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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Party studies anti-sectarian model
Celtic's Neil Lennon clashes with Mikel Arteta of Rangers
Celtic and Rangers clubs have undertaken initiatives to stamp out sectarianism
The cross-community Alliance Party in Northern Ireland is to meet Glasgow footballing giants Celtic and Rangers to learn about the clubs' attempts to tackle sectarianism.

Delegations from the Alliance Party will travel to Edinburgh and Glasgow next week to discuss anti-sectarian measures introduced in Scotland.

The Old Firm clubs have in recent years supported a number of initiatives to stamp out sectarianism on the football terraces and in the wider community.

The Scottish Parliament has also been active in trying to end sectarianism.

Alliance leader David Ford will meet Donald Gorrie, the Liberal Democrat MSP behind moves to combat sectarianism and hate crime in Scotland, during a visit to Edinburgh next week.

An Alliance party spokesman said another delegation would be in Glasgow next Thursday where it would meet representatives of Rangers and Celtic.

Our sectarianism problem is a great deal bigger than Scotland's and yet they seem to be doing more about it
Alliance spokesman

"The delegation will also meet representatives from the anti-sectarianism organisation Nil By Mouth, Strathclyde Police and Glasgow City Council," he added.

The Alliance spokesman said his party was anxious to learn from the Scottish experience and see how it could be applied to Northern Ireland.

"Basically what we are saying is our sectarianism problem is a great deal bigger than Scotland's and yet they seem to be doing more about it," he added.

"Obviously you cannot translate wholesale to Northern Ireland the policies being adopted by a variety of organisations but we think that a lot can be learned by people in Northern Ireland about how to tackle this problem.

"Scotland is showing a lot of imagination. They are not pussy-footing around as some agencies have done in Northern Ireland including the Office of First and Deputy First Minister at Stormont."

The delegation travelling to Glasgow will include Michael Long, the party's sports spokesman.

The visits will coincide with the launch later next week of the party's response a document on community relations in Northern Ireland.

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