Irish republican march gets go ahead

Marchers will parade through Bellshill town centre later this month.
Marchers will parade through Bellshill town centre later this month.

An Irish republican march in Bellshill has been given the green light despite police admitting it carries a “high” risk of public disorder.

Councillors have today given permission for the parade to be held at lunchtime on Saturday, August 27.

It’s expected there will be around 30 marchers, accompanied by the Coatbridge United Irishmen band, but at least 50 police officers will be on duty.

The march is being organised by Irish Republican Bands Scotland to protest about “anti-Irish racism”.

A string of objectors, including Bellshill councillor Harry Curran, made clear their opposition at a meeting of North Lanarkshire Council’s public processions sub-committee.

Councillor Curran, who has Irish ancestry, said in more than 30 years representing the people of Bellshill he had never come across anti-Irish racisim in the area.

He told the meeting: “I have been inundated with objections about this from people in all parts of the community. I think the motives behind the march are dubious.”

It’s planned to march from Queens Crescent via Hamilton Road to the town centre, then along North Road and Hattonrigg Road to Rockburn Park.

Councillor Curran said the route is “unacceptable”.

He added: “There are cars parked on both sides of the road in some of these streets.”

However, march organiser William Riddell, who is from Bellshill, said the obstacles were no different from those facing other bands which march in the area.

He told councillors: “We should be allowed to parade in our own streets if we want to. There has never been trouble with IRBS parades elsewhere and I haven’t heard of public concerns from anyone in Bellshill.”

Police Scotland did not object to the parade going ahead, despite admitting the risk to public safety and public order, and the likelihood of disruption to the community, was “high”.

The police also accepted the number of officers needed to “ensure the safety of parade participants” was “disproportionate”.

However, Sergeant Claire Thomson told the committee: “It’s a busy time of day, but we are satisfied that we have a plan in place to to manage this march.”

During the meeting objectors claimed there has been trouble at other IRBS marches in the Glasgow area, but representatives of the organisation denied that has been the case.