Loyalists gather in Glasgow's George Square to protest marches ban

More than one thousand gathered to protest against the Council's decision to ban marches. Picture: John Devlin
More than one thousand gathered to protest against the Council's decision to ban marches. Picture: John Devlin
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Loyalist groups have gathered to protest against Glasgow city council's decision to ban marches this weekend.

The city's Public Processions Committee banned six marches by loyalist and republican groups amid fears over sectarian disorder.

It came after violence flared at parades in the city over the past two weekends, with police responding to "significant disorder" at a march in Govan on August 30.

The following weekend, 11 people were arrested as two Republican marches were held through Glasgow city centre, with a police officer injured by a pyrotechnic thrown by loyalist protesters.

Demonstrators gathered outside Glasgow City Chambers on Saturday at a protest organised by Scottish Protestants Against Discrimination.

Police have warned they will crack down on any troublemakers.

Chief Superintendent Hazel Hendren, Divisional Commander for Greater Glasgow Division said: "Any procession which takes place will be subject to a comprehensive policing operation.

"Anyone who is intent on criminality or antisocial behaviour will be dealt with appropriately."

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said that the council had acted on police advice in prohibiting this weekend's marches.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, she said: "The responses and the violence and the destruction we have seen on the city streets is simply unacceptable. We can't have repeats of that.

"And nor can we continue to have repeats of the very, very heavy police presence that was on the city streets last Saturday."

She added that a moratorium on marches is being considered to "find that right balance" between the right to march and the need to protect the city and said: "What we need is some breathing space, we need to be able to step back."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described the move to ban this weekend's marches as the "right decision" while Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said that "Glasgow had had enough" of the disruption and backed the idea of exploring a possible moratorium.

The Church of Scotland said it recognised that the decision to ban the marches was not based on religious discrimination.

Reverend Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, said: "Following the sectarian violence we have seen on the streets of Glasgow in recent weeks, we recognise that the decision made by Glasgow City Council to ban further parades planned for this weekend was not based on religious discrimination nor a desire to oppress the protestant faith.

"The City Council has a responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all within the city and in doing this the Council needs to take into account the advice it receives from the police and the concerns of the communities involved.

"We believe it is in this vein that the decision has been made and we are supportive of the decision."