GLASGOW City Council did not mince its words.

“Morons,” said the official comment released by the council press office on Friday night. Morons? The word stopped several journalists in their tracks. Had the council account been hacked? Was the on-call press officer a little... well refreshed? No, it was real.

“We are prepared,” the council said, “To consider any action that will protect communities from morons intent on bringing mayhem to the streets of our city.”

I’m not particularly long in the tooth, true, but it was certainly the boldest expression I’d come across from the City Chambers.

And what had prompted such stark language?

No less than riots on the streets of Govan, Irish republican marchers and loyalist counter-demonstrators. The pictures from the community, too, were stark. A friend sent over a video of police horses in a tight line patrolling a mass of men in dark clothing. A dense mass of police officers broke free to bear down on these dark clothed men. A line of riot police was lit from behind by orange flames.

In 2019? In our city?

It was a shock, and must have been a horrific shock to those residents forced to lock themselves in doors and keep their heads down until Police Scotland regained control of the area.

Why was it a shock?

Former First Minister Jack McConnell appeared to offer his assistance in tackling sectarianism, saying the current SNP administration had taken “its foot off the pedal”.

I remember so vividly my first day at school in Scotland, having freshly arrived from a multi-cultural school in

a big Australian city, being surrounded at the morning break by my classmates, all eagerly asking if I was a Proddy or a Catholic and if I supported Rangers or Celtic. I don’t remember being asked my name, just these pertinent details.

Oh, and if I knew Kylie or Jason. That third question I could answer. The first two required some input from my mum, who advised me to stay well out of it.

“Tell them you’re Jewish,” she said. “And that you like rugby.” Very quickly I was aware that the majority of my neighbours were Catholic,

as were the majority of my friends from my dance classes. My school friends, though, were not.

At the time it seemed like childish turf wars and only as I grew up did I realise the historical and political significance of the divide, the sectarianism it caused and

the fact that adults took it as deadly seriously as the teenagers who shouted things at me in the street or spat at me on the bus in the morning for wearing the wrong school uniform.

It did feel, for a long time, that there was far less need to have a foot on any pedal. It did feel like sectarianism was a diminishing issue in Scotland.

Yet this summer we have seen Orange Order and Apprentice Boys of Derry marches re-routed away from a Catholic Church in order to minimise the risk of protests and the subsequent risk of violence following those protests.

The question, following those marches and following the riots on Friday night, have become about whether marches should be allowed or not.

The number of marches should be minimised, yes, as Glasgow City Council would appear to be doing already. Routes must be looked at, again, as the council and Police Scotland are doing. The marchers have their right to march but bystanders also have a right not to be disturbed so maybe there is some alternative. A way of routing the marches to avoid residential and city centre areas.

We may hate the marches but they must be allowed in a free society, while the marchers behave themselves respectfully and lawfully.

But is this a Glasgow City Council problem? No. It’s not about the marches themselves – it’s about the problems the marches cause and the messages behind them.

The questions being asked must focus on why sectarianism would appear to be increasing – if it indeed is. It is one thing to say something feels like a problem, that feeling must be backed up with statistics.

Then, how do we tackle it? There are already excellent anti-sectarian charities working in Scotland. They must be part of a round table summit with the government, local authorities and the groups organising the marches.

It would also be helpful to conduct proceedings with the respect we would expect to see returned. That might mean a halt to name calling.

Scotland’s shame cannot be allowed to flourish again after so many years of withering.

On this topic, the pedal must be to the metal – and fast.