The first ever “Orange Fest” in Glasgow is set to take over the city centre on Saturday, with a full day of activities in George Square alongside a mid-afternoon march through the city centre. The square is expected to be cordoned off to allow a stage, marquee and seating areas to be erected for the Orange Order event, which will last for seven hours.
The event comes just four weeks ahead of the Lodge’s annual “Big Walk”, which sees thousands of marchers and hangers-on take over the city on the first weekend in July, usually culminating at Glasgow Green. Last year’s walk was marred by violence after a 12 year old girl was bottled in the face. This Saturday’s event is being billed as taking the Order’s “community outreach efforts to a whole new level”, which is certainly one way of describing an event that will see half the city centre become a no go zone for many.
The event was announced in a blaze of publicity last year, in which the Lodge – an organisation founded to celebrate and defend Protestant ethno-religious supremacy – promised to invite Catholic and Muslim groups along to “gain an understanding of the cultural heritage and modus operandi” of the organisation. As well other faith leaders, they also promised to extend an invitation to all politicians in the city. The event is officially sanctioned by Glasgow City Council, and the Lord Provost hosted a civic reception for the Lodge, typically held in the City Chambers, on Monday evening. The Lodge’s website claims the event has received “a cordial reception from the city fathers”.
However, it comes just days after the official voice of the Lodge in Scotland, The Orange Torch, branded the country a “nation of psychiatric basket cases” for returning 56 SNP MPs in May’s election. The article goes on to call the Scottish electorate “barking mad” for being “won over by the lying propaganda and fruitcake delusions of the SNP”. It’s unclear whether the Lodge have lived up their pledge to invite all of Glasgow’s politicians, although it seems unlikely the city’s seven SNP MPs will receive much of a welcome at it.
The Orange Fest is being framed as a “cultural and heritage day”, and is to begin with “a short act of praise and worship”, followed by guest speakers, bands, stalls and “face painting and inflatables” for younger visitors (so presumably a Bouncy Bouncy Castle of some sort). It will finish at 4.30pm with a “stirring ‘Last Night of the Proms’ experience” that will see the national anthem rounding the day off. We’re not sure if there’ll be much Pimms on the go but they’ll probably make up for that by just having twice as many miniature union flegs.
Any fantasy that the day was about “outreach” is quickly dispelled by a glance over the itinerary, which is less a run down of family favourites than archaic museum exhibits with names like the Most Worthy Grand Master Bro Henry Dunbar (cool story bro), the Black Skull Corps of Fife, and a sure to be fascinating segment on the History of the CGOLOG, whatever that is. Instead – and as if it was ever going to be anything else – once again our city will become a playground for bigots on Saturday, as it hosts a glorified celebration of religious supremacy and triumphalism. There seems little in the way of diversity to be found in their union jack bedecked, jam packed programme of how brilliant is to be a Prod. But instead of confining themselves to an Orange Hall for the afternoon, they’re going to spend the whole day camped out in Glasgow city centre for their supremacist jamboree, banging away at Lambeg drums and blasting flutes amid the hate speech.
Once again, we find ourselves asking why Glasgow City Council are letting this happen – not just granting the Lodge the city’s central civic square for the entire day, but also a procession right through the centre of town in the middle of the afternoon. No other organisation gets such favourable treatment, as we’ve documented extensively in the past. People Make Glasgow, but some people – The People, if you believe their own rhetoric – apparently “make” it more than others.
UPDATE: It’s since come to our attention that among the performers on Saturday will be “Pastor Michael McCurry”. The same Pastor Mike McCurry that quit as an SPL referee in disgrace after continual allegations of being biased towards Rangers? Could it just be?