2007 - 2022

Enough is Enough – Scotland’s Anti-Catholic Marches

By now most people will be aware of just another Saturday in Glasgow (18/9/2021) in which the Catholic community were treated to the open, ugly, display of hatred against them while the rest of the population are…well…treated to an open, ugly, display.  A supremacist organisation, marching in military formation, wearing semi-military outfits and playing triumphalist music, the words to which, all but those who won’t hear or who are protected by their residence in the leafier suburbs, know well.  In case you are one of those, they include inviting the multi-generational Irish/Irish Catholic community to go ‘home’ (170 years after we first arrived here in great numbers) now that the ‘famine is over’ or as we more think of it, the near-genocidal actions of the British government of the day, efficiently organised by the father of the British Civil Service, Sir Charles Trevelyan.  They also entertained us with jolly tales of being up to their patelas in our blood.  Those are the two better known ones, but there are many more including an old one to the tune of Home on the Range – if you think that was an homage to the old Wild West you are very wrong, unless by Wild West you mean Drumchapel. No, this one tells of their ideal fantasy country in which there are no nuns and no priests, our Rosary beads are fucked and every day is the 12th of July.

During these unedifying displays, Catholics had to stand silently by, or stay indoors as was traditionally the practice for many of us up until the past few years and, for some, still is.   As I write this, in semi-jocular form, I am struck by how unfunny the whole thing is.  I was asked by a journalist yesterday, how Catholics feel about the ‘whole thing’.  His name was Sweeney, so I suspect he knows, but he invited me to elaborate for the benefit of those who are, quite frankly, incredulous that this actually happens in a ‘modern, European state’.  I told him that many of us feel we can’t be Scottish enough (should we want to) because we are told to go home and we can’t be Irish enough because we are called Plastic Paddies (even by a sitting Scottish MP).  We are, in that sense, strangers in a strange land but because we are very sneaky that way, we insist on looking almost indistinguishable from them which just goes to show how untrustworthy we continue to be with our pesky foreign allegiances.   Mostly, many of us just feel we have put up with this for far too long and enough is enough.

However, it is important to emphasise that we are not looking for some kind of mediation or rapprochement with the staunch members of the Loyal Orders.  We don’t feel any need to sit in a room and hold hands. We don’t live in a post-conflict world so the Scottish Government should probably have saved the tens of thousands of pounds of public money they have spent on a private mediation company (one of whom was ‘observing’ us on Saturday – I was tempted to invite him to ‘observe’ from the other side of the road but as he was a man of colour I felt it probably wasn’t really safe for him to do so).   We want to be treated like any other minority ethnic community – because that is what we are.   All we want, is for the state, the duty bearers such as local authorities and the Police Service of Scotland to ensure that our rights are taken into account and, where appropriate, properly balanced with the competing rights of any other group or individual. Our demands are on the state.  We want the state to do its job.  We acknowledge the rights of those people to march and to feel towards us any way they like, they simply cannot make it our problem and they cannot march (quite literally) roughshod over us.

In relation to last weekend, not only did the Police Service of Scotland and Glasgow City Council fail to come close to doing this, they actually colluded to smear Call it Out as an organisation, and by implication me as its Chair.  They issued half-truths in the public domain in an attempt to suggest that we had lied about our conversations with them.  All of this was done, I can only assume, in order to deflect from the fact that they had, yet again, failed to apply the existing law properly and had yet again, interpreted their own powers in such a way as to put the rights of bigots and racists at the top of their list of priorities.  It is not as though we have not had these discussions directly with them. It is not as though we have not carefully explained that they are operating the law in a way that consistently undermines the rights of us as a community – the very definition of institutional anti-Catholicism.  It is not even as though they have not, courtesy of Glaswegian Council Tax-payers, defended an action against them and received a judgement from Sheriff Reid which sets out their powers to do exactly what we asked – to re-route all anti-Catholic marches away from Catholic Churches.  

There are not many things in public life which would be easy to solve, but this is, without a doubt, one of them.  Local authorities could use the powers they have to re-route anti-Catholic marches away from our places of worship and then our community would feel safer and Call it Out could get on with addressing the other areas of structural anti-Irish racism and anti-Catholic bigotry which exist across a range of policy areas including the economy, welfare, health and the justice system.  Until that happens, we will continue to be on the streets, in increasing numbers and we look forward to more and more progressive people joining us there – but it really doesn’t need to be like this.

