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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
New pact aims to beat the bigots
Bloody Sunday march in Glasgow
Trouble broke out at a parade in Glasgow marking Bloody Sunday
Representatives from police forces, local authorities, unions and the Orange Order have teamed up to tackle sectarianism.

The organisations have publicly signed a joint statement agreeing to work together to tackle the issue.

One joint aim is to ensure that marches and parades are not taken over by "thugs and bigots".

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said "sectarian bullies" had been tolerated for too long.

The Scottish Executive said the organisations were coming together to "send a clear message to the thugs and the sectarian bigots who seek to take over legitimate expressions of history and tradition".

Speaking at a meeting of the organisations in Glasgow on Tuesday, Mrs Jamieson said the time had come "to get the hangers-on off our backs".

We will not accept the streets of Scotland to be taken over by drunken and abusive louts
Cathy Jamieson
Justice minister

The document signed by the groups states: "Those who organise marches and parades, the authorities responsible for the welfare of communities, the police responsible for keeping order and the Scottish Executive all agree that the abusive behaviour associated with marches and parades has no place in a modern multi-cultural and multi-faith Scotland.

"We all agree that the time has come for this problem to be tackled once and for all.

"This statement is a clear message of our intent to work together to deal with the abusive individuals who are not welcome and will not be tolerated at marches and parades in Scotland."

Key points agreed were:

  • To exert whatever influence we can to ensure that those individuals who take part in marches and parades behave in a responsible and law-abiding manner

  • To use whatever means we can to advise spectators that abusive or violent behaviour will not be tolerated

  • To ensure that illegal symbols, slogans, uniforms or paraphernalia associated with banned groups or paramilitary organisations are not permitted on the march

  • To work in partnership to identify and deal with those individuals whose behaviour is unacceptable or causing distress to ordinary members of the community

  • To proportionate action being taken to deal with those individuals who will not desist from sectarian, racist and abusive verbal or physical behaviour.

Mrs Jamieson welcomed the commitment shown by those at the meeting.

She added: "For too long we have allowed the bullies, the thugs and the sectarian bigots to take over legitimate expressions of history and tradition - and get away with unacceptable behaviour.

"This is not a token or a hollow gesture. By signing this pledge we are sending a clear collective signal - we will not accept the streets of Scotland to be taken over by drunken and abusive louts."

Flute march
March organisers promised to work together to avoid problems

Peter Maclean, from the anti-sectarian campaign group Nil By Mouth, said an action plan to tackle religious bigotry was already in operation but he believed the signing still sent out an important message.

Speaking to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "It's a good step to take.

"We live in a world where freedom of speech exists, but at the same time we also live in a world that won't tolerate sectarian or bigoted behaviour."

Represented at the signing ceremony were Ian Wilson, grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge for Scotland; Jim Slaven, national organiser for republican organisation Cairde na hÉireann; Katrina Purcell, chair of the STUC; Kevin Smith, assistant chief constable of Strathclyde Police; Jim Coleman, of Glasgow Council and David Saunders, of North Lanarkshire Council.

See some views on the likely impact of the agreement

Can Scotland beat the bigots?
02 May 06 |  Have Your Say
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29 Jul 05 |  Scotland
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19 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Children urged to combat bigotry
22 Mar 05 |  Scotland
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14 Feb 05 |  Scotland
'First steps' on end to bigotry
14 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Fans and McConnell tackle bigotry
07 Jan 05 |  Scotland

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