HomeNewsEXC: Provost 'sorry' for writing Orange Order walk is 'spectacle'

EXC: Provost ‘sorry’ for writing Orange Order walk is ‘spectacle’

A PROVOST has apologised after a column in a local paper – he wrote – declared that Orange Order walks are a “spectacle”. 

Provost Drew McKenzie, of Inverclyde, has previously thanked the freemasons and has attended dinners at Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No XII.

The provost at Burns Supper in a Lodge (front row, two in from the left)

The Orangemen are set to march through Gourock this Fair Saturday, with nearly 40 bands and a large contingent of marchers. The procession is expected to cause, as usual, notable disruption, impacting traffic and local businesses, some of which have opted to remain closed for the day.

Local MP candidate, and ex-councillor for the area, Chris McEleny believes that while the march shouldn’t in principle be stopped on religious grounds, questions should be raised about the impact on the local economy.

He told us: “When I was a member of Inverclyde Council for 10 years people always urged me to oppose Orange Marches — likely based on some belief that I would simply because I am a Catholic.

“However, I did not once do that as I am a fundamental believer in freedom of speech and the right for people to assemble and express views even if I do not agree with them.

“But the decision to grant permission to Saturday’s march is utterly disappointing and reeks of councillors unable to put the people of Gourock first. The decision to tell you that you are not allowed to park your car outside of your own home or else you’ll be fined by the Council is scandalous.“

Provost McKenzie’s column in the Greenock Telegraph praised the march, mentioning the “respectable discipline of the collaretted suits,” the “colour and noise of the bands,” and the “gallous swagger” of the participants. 

Provost McKenzie – who is also an owner of a butcher shop in Port Glasgow – told the Scottish Catholic Guardian: “I could have used a more neutral term rather than spectacle but a parade with up to forty bands will be difficult to miss.”

“In retrospect it is a subject matter that I should have steered clear of. It is very emotive.”

He continued: “I should have just let it go ahead without comment and would humbly apologise to those I might have offended.”


Provost Drew McKenzie’s recent column describing this march as a “spectacle” has sparked considerable controversy and, in our view, missed the mark entirely.

To refer to the Orange Order march as a “spectacle” is to gloss over the deeply rooted sectarianism it represents. The march commemorates the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, a Protestant victory over Catholics that has little relevance to our present-day community other than to serve as a painful reminder of past conflicts.

And Provost McKenzie’s admiration for the “respectable discipline” and “colour and noise” of the march fails to acknowledge the discomfort and hurt these parades cause. For many, the bowler hats, sashes, and banners are not just cultural artefacts but symbols of a time when religious intolerance was rife. The visual elements of the march, which McKenzie praises, can feel like a deliberate provocation to those of Catholic faith and others who find the parade’s message divisive and outdated.

Furthermore, the disruption caused by the march cannot be overlooked. Traffic will be snarled, businesses will close, and daily life will be interrupted—all for an event that many find distasteful and irrelevant. The presence of a large cruise ship in town means that international visitors will also witness this march, potentially leading to misunderstandings about our community’s values and priorities.

While the council’s General Purposes Board may have had little choice but to approve the march based on legal precedents, this does not mean we must passively accept it as part of our country’s fabric. Instead, we should question why we continue to allow events that perpetuate division rather than promote unity.

Provost McKenzie’s column suggests that we should be thankful to live in a country that allows such marches. We believe we should strive to live in a country—and a town—that values unity over division, peace over conflict, and progress over regression. 

As Gourock prepares for the Orange Order’s march, let us reflect on the values we wish to uphold and the legacy we want to leave for future generations. It is time to move forward, to foster a community where all feel welcome and respected, and to leave divisive spectacles in the past where they belong.

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