Shocking sectarian abuse statistics published.  

The Bishop of Motherwell, has described the Crown Office analysis of religious-aggravated crimes which found that 63% of victims subjected to verbal abuse about their faith are Catholic, compared to 29% who are Protestant as "frankly appalling".  

The report reveals that the new category of offence is being used at a rate of at least once a day since the end of June last year. A total of 450 charges were raised under the new offence of religiously-aggravated crime up to the beginning of September 2004.  

Bishop Devine added that the statistics point to "entrenched hostility towards a religious minority".  

The recent analysis also reveals that over the same period, only one offender has been charged with religious hatred directed at a Muslim.  
The statistics show that the largest group of offenders are not teenagers but are adults aged between 21 and 40 and that 15% of all cases of sectarian abuse arose during parades or marches, cases related to support for a particular football team account for just 14% of charges.  

Reacting to the offence statistics, Bishop Joseph Devine, Bishop of  
Motherwell and president of the Catholic Communications Commission said;  

"These figures are frankly appalling. That at least one  
religiously-motivated offence should take place in Scotland every day is bad  
enough, that almost two thirds of such crimes are direct against the  
Catholic community who comprise just 17% of the population is both alarming  
and saddening."  

These figures unfortunately paint a picture of a country where entrenched  
hostility towards a religious minority, which many felt had long since  
disappeared, clearly remains and flourishes."  

Bishop Devine added;  

"It is interesting to note that incidents related to marches contribute so  
significantly to the dismal tally of sectarian abuse. In this context I have  
recently submitted a response to Sir John Orr's consultation on behalf of  
the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, proposing that, the "marching season"  
should be truncated to a single month and that at least one month's notice  
of the intention to march should be given to Local Authorities, rather than  
the current requirement of one week."  

Commenting further on the research, Peter Kearney, Director of the Catholic Media Office said;  

"This analysis, comprehensively shatters the age old myths suggesting that sectarianism in Scotland is simply a football-related phenomena as well as laying to rest the old cliché that 'one side is as bad as the other'"  

"Sadly a situation exists in Scotland where constant attacks on Catholic schools by otherwise respectable commentators are given widespread media attention and this has created a climate in which others consider anti-catholicism acceptable."  


Peter Kearney  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  


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