Orange Order Defends Heritage Day

The Orange Order has defended a planned day-long event in Glasgow as a petition calling for it to be cancelled passed 25,000 signatures.

Dubbed ''Orangefest'', the Order's Cultural and Heritage Day will take place on Saturday between 9.30am to 4.30pm.

The George Square event includes music, speeches and religious aspects with a 400-strong parade through Glasgow city centre ending the day.

The Orange Order said the aim is to create a better understanding of the group and other civic and religious leaders have been invited to the event.

The Order said it is paying for every aspect of the event.

It has been approved by Glasgow City Council but an online petition has called on it to be scrapped.

The petition, which has more than 25,000 signatures, says: ''The people of Glasgow and Scotland are sick of their voices going unheard in relation to sectarian, hate-filled orange marches. Now we have to put up with Orangefest.

''We demand that GCC answer to the people of Glasgow as to why this was allowed to go ahead in a city-centre location on a busy Saturday. (Council leader) Gordon Matheson must be held accountable.''

The Orange Order said the event was an ''open invitation to gain a better understanding of one of Glasgow's oldest and biggest fraternal and charitable organisations, warts and all''.

A statement from the Order read: ``The usual suspects have made a last-minute attempt at discrediting the event, deriding it as 'provocative' and 'divisive', and calling upon the city council to ban it.

''We have to live with the knee-jerk hostility of those who are diametrically opposed to the Order's religious and patriotic principles.

''For everyone else, this event is an open invitation to gain a better understanding of one of Glasgow's oldest and biggest fraternal and charitable organisations, warts and all.

''Recent government-funded studies on sectarianism advocated greater public engagement in order to tackle myths and misconceptions, break down barriers and improve community relationships. Saturday's event is an honest contribution towards that end.

''A great deal of uninformed nonsense has been spoken about the cost of this event to the public purse. We are not aware of any cost to the city. The tab is being picked up in its entirety by the membership of Glasgow's 182 Orange Lodges.''

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