MSP accused of 'contemptible' comments after claiming suspension of bus services in Edinburgh due to anti-Catholic bias

A Glasgow SNP MSP has been accused of "utterly contemptible" comments after he claimed that anti-Catholic bias lay behind a suspension of bus services in Edinburgh on St Patrick's Day.

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The move by Lothian Buses followed months of anti-social behaviour that saw a driver suffer an eye injury after a stone was thrown through the front window.

But during a debate in the Scottish Parliament, James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said Catholics who had come from Ireland were victims of "institutional prejudice" in Scotland.

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And he continued: "That is not just an issue for Glasgow, of course. To my knowledge, no-one has questioned the decision by Lothian Buses to cancel the evening buses on March 17.

"Edinburgh our second-largest city and our capital, was still in level three lockdown on St Patrick’s Day, and Lothian Buses restricted travel to essential workers commuting on a Tuesday evening.

"It briefly mentioned a rise in antisocial behaviour as its reason, but that was the only day on which that action took place. I can only assume that Lothian Buses concluded one of two things – that I would be out celebrating my birthday or that Irish Catholics were to blame for the rise in antisocial behaviour.

James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow CathcartJames Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart

"Why else would it cancel buses only for the night of a ubiquitous Irish Catholic holiday, when pubs were not open and a stay-at-home order was in place? Could members imagine that happening on July 12 or on a Muslim or Sikh festival? That was simply not acceptable."

Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton posted a clip of Mr Dornan’s speech on Twitter and commented: “This is utterly contemptible. Lothian drivers had suffered nights of abuse and physical assault via stoning before the company suspended services.

"This was not some sectarian slight. He should apologise to Lothian and to Parliament.”

On March 17, Lothian Buses cancelled services after 7:30pm following several incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Two nights earlier, large stones were thrown at bus windows and police warned such incidents could lead to "serious injury or even death".

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Services were suspended again the following month due to further incidents.

And last week police revealed they had charged 38 children and young people in connection with 127 incidents involving attacks on buses over a six-week period.

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