The anti-Irish Catholic singing on show in Glasgow at the weekend is “wholly unacceptable” and a number of arrests are likely to be made, the assistant chief constable of Police Scotland said on Monday.
Footage posted on social media showed Rangers fans being escorted by police through the city centre on Sunday afternoon before the Old Firm game while chanting an anti-Irish song referencing the famine.
Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said police “did not facilitate” the procession and that officers on patrol had come across the group during their duties.
He said: “Due to the numbers and to ensure public and officer safety, additional officers were called to assist and, at this point, individuals’ details were noted and the group dispersed.
“A retrospective investigation into this anti-Irish Catholic singing has been launched and we are following up a number of lines of enquiry, including reviewing CCTV footage and footage on social media. I fully expect a number of arrests to be made.”
Higgins appealed for people with information about the march to come forward, adding that sectarianism in parts of Scotland is a “much broader societal problem”.
“This type of anti-Irish Catholic behaviour is wholly unacceptable,” he said.
“Our enquiries are ongoing to identify those who were involved and we will take the appropriate action against them. We would ask anyone who has any information that could assist our investigation to contact us.
“However, the challenges of the sectarianism still evident in some parts of Scotland are a much broader societal problem and, whilst policing will have a role to play in addressing the symptoms, its causes are a problem which require a more effective, joined-up, civic response.”
Health secretary Humza Yousaf also condemned the scenes.
He posted on Twitter: “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.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie tweeted: “The images of a mob singing anti-Irish racist songs, as they marched through Glasgow escorted by police, ought to be shocking but are shamefully all too familiar.
“At the very least, we need an assurance that every identifiable person in that crowd will face charges.”
And Glasgow Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy said: “Not sharing the video because it’s vile and I’m not platforming it, but just to say; racists have no place in Glasgow, Scotland or the world.
“Absolutely disgusted at the behaviour displayed yesterday.”
Pressure group Call It Out, which campaigns against anti-Catholic bigotry and anti-Irish racism in Scotland, called on the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to take action and to “start by recognising our community”.
The group tweeted: “This is the kind of racism you don’t notice – day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade. When are you going to call it out?”
The Scottish Government says it is working to develop a new hate crime strategy, which will include implementation of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Hatred and bigotry of any kind is completely and utterly unacceptable to the Scottish Government and the vast majority of Scots.
“Scotland is a diverse, multicultural and multi-faith society and we are fully committed to tackling all forms of bigotry, prejudice and racism, including anti-Irish racism.”
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