A LABOUR politician has been criticised after taking on a top job with the Orange Order.

Airdrie councillor Ian McNeil is to be the new executive officer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.

The shock appointment left one Labour parliamentarian declaring that Jeremy Corbyn’s party was more welcoming to Orangemen than it was to Jewish people.

McNeil’s new job is the only full-time salaried role within the Protestant organisation.

His appointment was announced by the lodge on Friday, with grand master Jim McHarg saying he was “delighted to congratulate Ian on his appointment” and that the councillor had “held many roles within the membership of the organisation for a number of years”.

McHarg added: “As a local councillor, we know that Ian has helped constituents of all faiths, backgrounds, and political persuasions and achieves great satisfaction at helping others in his local area.

“Ian will continue to serve his constituents as a local councillor in the same way that many other councillors from all political parties have careers and interests outside of their civic duties.”

The National: Airdrie councillor Ian McNeilAirdrie councillor Ian McNeil

McNeil’s new job, which he starts in early August, will involve promoting the Orange Order and “defending the rights of people of all faiths to celebrate their own culture and religion as part of a modern Scottish society”.

McNeil is a junior depute grand master and heads up the Central Scotland County Grand Lodge.

On his register of interests at North Lanarkshire council, he also declares that he’s a member of Airdrie St John Freemasons.

Tommy Sheppard, SNP MP for Edinburgh East, told the Sunday Times: “It beggars belief that running an anti-Catholic organisation is not incompatible with holding elected office on behalf of the Labour Party.

“Most right-minded Labour Party supporters will find it surprising that this can be allowed under Labour rules. It’s surely high time this was reviewed.”

The National:

A Scottish Labour spokesman said that being a member or office holder in other organisations “does not in itself prohibit a person from being a member or holding elected office in the party”.

He added: “The rule is that this membership is declared in any register of interests, and Councillor McNeil has declared both his membership and position.”

However, one Labour parliamentarian told the paper that “these days it appears it’s fine to be an Orangeman in the party but not ok to be Jewish”.

Thousands of marchers took to the streets of Glasgow earlier this month for the annual Battle of the Boyne celebration parade. Last year, a priest was spat on outside his church as an Orange walk went past.