IT’S that time of the year again, when the streets of Scotland’s towns and cities, or at least those in the Central Belt, are filled with the cacophony of sectarianism. I had planned to go into the centre of Glasgow last weekend to do some shopping, but decided against it because listening to people singing that they would like to be up to their knees in blood, and specifically your blood, isn’t exactly conducive to a pleasant retail experience.

This isn’t made any easier by the knowledge that the DUP and other extreme Ulster Loyalist organisations supported by the Orange Order are also deeply and implacably homophobic.

Every year it’s the same. We have to avoid our town centres and public parks because a band of drunken bigots want to dress up as toy soldiers and sing about their hatred for Catholics.

Every year we cannot cross public streets because a shower of vindictive and hate-driven reactionaries act as though they own our public places. Every year a band of drunken louts attack someone, cause disturbances in our streets, and make the rest of us feel unsafe in our own communities, all in the name of expressing atavistic hatred.

This year a group of Orange supporters spat on and attacked a Glasgow priest who was outside his church greeting his parishoners. The incident happened because the police who had been guarding the church had been called away to deal with another incident caused by the marchers.

In Glasgow in 2018 a house of worship requires police protection, and on social media there were people blaming the priest for daring to appear in the open air when an Orange Walk was taking place nearby. Just pause and think about that for a second.

But it’s not really Catholics that the Orange marchers hate. Their hatred extends equally to atheists and agnostics who happen to have been brought up in Catholic households. The real targets of Orangeism in Scotland are Scottish people of Irish Catholic descent.

Sectarianism is just anti-Irish racism to the tune of a flute band. When you protest or complain about it, they tell you that you’re the one who’s bigoted. It seems that it’s not offensive to express your hatred. What’s really offensive is to object to it.

In recent years the targets of Orange hatred have also extended to Scots from any religion or none who happen to support Scottish independence. It’s an easy extension for them to make. They hated “Catholics” because of the supposed threat of Catholicism to the British state. And now they hate independence supporters for the same reason. Orange parades are a sickness of British nationalism in Scotland and Ireland. Let’s be very clear here, this isn’t a Scottish shame. It’s not an Irish shame. It’s a shame created and caused by British nationalism.

Supporters of the British state in this country must own up to sectarianism and condemn it. Instead they prefer to take to social media in order to search out a small number of accounts where some clown expresses anti-English sentiment, ignoring the bigotry that is openly expressed against their fellow Scots in the streets of our towns and cities.

Over the past years and months we have seen dozens of newspaper articles and opinion pieces decrying the Anglophobia that supposedly characterises the Yes movement. How many have we seen decrying the Orange bigotry and drawing an explicit link between Orangeism and British nationalism in Scotland? About as many as there are Catholic priests marching behind a lambeg.

What’s almost as bad as the entirely predictable violence is the equally predictable calls for something to be done from politicians who campaigned for an end of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act and empowered the bigots who now think that they can sing their hate songs freely.

But these parades are our heritage and our culture, is the usual squeal. But that’s no defence. Apartheid was a part of the heritage and culture of white South Africans, that didn’t make it moral. Female genital mutilation is part of the heritage and practices of several cultures, but that doesn’t stop it being an offence against the rights of women.

Discrimination against certain social groups is ingrained in many cultures. That doesn’t make it right. Just because yer maw and da were bigots doesn’t give you the right to be a bigot too.

Before any British nationalist indulges in whataboutery, a Yes rally is not remotely comparable to an Orange Walk. There may be a tiny fringe of bigots who associate themselves with a Yes rally, but Yes rallies are all about inclusivity.

No-one gets beaten up or threatened for trying to cross the road in the middle of a Yes march. On the other hand bigotry and the exclusion of large segments of Scottish society is the entire point and purpose of an Orange Walk. Trying to draw an equivalence between the two is like refusing to see a difference between a happy and cheerful birthday party with an obnoxious drunk sitting ignored in a corner and a gang of intoxicated yobs on the rampage.

Ruth Davidson and her minions are very quick to protest against entirely peaceful Yes marches and the disruption that they cause, but faced with the much greater disruption and outright violence associated with the annual Orange parade season, Ruth and her pals say nothing at all. They’re all too ready to condemn the supposed divisiveness of the Yes movement, but when it comes to the very real and visceral divisiveness created and fomented by their own Orange supporters they say nothing at all. If you look up the word ruth in a dictionary of Scots, it’s defined as “Tory hypocrite”.

It’s all very well complaining about Orange Walks on social media, or indeed through the medium of columns in Scottish newspapers, but councils can’t take action on that sort of protest. There has to be a specific communication with your councillor or a complaint to the police. This has nothing to do with the views of any individual political party or councillor, and everything to do with the recognised procedures which are required in order for councillors to take action.

If you want Orange Walks banned, restricted, or curtailed, you can’t do so by complaining about it anonymously on social media. Let’s get writing to our local councils. That’s the only way we can bring about an end to this annual shame of British nationalism polluting our streets.

If you live in Glasgow, contact the Council’s Procession Committee to tell them that you don’t want the city’s streets filled with this sort of 18th-century hatred. The email address is Meanwhile on there’s a petition asking Glasgow council to call time on the Orange Walk. The walk has had its day, and that day was in 1690. This is the 21st century, not the 17th.