Sectarianism in Glasgow: Wikis


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Sectarianism in Glasgow takes the form of religious and political sectarian rivalry between Roman Catholics and Protestants. It is reinforced by the fierce rivalry between the two Old Firm football clubs: Rangers F.C. and Celtic F.C. [1] Members of the public appear divided on the strength of the relationship between football and sectarianism.[1]



Surveys comparing people's ideas about sectarianism with their actual day-to-day personal experience show that the perception of sectarianism is much stronger than its occurrence in reality, and that the city's problems with health, education and social exclusion are of much greater daily concern to most Glaswegians.[2] However, the Herald journalist Doug Gillon has written that "the sectarian intolerance which divides Scottish society [...] is rooted in anti-Irish racism."[3]

In 1996, Jason Campbell, a 23-year-old Protestant, was convicted of the unprovoked murder of 16-year-old Mark Scott, who was wearing a Celtic F.C. jersey, although covered by a jacket at the time. Campbell waited until Scott had walked past the bar doorway in which he was standing, sneaked up behind Scott and cut his throat with a carpet fitter's knife.[4] Scott died instantly. Subsequent floral tributes to the youth laid at the spot of his murder were defaced and destroyed by loyalists and Rangers fans.[4] After being convicted, Campbell applied to be transferred to The Maze prison in Northern Ireland because he believed he would be given political status.[4] However, this request was rejected on the basis that his actions were not political.[4] Campbell's father, Colin, and uncle, William, were jailed for life in 1979 for blowing up two Irish bars in Glasgow which were full of people on a Saturday night. A charge of blowing up a third bar was not proven.[4] Campbell admitted belonging to the proscribed loyalist terrorist group Ulster Volunteer Force.[4]

Those are just a few examples of sectarian violence in Glasgow.[5] A 2006 article stated that sectarian incidents reported to police (largely verbal abuse) increased by 50% to 440 over an 18-month period. The article stated that 64% of the 726 cases between 1 January 2004 and 30 June 2005 were motivated by hatred against Catholics, and by hatred against Protestants in most of the remaining cases (i.e. 31%).[6][7] Although these figures are not based upon the religion of the perpetrator, Professor Steve Bruce stated that the figures showed that religious intolerance was evenly shared among Catholics and Protestants, as the two-to-one ratio of incidents was roughly the same as the size of those populations in the west of Scotland.[6] Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien said the figures indicated that Catholics were much more likely to be the subject of sectarianism than any other group.[6]

It has been reflected that figures provided by Nil by Mouth have been inaccurate regarding ‘sectarian’ incidents but are taken to be factual by serious newspapers. Altering certain aspects of incidents to reflect sectarianism has been seen as an attempt by staff at Nil by Mouth to maintain a heightened awareness of sectarianism. This heightened awareness allows staff to keep their career interest of finding sectarian violence. Sectarian violence / incidents can be exaggerated and misreported by the media. ‘There is no mystery about why journalists exaggerate, it sells copies. Newsprintworld is a dreadful place of fear and loathing.’[8]

Bruce et al. also claim sectarianism is a myth since Scots desire to imagine their country as a "gritty, seamy, violent place", as in, for example, the TV series Taggart. Whilst Professor Bruce suggests that sectarianism in Scotland is overstated,[9] other researchers from the University of Glasgow have found evidence of anti-Catholic discrimination in Scotland. Walls and Williams (2005) claim that Bruce and co-authors seek to support their allegations that sectarianism is a myth by “misrepresentation” of the quantitative evidence.[10]


Sectarianism in Glasgow is visible in the rivalry between the supporters of Glasgow's two main football clubs, Celtic and Rangers, collectively known as the Old Firm. One study showed that 74% of Celtic supporters identify themselves as Catholic, whereas only 4% identify as Protestant; for Rangers fans, the figures are 5% and 65%, respectively.[1] At Rangers' Ibrox Stadium, the Union Flag and Ulster banner are often displayed, whilst at Celtic Park, the Irish tricolour prevails.[1] Rangers' decision to sign a Roman Catholic and former Celtic star player, Mo Johnston, in 1989 proved controversial. Although not the first Catholic to play for Rangers, Johnston was by far the highest-profile openly Catholic player to do so since World War I.[11][12] Finn (1991) argues that Rangers had acquired anti-Catholic prejudices before Celtic had been formed.[13]

Celtic, throughout its history, has had a policy of signing players from any religion. While many Celtic fans are Catholic, some of the key figures in the club's history (including John Thompson, Bertie Peacock, Jock Stein,Kenny Dalglish, Danny McGrain and Henrik Larsson) have come from a Protestant background.

