A FORMER top cop has claimed Catholic schools should be abolished to help tackle sectarianism on the streets of Glasgow.

Tom Wood a former Deputy Chief Constable, has questioned whether religious segregation in schools remains acceptable, and urged the council to address root causes of the divide.

Last week the council decided to ban six Loyalist and Republican parades through the city over the weekend following violent scenes over consecutive weeks.

This prompted hundreds of protesters to line George Square on Saturday morning to challenge the decision.

Now, Mr Wood has compared the scenes in Govan and the city centre in the past month to incidents the streets of Hong Kong, calling the ban “stupid”.

Writing in the Scotsman, he said: “It was the latest tedious eruption of Scotland’s shame, our endemic, chronic problem of sectarian hatred so deeply ingrained in our country or at least the west of our Central Belt.

“Much has been made of the need for new laws to deal with sectarian marches and we may well need to strengthen the regulation of these events.

“But one thing is clear, while sectarian parades should be limited, it’s plain stupid to ban marches, it breeds grievance and encourages illegal assemblies that are more difficult to police. It’s always best to know who, where and when.”

Mr Wood also questioned whether this should mean that Catholic schools across Scotland should be closed to deal with the ‘shame’ of sectarianism.

He added: “We also need to look at the roots of the problem and question what divides us. If we do then we simply cannot escape questioning our system of religiously segregated education.

“I have no doubt that the provision for separate Roman Catholic education was a good idea 100 years ago, but is it acceptable that in the 21st century, we emphasise differences by separating five-year-old children based on their parents’ religion?

“Most advanced Western societies have, as a matter of policy, adopted strictly secular education systems.As Scotland moves forward with equality as our watchword, our century-old practice of segregated education is contradictory to say the least.

“Passing stronger laws to deal with disorderly marches is easy but if we really want to dig out the roots of sectarianism, we must do what’s difficult, and have the courage to tackle the historical anomaly of religious segregation in our schools.”

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “With all due respect to Mr Wood, the council is confident in the assessment made by Police Scotland and officers with experience of policing these events in Glasgow over recent weeks, months and years.”

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church said: “The right of parents to educate their children in accordance with their religious beliefs is a universal human right.

“Suggestions that Catholic schools somehow contribute to sectarianism are unfounded, deeply unhelpful and offensive. There is not a shred of empirical evidence to back up such claims.

“Since sectarian anti-Catholicism long predates the existence of Catholic schools in Scotland, the schools cannot be the cause of it. Catholic schools exist in dozens of countries around the world, including England, nowhere else are they charged with being the engine of intolerance.”