Gay Pride row: '˜Orange Order too violent for PSNI to parade with'

The history of violence in the Orange Order means it would be inappropriate for PSNI officers in uniform to parade with them, unlike this weekend's Gay Pride parade in Belfast, a former senior police officer has said.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 4th August 2017, 9:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:05 pm
Alan McQuillan
Alan McQuillan

Former Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan was speaking after TUV leader Jim Allister challenged a decision by the PSNI for its uniformed officers and specially liveried vehicles to formally join the Gay Pride parade on Saturday.

Mr Allister said this would leave the police unable to be impartial in policing any offensive posters that might be carried in the parade and that it was taking a selective approach to hate crime when no community had experienced more attacks than the Orange community.

He said: “No one is suggesting that the PSNI should show opposition to these crimes by participating in Orange parades.”

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But Mr McQuillan told the News Letter: “My view is absolutely that the police should be there [in the parade], they have a duty to protect the LGBT community.

“Historically the gay community has been subjected to the vilest abuse and assaults so I think it is absolutely right they should be in there supporting people that are gay.”

He added: “Most of the people in the gay pride parade have never done anything wrong and are simply out celebrating their own sexuality.

“However the Orange Order has a chequered history. Whereas the majority are peaceful and the majority are reasonable, in the past the order has had a real problem with violence.”

He said there must be a significant number of gay members of the Orange Order.

“The challenge for the future is can we get any gay Orangemen to take to take part in the Gay Pride parade?”

Polls show increasing support for gay marriage in Northern Ireland, he said.

“Gay people are more and more accepted and there is a recognition that they are just like everybody else.”

He added: “DUP voters increasingly say gay marriage should go ahead.”

There is a small proportion who still object, he said, but people should have the right to live as they want.

• The PSNI revealed under Freedom of Information that 89 officers had declared membership of the Orange Order.