PUBLICANS across Glasgow have been warned against promoting any sectarian activity if they plan Easter Rising centenary events.
Police Scotland has issued many of the city’s bars and social clubs with a notice advising them not to display politically motivated items, including flags and banners, when hosting 1916 commemorations.
The policy has drawn criticism from pub owners who believe that it interferes with their right to freedom of expression.
Danny Rodgers, pub manager at the Tall Cranes in Glasgow, told The Irish Post that while he hadn’t yet received the notice, he was disappointed with the warning.
Mr Rodgers – whose parents hail from Donegal – said: “It’s my ground it’s not an illegal flag. I’d put up Celtic flags and the tricolor regardless; it’s about freedom of expression.”
Asked whether the pub had plans to host any 1916 events, he said: “We’ve got a marching band [the James Connolly Republican Flute Band (Glasgow)] starting off at the pub next Saturday and parading around Glasgow.”
Governed by the city’s licensing board, the policy for licensed premises is aimed at preventing “malicious or ill‐intentioned conduct on the basis of race, politics or religion”.
It references the public concern within Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland surrounding sectarian conduct, which focuses on the religious divide between Catholics and Protestants.
It also warns pubs against displaying material with colours, images, designs, insignia or words associated with the Catholic or Protestant religious divide and states that activities or entertainment with such a religious association should not be permitted.
A spokesman for the council’s licensing board told The Irish Post that the document was handed out ahead of any upcoming 1916 commemorative events.
“In Glasgow’s case this notice does reference sectarian conduct,” he said. “The vast majority of premises don’t have any difficulties in that area, but it’s about letting people know what’s expected. In terms of flags and banners, there’s nothing that says you can’t have them. It’s about the content.
“The premises can identify with a particular football club, but it’s about the content of any memorabilia that’s displayed. While you can have a sign that says it is to do with Rangers or Celtic, you can’t have wording or design that has religious, racial or sectarian content. It’s not a blanket ban.”
Manager of McNeill’s pub, Bill Donnelly – whose grandfather is from Dublin – said that he had received the notice, but that he didn’t have any 1916 events scheduled.
He said: “We’ve no events planned itself. The pub used to be Celtic, it used to be owned by former Celtic player and manager Billy McNeill. It’s changed now though, there’s more Protestants that come to the bar so we won’t be having any 1916 events.”
Police Scotland said that the policy was aimed at helping the officers appropriately police any potential protests against the events.
A spokeswoman said: “In reference to Easter Rising Centenary commemorations, officers asked licensees to contact the Licensing Department if they planned to host any significant, commemorative events so that any protests against these could be policed proportionately.
“A number of Easter Rising commemorative events have taken place in the city, most recently a public procession on April 3 organised by the West of Scotland Bands Association, and all were successful, without incident or protest.”