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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 10:46 GMT
Efforts stepped up to end bigotry
Campaign poster
The executive has been working to tackle sectarian crime
Ministers are to publish new plans to tackle sectarianism in Scotland, particularly in football.

A summit meeting in Glasgow will hear how new laws have already helped crack down on religious bigotry.

The Scottish Executive said it wanted to build on this to create a culture where sectarianism is unacceptable.

The meeting follows a summit held two years ago at which First Minister Jack McConnell described sectarianism as Scotland's "secret shame".

This summit is mainly about publicity it's not about anything really practical
Harry Conroy
Editor, Scottish Catholic Observer

Representatives of Rangers and Celtic football clubs will discuss the issues with the first minister, Roman Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Progress so far includes new anti-bigotry laws giving courts new sentencing powers, including the ability to ban offenders from football grounds.

But Mr McConnell believes more must be done.

He wants to create a new culture rather than curbing the existing one.

In particular, he will publish a new strategy for tackling sectarianism in football.

'Thugs and louts'

Mr McConnell could find himself at odds with Cardinal O'Brien, who last month said concentrating on football ignored one of the underlying causes of bigotry which he said was "blatant anti-Catholicism".

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said changes were under way across Scotland.

We feel education is the key to bring about the cultural shift that is required
Richard Benjamin
Nil By Mouth

"Not only has the problem been highlighted, people are now accepting there is a problem," she said.

"Football clubs are undertaking a number of initiatives, we have work going on in schools and have changes in legislation that will help crack down on sectarian and bigoted behaviour.

"I hope the summit will see us move onto the next phase, to begin to built a culture that is more tolerant and respectful of other people's points of view and we continue to crack down on the thugs and the louts who get involved in bigoted abusive behaviour."

The minister said sectarianism was not an issue for football but a wider issue for society.

Richard Benjamin, of anti-sectarian group Nil by Mouth, said serious investment was needed to tackle bigotry.

"We feel education is the key to bring about the cultural shift that is required," he added.

Harry Conroy, editor of Scottish Catholic Observer, dismissed the summit as a publicity stunt.

"The Scottish Executive has done a lot on publicity but I don't think they've done too much in practical terms," he said.

"The victims of sectarianism in Scotland are mainly Catholics.

"The real problem is the nitty gritty work on the ground."




SEE ALSO
Row over religious crime figures
27 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Football fans voice bigotry views
16 Nov 06 |  Glasgow and West
Minister shares anti-bigotry plan
05 Oct 06 |  Scotland
Rangers captain's chants warning
22 Sep 06 |  Glasgow and West

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