THE Scottish Conservatives selected a member and former “master” of the Orange Order to run in the upcoming local elections, The National can reveal.

This paper was contacted by a constituent concerned that Calum McClean, the Tories’ pick to run for council in Irvine South, “should not be anywhere near” government.

Christina Larsen, an SNP councillor for the same ward, said that while she did not want to comment on individual candidates, the selection was “concerning”.

She said: “Local Government is about giving communities a voice, bringing people together and working as a team to deliver what residents feel best meets the needs in their own localities.

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“I don’t want to comment on any individual candidates, however, it is concerning that anyone seeking to stand for election in May feels that they are able to properly represent and work with their constituents in this way, when they are associated with such a deeply divisive organisation.”

The National understands that McClean was formerly the “master” of the Bourtreehill Orange Lodge, but is currently only a member.

He is also reportedly a member of the Stevenston and Saltcoats Apprentice Boys Club, and was formerly in the “blood and thunder” Newtown Defenders Flute Band.

The Tories did not deny McClean held or had held any of the positions mentioned.

On February 12, the North Ayrshire and Arran Conservatives posted a photo to Facebook showing campaigners having a “great day out leafletting for Calum McClean in Irvine South”.

However, when the party was contacted for comment, they told The National that McClean was no longer their candidate.

The Scottish Tories said this had nothing to do with his association with the Orange Order – but was due to McClean’s work commitments instead.

A Scottish Tory spokesperson said in a statement: “All Scottish Conservative candidates are standing to beat the SNP and deliver on people’s local priorities.

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“Calum McClean decided himself not to stand in this election because of work commitments.”

It comes after Anas Sarwar’s Labour party also faced questions for standing a former leader of the Orange Order in the upcoming council elections.

Henry Dunbar, who served as Orange Lodge chief from 2010 to 2016, has been confirmed as a candidate in Airdrie North.

Anti-sectarian organisations Show Racism the Red Card and Call it Out condemned the move, with the party said to have “opened its doors to the ex-leader of a deeply divisive organisation”.