GLASWEGIANS do not want to ban sectarian marches – but they would like to see fewer of them, according to new research.

City authorities have been grappling with heightened tensions between loyalist and republican groups over the past two years.

It has now been revealed that Glasgow City Council has recruited polling experts Ipsos-Mori to get to the bottom of attitudes to sectarianism and marching.

The study is qualitative rather than quantitive – meaning researchers are trying to understand public reasoning rather than take a head count of who thinks what. 

READ MORE: Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken accuses opponents of sectarian dog whistling

Work has been delayed by the pandemic but early findings show both a respect for the human rights of marching and frustration that such rights are exercised quite so often.

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: “The early indications from that is that people in the city support the human right to march, they understand it, they don’t want to see marches banned, but they want to see a lot fewer of them. And they want to see the impact considerably reduced.

Glasgow Times: Susan Aitken Susan Aitken

“They don’t want to see 500 cops in the city centre in a weekend in July. That is the kind of thing folk don’t like.”

Aitken last week said she believed that some of her opponents had used sectarian dogwhistles against her, including claims of “footballing bias” which have been independently investigated and deemed to be unfounded.

She took over the council in 2017 and a year later a follower of an Orange march spat on a respected local priest, Canon Tom White, in the east end. This single assault, she said, was a “trigger event” for trouble to follow.

She added. “The attack on Canon White happened on my watch and I have to address it.

“It has led to a bit of a retrenchment on both sides and I have been caught up in that.

“We have been talking a lot with Scottish Government and Police Scotland and our officers are actively working to reset the relationship with the marching organisations, loyalist and republican, for want of a better term.

“We can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

“There is a willingness to try and reset and get to a point in the city when the number of marches is much smaller, and therefore the impact on communities and the city centre, on people going about the city, and on businesses, is reduced.

“We have done a lot of work internally and in partnership to try and find a way to move this forward to continue the dialogue to make sure human rights are protected.”

Ms Aitken, however, stressed that it was only a “minority” of Glaswegians involved in sectarianism trouble – or other issues used as a proxy by sectarianists.

She said: “We saw with the grim scenes in George Square of people turning up to protect statues –  supposedly.

“This gets a lot of noise and a lot of headlines. But when you look at it, it is a very small number of people.”

The leader of the Conservatives on Glasgow council has echoed concerns that the rights of marching organisations were being curtailed.

Councillor Thomas Kerr last week said: “The history of sectarianism in Glasgow is well known and, tragically, continues to be a stain on our city.

READ MORE: The truth on Glasgow City Council - told by the leaders themselves

“Unfortunately, too many of our communities are divided by what football team they support and it is incumbent on all elected politicians to work to bring those communities 

Glasgow Times: Thomas Kerr Thomas Kerr

“I do also recognise that certain communities have felt targeted in recent years and a perception that their freedoms of religion or assembly are 
under threat.”