members.
Within minutes of the segment’s transmission a raft of complaints flooded into the city council from shocked parents, Catholic groups and anti-sectarian charities.
Republican organisation The Connolly Foundation was inundated with angry phonecalls and e-mails.
Chairman Jim Slaven said: “It really is incredible that an image such as this with such strong ties to an organisation such as The Orange Order somehow found its way into one of the city’s schools. The council obviously need to take more care of what material is being issued.
“Some folk may feel that this is just harmless but would they say the same if it was a cartoon used by the BNP or the KKK?”
It has since emerged that the offending literacy poster which also features an astronaut entitled Sensible Spaceman and a policeman called PC Full Stop was created at home by a teacher at the school.
The image was first introduced to the public in November 2008 when a competition was launched in Northern Ireland to find a name for him.
A special committee was set up to select the winning name out of more than 120 different suggestions and the winning entry was put forward by Steven Mitchell, a primary school pupil from Lisburn.
Speaking upon the launch of the cartoon superhero in 2008, David Hume, the Orange Order’s director of services, said: “The name Diamond Dan has resonance going back more than 200 years to the formation of the Institution at the Diamond, Loughall, in 1795. Dan Winter was one of the founding fathers of the Order.
“And of course, apart from the historical aspect of the name, it has a good ring to it.”
Dave Scott of Nil by Mouth, which campaigns against sectarianism in Scotland, told how the charity received a number of calls and e-mails on the issue.
He said: “This cartoon character is clearly the same one used by The Orange Order. I would like to think that it hasn’t been used in a sectarian manner.
“What I think this issue highlights is a level of naivety on the east coast regarding sectarianism and bigotry.”
School bosses have since removed the poster and issued assurances that the offending artwork has not been displayed in any of the city’s other schools.
Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s Education Convener, said: “I have been assured that this was a genuine error made by a member of staff at the school who was unaware of how the image had previously been used. I am clear that the use of this image is not appropriate in our schools. The poster, which was only displayed at Granton Primary School, has now been removed and we apologise for any offence caused.”
The origins of the Orange Order date from the 17th century battle for the British throne between the Protestant William of Orange and the Catholic King James II.