Investigation after priest 'spat on' during Orange walk in Glasgow

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Canon Tom WhiteImage source, Archdiocese of Glasgow
Image caption,
Police are investigating claims Canon Tom White was spat on while the Orange Walk passed his church

Police are investigating after claims a priest was spat on during an Orange walk.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow claims the incident happened as Canon Tom White spoke to parishioners outside St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow on Saturday afternoon.

It said the priest was spat on twice.

Police are investigating the incident but the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said none of its members were responsible.

A police spokesman said that while the parade was passing at the time, involvement by someone from the Orange march was still to be established.

In a statement on Facebook, the Archdiocese said that both Canon White and his parishioners had been "subjected to vile abuse".

'Vile liquid'

It claimed: "The priest was spat upon. Spittle landed on the back of his head.

"He wiped it away. Another mouthful of thick spittle was spat into his eye socket. Again he wiped it away leaving his hand full of the vile liquid.

"He was then further insulted and lunged at by a man carrying a pole before police arrived to restore some kind of order."

Image source, Google
Image caption,
St Alphonsus Church is close to the Barras market in the east end

The Church said: "What kind of society is it that allows ministers of religion and churchgoers to be intimidated and attacked by a group which has a long history of fomenting fear and anxiety on city streets?"

A spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said: "We have been made aware of an incident outside of St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow late on Saturday afternoon whilst an Orange parade was passing by.

"We understand that abusive comments were directed at a local priest from a group of young men who were not part of the parade. We can confirm that no members of the parade were involved in this or any of the reported incidents.

"The Orange Order is founded on the principle of religious liberty and respect for people of all faiths.

"We totally condemn the bigoted actions of those involved and hope that they are dealt with to the full extent of the law. We would welcome the opportunity to work with Police Scotland to identify those responsible."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Orange march through Glasgow is an annual event

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We can confirm we are investigating the assault of a man outside a church at the Barras (area of Glasgow) around 16:20 on Saturday 7 July.

"He was not injured as a result of the assault and inquiries are ongoing."

The spokeswoman added: "Whilst the parade was passing the church at the time, any involvement, if at all, by someone from the Orange walk, is still to be established."

'Extremely concerning'

Scotland's Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "These are extremely concerning reports and it is right that they are being investigated by Police Scotland. I am confident the police will treat this case with the seriousness it deserves.

"Scotland is a diverse, multicultural and tolerant society and any form of hate crime is completely and utterly unacceptable to me and the vast majority of Scots.

"There can be no justification for bigoted or intimidating behaviour and the Scottish government is determined to ensure people are able to worship and go about their business without fear for their safety."

Scottish Conservative MSP for Glasgow region, Annie Wells, said: "This was a shocking attack against a respected member of the local community.

"Police Scotland must move quickly to identify those involved and bring charges. This abuse will not be tolerated in Scotland."

Scottish Labour's Communities and Equalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP said: "Father White has shown great courage in speaking out about the attacks he has experienced, for which there can be zero tolerance."

Caron Lindsay, the Scottish Liberal Democrat equalities spokeswoman said: "No-one in Scotland should feel threatened or intimidated as they go about their daily business."

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