BY Peter Diamond | March 23 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

5-MSPS

MSPs say sectarianism in Scotland is primarily an anti-Catholic problem

Two MSPs have called on the Scottish Government to accept that Scotland’s sectarianism problem is primarily one of anti-Catholicism

Fulton MacGregor (far right) said anti-Catholicism is one of a number of leading factors creating the issues Scotland has with sectarianism, while Elaine Smith (right) urged the government to recognise anti-Catholic hate crime.

Mr MacGregor, the MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, who has been an SNP member of the Scottish Parliament since 2012, believes more needs to be done to tackle the plight of bigotry in Scotland following last week’s repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (2012).

Speaking at Holyrood on Thursday March 15, Mr MacGregor cited a number of sectarian incidents from his constituency, which have occurred within recent months, including the attack on the Blessed Sacrament and monstrance at St Patrick’s RC Church, Coatbridge and graffiti scrawled onto the town’s cenotaph.

Mr MacGregor said: “I believe that anti-Catholicism is one of a number of leading factors creating the issues we have in Scotland with sectarianism.

“I think there has been good progress over the years in reducing the problem but there is still a long way to go to tackle this shame on our nation.

“I’ve always believed the best way to tackle sectarianism is through education.

“I’ve been impressed with the work Nil By Mouth have carried out in this area by going to primary schools including in schools in my constituency. I think this is definitely the best way forward.”

Last week at Holyrood MSP Mr MacGregor asked Annabelle Ewing, minister for community safety and legal affairs, what the Scottish Government is doing to tackle sectarian-related crime.

Ms Ewing, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, responded by saying: “I am aware of the terrible incident that occurred in Coatbridge. It was an act of mindless vandalism that was deeply offensive to the local community.

“The government is clear that any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“We have been working consistently with communities to address the attitudes that can lead to such behaviour, and we will continue to do so.”

The Scottish Government said they have invested £13 million since 2012 to help tackle sectarianism.

Ms Ewing added: “We will continue to work with all churches and faith groups and with others to ensure that we are working together collectively to tackling sectarianism in Scotland.”

A Labour MSP also took part into the debate at Holyrood, asking if the issue in Scotland is not sectarianism but one of anti-Catholicism.

Elaine Smith, MSP for Central Scotland said: “Is the minister aware that, although successive Scottish Governments have put significant resources into tackling the symptoms of sectarianism, there has been an increase in religious hate crime during that period, with the latest figures showing that Roman Catholics were subject to more attacks than all other religious groups combined, and that that is an increasing trend?

Ms Smith added: “Will the minister now accept Archbishop Tartaglia’s words from some years ago, when he said that ‘our problem is not so much sectarianism but anti-Catholicism,’ and take targeted action to specifically address discrimination against Roman Catholics in Scotland?”

Annabelle Ewing said: “I assure Elaine Smith that we take religious bigotry, whatever its form, very seriously indeed. It is unacceptable in 21st century Scotland.”

– peter@sconews.co.uk

 

 

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