A GLASGOW politician has told the city council there is argument to ban the Orange Walk after Saturday’s hate crime against a Catholic priest in the East End.

The SNP’s James Dornan has also criticised Police Scotland’s handling of the incident which saw Canon Tom White - of St Alphonsus Church in the Barras - be spat on twice before being lunged at by a man with a baton.

The MSP for Glasgow Cathcart said he was “appalled” to hear of the incident where the priest was also allegedly called a “fenian b******.”

He wrote to Glasgow City Council’s Processions Committee, and said: “Surely, after the weekend, we can agree that business cannot be allowed to continue as normal.”

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He continued: “There is an argument that such marches should not be permitted to continue at all, however, at the very least, they should not be allowed to travel past places of worship.

“Within the Archdiocese of Glasgow’s statement publicising the shocking treatment of Canon White and his parishioners, it is referenced that the police ‘had been guarding the church’.

“If it is indeed the case that police were having to guard places of worship during the walk, then I feel such walks should not be granted permission by the council.”

He said he “fully respects the right to freedom of assembly and of association,” but added: “The public has the right not to be subject to intimidation, physical assault, or sectarian behaviour.

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“I hope you can take this letter into account when ruling on future Orange Walks.”

Turning his attention to Police Scotland, he also wrote to top cop Iain Livingstone.

Mr Dornan said: “If it is indeed the case that police were having to guard places of worship during the walk, then I feel Police Scotland has a case to oppose policing such events.

“From testimonies online of the incident, which of course I can’t verify, allegations are made that there were police present at the time, however, no immediate action was taken.

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“I would be grateful whether you could confirm if police did witness the incident, and if so, explain why no immediate action was forthcoming.

“I was disappointed with the phrase used by Police Scotland initially describing the assault in a statement as ‘minor in nature’. I appreciate this is now being investigated as a hate crime, which I am grateful is the case, however, I hope Police Scotland can reflect on the disappointment and distress this may have caused.”

Evening Times:
A petition to ban the march in Glasgow is close to reaching 70,000 signatures (change.org)

Mr Dornan said he felt compelled to air his concerns because the subject “means a great deal to me personally” as he is in the process of setting up a Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on sectarianism.

He said Saturday’s incident was “not an isolated” one, adding: “Other recent Orange Walks have witnessed disgraceful scenes.

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“Last year, there were videos widely circulated online which purported to show spectators of the march sing the illegal ‘Famine Song’ whilst, in 2016, arrests were made for alleged sectarian behaviour.”

Speaking to the Evening Times, Mr Dornan said: “Due to my interest in tackling sectarianism...I have written to both Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council to ask about any action taken and, of course, what measures are being proposed to prevent such incidents occurring in the future.”

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “The council works within the current legislation which is in the control of Scottish Parliament and works with the police and organisers to try and mitigate against potential risk and disturbances. 

“A meeting is being held with council officers this week to discuss ongoing issues.”

The Evening Times has also contacted Police Scotland for comment on the letter.

READ MORE: Police release description of suspect who spat on priest during Glasgow's Orange Walk

Police are continuing their investigations into the hate crime.

Superintendent John McBride said: “We continue to explore forensic opportunities and review CCTV footage from the vicinity of the attack, and across the city.

“We believe a man with a shaved head and aged between 20 and 30 years may have been involved.

“This sort of bigoted behaviour is unacceptable and Police Scotland remains committed to bringing those responsible before the courts.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact CID officers at Shettleston Police Station via 101.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be given anonymously.