FEATURE SECTARIAN ISM
cots. especially Glaswegians. have become hardened to levels of sectarianism that would shock people elsewhere in mainland Britain. Television producer Alan Clements knows this from the reaction of programming chiefs after he spent eighteen months investigating the problem for Channel 4.
One half of independent television production company Wark Clements — his wife Kirsty Wark is the other — he ran into problems when he showed commissioning editors an advance copy of Football, Fair/z Am! F lutes. a programme for the series Witness.
‘The language used and the violent thoughts and attitudes which appear surprised them.‘ says Clements. ‘I think if you live in Scotland you get used to it. We were debating issues like, how often can you say “Fuck the Pope” or “Fuck the Queen“? It isn‘t such a shocking thing in Glasgow. but if you live in Coventry or Milton
"We were debating issues like, how often can you say "Fuck the Pope" or "Fuck the Queen"? It isn't such a shocking thing in Glasgow, but if you live in Coventry or Milton Keynes, you are quite appalled by it.‘
Keynes. you are quite appalled by it.’
For English audiences. sectarianism in Northern Ireland is an accepted fact, but they have difficulty accepting it happens closer to home. claims Clements. Why should English viewers acknowledge Scotland’s sectarian problem when Scots aren‘t prepared to discuss it themselves?
‘lt is a great untold story. says the Glasgow- based producer. ‘lt [affects] not just Glasgow. We filmed a band from Shieldhill. near Falkirk, but there is no desire anywhere for it to be talked about. The attitude is that it will go away if you don’t talk about it.’
Strathclyde Police does not regard religious rivalry as a major difficulty. and no record is kept of alleged sectarian acts of violence. ‘A lot of the sectarianism now tends to be embodied in
10 The List 3-l6 Nov I995
As Northern Ireland's fragile peace process rumbles on, a hard-hitting Channel 4 documentary is exposing the sectarian divide in Scotland. Stephen
the four Celtic and Rangers matches a year and in the summer perhaps. the Orange walks. but we don‘t have a major problem.” says a Strathclyde Police spokesman. ‘We deal with each incident as it arises — we don't keep records of assaults where sectarianism is an issue.’
Glasgow‘s football clubs seem to have differing views on the matter. (‘eltic take sectarianism seriously. according to spokesman Peter McLean: ‘We aim to take every opportunity to dissociate the club from sectarianism and bigotry of all kinds. The club is for anyone regardless of race. sex. colour.‘
As evidence of this, he cites a package of
measures including an advertising campaign. community activities and even an article on the subject by the club‘s managing director Fergus McCann. printed recently in the (kl/tic lieu; the club‘s official mouthpiece. ‘l.’nfortunately. bigotry has existed since time began. but l don't think anybody would deny it is a problem with society. not football.’ says McLean. ‘At times
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football can be tarnished with that but, on the other hand, we would hope that means over time we can affect the opinions of many of the people involved.‘
In Ibrox on the other side of the city, the head- in-the-sand approach seems to prevail. Rangers have turned down the opportunity to be involved in the studio discussion following the screening of Football, Fair/2 And Flutes. ‘We decided not to take part in that,‘ a spokeswoman confimis. Asked whether the club had a package of policies similar to Celtic‘s. she is blunt: ‘No we don’t. We don't see it as a problem at all.’
Meanwhile. pubs in some parts of Glasgow regularly witness violence sparked by sectarian tensions. and every year feelings run high as thousands march to the tune of religious divide — on both sides — across Western and Central Scotland. One Orange Lodge office bearer. speaking anonymously to The List. condemned criticism of Orange marches as ‘shocking’. 'l'l‘hey are] the greatest spectacle in the world.
Pride and preludlce: gearing up for an Orange march In Alrdrle