Death threats and gales dog Orangefest
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Death threats and gales dog Orangefest

A CONTROVERSIAL Orange Order festival in Glasgow was hit by rain and high winds at the weekend causing a significant scaling back of activities.

The Orangefest event was designed to celebrate the Orange Order's history and culture, and present a more benign image of the organisation to the public. But opposition to the festival steadily grew last week.

An online petition protesting at the event was signed by more than 28,000 people.

It said: “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 [Glasgow City Council] answer to the people of Glasgow as to why this was allowed to go ahead in a city centre location on a busy Saturday.”

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The organiser of the petition Julie Philip, 29, subsequently received online death threats forcing her to delete her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

One threat said, ‘Burn her, she’s a witch, let’s go after her.’

Ms Philip told The National newspaper in Scotland that her elderly parents and siblings were also the victims of abuse in the wake of the event.

Police Scotland say they are aware of the threats and are investigating.

The event in George Square included music and speeches, culminating in a 400-strong parade through the streets.

But torrential rain and high winds of up to 50mph meant that many activities were curtailed. In addition, two large exhibition marquees and a children's bouncy castle were not erected as planned.

Edward Hyde, Grand Master of the County Grand Orange Lodge Of Glasgow, said: “Unfortunately due to the velocity of the wind we've had to cancel some things. Other than that the event has gone very well."

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Pat Bourne, the Consul General to Ireland in Edinburgh, was among those who attended the event.

He told The Irish Post: “My decision to accept the invitation to attend the event in Glasgow on Saturday was taken in line with the Irish Government’s commitment to supporting reconciliation, tolerance and peace amongst all peoples across these islands.

“I availed of the opportunity to underline the importance of these principles to the Orange Order leaders and members with whom I spoke and engaged.”

Glasgow is the scene of the biggest Orange Order marches outside the North of Ireland, and have in the past been the cause of public disorder.

The SNP had queried how much public cash was being spent on the event.

Glasgow City Council said it was not contributing to the cost, adding that they had no option but to allow the event to go ahead.

A spokesperson said: “People use George Square and other public spaces around Glasgow for a wide range of events and activities.

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“Providing events are properly planned and do not encourage unlawful behaviour, the council is not permitted to simply ban them on the grounds that someone dislikes, opposes or holds contrary views to the organiser.”