Both Celtic and Rangers have launched campaigns to stamp out sectarian violence and songs. Celtic's Bhoys Against Bigotry, Rangers' Follow With Pride (previously called Pride Over Prejudice) and the cross-club Sense Over Sectarianism campaigns have attempted to reduce the connection between the Old Firm and sectarianism.[14]

One Rangers spokesman used the term "90-minute bigot" to explain the problem of religious bigotry among supporters, suggesting that religious abuse was limited to actions during football matches, and did not represent true sectarianism.[15]

Research, however, suggests that football is not the main source of sectarianism in Glasgow. An audit from the Crown Office in 2003 of religiously aggravated crimes in Scotland found that merely 14% of these were related to football. Given that 54% of all crimes happened in Glasgow, at most a quarter of religiously aggravated crimes in Glasgow were football related.[16]

Unionism vs. Irish republicanism

The Orangemen of Glasgow (members of the Protestant Orange Lodges), parade through the city around the historic The Twelfth (12 July), playing flutes and drums and singing songs in a celebration of the victory of William of Orange's army over James Stuart's army at the Battle of the Boyne. These marches are often a source of tension (and are now subject to stricter controls as a result), with each side accusing the other of supporting Northern Ireland-based paramilitary groups such as the Irish Republican Army or Ulster Defence Association.[17] Irish republican marches use much the same format to commemorate various important dates in the history of Irish republicanism, such as the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the 1981 hunger strike. The two main Irish republican organisations in Glasgow are Cairde Na hEireann and the West Of Scotland Band Alliance, both of which claim to represent the Irish community in Scotland.

According to The Review of Marches and Parades in Scotland by Sir John Orr, of the 338 notified processions in Glasgow in 2003 nearly 85% were from Orange organisations (Orr 2005, p. 67).[18] A report into Orange parades in Glasgow from Strathclyde Police in October 2009, highlighted the increased number of common, serious and racially motivated assaults associated with the marches. These included assaults against the police. Also there was a rise in weapons possession, vandalism, breach of the peace and street drinking.[19]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Sectarianism in Glasgow" (PDF). Glasgow City Council. January 2003. Retrieved 2006-08-24.  
  2. ^ Bruce, Steve (15 February 2005). "Beware myths that tarnish 'sectarian' Scots". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2006-08-24.  
  3. ^ Friendly timing could not be worse as Spain try to cast off racism shame
  4. ^ a b c d e f
  5. ^ "A Chronology of the Conflict - 1997". Conflict Archive on the Internet. 23 March 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-24.  
  6. ^ a b c "Catholics bear brunt of Scottish sectarian abuse". 'The Guardian. 2006-11-28.,,1958615,00.html. Retrieved 2006-11-28.  
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Bruce, Steve (2004). Sectarianism in Scotland. Edinburgh University press. p. 139. ISBN 0-7486-1911-9.  
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ Murray, Bill (1984). The Old Firm - Sectarianism, Sport and Society in Scotland. John Donald Publishers. p. 64. ISBN 0-8597-6542-3.  
  12. ^ Kuper, Simon (1996). Football Against the Enemy. Orion Publishing Group. p. 3. ISBN 0-7528-4877-1.  
  13. ^ [4]
  14. ^ "Bigotry puzzle for Old Firm". BBC News ( 2001-10-11. Retrieved 2006-08-30. "Celtic and Rangers have teamed up to support a campaign to fight religious bigotry. But the Glasgow football rivals admitted they did not know how they can go about eradicating sectarian chants among their own supporters."  
  15. ^ "'First steps' on end to bigotry". BBC News ( 2005-02-14. Retrieved 2007-01-14. "Lawrence Macintyre, head of safety for Rangers FC, said: "There's a thing in a football ground called a 90-minute bigot, someone who has got a friend of an opposite religion next door to them. But for that 90 minutes they shout foul religious abuse at each other and we've got to handle in the first instance the 90-minute bigot.""  
  16. ^ [5]
  17. ^ BBC NEWS | Scotland | Marches may be banned in Glasgow
  18. ^ [6]
  19. ^ [7]


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