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Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 05:47 GMT 06:47 UK

UK: Scotland

Violent reminder of sectarianism

Thomas McFadden died on Bankhall Street in Govanhill

By BBC Scotland Home Affairs Correspondent Reevel Alderson

The murder of a Celtic fan at the hands of a Rangers supporter brought a violent reminder of sectarianism in Scotland.

In Bankhall Street in the Govanhill district on 29 May, teenager Thomas McFadden was stabbed to death in a brawl.

BBC Scotland's Home Affairs Correspondent Reeval Alderson looks at sectarianism in Glasgow
In that same street, on that same afternoon, Rangers fans David Hutton and Peter Rushford marked their club's Cup final win over arch rivals Celtic.

But for Hutton and Rushford their elation at Rangers' victory during a heated match was not confined to a few celebratory pints and a handful of rowdy soccer songs.

The pair were picked up by police and charged in connection with the death of Mr McFadden, 16.

[ image: David Hutton was given life]
David Hutton was given life
On Tuesday, Hutton, 21, was jailed for life for murder and Rushford, also 21, was sent to prison for a year for assault.

The bloody event in which Mr McFadden died was one of the sorriest episodes in the history of a religious divide involving the city's Catholics and Protestants.

Football has been its major vehicle of expression.

Accusations of bigotry were levelled at Rangers vice-chairman, Donald Findlay, who was videoed singing Loyalist songs. The flamboyant QC resigned his position and apologised for his public display.

That event formed part of the background to claims by one of Scotland's leading composers, James MacMillan, that there is still a strong anti-Catholic bias in Scotland.

[ image: Peter Rushford was convicted of assault]
Peter Rushford was convicted of assault
His views were in the main dismissed as extreme, but the murder trial shows that the problems created by religious bigotry still exist.

At Edinburgh University, sociologist Michael Rosie is researching the history of sectarianism in Scotland.

Posters from the 1930s show attempts to end it have been around for some time. But he says much of what is classed as sectarianism can be more simply explained.

Mr Rosie said: "To take bigotry and put it in the context of drunken rowdy football fans is to incorrectly give it properties of sectarianism which it does not have."

Both Celtic and Rangers have backed campaigns to wipe out the sectarian followings their teams have - but old habits die hard and pleas for tolerance have been shown to fall on deaf ears.

A campaign to eradicate racism from the Scottish game has been more successful and those behind it say education could be the key to tackling sectarianism too.

But for the family of Thomas McFadden it is too late - their son was the latest victim in the tribal warfare which goes by the name of Glasgow football rivalry.

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