A complete ban on Orange Order marches is being considered in Glasgow, Scotland after council officials examined footage showing a sectarian and racist song being chanted at a parade last weekend.
The main County Grand Orange Order parade from George Square to Glasgow Green featured 4500 people in 63 bands taking part, with a further 4000 supporters.
Footage emerged from the parade of loyalists singing the anti-Irish ‘Famine Song’, played by the Bellshill Protestant Boys Flute Band as Orangemen marched ahead.
The ‘Famine Song’ includes a number of racist slurs at the large Irish diaspora in the city, and includes the repeated refrain, “The famine is over, why don’t you go home?” It is sung to the tune of the 1966 Beach Boys pop hit, Sloop John B.
The authorities in Scotland have now made clear that the Orange Order’s right to march is “not absolute” and cannot be used to infringe the rights of others.
Police Scotland Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty said it “operates a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any form of sectarian abuse and will fully investigate any incidents brought to their attention”.
A similar incident took place in Belfast in 2012 outside St. Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street, when a loyalist band made a point of playing the tune in front of the Catholic church, but without major repercussions for the parade organisers.
The parade is to take place again in Belfast on the Twelfth of July this year. The Bellshill Protestant Boys Flute Band has been invited to take part.
FLAGS AND SYMBOLS
Meanwhile, tensions have been further raised in Tyrone and elsewhere as loyalist paramilitary flags and symbols continue to be erected in nationalist areas.
UVF flags and a Confederate flag were put up in the small County Tyrone village of Newmills by loyalists who are not believed to be local. In recent years more Catholics have moved in to the area outside Coalisland. While UVF flags have been put up previously, many more have been erected this year.
A Confederate flag, used to symbolise racism, has also been put up in the village. Nearby, UVF paramilitary flags have been flown in Cookstown ahead of a Twelfth parade in the mixed town next week.
An Irish language school in Magherafelt, County Derry has also been targeted for intimidation, Red, white and blue ‘bunting’ has been erected outside the school, but not at a nearby Orange hall. Lamp-posts throughout the mainly nationalist town have also been covered with Union Jacks.
And a new banner glorifying UVF hitman Wesley Somerville has appeared in the County Tyrone town of Moygashel after the original was taken down. The original banner, which was put up beside another paying tribute to the Mid Ulster UVF, was removed in broad daylight last month.
Relatives of people killed by the loyalist and his UVF unit had called on the PSNI to remove the banner from a lamp-post. Rather than take action, the PSNI police instead arrested the man thought to have removed it. They have described the erection of the banners as ‘hate incidents’ but said they are not illegal.