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Comments (46)

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  1. Squigglypen says:

    My mother – a fanatical supporter of proddies/orange walk…hated Fenians..ad infinitum… made absolutely no impact on me..in fact drew my attention at the age of 5- as I was taken to see the Orange Walk- to the nutty folk around me ‘effin and blindin’. I was however impressed by a big white horse at the front. I have no religion..I taught in Catholic and Protestant schools. My daughter went to a Protestant school then a Catholic one. She turned out sane..has no religion.. It will always be so…I support the Blue team ..I support the green team…who cares.

    Took me years to realise that picture above our fireplace was King Billy at the Battle of the Boyne….liked his big white horse…and that’s what the Orange Walk has wot done for me…I like big white horses.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      It made me aware of the Revolution of 1688, which (despite the ongoing counter-revolutionary activity of the Jacobites over the next 57 years) stamped out once and for all any possibility of a Catholic monarchy and ended moves towards absolutism in the British kingdoms by closely circumscribing the monarch’s powers. Although what that’s got to do with Orangeism today is anyone’s guess.

  2. Micheal MacGilleRuadh says:

    I grew up in an area of Scotland where there were hardly any Catholics, as a kid they seemed to be kind of mysterious. Then a Catholic family moved into the area the kids came to the school and there was absolutely no problem although we were vaguely aware they were somehow ‘different’. Needless to say this was not west-central Scotland.
    To see these Orange Order knuckle draggers parading their splenetic bile on the streets of Scotland disgusts me and the lack of a firm crack-down on this speaks volumes about the weakness, lack of moral strength and wrong priorities of the Scottish Government and other responsible authorities.

  3. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    At the time of the Famine in Ireland (an gorta mor) all of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and so those who moved to the island of Great Britain were moving to another part of THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

    Of course, a substantial chunk of the population did not recognise them as fellow country people, and some today refuse to accept that the descendants of those who escaped the famine and settled in Scotland, who have now lived for several generations in Scotland are Scots or, even, British.

    This refusal to accept them as fellow citizens is akin to denial of rights to Jews, people of Asian, African, Italian, Polish, etc descent who have all contributed to the creation of modern Scotland.

  4. Alice says:

    This abhorrent march used to be attended by Church of Scotland Ministers and sundry politicians. Thousands lined the streets. I used to watch as a child, this horror from a corner of a street. It was frightening the amount of hatred that emanated from the participants. I could never understand why this march was and is considered normal.

    For me it’s on a par with allowing the Klu Klux Klan to parade down streets in Glasgow as if it was a normal event for the edification of the populace.

    I totally object to these marches but it seems they have the support of local politicians who continue grant them permission to take over the city streets and fill these streets with hatred. How is this to be stopped.?

    1. Mons Meg says:

      ‘How is this to be stopped?’

      That’s liberty for you, Alice. Others are going to use it to parade behaviours that we find offensive. The alternative is tyranny.

      1. Alice says:

        Think these marches are beyond acceptable in a civilised society ….they have been tyrannical in their never ending abuse and oppression of a minority group in Scotland …enough is definitely enough.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          Yes, I know; you don’t like them. I don’t like them either. But there you go! They’re entitled to protest… whatever it is they’re protesting. Except outside the Scottish parliament, that is.

    2. William McMurray says:

      Alice you’re 100% correct ministers and politicians joined the Orange Stagger.They are the KKK but they have no need to hide their faces as they are given carte blanche to do whatever they want .Every year the OO say no member was arrested and they can’t be responsible for anyone who followed them.Scotlands Shame

  5. John Learmonth says:

    Maybe if Protestants had been allowed to stay in Eire instead of been driven out following the civil war we wouldn’t be having these scenes?
    Just a thought.

    1. Gashty McGonnard says:

      Hi John. There’s very little evidence of Protestants being “driven out” of the (then called) Irish Free State after the Civil War. Some did emigrate – for economic or political reasons, or because of family connections with the withdrawing British troops and Civil Service. There was also encouragement from the new Northern Ireland regime for Southern Protestants to move there. Not to mention the cultural discomfort of living in what gradually became a stifling theocracy.

