Convicted bigots should attend justice schemes
A leading anti- bigotry charity say two men convicted of hurling abuse while protesting against a Republican march should be forced to take part in restorative justice programmes.
Alan Williams, 38, and William Wilson, 52, were ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service for their part in incidents that took place in Castlemilk on Saturday, September 6, 2014.
Both men chanted “IRA sympathisers” and “IRA scum” at police on the cordon and sang the ‘famine song’ while waiting on the controversial march, which was destined for Rutherglen, to pass.
The pair say they disagreed with the march route, as it went past the old house of IRA victim, Dougald McGaughey’s mother.
Nil by Mouth campaign director, Dave Scott, used the case to highlight the need to challenge views rather than just punish people.
He said: “This incident once again highlights the depth of feeling which marches - regardless of whether they are republican or loyalist - can stir in people. It’s always profoundly depressing when people ignore legal and civilised ways of protesting about things they don’t agree with and simply spout hate, as seems to have been the case here.
“But if we are to challenge attitudes and understand why these behaviours linger in our society, courts need to look at something in addition to community payback orders, which leave such attitudes unchallenged.
“We’d have liked the court to have been able to order the individuals concerned to take part in programmes aimed at exploring their attitudes and meet others who hold a different point of view.
“Does behaving in this way show the individuals depth of feeling on the issue or simply that they lack the ability to express their views in anything other then negative ways?
“We’d be willing to work with the Crown Office to create such a restorative justice model which could form part of sentences like this in the future.”
After a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Williams, from Bridgeton and Wilson, from Burnside, were convicted of breaching the peace, with a racial aggravation.
Both men accepted being at Castlemilk Drive and waiting on the march but denied trying to break the cordon or shouting sectarian abuse, or inciting others to act in that way.
A number of police gave evidence at the trial, pinpointing Williams as the ringleader who ordered the 100 plus crowd to “charge” at officers.
The trial heard that the march, which was due to move through Castlemilk to Rutherglen, had to be abandoned because of concerns for public safety. When police were informed that there were protestors at Castlemilk Drive - where Williams and Wilson were - it was brought to an end, although the group were never told.
The Reformer reported last month that the family of Dougald McGaughey were still haunted by his death.
It’s always profoundly depressing when people ignore legal and civilised ways of protesting
Stopped The march had to be scrapped by police due to safety fears