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6 July 2017

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Anti-Irish ‘Famine Song’ at Glasgow Orange Walk brings warning by council

● Orange Order supporters sing ‘The Famine Song’ during the Glasgow Orange Walk last Saturday

‘Rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression . . . must be balanced by the responsibility to ensure the rights of others are not infringed’

GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL has effectively warned the Orange Order that future parades could face restrictions or even banned after Saturday’s Orange Walk in Glasgow during which supporters sang the anti-Irish lyrics of The Famine Song to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B.

In 2009, Scottish courts ruled the song to be racist. Despite this, and the fact that it is frequently sung a Glasgow Rangers FC matches and by unionists in the North seeking to provoke nationalists, Orange Order leaders continue to spuriously claim that the playing of the tune has nothing to do with anti-Irish racism.

The anti-sectarian group Nil by Mouth asked that, if the Orange Order is a religious and cultural organisation, “What would be the relevance of a Beach Boys song?”

Nil by Mouth added:

“We know that tune also has another certain set of lyrics. The organisers should be speaking to band members and saying what is acceptable.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said:

“The European Convention on Human Rights enshrines the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

“However, these rights are not absolute. They must be balanced by the responsibility to ensure the rights of others are not infringed.

“As with all public processions, there will be a debrief involving Police Scotland, the organiser and the council.

“The council will take into account any issues of public disorder, anti-social behaviour or damage to property resulting from the procession.

“It will also take into consideration any evidenced issues and, if a future procession notification is received from the organiser, the likelihood of any restriction or prohibition may be greater.”

Police Scotland is reported to be looking into the conduct of the Orange Order parade and its followers.

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