      That’s not to say it didn’t occur at all. There are various documented cases of harassment and, if I recall correctly, three incidents of serious sectarian violence during those years, in the South. The professional historians have been all over this with a fine tooth comb. In comparison with the pogrom against Catholics and Socialists in Belfast at the same time, where several hundred were killed, it’s nothing.

      I’m not minimising anyone’s suffering, or justifying anybody’s abuse. You’ve been misinformed by an ahistorical, toxic myth though, and way off the mark on the causes of recent “scenes”. These marches began in Glasgow a full 100 years before the Irish Civil War, for starters.

    2. David McDonald says:

      The Orange Order existed before any of Ireland became independent. It’s always the people who go on about history the most, who know least about it.

    3. Sean Cudden says:

      It doesn’t matter if protestants were driven out of Eire or not. Even if they had been it wouldn’t justify the OO marching past Catholic Churches in Glasgow singing the famine song and trying to intimidate an entire minority community.

    4. Rob says:

      The atrocities that were committed by Protestant landlords during there unwelcome time here was horrific. So what if we kicked them out. They deserved everything they got. It’s a pity we didn’t kick out the Scottish orange bigots in the north as well. Look at the hardship they’ve caused. Loyal to a king/queen that once invaded their country and butchered their people. Pathetic. Traitors to their own. It’s not a shocker that it’s the same people who founded the KKK.

  6. Rocksie67 says:

    I have often heard and read comments from those on the left congratulating ourselves that the far right the EDL etc don’t have much of an impact in Scotland .This fosters the mistaken belief that Scotland doesn’t have a far right problem .
    It b**** well does and it’s been around for a very long time .It’s called the Orange Order .

    Men marching in line following flute bands playing martial music deliberately walking through areas with high populations of Catholic s of Irish descent .
    There was absolutely no reason why the OO had to walk through the Gorbals they could left Glasgow Green at the other exit .
    We all know why they wanted to give it laldy outside the chapel in an area that was one of the biggest centres of Irish immigration in Scotland
    I remember as a 7 or 8 year old being confirmed in St Vincent De Paul’s in Thornliebank and during the ceremony an Orange band stopped outside the church and gave it big licks .You could hear them shouting and banging the doors .I bet 90 % of Catholics in the West of Scotland can recall similiar experience s.

    Yet all we get is Catholic schools are to blame or some whataboutery that both sides are as bad as each other .
    In my opinion what is Scotlands shame is that the left in Scotland have baulked at confronting this issue .Where are the trade unions where are the usual spokespeople who rightly condemn racism against other communities .They disappear .like snow off a dyke on a warm summers day The OO intimidate the whole of Scottish society the Government the Police the Trade Unions are scared of them .There can be no other reason why this ritual continues in a nation that likes to think of itself as modern and progressive .

    1. Sean Cudden says:

      I agree almost entirely. The one area I think you might be wrong is when you say that the left, trade unions, politicians etc don’t act because they are afraid of the OO. For some that might be true but I have more than a vague suspicion that there are plenty who don’t act because they are closet bigots themselves.

  7. florian albert says:

    ‘We want to be treated like any other ethnic minority – because that is what we are’

    I have never heard any Catholic in Scotland describe themselves as as part of an ‘ethnic minority.’ Most Catholics in Scotland have Irish ancestry – though large scale immigration from Ireland ended nearly a century ago. Increasingly, their background is Polish, African or South Asian. They constitute a religious group, not an ethnic one.
    As Tom Devine has stated, anti catholicism is ‘the least of modern Scotland’s social problems.’ He has also pointed out that there is, ironically, a ‘well financed anti-sectarian industry.’

    1. David McDonald says:

      They hate is specifically directed towards Irish Catholics and existed long before EU membership brought any wave of European Catholic immigration. Total straw man.

      In a court of law, this is racism. That is now beyond debate.

    2. Sean Cudden says:

      I am staggered that anyone who would consider themself left wing would make such comments. But if it helps clarify the situation for you I consider myself part of a minority ethnic community.

