Council urged to think again over town march

The march took place in Kirkintilloch Town Centre
The march took place in Kirkintilloch Town Centre

Police made two arrests at a recent town centre political rally - with questions raised over whether it should have gone ahead.

The ‘Anti Irish Racism March’ was held in Kirkintilloch by organisation Cairde na hÉireann (Friends of Ireland), who have defended the procession.

In previous years, the event - which left from Civic Way at 11.30am on Saturday, Febraury 28 - had consisted of a “silent march”, but this year it was accompanied by a flute and drum band.

The atmosphere during the march was described by one Herald reader as “tense”.

A resident said: “I don’t think I’ve seen a police presence like that in the town before, so they obviously expected trouble.

“If that’s the case, then I don’t think they should have let it go ahead.”

A spokesperson for Kirkintilloch Police said that two arrests were made for breach of the peace offences.

Diane Campbell, East Dunbartonshire Council’s director of governance and regulation, said the council held a meeting of its Civic Government Appeals Board onFebruary 25 to consider the application and “found there were insufficient grounds to prohibit the march from taking place”.

She added:“However, a condition was imposed on the procession in response to concerns raised, in addition to attendees being required to comply with the conditions of the Code of Conduct on Public Processions.

“Freedom of speech presumes the right to hold a procession and the council must justify any conditions or prohibitions in relation to the specific circumstances of a procession.

“Police Scotland did not raise any objection to the march going ahead.”

Cairde na hÉireann national organiser Frany McAdam told the Herald that the march had been requested by local people outraged at the vandalism eight years ago of a plaque to remember a group of Irish people who perished in a bothy fire in 1937.

He said: “We have a right to march to highlight the anti-Irish racism that exists in Kirkintilloch. To this day the local council have refused to acknowlege that there is an issue and we will continue with the march until they do.”

Ms Campbell said: “East Dunbartonshire Council condemns racism and sectarianism in all its forms.

“We have long-standing policies and procedures supporting equality and diversity throughout East Dunbartonshire - and as an organisation we actively endeavour to eliminate all forms of unlawful discrimination.”