Parade to mark the Battle of Dunkeld given go-ahead

Marchers expected to parade their way to Dunkeld Cathedral for church service on Sunday.

Parade to mark the Battle of Dunkeld given go-ahead Getty Images

A controversial parade has been allowed to take place in Dunkeld this Sunday.

District 65 Colonel Cleland Memorial Loyal Orange Lodge notified Perth and Kinross Council of its intention to hold the procession this weekend.

The local authority received seven objections to the parade.

The council’s licensing committee was asked to accept the notice or reject it and prohibit the procession when it met virtually on Wednesday, August 18.

Around 75-100 people are expected to head off from Birnam Games Highland Park at 1.15pm and parade their way to Dunkeld Cathedral.

The local church community says no service has been organised for the Orange Lodge and that it does it want to be involved in the event, which marks the Battle of Dunkeld.

Organiser David Walters told the committee it would be “very dignified” and had been going on for over a decade and people would be “most welcome at it”.

Legal representative Jim MacLean said: “The right of freedom of peaceful public assembly is included as a fundamental right within all the major international human rights instruments, including the European Convention on Human Rights.”

He added: “The right to assemble is particularly important for minority and marginalised groups whose voices may otherwise not be heard or expressed in the mass media, nor reflected in the views in the mainstream political parties.”

Convener councillor Chris Ahern stepped in as Mr MacLean proceeded to make comments in response to each of the objections.

Councillor Ahern said: “I’m not going to have you lambasting the people that have put in legitimate concerns that they have and to put your views against each one of those.”

Objectors Laclan McEwan from Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council and John Gilruth addressed the committee with their concerns.

Gilruth said the community had been through “a really rough time” but had come through it together across the political divide.

He said allowing this parade felt like the “absolute antithesis” of that.

McEwan raised concerns about the safety of the marchers crossing the bridge during the busy tourist season and of disruption to the community.

Four police officers will be in attendance.

The committee was told Police Scotland had no reports of any disturbances or offences at the previous parade and of just one peaceful protest.

The committee unanimously decided to accept the notice of the procession but subject to conditions – including times being adhered to and an instruction to abide by the code of conduct.

Councillor Ahern said: “It must be noted that because the committee has allowed the march to take place it does not mean this committee has any thoughts about the causes the Orange Order supports.

“It is the right of any group to have a freedom of speech and a freedom of expression including the right to hold a peaceful march.”

Story by local democracy reporter Kathryn Anderson

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