  8. James Daly says:

    As we are constantly told this is the fault of Catholic Schools why not get us to teach our children that they are the Pepul ,to hate everyone who is not orange, to feel their heritage is being swamped by immigrant tribes, it is just so unfair. remember 1690 when we won the war!. Bring back the good old days

  9. Tom Ultuous says:

    Little Englanders trapped in Scotsmen’s bodies. Their “culture is under threat” – if Scotland becomes independent they’ll have to declare ‘Scottish’ as their nationality and give up their blue passports.

    Collaborating Tory scum.

  10. Squigglypen says:

    Interesting to watch the Scots argue among themselves about the Orange Walk. Oh won’t the English government just love that. From’ bash a Paddy ‘.a pastime when the Irish came over re the famine( that was us)…. hysteria over the visit of a guy in medieval clothes called the pope ….women dressed in burkhas …..folk who don’t cut their hair….folk who only go to their church on Sunday in a hat( that was me)…folk in bowler hats and orange thingies….if I missed your particular belief sorry..I got bored and there’s not enough space…
    We are Scotland…vote for her independence whatever your belief and stand together.Yeah stagger about with your banners..it’s your right while the rest of us get on with fighting for Scotland’s freedom.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      I think we’re rather arguing among ourselves about ‘Scotland’ and the sort of society we aspire to be; Orange Walks only provide an occasion for such arguments.

      Do we want to be a society in which we (including our adversaries) can freely protest, or do we want to be a society in which only those who meet some kind of approval criteria can protest? That’s what the argument’s ultimately about.

      1. William Davison says:

        I would generally agree with “Mons Meg” on this. We live in a liberal democracy and that means that, occasionally, we have to tolerate public displays by people and organizations that we don’t like and would prefer didn’t exist. The Orange Order is essentially a product of 18th century sectarian strife and rivalry in Co. Armagh, later morphing into an umbrella group to bring Irish unionists of all denominations together in opposition to Home Rule and fulfilling a similar role in 20th Century Northern Ireland in promoting unionist solidarity against a united Ireland. It was brought to Scotland by Irish Protestant migrants and usually led by them, or their descendants, and never attracted more than tiny support from mainstream Presbyterian clergy. The last figures I’ve seen put the O.O.’s membership in Northern Ireland (its strongest area) at around 34,000, its membership in Scotland must be smaller, at its height it never succeeded in attracting more than 2% membership of its target community in Scotland. So, this is a tiny organization, which has got smaller and has never had any political influence. It is, essentially, an anachronistic survival, a display of proletarian defiance in the face of almost universal condemnation. As someone who grew up in Northern Ireland there are two things I always believed we would have been better off without : the Orange Order and physical force Irish Republicanism. While Dr. Findlay would definitely agree with me about the former, I’m sure she wouldn’t agree with me about the latter, as her past track record would suggest she strongly supports the activities of those Irish nationalists who used physical force, which included the killing of many Irish Catholics.

        1. Sean Cudden says:

          Interesting argument. Perhaps you could give me links to Bella Caledonia articles about Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia in which you make comments dismissing the whole issue? Or perhaps it’s only Catholics who are making a mountain out of a molehill when confronted with organised hatred?

          1. Mons Meg says:

            I don’t know. I might be struggling. Have I ever argued that protests of an islamophobic, antisemitic, homophobic, and/or any other dissonant nature should be banned?

  11. Mons Meg says:

    (Here’s something recycled from 2010.)

    The culture of loyalism in Scotland can be conceived as a civil religion. This civil religion is comprised of a distinct set of institutions, which includes the Orange Order, Glasgow Rangers Football Club, loyalist street and paramilitary gangs, and loyalist flute bands. A mirror set of institutions comprise the corresponding culture of republicanism.

    A wide range of subcultures exist within the loyalist community, but they all rally around the same general ‘cause’ and participate in the same ritual gatherings. Loyalist civil religion is articulated through a praxis of rituals, folklore, symbols, and moral values relating to the Protestant Irish’s shared perception of historical conflict and victimisation at the hands of Roman Catholics. Again, this system of shibboleth is mirrored in the civil religion of republicanism.

    Regular ritual commemorations of past events guide contemporary loyalist agendas and actions. Through a collage of symbols, songs, and other folk displays at ritual events, the history and contemporary goals of loyalism are transmitted to future generations. The recurrent celebration of past military heroes, battles, and blood sacrifices in the name of the loyalist cause help to self-legitimise and sustain loyalist culture in Scotland, as it does republican culture.

