Glasgow City Council needs to take a long hard look at itself. Each person elected to serve this great city is duty bound to honour its motto: Let Glasgow Flourish.
Flourish now means ‘What’s in it for me?’ There is no sign of the humanity or humbleness established by St Mungo, the City’s ancient Christian founder.
This lack of humanity was never more obvious than in the historic first ever hearing of a petition by the year-old petitions committee on Tuesday 7 May 2013.
A cogent and eloquent request was put forward by New Fossils Grandparents Support Group in Glasgow’s East quarter. These kinship carers – mostly grandparents looking after their own grandchildren – said that their children had exactly the same legal status as children taken into foster homes but were being treated very differently. They were asking for equality and justice for children and not for themselves.
Glasgow City Council’s Social Work department provides each foster child with a sizeable allowance to buy beds, clothes, food and treats or whatever that child needs. No similar supportive funding is provided for the children taken in by their own grandparents or other family members.
The situation was described by the Kinship Carers as ’apartheid’ One carer who has two of her own kin children in her household as well as two children placed with her as foster children, said it was ‘night and day’ the difference in what she was able to provide for each.
But what happened at the petitions committee, was simply party political posturing – especially from the Labour side. Five SNP councillors were heavily outnumbered by the Labour Group councillors – one of whom was out of the meeting room for most of the meeting- but returned in time to vote.
The kinship carers campaign is only one of several groups of people so concerned about the issues affecting them that they have taken to the streets to highlight the problems they face.
It is clear in Glasgow that more groups are having to take direct action to get attention paid to important inequalities. But even with that, where answers might lie in the hands of Glasgow City Council’s elected representatives, these campaigners are fighting a losing battle because of the party political imbalances within the council chambers.
Voters of this troubled city need to recognise that nothing will change for them until the people elected by them are truly of the mind to ‘Let Glasgow Flourish,’ by working together for the good of EVERY citizen, not just the partisan few.
The story of Glasgow is stopping shoppers in their tracks at St Enoch’s Centre. And Saturday 14 January between 12 noon and 4pm is the final chance to catch the beautifully choreographed promenade performance by dancers from Visual Statement. They are re-telling the tale of the city’s coat of arms – the Bird, the Bell, the Fish and the Tree. The inspirational performance by Nicola Gilmour, Brian McIntyre, Pauline McGlinchey and Cheree Thompson as the respective symbols, along with a dozen other dancers aged from 10, is a modern symphonic piece by Danny Dobbie assisted by Brian McIntyre and Wendie Reid. A movable sculpture commissioned by Visual Statement and designed by Andy Scott will add an extra dimension as the dancers move in and out and on to it. The music is the tranquil ‘A Little Scottish Fantasy’ by Vanessa Mae and ‘For Unto Us A Child Is Born’ by Handel. This is one of the many events during a week long celebration of St Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint. Also known as St Kentigern, the medieval monk’s miracles involved, at different times, a bird, a tree and a fish. On Friday 13 January, around 350 young people will see a performance of the tales by five Glasgow schools with a senior pupil from Lourdes Secondary being the compere in the City Chambers. That afternoon the third Molendinar Awards will be presented to celebrate Glasgow’s local history and archaeology as seen by school children through their own local links. More than 30 schools have entered with the final 12 schools being showcased at the awards presentation in the city’s Banqueting Hall. Molendinar is the name of the burn that runs into the Clyde and it was alongside it, near what is now the High Street area, that St Mungo (St Kentigern) is thought to have settled. Framed certificates will be presented for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each of the three categories – Pre 5: Primary 3; Primary 4: Primary 7 and Secondary. Winners will also receive a plaque to display in their school. The Molendinar Awards project brings to the community an awareness of Glasgow’s rich cultural heritage and is designed to support schools in the work they do linked to the local and wider community. Topics schools work on include local history, local family, local developments, school history, the community, tourist Glasgow, modern life and festivals in the city. Entries range from posters, power point presentations and DVD animations to songs and poems. Bailie Jean McFadden, Executive Member for Education, is delighted by the enthusiasm shown by pupils and hopes to see more schools participating next year. She said: ‘The Molendinar Awards are a tremendous opportunity for our schools. We have some very creative and talented young people as shown by the standard of entries this year. I know the judges had some very hard decisions to make. I hope the enthusiasm continues and that we will see more and more young people participating in the Molendinar Awards over the next few years.’ Glasgow City Council Leader, Councillor Gordon Matheson, will join Bailie McFadden in presenting the winning pupils with their framed certificates on Friday. He said: ‘The pupils have enjoyed all aspects of this competition and I’m sure that they will be very excited to find out who the winners are.’
