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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 19:25 GMT
Fans and McConnell tackle bigotry
Jack McConnell meeting supporters
The first minister and justice minister met with supporters
The first minister has held a meeting with members of Celtic and Rangers supporters clubs to discuss ways of tackling sectarianism.

All sides said it had been a positive meeting and have agreed to meet again.

Among the ideas raised during the talks were exclusion orders preventing those who cause sectarian trouble from attending matches.

Jack McConnell has announced plans to host a summit on sectarianism next month.

Representatives of the Old Firm clubs will join church leaders and local authorities at the summit.

We are considering the introduction of banning orders and that would hit people where it hurts
Cathy Jamieson
Justice Minister
Sectarian chanting and abuse have been features of Old Firm encounters but there has been a growing momentum for a crackdown.

Mr McConnell said supporters' input into tackling an issue which he has dubbed "Scotland's shame" is vital.

The first minister and Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson's meeting with fans at Bute House in Edinburgh took place ahead of Celtic and Rangers' Scottish Cup tie on Sunday.

Mr McConnell said: "Over the last two years, I have had very constructive discussions with both football clubs, the SFA, police, local authorities and others about trying to tackle, reduce and hopefully eventually eliminate sectarianism from Scotland.

Old Firm fans
The plans aim to curb trouble between clubs
"I think we all know there is a significant element of that existing in Scotland that is still based around the clubs and the behaviour of the supporters.

"Therefore, I think it is really important we have a dialogue and a chance to exchange views about how we can work together to take that agenda forward and make Scotland a better place, not just on occasions of Old Firm games but more importantly on a regular basis...across Scotland."

The number of fans from both sides was carefully balanced so there were two supporters from the Celtic Supporters Association, one from the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs, one from the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs and four from the Rangers Supporters Assembly.

Martin Rose of the Scottish Federation of Football Supporters said all supporters had an important role to play in ending sectarianism.

And Ms Jamieson warned: "For those who continue to disrupt matches or cause problems then we are considering the introduction of banning orders and that would hit people where it hurts - they wouldn't be allowed to attend matches if they were involved in inappropriate behaviour."

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