    Socially, the civil religion of loyalism functions to unify a subgroup within the Scottish nation (the Protestant Irish) that’s driven to articulate its identity vis-à-vis another subgroup (the Catholic Irish). This adversarial relationship forges for both subgroups not only a banner of collective allegiance but also a charter for action.

    Loyalists not only believe they have the right to pursue their ‘way of life’; they’re also united by the belief that they’re engaged in a constant battle with the forces of Roman Catholicism, the collective of which is supposedly engaged in an ongoing counter-revolutionary quest to undermine the liberties that were eventually secured for the three kingdoms by William III in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne.

    It’s all nonsense, of course, but it’s on just such nonsenses that identities are built.

    1. Chas Gallagher says:

      Aye, and most of them haven’t been inside a church in months even years!!!

      Oh, and was it not a bay horse that Willy rode????

      1. Mons Meg says:

        No, in the iconography of the protestors’ culture, it’s definitely white.

    2. Alice says:

      Total nonsense indeed…it’s just an excuse to act out your hatred of other folk ….no effort required to view Catholic folk as the enemy and act out this belief. Here’s hoping they will fade away in less than the hundreds of years they have been acting out there miserable hatreds. Definitely not holding my breath!

      1. Mons Meg says:

        ‘…no effort required to view Catholic folk as the enemy and act out this belief.’

        No, indeed. Alienating others (Paips, Orangemen, Muslims, Jews, queers, fascists, Tories, the English, Romani, homophobes, etc.) as ‘enemies’ of whom we are ‘victims’ seems to be a universal laziness. In fact, such laziness might be part of the human condition (if there is such a thing).

  12. Glasgow Clincher says:

    My experience was similar to that of Squigglypen. I have ancestors on both maternal and paternal sides who came from the North in post-famine years, one was even a Grand Master. My mum had a cousin who liked to take part in the whole carnival, dressing up and so on…and her reaction was to laugh at the absurdity.

    I read today that there is a suggestion to initiate a sort of Parades Commission. To my mind that would be entirely the wrong way to go for it would be seen to be taking it far too seriously. Give it time – it will pass into the mists of history. Did you know they used to have these marches in Liverpool? Alun Owen wrote a play about it I think – yet today you’d be hard pressed to find any Liverpudlians who would recognise or remember them.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      Manchester too.

      1. Niemand says:

        The marches in Liverpool and Manchester have not gone anywhere and still happen every year.

        They are small and mostly ignored.

        In general this is what I think should be the attitude towards them, though singing grossly insulting songs on the street is incitement and should be legitimately stopped. The more something is ramped up as ‘offensive’, the more power you actually give it and there is a tipping point at which the objections start to look quite similar to those apparently causing the offence.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          I agree. https://youtu.be/Rs4P1kKK-5k.

          But I suspect there’s factional politicking behind the inflation of the decaying culture of loyalism into a fascist threat. Whipping-up-a-storm-around-which-the-masses-can-be-mobilised sort of thing. Cultivating-a-revolutionary-situation. A kind of ritual participation of the heroic events of the 1930s, when some factions of workers ‘took to the streets’ under their red banners to fight other factions of workers in their black shirts. Exactly like the rituals that enable Orangemen and women to participate in the heroic events of the late 17th century and thereby define identify themselves as a community over and against another community.

          Hence the desire to make a song and dance about ‘Papism’ and ‘Orangeism’ alike.

          We should look and laugh at a’ that.

          1. Niemand says:

            There is always a problem when clearly there are factional agendas and ‘inflation’ on both sides, no-one with any kind of perspective could deny that. In recent times though there is a sense that simply drawing equivalence is unjust and that it is the Loyalists, Orange Order etc who are essentially the bad guys. There is something in this I think – lazy ‘there all as bad as each other’ is just that. But then those saying it are nationalists who hate pretty much any unionists and at the same time similar people will make equivalences for the British state as ‘fascist’, colonial occupiers in Scotland (in the form of the English living there) and so on, arguments that are frankly extremist. So it is hard to trust anyone.