A festival of events reflecting the vibrancy of Glasgow’s medieval life, launches on Saturday 8 January in St Andrew’s in the Square with a multi cultural gala concert ‘St Mungo’s Bairns’.
Jeely Piece song writer Adam McNaughton, Irish ceili band Four Provinces, West African Drummers AKAYA, Gaelic singer Maggie MacInnes, Neilston and District Pipe Band and the pan-African group Glasgow Highlife Band, will all take part that evening.
Organised by Glasgow City Council and Historic Glasgow, the St Mungo’s Festival runs till Sunday 16 January and celebrates the life of Glasgow’s Patron Saint who is also known as St Kentigern. Full details are at www.stmungofestival.com
The saint’s mother was St Thenew a name which has evolved into St Enoch so the St Enoch Shopping Centre has happily supported the Festival. Said Susan Nicol, General Manager of the Centre: ‘The St Mungo Festival is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Glasgow. We are delighted to be a part of this important event, supporting the community and the city’s rich heritage.’ Dance company Visual Statement will perform a specially commissioned ballet ‘The Tree’ to tell another part of the story of Glasgow’s Coat of Arms which incorporates a tree, a bird, a bell and a gold ring. Their performances can be seen at St Enoch Centre on Friday 14 January at 12.30pm and Saturday 15 January at 12.30pm. The Centre and the Mitchell Library will also host an exhibition of some of the city’s medieval treasures.
Among other Festival highlights are an ecumenical service at Glasgow Cathedral, Mungo’s Nature Pilgrimage to visit places the Saint would have seen and, for the the first time, the Molendiner Awards. To be made annually from this year, the awards will support the work schools are doing to use history and recognition of the past to link with the local and wider community today.
Included in the Festival is the annual Jimmy McHugh Memorial Concert in Woodside Halls, St George’s Cross, G20 on Saturday 15 January. The late Jimmy McHugh was a huge musical influence in the Irish communities and his memorial is this annual concert which is always a sell out. For further information see website: www.jimmymchugh.com
The rare sound of Medieval music in praise of Glasgow’s Patron Saint, St Kentigern, was heard in Glasgow Cathedral in January.
‘It made my hair stand on end just to hear it,’ said Bailie Catherine McMaster, chair of Glasgow City Council’s Local History and archaeology working group who introduced the event. She said: ‘This connects the past with our present and helps us to learn our own story.’
St Kentigern – a sixth century holy man known also as St Mungo – became known as the first bishop of Glasgow and the city’s patron saint. His legendary miracles are remembered in the bird, tree, bell and fish with golden ring, as seen on the city’s coat of arms.
The music was selected from chants of the Office (service) which were composed especially to celebrate his feast day which falls on 13 January. The manuscript which contains this Office is known as the Sprouston Breviary dated around 1300 and is housed in the National Library of Scotland. It is the only known manuscript which contains both the text and the music for his feast.
Known to a limited number of scholars familiar with early editions of the chant texts, it was brought to public attention during the BBC radio series, Scotland’s Music, by John Purser. Following that, Alan and Rebecca Tavener of Cappella Nova commissioned Dr Greta-Mary Hair and Dr Betty Knott-Sharpe to prepare a performing edition of chants from the Kentigern Office for a concert and recording.
The performance in Glasgow Cathedral was given by Canty and Schola Glasguensis – professional Medieval singers and musicians. Canty director, Rebecca Tavener said: ‘Performances of medieval material would not be possible without the tireless expertise and generosity of very special scholars, Dr Greta-Mary Hair who transcribed and edited the music and Dr Betty Knott-Sharpe, editor and translator of the texts.’
Afterwards, Dr Hair told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘It is always gratifying to hear a good, live performance after having worked on the manuscript.’
* The entire Office will be published later this year by Musica Scotica Trust.