A disturbing question

Late last night I was contacted by a couple who I have been friends with for several years.

They are the type of people that I would turn to if I was in a fix.

They’re decent, honest and kind.

The lady of the house is a regular churchgoer.

They had got in touch because she wanted to tell me her story.

She was attending mass at St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow.

Although she isn’t a parishioner she regularly attends mass there.

The lady in question was standing right beside Canon Tom White when the Orange Order parade passed by the church.

She was the classic eyewitness and could not have been any closer to the main victim of the hate crime.

As well as witnessing those events she told me that she was also subjected to a tirade of abuse, including a smorgasbord of misogynist expletives by several men.

To say that she was shocked and upset at what had happened on the steps of St Alphonsus Church would be to commit a serious understatement.

Yesterday afternoon she reported this hate crime to Police Scotland.

On the day of the incident, the press office of that organisation had stated that an assault “which we believe to be minor in nature” had taken place at St Alphonsus Church.

That is certainly not how this lady would have characterised what happened to Canon Tim White and to herself.

Witan a couple of hours she was contacted on the phone by a police officer.

I’m told that the member of Police Scotland on the other end of the line was polite and respectful to the lady.

However, there was one question that she found very perturbing after the conversation was over and this is the reason that they contacted me.

For the avoidance of doubt, I have written this piece with their permission.

Indeed, that is what they wanted me to do today.

What had made the lady so uncomfortable was when the police officer asked her the following question:

“When this was going on could the priest not just have gone back into the church?”

After the call ended she thought this was a very strange question to ask.

She put the following possible explanations:

Was this an off the cuff question by an individual police officer tasked with dealing with her complaint?

Or was he reading from a pre-prepared script?

She didn’t know and I couldn’t help her with that.

Then she put a question to me that I think all people of good authority in Scotland should address:

“Phil surely the overarching question is this. If Catholic churches have to be protected by police during these marches / processions, then why are they permitted to march?”