    2. Niemand says:

      I’m sorry to let you know that Orange Order marches still happen in Liverpool:


      I used to live in Liverpool in the 90s and remember them though I admit I did not know they still happened till I just looked it up.

      They also still happen in Manchester: https://www.manchesterprovince.co.uk/parades

  13. Robbie says:

    Irish Catholic President of U S A Joe Biden will be at cop 26 in Glasgow ,will the O O be there to greet him with their flutes and drums escorted by Scottish police officers, now that would give them the attention they desire

  14. Mr Michael McCahill says:

    I would like to thank the Call it out group for their outstanding work. It has not been easy for you but I believe your voice is now being heard. The pressure to have these parades diverted away from Catholic churches needs to keep going.
    I fully expect the Orange Order/UVF to retaliate and order protests at any Irish Republican parades as they have done in the past. Unlike Saturday’s Call It Out, peaceful protest, I don’t expect Orange Order/ UVF protests to be peaceful. I do hope I’m wrong. Keep up the outstanding work.

  15. Paul Docherty says:

    This stupid hate marches by the Loyalist Protestant should have been banned years ago.
    They all should be arrested for spreading Sectarian Hate of Catholics Blacks anything that is not Protestant.
    We need to take the Police to task or Glasgow will end up like Northern Ireland with Sectarian Violence , restrictions on Employment and lack of Justice.
    The Police men need to declare their individual association with this sect of hate spreading nutcase Organization or Secret Society that live in a fantasy land out side the natural world order.
    all people in Scotland need to stop this it has happened for too long.
    Start Banning next years marches now.

    1. Glasgow Clincher says:

      Paul just read the above article about Liverpool and you will see that they have black members.

  16. Pat says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything said above. I even emailed a Councillor with very similar observations. He declared it was up to Police Scotland and that as a Catholic he got on well with local orang lodges. I felt his response was a bit cowardly to say the least.

  17. Mike polucella says:

    How many of the Orangemen ( women) even go to church ? Many people like to be members of clubs that set them apart from others. Gives them the idea they are special. The walkers probably don’t even know what the Orangemen were about. If they didn’t have this club to be special in they would probably invent one. Possibly more dangerous than this. Let then dress up, let them walk, let them sing and play music , let them feel special . Then forget them.

  18. SleepingDog says:

    I haven’t kept up with Christian popular theology, but isn’t it still the case that most mainstream orthodox Protestants and Catholics are supposed to believe in hell, where the all-powerful God they worship sends immortal souls of people to be tortured in eternity? Presumably including each other, followers of other religions, and atheists? In all my experience, I have never come across any other belief so extreme. Without disputing either the aggressive anti-Catholic intimidation of the Orange Order and its absurd following of Anglo-Popery, nor the unhealthy apartheid of Catholic schools and the appalling crimes worldwide of church organizations which the Catholics have long led and many Protestant sects followed, doesn’t this smack of pot calling kettle black?

    I mean, isn’t the problem organized religion itself? For example the recent report from IICSA:
    That is, I suppose that the roots of hatred are found front and centre in church doctrines of these opposing sects. Perhaps it is time to ban the Bible as a de facto flagrant breach of anti-extremism legislation? Clearly it has been used without distortion to incite violence for many centuries.

  19. Diarmuid Breatnach says:

    Anti-Irish racism is perhaps the oldest racism in Britain, wilfully ignored by authorities and many historians up and down the land (when they are not actively colluding in it). Anti-Catholicism in Scotland in particular is and has long been a cover for anti-irish racism (which we in the Irish in Britain Representation Group campaigned against throughout the two decades of the organisation’s existence).

    Well done those of you who have protested against it over the years and in particular those who took the protest to the street on this occasion — mo ghraidhn sibh!

    On a separate but related note, the Orange Order was deliberately created in Ireland as a sectarian organisation to break up the growing Irish unity of Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter and has continued throughout its artificially-extended life as a location not only of religious bigotry but of all kinds of social reaction. Which is why it has found no basic difficulty in uniting with English fascist organisations on many occasions over the years.

    In fact, the Orange in its heartland, Holland, was also a reactionary movement against the more progressive republican trends there too.

  20. bill Patterson says:

    There are bowling clubs in Scotland that do not have catholics as members and never will

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