Labour council leader who funded the Orange Order faces calls to step down 

Falkirk council leader Craig Martin struggling with disunity after misuse of funds claim 

CRAIG MARTIN, the Labour council leader who supported public funding for the Orange Order, will face calls to step down this week from opposition SNP councillors. 

Martin was at the heart of a community-grant dispute last month after he voted to give the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland £1,145 of extra funding, despite the controversial group being blamed for causing sectarian tensions. 

Reports in The National newspaper highlight divisions within the council - a Labour-Tory administration - which raise issues over the future of Martin’s leadership. 

The paper reports a SNP motion, to be presented to the council, which states: “Council notes that there is increasing concern with regard to this council’s management of public funds, in particular recent financial decisions that have caused reputational damage to the council.

“As a result there is a lack of confidence in the current leadership of the council, therefore we now call on the leader of the administration to accept responsibility and to stand down from his position.”

CommonSpace reported the funding controversy last month, after Martin led a committee is giving financial support to the Order.

SNP councillors viewed the decision as a misuse of public funds.

The Orange Order bars Catholics from membership. Some of its public marches, known as ‘Orange walks’, have led to violence, disorder, and police arrests. The Order rejects claims that it fosters anti-Catholic sentiment from its campaigning. 

Martin defended the grant to support the group’s Falkirk march. He said: “We agreed to make a small grant to the organisers of this event to offset some of their extra costs.”

Picture courtesy of Rumantrix

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