A priest who was spat on during an Orange Walk in Glasgow has described being called “Fenian scum” and a “paedophile” during the attack.
Canon Tom White had been speaking to parishioners outside St Alphonsus Church on Saturday afternoon when he was spat on twice before being lunged at by a man with a baton.
The Archdiocese of Glasgow said both Canon White and his parishioners had been “subjected to vile abuse”. Police Scotland is investigating the incident as a hate crime. Canon White told BBC Radio Scotland he was also called a “beast” during the incident.
He said he had been left exposed after a number of police officers who were accompanying the parade were called away.
“They were called to another incident in Kent Street and it left myself and the parishioners vulnerable to an escalating incident, which at that point I was enduring verbal assaults – Fenian scum and worse,” he said. “I was being called a beast and a paedophile.”
Officers 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.
Police said “there is nothing to indicate any involvement of a member from the parade”, but it remains one line of inquiry.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said its members were not responsible and condemned “the bigoted actions of those involved”.
Superintendent John McBride said: “We will not tolerate any form of hate crime and behaving in such a way is contemptible. I would like to assure everyone that those who choose to react in a sectarian or religiously motivated matter will be identified and dealt with under the law.
“The public can be assured we remain committed to ridding our country of hate crime and the bigots within it who think they won’t be held to account for their actions. I can tell you they will.”
Politicians from all parties condemned the incident. The Archdiocese of Glasgow asked why the Orange Order was allowed to schedule “intimidating parades on streets containing Catholic churches at times when people are trying to get in and out for Mass?”
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “We utterly condemn this appalling behaviour.”