A LOYALIST flute band has been condemned for giving a Halloween fancy dress prize to a man dressed in KKK robes.
The Lanarkshire Loyalist Flute Band celebrated a “Halloween/Culture” party on Saturday – at premises belonging to the local council.
A photograph from the event shows an unidentified man in white robes and a pointed hood complete with the KKK’s symbol on the chest.
He is being presented with a plaque from a woman, also unidentified, under the caption “Craigneuk Imperial Ladies Flute Band”, from North Lanarkshire.
Images of poppies are clearly visible in the background of the picture, which is believed to have been uploaded to the band’s Facebook page and later taken down.
The Lanarkshire Loyalist Flute Band posted on October 28 that they “will be holding our culture day/Halloween on 1st November in the Cemetery Hall, High Blantyre. Free entry if you’re in fancy dress.”
South Lanarkshire Council – which boasts on its website about how it “tackles hate crime” – hires the venue for parties of up to 240 people.
Jatin Haria, Executive Director of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights said: “This is not just about some Halloween costume – the Ku Klux Klan outfit remains an extremely fearful symbol for many black minority ethnic people who are still subject to racial discrimination and violence.
“Wearing this…shows a shocking level of ignorance.”
Colin Lee, Chief Executive of the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations Scotland (CEMVO) said: “Why of all costumes would this person choose to wear a KKK outfit, especially when its not obviously associated with Halloween?
“The bottom line is that I do not think that wearing such outfits is appropriate in this day and age, whatever their motivations, as many Black people in America were murdered by the KKK.
“I therefore think the Lanarkshire Loyalists have a lot to answer for.”
Told about the poppies featured in the background of the photograph, a spokeswoman for the Army in Scotland said: “We would distance ourselves from anything to do with the KKK. We would distance ourselves from membership of any extremist organisation – because it is against the values of the British Army.”
One social media user commented: “Ah, Loyalists you never stop making me sick.”
Loyalist groups in Belfast are known for their association with groups such as the KKK.
In June this year a Ku Klux Klan flag was put up in the Loyalist area of Island Street in east Belfast.
No-one at the flute band could be contacted for comment.
South Lanarkshire Council said it would not be making any comment.
Edward Hyde, Grand secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said: “What I have seen gives us great concern. It’s unacceptable in any form – the Orange Order would distance itself from anything of that sort.
Mr Hyde said flute bands were autonomous and, therefore, the order could not take any direct action.
He added: “We would distance ourselves from anyone pertaining to be of that group – I don’t even care what it’s supposed to mean to them.
“I can’t stress enough how disturbed I am by that – it’s totally immoral.”