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What is Action on Sectarianism?

YouthLink Scotland, the National Agency for Youth Work has set up the first independent public website designed to challenge sectarianism in Scotland, supported by the Scottish Government.

Accessible on computers, tablets and mobile phones, this website will act as a central gateway to information and resources tackle sectarianism in Scotland by providing tailored user access to four distinct target groups:

Children and Young people

Adults: parents, carers, community groups

AoS Network: teachers, youth workers, academics, policy officers, community activists

Following the incident where a priest and parishioners were subjected to abuse outside of St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow, a number of requests have been made to review the route of orange walks in the area.

Fears were raised regarding future Orange Walks in August 2018 which will again pass through area, from the parish pastoral councils of St Mary’s and St Alphonsus in the Calton area of Glasgow.

They said: "Despite a police presence, those involved in, and following the parade, were able to approach Canon Tom and the parishioners exiting the church. This happened against a backdrop of sectarian singing and sectarian insults.

"He was verbally assaulted and spat upon a number of times and members of the congregation, many who are frail and elderly, were subjected to the same treatment.

"While we welcome the statement by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland condemning the assaults on Canon Tom, as a community we are distressed and deeply saddened that in the 21st century we are unable to exercise human rights of freedom of association, freedom of assembly and the right to celebrate our faith in public: free from intimidation and violence."

Glasgow City Council condemned the attack and said they would reconsider the organisation of the parades. They also urged anyone with information to come forward to the police.

A GCC spokeswoman said: "A meeting with council officers will be held this week as it's perhaps time to review our procedures in light of a number of factors.

"We will also continue to liaise with Police Scotland, organisers, the Scottish government, third parties and stakeholders as part of the council's processions' code of conduct.

"Our aim is always to strike a reasonable balance between protecting the fundamental right of individuals and organisations to organise and participate in public processions, and the need to minimise disruption to the wider community by protecting the rights of all of Glasgow's citizens to go about their business without unnecessary disturbance and interference."

However, the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland have concerns about their right to express their religious beliefs if there are restrictions placed on the routes.

A spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said: "Limiting freedom of expression is a threat to a multi-faith society that we should resist at all costs.

"Instead, if we work together to target the minority in society that are out to cause trouble or offence, then that would allow us to work more closely with other faiths and groups to share a better understanding of each other's beliefs.

"From our own perspective, we are ready to work with others to gain this understanding. If Scotland is indeed a country of many faiths, many people, and many cultures, then we should be awarded the same rights and freedoms of others who choose to celebrate their own ideals."

For more information see https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-44794667

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