The Herald Scotland has reported that historian Professor Sir Tom Devine has condemned a new report claiming Scotland Catholics are more economically disadvantaged as 'flawed'.

He claims that "the sectarian beast is in its death throes" and was "the least of Scotland's modern social problems." Professor Sir Tom Devine has said that the academic sudy reflected more about the effects of deindustrialisation in the central belt than religious discrimination.

The study’s authors suggested the situation in Scotland had potentially arisen because it does not have specific legislation to tackle religious inequality similar to that introduced in Northern Ireland.

But Professor Devine said: “The vast majority of Catholics in Scotland are the descendants of Irish immigrants who settled in Glasgow, west of Scotland, west Lothian and Dundee, the areas of Victorian industrialism. These are the regions with the highest rates of multiple deprivation in S because of long term impact of deindustrialisation on employment, living standards and health. The findings therefore essentially reflect where most Catholics live and little else.”

Amongst a raft of findings, the report, which involved experts at Queen's and Ulster Universities in Belfast and the University of Edinburgh, found Catholic men in Scotland were 39 per cent more likely to die between the ages of 25 and 74 than Protestants.

Using a sample of 156,448 Scots and 248,255 people from Northern Ireland, it also found gaps between Catholics and both their counterparts in Northern Ireland and Protestant neighbours in those having degrees, occupying professional jobs, in employment and car ownership.

The study concluded: “In Scotland, Catholics remain at greater socio-economic disadvantage relative to Protestants than in Northern Ireland and are also at mortality disadvantage. These disadvantages may result from sectarian discrimination acting on a much smaller minority group that is without the protection of the well-established anti-discrimination legislation enacted in Northern Ireland.

On the back of the report, Duncan Morrow, the Scottish Government’s expert adviser on sectarianism, again called for Scotland’s equality legislation to be tested and for sectarianism to be included in routine monitoring of inequality.

But Professor Devine added to his criticisms, claiming the report was "historically illiterate" and did not take into account factors such as the impact of disadvantage on Catholics born before 1970. He said that when wider factors were taken into account "and the study corrected, the data ironically confirms Scottish Catholic progress in recent decades".

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