Glasgow & West Scotland

Thousands oppose weekend 'Orangefest' event in Glasgow

Orange parade in Glasgow
Image caption A parade will also take place to mark the event in George Square

More than 27,000 people have signed an online petition opposing an Orange Order event in Glasgow's George Square.

The Cultural and Heritage Day, which is being referred to on social media as Orangefest, will take place on Saturday from 09:30 until 16:30.

The Orange Order said the event was aimed at promoting better understanding of its activities and community work.

The online petition said people were "sick" of putting up with "sectarian, hate-filled orange marches".

The petition states: "We demand that Glasgow City Council answer to the people of Glasgow as to why this was allowed to go ahead in a city centre location on a busy Saturday. Gordon Matheson (council leader) must be held accountable."

The Orange Order described opposition to the event as "uninformed nonsense".

In a statement, the Order said: "The usual suspects have made a last-minute attempt at discrediting the event, deriding it as 'provocative' and 'divisive', and calling upon the city council to ban it.

"We have to live with the knee-jerk hostility of those who are diametrically opposed to the Order's religious and patriotic principles.

"For everyone else, this event is an open invitation to gain a better understanding of one of Glasgow's oldest and biggest fraternal and charitable organisations, warts and all."

The Order said that "recent government-funded studies on sectarianism advocated greater public engagement in order to tackle myths and misconceptions" and Saturday's event was "an honest contribution towards that end".

It added: "A great deal of uninformed nonsense has been spoken about the cost of this event to the public purse. We are not aware of any cost to the city. The tab is being picked up in its entirety by the membership of Glasgow's 182 Orange Lodges."

It is understood that the Orange Order wanted to hold a community event in George Square last year but the plan could not be agreed as the city was hosting the Commonwealth Games.

Plans submitted for this year's event complied with Scottish government legislation surrounding parades and marches and council regulations on the use of George Square.

'Contrary views'

The council can charge for commercial use of the square, in front of the city chambers, but no charge applies for community events, which the Orange Order day-long celebration has been classed as.

The Order is paying its own costs with regard to setting up the square, security, power supply and clean-up costs.

A council spokesman said: "People use George Square and other public spaces around Glasgow for a wide range of events and activities.

"Providing events are properly planned and do not encourage unlawful behaviour the council is not permitted to simply ban them on the grounds that someone dislikes, opposes or holds contrary views to the organiser."

Police Scotland said the event on Saturday would be "policed appropriately".

A spokeswoman said: "Officers have been liaising with the organisers to ensure any disruption to the people in the city is kept to a minimum."

Police will assist with traffic restrictions when bands take part in a parade.

Members of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Glasgow will assemble at Holland Street at 15:15 before setting off at 15:30.

The parade will follow Holland Street, West Regent Street, Pitt Street, West George Street, Nelson Mandela Place, West George Street, George Square North and arrive in George Square.

The spokeswoman added: "Officers will assist with traffic restrictions during the parade.

"People driving in and around the town centre are advised to follow the advice and directions given, and to leave extra time for their journey or to consider alternative routes for the duration of the event."

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