THEY waited two hours after the march ended to start fighting.
Just long enough perhaps for the organisers of Saturday’s County Grand Lodge of the East Parade to be able to say that the “Royal Mile Rammy” had nothing whatsoever to do with their event, but not long enough for anyone to believe that.
Had you even been aware that an Orange march was planned for the centre of town at the weekend? Or did you, like me, naively think that such recessive events had either long been banned by the local authority on account of their divisiveness and general hatred and prejudice – you know, the same kind of reasons the Scottish Defence League are banned from marching – or because the police had public safety concerns about the potential for violence such parades attract?
Well apparently not. So on Saturday the Lodge marched. And it passed off with no trouble at all, mostly because of a heavy police presence.
However, whether the Lodges like it or not, their public displays attract the most unsavoury elements in a Scottish society which is finally attempting to lance the boil of bigotry – at least in sports stadia.
While the Grand Poobahs like to paint their organisations as charitable institutes who do good works – like a kind of Rotary Club but with added flutes and drums – and their parades as “cultural events”, they still have hangers-on who, for some reason, think that flying the Union Jack means burning the Irish Tricolour. That of course raises the ire of those of an Irish Republican sympathy.
Throw in an afternoon of drinking and the post-parade atmosphere was ripe for a little old-fashioned fighting on the High Street. Especially as barmaid Erin Hennessey so eloquently put it, her pub was full of “radges” who had been watching the Orange march.
So you might have thought that it would be a given that the police would be on a Defcon alert for trouble, before, during and after Saturday’s match. There were certainly plenty of them around during the march. Questions have to be asked about where they were and why their common sense and intelligence was so singularly lacking they couldn’t prevent the battle of Niddry Street (as it will no doubt henceforth be known in football casual circles) before it even began?
The police must have known that an Orange march would attract the more extreme elements of Hearts fans. They must have known that Glasgow Rangers football casuals were heading through to support the march and have a “meet up” with their counterparts.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that with them in town, similarly extreme Hibs casuals might come calling.
Could it be that the police are quite happy with such violence following Orange marches as it means they can object to future marches on public safety grounds? Or could it be that they just didn’t want to pay out any more overtime for the extra officers needed?
While I’d like to see such marches gone for good and feel ashamed that people in Edinburgh, in Scotland, want to associate themselves with the ancient bigotry of another country, I realise that as a supporter of free speech I have to accept their right to parade.
I just hope they will wither and die through education and common sense. In the meantime, I’d like the police to make sure street fights like Saturday’s don’t happen again.
Glasgow slogan raises the bar
AS much as it pains me to say it, the new slogan for our neighbours in the West “People Make Glasgow” is pretty good.
If there’s one thing the city prides itself on it’s the idea that Glaswegians are, in the main, pretty friendly. It could be a myth, but it’s a good one to hang a marketing campaign on, and is far superior to the ill-fated Incredinburgh idea.
There’ll be plenty of people to test it out soon too, with the Commonwealth Games next year and potentially the Youth Olympics in 2018.
Glasgow certainly seems to be flourishing at the moment. Perhaps our great city could do with being a tad more gallus – especially if it wants to get the new National Performance Centre for Sport.
Legal fees will quash number of claims
EDINBURGH law firm, Fox & Co has asked for a judicial review of the Government’s plans to introduce fees within the Employment Tribunal system.
While it is obviously concerned about its business, its point is valid. If it costs people £250 to lodge an unfair dismissal case and then £950 before it can go to a hearing, case numbers will drop.
For workers chasing unpaid holidays or failure to pay minimum wage, the fees will likely outweight the potential award. And it will make women less likely to lodge an equal pay claim.
Not everything worth reviving
THE council wants to return Saughton Park to its historic former glory, which is great news – especially if it involves the giant helter skelter of the 1908 Scottish National Exhibition. Though I think Senegalese natives in mud huts might be considered rather un-PC nowadays.