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Rangers chants don’t prove sectarianism is problem in Scotland, says historian

A top historian has claimed it’s “nonsense” that Rangers fans singing offensive chants proves sectarianism remains a significant problem in Scotland.

Politicians slammed a group of supporters after an “racist anti-Irish march” was filmed before the Old Firm game at Ibrox on Sunday.

Police Scotland launched an investigation after footage was posted on social media which shows a group walking through Glasgow singing “the famine is over, why don’t you go home”.

But Sir Tom Devine has argued it is not accurate to claim that religious bigotry continues to blight communities significantly.

The professor, whose four grandparents were Irish, said evidence pointed to sectarianism playing only a minor role in society.

Sir Tom Devine has written about sectarianism in Scotland

“To blame what happened onSunday on a national disease of continuing sectarianism is manifest nonsense,” Devine wrote in The Times.

“The march does not reflect a Scotland-wide problem. It is a problem specific to fans with a clear recent history of public outrage.”

Devine added: “In 2015, the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism concluded that only ‘remnants’ of sectarian attitudes were left.

“Hate crime statistics tell a similar story.”

He continued: “Sunday should be a tipping point. It is now up to the club, police and judiciary to ensure that Glasgow never sees the like again.”

SNP MSP James Dornan has lodged a motion at Holyrood calling for a summit to beheld to tackle anti-Irish prejudice.

The member for Glasgow Cathcart has urged fellow MSPs to “unequivocally condemn and abhor the anti-Irish racism and religious bigotry exhibited by supporters of Rangers.”

SNP minister Humza Yousaf tweeted: “For those hurling racist abuse at our Irish community telling them to “go home” – Scotland is their home.

” Disgusted to once again see anti-Irish racism rear its ugly head. Solidarity with our Irish community. I am sure Police Scot will hold those responsible to account.”

In a statement responding to the march footage, a spokesman for Rangers said: “Following an incident on Sunday, we repeat that Rangers FC condemns all forms of racism, sectarianism and discrimination.

“We are working with the police to identify any season ticket holders.

“As a club, we are proud of our Everyone Anyone campaign, led through the Rangers Charity Foundation, our work with a wide range of stakeholders and our on-going dialogue with the Scottish Government.

“Discrimination of all forms is a societal issue within Scotland.

“Those with influence within Scottish discourse should put their energy into eradicating this very serious issue across all sections of Scottish society who suffer sectarianism, discrimination and racism of any form.”

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