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Scottish Church helped foment anti-Irish racism

It has taken death threats to Neil Lennon and other Celtic players and supporters to break the silence that usually hides Scotland's sectarian problem.

In 2006, when Uefa first investigated Rangers for sectarian singing, it concluded that it could not punish the club as there was a peculiar acceptance of sectarianism in Scotland.

In my experience, most sectarianism in our country could be better described as anti-Irish racism, and has been with us for a long time.

The high-water mark came in the years between the world wars when the Church of Scotland annually approved committee reports demanding the repatriation of the racially inferior Roman Catholic Irish.

Scots RCs escaped this proposed ethnic cleansing, as did Irish Protestants, whom one church report described thus: 'They are of the same race as ourselves and of the same faith and are readily assimilated to the Scottish population.'

This agenda was preached from pulpits for many decades.

The Church showed little remorse for its part in dividing society until 2002, when it admitted that its policies was 'racism akin to the "rivers of blood" speech of Enoch Powell in the 1960s'.

People like me who complain of anti-Irish racism - such as racist singing by Rangers fans - to the authorities are treated to platitudes about football sectarianism, which ignore the word 'racist'.

As this residual racist problem was initially caused by the Church of Scotland and the Government, they should fix it.

TOM MINOGUE

Dunfermline

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