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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Warning follows Old Firm violence
Fans at Old Firm game
Arrests were made during and after the game
Scotland's justice minister has warned that tough legislation could be introduced to combat sectarianism after trouble during and after an Old Firm game.

Jim Wallace said the trouble which surrounded Sunday's match between Celtic and Rangers would not be tolerated in a modern Scotland.

Strathclyde Police made nearly 40 arrests in Glasgow during and after the Old Firm game.


If we believe that legislation can help us to tackle sectarianism then we will not hesitate to go down that road

Jim Wallace
Justice Minister
First Minister Jack McConnell also condemned sectarian violence and said it had no place in Scottish society.

Mr McConnell and his deputy Mr Wallace held talks about the issue on Monday morning.

The justice minister said a working group was examining the need for legislation to deal with religious hatred north of the border.

Mr Wallace said: "Ministers will consider the views of the group very carefully but if we believe that legislation can help us to tackle sectarianism then we will not hesitate to go down that road."

Changing the law would strengthen the existing legal position and send "a clear signal" that religious hatred had no place in Scotland, he added.

'A great shame'

Those views were echoed by Peter McLean from anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth.

"It certainly sounds very promising that people like Jack McConnell and Jim Wallace are now talking about sectarianism being on the agenda and putting meaningful moves in place within the parliament to address it," he said.

Seventeen arrests were made inside Celtic Park on Sunday, with a further 20 outside the ground.

Rangers' Lorenzo Amoruso and Celtic's Henrik Larsson
A pulsating encounter ended in a 3-3 draw
Strathclyde Police said other arrests were made throughout the day in match-related trouble.

The force is now calling for the re-introduction of earlier kick-offs.

"There was no doubt that there was increased drinking, that was quite evident," said Chief Superintendent Kevin Smith.

"Part of that must come down to the time of the match, which was a 2.15 kick-off.

"Previous matches in recent years have been much earlier, at 12 or 1 o'clock, and that is a much more successful formula as far as the police are concerned."

There were a number of stabbing incidents and fights after the game, which finished in a 3-3 draw.

Players' scuffle

Police said that a 37-year-old man was the subject of a report to the procurator fiscal after a firework was allegedly let off during the game.

"A firework was thrown in to the pitch just on the whistle of half time and went off," said a Celtic spokeswoman.

"No-one was hurt by the explosion but it came very close to stewards and police and could have easily fallen short and landed in the crowd."

There was also a scuffle between players at half-time, although neither club would comment on the incident.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Scotland's Alexandra Mackenzie reports
"There are strong hints that the executive has had enough"
See also:

06 Oct 02 | Scot Prem
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
28 Aug 00 | Scotland
03 May 99 | UK
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