The Orange Order in Scotland have been plunged into chaos over the last week after footage emerged of a flute band – who we can now name as the “Bellshill Protestant Boys” – playing the “Famine Song” as they left last Saturday’s Boyne Day celebrations in Glasgow. The incident took place under a bridge in Tradeston which has become a focal point for displays of anti-Irish bigotry over the last few years, with large crowds gathering to greet the passing bands. It continues to be facilitated by the authorities, who put crowd barriers in place next to the pavement each year. The original footage, uploaded by a supporter of the Orange Order before quickly gaining traction on social media, has since been deleted, but numerous other recordings which capture the incident remain online.
This culminated in a widely reported threat by the council last Tuesday to “ban” Orange marches, an almost unheard of move and one which is hard to separate from the recent change of political power at Glasgow City Council. The Lodge are not going to be banned, but even the fact that this threat was issued – and was then a major news story – is a sign of how deep the crisis is that the Orange Order have found themselves in. It is, after all, only two years since the “Orangefest” debacle which – as first revealed by this blog – saw George Square handed over to the organisation for a “family fun day” and a civic reception for Lodge dignatories at the City Chambers.
This blog can now reveal the alarming links between the Orange Order in Scotland and extremist groups. Last Saturday, we watched as a notorious far-right blogger who was thrown out of UKIP in 2001 for his “scepticism” about the Holocaust oversaw an operation to hand out hundreds of miniature union flags to onlookers and passers-by during the annual parade, which took over much of the city centre before culminating in Glasgow Green. Alistair McConnachie, the mastermind behind the “Force for Good” unionist fringe movement, was joined on the day by Max Dunbar, former bagman/flagman for the Glasgow BNP and its spin-off Britannica Party. He is also a former candidate for the BNP.
In a similar vein, McConnachie and Dunbar recently took it upon themselves to hold a tiny counter-demonstration during a pro-independence march in the city, goading its participants in George Square and filming their reaction. This is not McConnachie’s first dalliance with the Orange Order. During the referendum campaign, receipts provided to the Electoral Commission revealed he was paid £480 a month by the Orange Order for “social media services” ahead of the referendum, and an additional sum of £225 for providing flags.
Separately, this blog has been passed photos which show members of the Scottish Defence League boasting about their role in instigating disorder at a notorious flashpoint for loyalist marchers each July 12th. Pictures show two Lothians-based activists posing in front of police lines at the Woodvale Road area of North Belfast. Daniel Sturrock, who boasts of his affiliations with the National Front and neo-Nazi terror group Combat 18, is shown wearing a Scottish Defence League t-shirt. A friend comments that he then climbed over the barrier to “riot”.
Another prominent Scottish neo-Nazi joined Sturrock on the front line of the police blockade. The images are believed to be from 2015, which saw heavy rioting and the attempted murder of a teenage girl.
The area is expected to be much calmer this year after a compromise was reached between the Orange Order and local residents last year.
In Scotland, meanwhile, discussion has already moved on since last week and – as ever – will largely subside until everyone decides to get angry again in early July next year.