Church calls for Orange Walk rethink after Priest attacked

Canon Tom White.
Canon Tom White.
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Members of a church where a priest was attacked as an Orange Walk passed have called for a review of future parade routes.

Canon Tom White had been speaking to parishioners outside St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow on Saturday afternoon when he was spat on twice before being lunged at by a man with a baton.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow said that both Canon White and his parishioners had been “subjected to vile abuse” and Police Scotland are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

READ MORE: Priest called a ‘beast’ in Orange Walk hate crime

The Parish Pastoral Councils of St Mary’s and St Alphonsus’ have now called on Glasgow City Council to review the routes of three upcoming Orange Order parades which are currently scheduled to pass the churches later this month and in August.

The city council condemned the incident and said a meeting will be held to look at parade procedures.

The parish council said: “Despite a police presence those involved in, and following the Parade, were able to approach Canon Tom and the parishioners exiting the Church.

“This happened against a backdrop of sectarian singing and sectarian insults.

“He was verbally assaulted and spat upon a number of times and members of the congregation, many who are frail and elderly, were subjected to the same treatment.

READ MORE: Witness appeal after Priest attacked during Orange Walk

“While we welcome the statement by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, condemning the assaults on Canon Tom, as a community we are distressed and deeply saddened that in the 21st century we are unable to exercise human rights of freedom of association, freedom of assembly and the right to celebrate our faith in public: free from intimidation and violence.”

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “We utterly condemn this appalling behaviour and urge anyone with any information on the incident to contact the police.

“A meeting with council officers will be held this week as it’s perhaps time to review our procedures in light of a number of factors.

“We will also continue to liaise with Police Scotland, organisers, the Scottish Government, third parties and stakeholders as part of the council’s processions’ code of conduct.

“Our aim is always to strike a reasonable balance between protecting the fundamental right of individuals and organisations to organise and participate in public processions, and the need to minimise disruption to the wider community by protecting the rights of all of Glasgow’s citizens to go about their business without unnecessary disturbance and interference.”

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said its members were not responsible and condemned “the bigoted actions of those involved”.

Police are working to identify those involved in the attack and are trying to trace a man aged between 20 and 30 with a shaved head.

Officers said “there is nothing to indicate any involvement of a member from the parade” but it remains one line of inquiry.