Jul 3 2008 by John Rowbotham, Hamilton Advertiser
A CHANGE has been made to the starting point of an Orange Order parade through Hillhouse.
Saunderson’s Chosen Few LOL 241 applied to South Lanarkshire Council for permission to march from 7pm tomorrow.
They wanted to muster in the grounds of Hillhouse and Earnock Community Centre, Hillhouse Road, about the same time a service is due to take place at neighbouring St Ninian’s RC Church.
The arrangements were discussed last Wednesday at a private meeting of the council’s public processions panel, chaired by councillor Mary McNeill.
Members of the lodge outlined their application for the march that is expected to last for 45 minutes and end in a church service.
Objections were submitted by St Ninian’s Church and a member of the public.
Hillhouse councillors Graeme Horne and Tommy Gilligan also expressed concern about the location chosen for the start of the march and there were comments from police.
Councillors approved the march but ordered that the assembly point should be the former Kwik Save car park, several hundred yards from the community centre.
The marchers have also been ordered not to play music from the junction of Hillhouse Road and Clarkwell Road, past the church, to the junction of Farm Terrace and Farm Road.
Additional stewards are to be deployed outside St Ninian’s, and the Lodge have been requested to consider changing the starting time of future public processions in that area.
Councillor Horne, SNP councillor for Hamilton West and Earnock, said he had received a number of complaints from constituents about the proposed starting point of the parade.
He added: “I have no problem with the procession taking place but I can understand why people were unhappy with it starting at the civic centre.
“The chapel have a service at 7pm and you would have had a parade starting nearby.
“The parade should start from the former Kwik Save car park. Similar parades have started there for a number of years.”
It is not the first time that there have been objections to marches past St Ninian’s at times when services take place.
Two years ago parishioners were angry when they discovered that Hamilton members of the Royal Black Preceptory and Blantyre ‘No Surrender’ Flute Band were due to gather close to the church in preparation for a parade at a time when people would be arriving at St Ninian’s for Mass.
However, the marchers switched the start point and start time and the event was without incident.
And in September, 2005, during a march organised by the Burnbank-based Jimmy Steele Memorial Flute Band, there was a confrontation outside St Ninian’s involving the priest there and a man.
The 39-year-old was charged and later convicted of a breach of the peace aggravated by religious prejudice, and sentenced to 100 hours’ community service.
Ian Wilson, Grand Master of the Orange Order, told the Advertiser on Monday: “The Orange Lodge are not interested in interfering with anyone’s right to worship.
“It is in our own rules and regulations that bands should knock off when any of our parades pass churches in which worship is taking place.”
He added: “If there is genuinely a service taking place then changes [in the arrangements of the march] should take place so worship is not disturbed.”