Funeral procession goes ahead

HUNDREDS of mourners took to the streets of Motherwell on Monday after the funeral of an Orangeman - despite North Lanarkshire Council knocking back an application for a procession.

And they could face prosecution after Strathclyde Police announced that a report would be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

The furore came after the authority turned down a request from the Motherwell Orange and Purple District 25 lodge to follow the hearse of member Raymond Ferguson (54) from Dalziel St Andrew’s Church in the town centre to Airbles Cemetery.

Council bosses refused on ‘safety’ grounds, explaining: “Strathclyde Police made representations that they could not police this funeral in such a way as to secure the safety of the participants, the public and their officers on road traffic safety grounds.

“Taking into consideration the views of the police and the applicant, the committee decided it would be inappropriate, purely on these grounds, to allow the procession to proceed. It is now a police matter.”

However, those paying their respects walked from the church to the cemetery following the afternoon service regardless.

As we went to press, Strathclyde Police said action was being taken as a result.

A force spokesperson said: “Notification of this procession was made late last week. On Friday, North Lanarkshire Council’s Public Processions Sub-Committee convened, and, following observations by Strathclyde Police, made an order prohibiting the holding of the procession.

“The procession took place in violation of that prohibition order, as a result of which a report will now be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Robert McLean, executive officer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, told The Times he was surprised at the turn of events.

He said: “As far as we are concerned - if you look at the legislation from the Scottish Government - the police are exempt from funeral processions. And so we were surprised North Lanarkshire Council and the police even got involved in the first place.

“I wasn’t there but was told that, although the police said they couldn’t police the procession, they sat and watched it from a vehicle.

“If any action is taken, which I doubt it will be, we will issue a formal statement then.”

Motherwell man Raymond, who is believed to have died suddenly last week, had been a member of the lodge and County Flute Band for over 30 years.

Survived by partner Linda, Raymond - known as ‘Hedgie’ - was well-known in the community and worked in the bar at the town’s Orange Hall.

A member of the family, who did not want to be named, told the Times that mourners walked to the cemetery peacefully and without incident. They added: “We were disappointed with the council’s decision. It’s what he would have wanted and what the family wanted.”

The Times reported last August that a flute band led a procession following the funeral of Motherwell postman Davie Mather. The group paraded from North Motherwell Parish Church to the Orange Hall.